For the past 23 years, Dr. Van Williams has been an active fund manager and private investor. Through the years, he has specialized in revitalizing underserved areas and turning them into communities with cash-generating assets. Social Impact Investing is His Mission, and way to Serve. As Oprah Winfrey says: “Find A Way to Serve”.
Currently the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Proactive Realty Group, Dr. Van uses his knowledge in ESG investing to lead a team of dedicated property managers and investment professionals.
Together, they consistently search for Value-Add, High Scoring Social Impact properties, Class C and Class B properties to acquire and renovate. And from there, they implement a hands-on active-management strategy for the operation of multifamily and single-family assets that will produce steady cash flow and investment returns.
Furthermore, Proactive targets to deliver minimum returns of 12 to 16 percent to its participating investors. Pandemic 2020 The Proactive Realty Income Fund returned 12% actual to Investors.
Before building a career in the real estate investment and management industry, Dr. Van graduated with an associate degree in Business Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services in 2005. At the same time, he also started to develop an interest in Professional Property Management during his days at Ashworth University. After two years, he completed his doctor’s degree in Psychology, graduating as Magna Cum Laude at Madison University.
In the following years, he continued to pursue his interest in real estate and investment management. By 2009, he got a certification as a registered Property Manager with the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) and as a Green Property Advisor with the Allied Business School. In addition, he also studied and mastered the structures of private equity from 2017 to 2019 which secured his certification as a Private Equity Professional (CPEP) from the Investment Certification Institute.
Besides being a property manager and CPEP, he is also a certified professional in social work and hotel & restaurant management.
Why did you choose to specialize in ESG investing?
I discovered the IRR Scoring Model, (Impact Rate of Return, created By Howard Buffett. It is a measurable score and allows for Full Accountability. When it can be measured, it is Better. I chose to focus on ESG (Social Impact) ) investing because when I started as a private investor, I specialized in underserved communities where I saw first-hand how low-income families are struggling with the housing shortage. Because of this, I wanted to do something to help change the situation. I wanted to become a socially responsible investor. And now that I lead Proactive Realty Group, I know that we’ll have more opportunities to improve communities and make a lasting impact in the lives of many people. We have created numerous Homeowners in our Manufactured Home Communities.
On the other hand, I want to encourage other investors to make worthwhile & meaningful investments. At Proactive, we share with investors the opportunity to bring value to communities while receiving a stable financial return because we believe that investing in society results in a better economy.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time that you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle it?
Absolutely. I thought that it would be difficult, as a lot of Investors do not understand the ESG Space or think that the returns would be Low to nothing. Here at We Proactive Funds, place our Investors First. Period. And just like everybody else who starts a business, I felt fear many times. But over time, I learned to handle that fear by always reminding myself that accomplishing our mission means securing a better future not only for us but also for people in communities we invest in. You cannot go wrong in Service!
What motivates you to continue what you do?
By investing in communities, we help investors get excellent returns and give low-income families and single parents the opportunity to become homeowners. These are the two main reasons why we keep doing what we do.
Because you know, when you find a purpose that is meant for the greater good I believe it serves as your motivation and becomes as a force that pulls you up each time you fall and helps you get back on track stronger than before. So when you find yours, never let it go because with plans and goals set in place, it can lead you to greatness.
What is it that makes you good at what you do?
Love, and the gratitude that we derive from Serving. What I know for sure is that: As an Active Fund and Asset Manager, it is very important to be hands-on in order to have a better understanding of the status of residents who live in communities that we manage. We are in partnership with Apartmentlife.org to place people in our Communities to make for a more Cohesive Community.
So what I do is to personally speak with residents. By doing this, I get to see their situation, hear about their concerns and understand where they are coming from. And from there, we are able to make and implement plans that can help address their concerns and meet their needs. As a result, we generate sustainable cash flow and returns by taking care of the residents in our target communities. We also work with Veteran’s, Social Service professionals, and formerly Homeless Persons.
What is one of the biggest decisions you had to make in your career?
As an investor, you are responsible for any investment you make because you know that they naturally come with risks. However, when it comes to being a fund or investment manager, it’s even a bigger responsibility because investors trust you with their money.
In relation to this, I think that one of the biggest decisions I’ve made so far is to be a fund manager and the co-managing partner of Proactive Realty Group. Yes, the job offers a good salary but it is also a huge and serious responsibility because the management of rental assets and generation of investment returns all depends on you and your team. So I think it takes a lot of courage to choose this kind of career too. Thus, it makes me so proud of everyone who makes up Proactive.
What do you consider as your greatest achievement in your career?
For the past two decades, I was able to buy, sell, and reposition over $30 million worth of multifamily and single-family properties. But what I consider as my greatest achievement in this is being able to revitalize economically underserved and working-class areas and help create employment opportunities and social programs for residents living in those communities.
What are your plans for the future?
To build our AUM to join Impact Capital Managers. As part of our commitment to encourage more investors to participate in ESG investing, we plan to continue expanding our national portfolio and stick with our practice of enhancing communities through the best and most reliable amenities while implementing a risk-managed impact approach.
What piece of advice would you give your younger self?
Serve. Listen, Pray, and Experience the Moments in life. If you want to achieve something great, you must be ready to take Smart-Calculated Risks. As you go along, things may be difficult or challenging at times but don’t be afraid to take risks because you’ll never know unless you try. Just be careful and make sure to be diligent in doing research in order to come up with informed decisions.