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        College, Executive Programs, Institute for Real Estate Development

        Auburn Institute for Real Estate Development announces executive leadership team

        November 28, 2023 By Laura Schmitt

        All News


        Auburn University’s Institute for Real Estate Development (IRED), which provides industry practitioners with executive education and serves as a link between the university and all major sectors of the real estate community, has announced its inaugural leadership team. The Institute is a partnership between the College of Architecture, Design and Construction and the Harbert College of Business.

        John Benner, a partner and president of GENREV Properties LLC in Birmingham, is the Institute’s new executive director. Kim Kuerten, who served on the leadership team of the Harbert College of Business graduate executive programs, is the new administrative director. And Justin D. Benefield, the Bickerstaff Professor of Finance and faculty director of the Master of Real Estate Development program (MRED), is the new academic director.

        “The Institute's leadership trifecta is perfectly positioned to build upon the success of the highly ranked MRED program and the CityBuilders outreach initiative, strengthening and growing the university's relationship with the real estate professional community,” said Harbert College Interim Dean Jennifer Mueller-Phillips.

        “We are excited to have such a talented and capable leadership team for the Institute,” said CADC Interim Dean Karen Rogers. “The Institute extends our successful collaboration with the Harbert College of Business in a significant way and strengthens our ability to impact and serve all the stakeholders involved in real estate development in Alabama and across our region.”

        John Benner portrait

        John Benner, IRED executive director

        As executive director, Benner will be the primary liaison between the Institute and real estate practitioners, stakeholders, alumni and students. He will lead strategic planning efforts and recruit new member organizations and manage relations with the Institute’s members.

        “This is beyond exciting for me,” said Benner. “Real estate has been my entire career and Auburn has been my passion since I graduated in 1988. To have the opportunity to help connect the Auburn real estate community at large to each other and to our distinguished university is an extraordinary privilege. I’m very grateful to be joining the Institute’s visionary team, and I am looking forward to working with those who are already a part of our Auburn real estate family.”

        During his 30-year commercial real estate career, Benner has managed, leased, brokered, developed and owned income-producing commercial investment property—primarily single tenant and mixed-use properties.

        As president and development partner at GENREV Properties in Birmingham, he oversaw corporate strategic planning and all new commercial development projects. The former director of development at Dominion Partners, Benner developed institutional quality senior housing and multi-family assets valued at more than $100 million.

        Benner earned a bachelor’s degree in history at Auburn.

        Kim Kuerten

        Kim Kuerten, IRED administrative director

        As the IRED administrative director, Kuerten will manage daily operations, administer the industry membership and mentoring programs, and communicate regularly with key stakeholders such as board members, students and member companies.

        “My experience with the MRED program has shown me the impact that smart, professional development can have on communities and lives,” said Kuerten. “I’m excited to help lead the Institute and look forward to fostering the relationship between the university and the industry—a relationship that can be of great benefit to both.”

        Kuerten is well-acquainted with IRED stakeholders, as she helped launch Auburn’s MRED degree program. Prior to that, she helped start the Physician Executive MBA program and was part of the team that started the executive MBA program. To date, these three graduate executive programs have generated more than $80 million in gross tuition revenues.

        She has served as executive director of Harbert College’s Graduate Executive programs since 1998, and managed their marketing, recruiting, admissions, operations, budgets, personnel, technology and alumni relations.

        A two-time Auburn alumna, she has a bachelor’s degree in economics and an MBA.

        Justin Benefield seated at desk

        Justin Benefield, IRED academic director

        As IRED’s academic director, Benefield will be in charge of identifying the education needs among the various sectors of the real estate community and creating for-credit and non-degree offerings to meet those needs, including traditional on-campus courses, synchronous or asynchronous distance courses, shorter not-for-credit modules, and continuing education at IRED-sponsored events.

        Benefield will also oversee IRED’s sponsored industry research program, real estate-related academic research, and support for the student real estate club and case competition teams.

        A faculty member at Auburn since 2012, Benefield holds four degrees from The University of Alabama. Prior to his appointment at Auburn, he was a faculty member at the College of Charleston in South Carolina.

        About the Institute

        The Institute for Real Estate Development (IRED) is a joint venture between the Harbert College of Business and College of Architecture, Design and Construction. The Institute advances and supports commercial real estate education, empowers and informs real estate professionals, and serves as the nexus between Auburn and the real estate community. IRED has a midsouth/national focus.


        The Harbert College of Business which is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Raymond and Kathryn Harbert's transformational naming gift, is a nationally ranked hub of undergraduate, graduate and continuing business education that is inspiring the next generation of business leaders. Our world-class faculty deliver unparalleled academic rigor in the classroom, while our research-driven scholarship advances thought leadership and best practice across business disciplines. The largest college on Auburn's campus, Harbert enrolls more than 6,900 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students.