Former Head of Real Estate
Office of the New York City Comptroller
Bureau of Asset Management
Yvonne Nelson’s career in institutional real estate began in 1989 where she rose to the ranks to a Senior Investment Officer with the NY Common Retirement Fund until 2002. After a short stint pursuing a passion for affordable housing with the Community Development Trust as a Vice President, she joined the investment staff at the NYC Comptroller in 2005 serving in senior positions.
In 2021, Yvonne Nelson retired as Head of Real Estate on behalf of the New York City Retirement Systems, an aggregation of the city’s five primary pension plans with a total of $250 billion in assets under management where she led a multi-billion global real estate portfolio currently valued at $17 billion. With a fair but firm management style, she successfully built a diversified global portfolio from $1 billion in 2005 to $13 billion at her retirement. Ms. Nelson’s team employed a robust diligence process, in parallel with its consultants, and achieved LP-friendly governance and fee concessions while leveraging NYC’s scale and influence. Unique among its holdings are curated investment programs responsive to board goals such as NYC workforce housing development, co-investments and emerging managers (including MWBEs). During her tenure, the NYC real estate program generated consistent returns above its time-weighted benchmark while utilizing modest leverage.
Post-retirement, Ms. Nelson has been invited to share her market expertise and managerial skills as an independent director/advisory board member to several real estate investment vehicles representing distinct strategies. She also consults on ESG matters.
Throughout her career, Ms. Nelson has been an effective mentor and recognized leader in the field of diversity and inclusion within the institutional real estate industry. She serves as an inaugural board and grants committee member of the PREA (Pension Real Estate Association) Foundation, an organization which fosters the inclusion of under-represented groups in commercial real estate since 2017. The launch of the foundation, which raised seed pledges in excess of $15 million, occurred during Ms. Nelson’s board participation at its parent organization (PREA). The foundation’s strategic alliance with several experienced career development partners has resulted in real estate internships for 1000+ high school and college students to date. As a member of WX-NY Women Executives in Real Estate, Ms. Nelson continues to pay it forward through her involvement in WX’s networking, philanthropy and DEI committees. Her career and diversity efforts have been honored by NASP Wall St. Hall of Fame, PREA and were profiled in a podcast sponsored by the Ohio State Center of Real Estate.
Yvonne Nelson graduated from New York University with a BA in Urban Design in 1979 and earned her MBA from Rutgers University as a Ralph Bunche Fellow in 1989. As a working mother, Ms. Nelson is most proud of her children and grandchildren. She currently resides in New York City.