Blue Heron was founded by Ron Strom and Maurice Malfatti and is based in the Triangle Region of North Carolina. The members of our team average over 20 years of experience each in real estate investment, finance, underwriting, development, construction and consulting. The team’s experience spans a broad range of property types, economic market cycles and facets of the business from acquisition, transaction underwriting, financial analysis, portfolio and asset management, zoning and entitlements, land use and planning, development and construction, leasing and tenant relationships, capital markets, and brokerage. Our team employs active asset management to execute the value creation plan, drive operational efficiency, and optimize operating income.
Maurice co-founded Blue Heron in 2011. He oversees the firm’s day-to-day operations and Blue Heron's funds, portfolio construction and management. Maurice is actively involved in the visioning, branding and development of the value-creation business plan for each asset as well as the oversight of the plan's execution.
Maurice's career experience includes real estate, financial services, and consulting. Real estate experience includes investment, development, construction, and brokerage. Previously, Maurice was a partner at Kabrik Trading, a NYSE-member broker-dealer, and he began his professional career as a systems analyst for Andersen Consulting (now Accenture).
Maurice spent several years, early in his career, in residential construction. He founded, operated, and profitably exited several ventures, including real estate investments and an operating company in the construction field; he has remained active as a principal owner/investor in real estate for over 20 years.
Maurice is a NC-licensed real estate broker and a past member of the Board of Directors for the Realtors Commercial Alliance in Wilmington, NC in 2010-2011. As an active member of the Urban Land Institute, he serves on the “Rethinking Southern Cities” Regional Initiative Council.
Maurice received a BS in Industrial Engineering from Lehigh University.
Ron co-founded Blue Heron in 2011. He serves on the Investment Committee and assists with strategic direction and portfolio construction. Ron is a primary generator of pipeline opportunities and a point of contact for many of the firm's essential relationships. Ron has over 36 years of experience spanning all phases of commercial real estate including development, acquisitions, dispositions, debt transactions, lease negotiation, asset management, advisory work, and brokerage.
Prior to co-founding Blue Heron, Ron developed, acquired, or invested in multiple property types including residential condos, historic renovation projects, office complexes, retail shopping centers, land for development, student housing, and for-rent multi-family projects. These investments included the assemblage, development, and disposition of a portfolio of retail centers to a publicly traded REIT, the redevelopment and ground up construction of two Whole Foods centers in North Carolina, and the development of four projects for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ron has also served as a real estate consultant to Whole Foods Market, UNC-Chapel Hill, and GlaxoSmithKline.
Ron has and continues to serve on numerous boards and in leadership positions within the greater Triangle area of North Carolina. He chaired a $2M Capital Campaign for WUNC Public Radio and served as the Chairman of the Board for Triangle Land Conservancy. He serves on the Leadership Council of Triangle Community Foundation. He has served on the boards of UNC Board of Visitors, the Self Help Venture Fund, Planned Parenthood, the Chapel Hill Public Library Foundation, and continues to assist local agencies with affordable housing initiatives. As part of Blue Heron's entitling of one of its Fund I assets, he authored Chapel Hill's first affordable housing rental agreement which was one of two finalists for Urban Land Institute's 'best ideas' in the Triangle for 2014.
Ron received a BS in English and Education from Vassar College and a Master’s of Education from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Michael is a partner at Blue Heron Asset Management and serves a key role in the investment, asset management, and development activities of the firm. Responsibilities include acquisitions, dispositions, asset management, financial analysis, market analysis and real estate development management.
Since joining Blue Heron in 2012, early in the life of Blue Heron’s first fund, Michael has led processes for the acquisition and disposition of interest in properties with aggregate values of more than $170M. Michael has been involved in the underwriting and evaluation of more than 125 investment and/or development opportunities totaling more than $500M in potential capital investment, and has led the asset management for all Blue Heron’s multifamily properties; overseeing and/or analyzing the financial and operational performance of more than 1,250 units across six properties with aggregate values of more than $225M.
Michael received a BA in Economics from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MBA from the University of South Carolina.
Melissa joined Blue Heron in 2016 to direct business development, investor relations and communications, debt and equity placement and other senior-level business functions. Melissa has 19 years of experience advising on direct real estate investments for high net worth families as well as commercial real estate underwriting, macro-economic analysis, finance, capital markets, business development and relationship management.
Prior to joining Blue Heron, Melissa was Senior Vice President and Relationship Manager for Wells Fargo's Private Bank in Chapel Hill, NC, one of the nation's leading Private Wealth Management firms. Melissa was responsible for advising high net worth families on investment asset allocation, trust and estate planning, risk management, and direct real estate investment advice. She oversaw and partnered on over $1B dollars of assets under management and over $300M of real estate acquisitions, dispositions, and debt transactions for private bank families. While at Wells Fargo, she also served as Market President for Chapel Hill and was responsible for business development for the bank in the local community, working closely with commercial brokers, attorneys, CPAs, and business leaders.
Melissa believes in having strong connections to our local community. Melissa has been involved with the Chapel Hill Public School Foundation for seven years where she chaired the development committee for fundraising and strategic planning and also lead the investment committee. She has worked with Dress for Success, Habitat for Humanity, United Arts, and United Way, and spearheaded Excellence in Education, a program that teaches financial literacy to fourth graders.
