Zaya S. Younan founded Younan Properties in 2002 and serves as its Chairman & CEO. He has nearly more than three decades of executive management experience with publicly-traded Fortune 500 companies, including General Motors, Johnson Controls, and TRW among others in the United States, Asia, and Europe.
Mr. Younan brings depth and operational experience in the areas of turnaround management, continuous improvement practices, strategic planning, marketing, engineering, acquisitions and operations, and successfully has leveraged this experience to the commercial real estate industry for nearly two decades.
Mr. Younan has directed the growth of the company from inception to a portfolio worth nearly $2.8 billion of high-quality Class "A", high-rise office buildings in six large U.S. office markets. In less than a decade, the company upgraded its portfolio from smaller Class C buildings to Class A, high-rise office buildings and grew the employee base to nearly 150 employees in six cities with regional service centers in each city to more effectively manage company assets and serve the tenant base. Through successful acquisitions and strategic dispositions, the company has assembled a fully scalable, national platform.
Younan Properties' performance in leasing and operational management is the result of employing an approach to continuous improvement, process controls and efficiency management utilized in manufacturing and high technology. Mr. Younan has been recognized for excellence and discipline for performance in the commercial real estate industry as evidenced by Real Estate Forum's recognition as one of the Industry's 100 Leading Companies. Mr. Younan received a Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of Illinois. In 2016, The U of I awarded Mr. Younan with the University Distinguished Alumnus Award. The award is given to selected Alumni for their tradition of excellence and for bringing credit to the University for personal accomplishment, professional achievement and humanitarian services.
Mr. Younan has served as a member of the executive committee of the board of directors of the Lusk Center for Real Estate at the University of Southern California, a member of the board of directors of the Smithsonian Institute's Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, Texas, and a member of the board of advisors of Oaks Christian School in Westlake Village, California. He supports myriad charitable endeavors including the Boys and Girls Clubs, Wounded Warrior Project, Oaks Christian School, Red Cross, and A Child's Hope Fund.
Denise Davis is Vice President of Corporate Communications & Marketing. She has more than two decades of experience in strategic communications, reputation management, media relations, marketing, and branding.
She joined the firm in 2007 and launched a nationwide corporate branding program. In her role with the property teams, she helped to standardize system-wide efficiency metrics to further improve operations at the property level. She works closely with the asset management teams and property managers to implement programs to improve tenant satisfaction. Ms. Davis also is responsible for national vendor contracts and oversees property design and renovation programs for common areas throughout the portfolio.
In addition to her operations responsibility, Ms. Davis is responsible for strategic communications, media relations, website development, and social media, and marketing for Younan Properties, Younan Collection, and Younan Company.
She brings more than 25 years of corporate and agency communications and marketing experience for Fortune 500 companies including serving as Director of Corporate Communications for Salem Communications Corp., Vice President of Communications for PNC Bank Corp, and Manager of Media Relations for Mellon Bank Corp. Her agency experience includes serving as Vice President and Deputy Manager of Hill and Knowlton and as a senior counselor of Burson Marsteller where she served on the financial communications, labor communications and M&A teams. Davis is a graduate of the University of Florida with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Public Relations.
Maria Castorena is Vice President, Finance and Accounting for Younan Properties. Ms. Castorena has three decades of experience in all finance and accounting. She is responsible for day-to-day financial reporting and analysis, including monthly and quarterly variance reporting to investors and lenders. Her expertise encompasses a full range of real estate financial, accounting and operational management, including budgeting, financial reporting and analysis and systems management and implementation.
Prior to joining Younan Properties, Ms. Castorena worked for Vintage Real Estate where she was Property Controller and responsible for the full spectrum of accounting services. From 2003 to 2006, Ms. Castorena served as Accounting Manager for Younan Properties. She has a bachelor’s degree from Cal State Los Angeles with a major in Accounting and a minor in Economics.
As Vice President, Leasing and Operations, John R. Cook manages the overall leasing activity for the Younan Properties portfolio.
Mr. Cook brings 30 years of executive-level leadership experience to his position, including a successful track record in leasing, value building, exit strategies and management of portfolios of up to 12 million square feet in markets across the country. Prior to joining Younan Properties, he was Executive Vice President of Regis Realty I, LLC in Dallas, responsible for the firm's commercial property acquisitions group. He has served as President of Regis Property Management, overseeing up to 110 commercial properties in the commercial property management company's $110 million portfolio.
His background also includes positions as Executive Director of the Denver Merchandise Mart in Denver and as Vice President of Prime Income Asset Management, Inc. in Dallas. Mr. Cook is a licensed CPA in Texas. He earned a BS in Business Administration from the University of Texas at Dallas.
Tony Avila is Vice President of Acquisitions for Younan Properties, Inc. and has nearly two decades of experience in commercial real estate. He has been with YPI since 2002 in roles of increasing seniority and responsibility. Mr. Avila has been involved with the firm’s key projects in both operations and construction. He played an integral role in YPI’s successful strategy to acquire and turnaround 4 million square feet of Class A and B office buildings in YPI’s markets. Notably, the disposition of six of those assets resulted in triple-digit returns to investors in less than an average 15-month holding period.
Over the last decade, Mr. Avila has been responsible for the renovation of more than 2.1 million square feet of Class A and B office space. He is responsible for underwriting transactional due diligence on 100 assets, over 13 million square feet and $2.5 billion in transaction value. Mr. Avila works with brokers and lenders to strategically refinance assets and has been directly involved in all of YPI’s strategic asset dispositions.