Melissa received a BS in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Kenan-Flagler Business School.
Matt joined Blue Heron in 2014 to bolster the capacity of the firm’s platform across a broad range of areas of portfolio construction and asset management. His main areas of focus include managing the execution of the asset-level value-creation strategy, financial analysis, cultivating the pipeline, and identifying and evaluating investment opportunities. Matt has over 15 years of real estate experience in acquisitions, dispositions, development, renovation, leasing, property management, and financial analysis.
Prior to joining Blue Heron, Matt managed finance, leasing, and property management for retail developer Adventure Development in Selma, NC. He played an instrumental role in the development of a $100M+, 1.2M square-foot mixed-use project in Pittsburgh, PA. Matt also led acquisitions and asset management at Mark Properties, Inc., a private equity real estate investment company based in Durham, NC. There, he oversaw leasing activity and managed key tenant relationships for a 2.5M-square-foot retail portfolio. Matt also successfully marketed the disposition of Florida shopping centers.
Matt is a board member of the Self-Help Venture Fund. He also volunteers with the Princeton Alumni Schools Committee and has served on the advisory board for the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts in Winston-Salem, NC, and serves on the boards of historic house museums.
Benjamin joined Blue Heron in 2016 and serves a key role in the investment, development and asset management activities of the firm. He focuses on acquisitions, dispositions, asset management, real estate finance and development management. Ben has over 12 years of real estate investment, finance and development experience spanning mixed-use, residential, retail and commercial real estate in high barrier-to-entry urban markets including San Francisco, Washington D.C. and London, U.K.
Before joining Blue Heron, he was a principal at Hampstead West Holdings (HWH), a boutique real estate investment, development and advisory firm focused on urban-infill redevelopment and value-add opportunities.
Prior to HWH, Benjamin worked in acquisitions and development at Sares Regis Group of Northern California where he was responsible for acquisitions, capital relationships, design and entitlements, construction oversight, financing, and project operations for residential, mixed-use and public/private partnership projects.
Benjamin started his career at private equity investment firm and developer, The JBG Companies in Washington DC, where he focused on the development of urban-infill, smart-growth and adaptive-re-use residential and commercial real estate and where he became JBG's first LEED Accredited Professional.
Benjamin received a BA from Dartmouth College and an MS in Regional and Urban Planning from the London School of Economics. He is as an active member of the Urban Land Institute
Missy has been with Blue Heron since its inception in 2011. She supports investor relations, project management, financial reporting and manages office operations tasks. Missy has 25 years of experience in commercial real estate which includes lender and investor correspondence, development project management, real estate closings and property management.
While with Blue Heron, Missy has performed project management duties for over $100M of real estate. Missy continues to work closely with Blue Heron’s CFO, external auditors, and the fund administrator in the preparation and distribution of investor reports and financial statements. She also assists the legal team in both fund and real estate closings and works closely with lenders and managers throughout an investment’s life cycle.
Prior to Blue Heron, Missy worked alongside Ron Strom performing project management duties UNC’s student housing development, three office buildings for UNC-Chapel Hill, the renovation of Midtown Market shopping center in Chapel Hill, NC, and the development of several Whole Foods stores.
Missy received a BA in Communication from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Deborah joined Blue Heron in 2016 as Chief Financial Officer. Deborah directs all aspects of finance for Blue Heron including financial reporting, fund administration, financial analysis and metrics, annual audits and tax preparation, and budgeting and cash flow projections. She works closely with the asset managers and development teams to analyze budgets and cash flow of the assets under management.
Deborah has been engaged in the practice of accounting for over 28 years, beginning her career with KPMG auditing banks and insurance companies and other heavily-regulated industries. Her career includes diversified financial management positions in a wide variety of industries including; life and health insurance, property and casualty insurance, pharmaceutical product development and distribution, and real estate development.
Previously she served as Vice President of Financial Development for Universal American, Director of Finance for Lek Pharmaceuticals, and, most recently as Chief Financial Officer for The Martin Organization, a real estate conglomerate with development, commercial, and residential holdings as well as self-storage facility development and management.
Deborah has held treasury and other positions on several non-profit Boards including Cape Fear Literacy Council, Wilmington Child Advocacy Commission and The Penn State Alumni Association of Wilmington NC.
Deborah received a BS in Accounting from The Pennsylvania State University, an MA from University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She earned the CPA designation in 1993.
Steve has been engaged in the practice of law for over 29 years, focusing primarily on commercial real estate matters. He began representing Ron Strom about 20 years ago and today, as a partner of Ellis & Winters LLP, serves as primary legal counsel for Blue Heron on all real estate matters, including real estate closings, deal structure, joint venture structures and agreements, and other general business matters.
Steve is a North Carolina State Bar Board Certified Specialist in Real Property Law: Business, Commercial and Industrial Transactions. He focuses his practice on commercial real estate, wireless telecommunications, and general business practice.
He holds a rating of AV® Preeminent, a peer review rating for ethical standards and legal ability administered by Martindale-Hubbell.
Steve received a BS in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a JD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law.