Meet the Team
Ralph HerzkaCHAIRMAN AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
Mr. Herzka founded Meridian in 1991, and has served as its Chief Executive Officer since its formation. He is the guiding force behind our firm’s growth and success, and has set standards nationally for expertise, vision and reputation in commercial real estate finance. Mr. Herzka has 30 years’ experience in real estate advisory work, and has personally negotiated more than $65 billion in real estate financing transactions. Over his career, Mr. Herzka has developed deep and lasting relationships with a broad array of lenders, including banks, agency lenders, life companies and conduit lenders. He has built multigenerational relationships with many of the country’s most sophisticated and active real estate owners and operators. Mr. Herzka’s stature has been consistently recognized by local and national media, including by the Mortgage Observer in March 2014 as number six on the “50 Most Important People In Commercial Real Estate Finance.” In addition to Meridian, Mr. Herzka was a co-founder of Beech Street Capital, LLC, a mortgage banking firm and Fannie Mae DUS® lender, Freddie Mac Program Plus® Seller Servicer and MAP-approved FHA lender that was sold to Capital One in 2013. He was also a founder of Ladder Capital, a commercial real estate lender and CMBS originator.
Aaron BirnbaumEXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT
Mr. Birnbaum is a cofounder of Meridian and an Executive Vice President. He is responsible for managing the firm’s commercial, conduit and structured finance platforms. Under his stewardship, Meridian has financed more than $35 billion in commercial transactions across the country. Mr. Birnbaum also assumes a direct leadership role in managing relationships with a broad array of conduit and construction lenders, as well as multifamily and commercial property owners.
Avi WeinstockEXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT
Mr. Weinstock joined Meridian in 1992, shortly after its formation, and serves as an Executive Vice President. Mr. Weinstock’s responsibilities include managing Meridian’s national team of multifamily mortgage finance advisors, loan underwriters and processors. In addition to having oversight authority of the Company’s multifamily placement operations, Mr. Weinstock is responsible for day-to-day management of the firm’s relationships with its most active lenders. Mr. Weinstock also personally manages many of the firm’s largest proprietary client relationships.
Jeff WeinbergEXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT
Mr. Weinberg is a cofounder and Executive Vice President of the Company, specializing in the facilitation of New York multifamily lending transactions. He manages a team of skilled mortgage finance professionals, and is actively involved on behalf of Meridian in the development of many key client and lender relationships.
Meridian Investment Sales Senior Leadership
Yoni GoodmanPresident, Meridian Investment Sales Senior Managing Director, Meridian Capital Group
Mr. Goodman joined Meridian in 2014 and serves as the President of Meridian Investment Sales. In that capacity, he worked to devise and implement the creation of the Investment Sales Division, and now manages its day-to-day operations, including recruiting, strategic planning, market positioning, geographical and product expansion, and cross-selling between Meridian’s debt and sales platforms. Working closely with Mr. Herzka and Mr. Lobell, Mr. Goodman also focuses on developing other business lines and strategic activities for the firm. From 2010 through 2014, Mr. Goodman was a senior member of the Real Estate Investment Banking Group at Goldman Sachs, where he focused on advising and financing many of the group’s key clients. During his tenure at Goldman, Mr. Goodman managed more than $5 billion of CMBS and balance sheet lending activity and strategically advised and financed clients including REITs, investment managers, private equity funds, sovereign wealth funds and private investors. From 2008 through 2010, Mr. Goodman worked in the Real Estate Capital Markets Group at the Reznick Group. From 2004 through 2008, Mr. Goodman worked in the Real Estate Finance Group at Credit Suisse First Boston, where he worked in both origination and disposition capacities.
Jay LobellPresident, Meridian Capital Group
Mr. Lobell joined Meridian in 2009 and has served as its President since 2011. In that capacity, he works alongside Mr. Herzka in charting the strategic course of Meridian, including in the development and implementation of new products and business activities. Mr. Lobell also is a co-founder of Beech Street Capital, an Agency and FHA lender closely aligned with Meridian, and currently serves as Beech Street’s Vice Chairman and a member of its board of directors. From October 1996 through January 2005, Mr. Lobell was a partner of Covington & Burling LLP, a national law firm, where he advised companies and individuals, including Meridian, in a variety of regulatory, transactional and litigation matters. From 2005 through 2009, Mr. Lobell served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Paramount Biosciences, LLC, a global pharmaceutical development and healthcare investment firm. In addition to Meridian and Beech Street, Mr. Lobell serves on the boards of several public and private healthcare companies. Mr. Lobell received his B.A., summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the City University of New York, and received his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was Senior Editor of the Yale Law Journal.
Institutional Investment Sales
Helen HwangSenior Executive Managing Director
Helen Hwang is Senior Executive Managing Director at Meridian Investment Sales, LLC and is head of the Institutional Investment Sales Group. Ms. Hwang has executed over 70 institutional sales and recapitalization transactions exceeding $25 billion in value. Prior to joining Meridian, Ms. Hwang spent 16 years at Cushman & Wakefield as an Executive Vice President, where she worked on several unprecedented complex assignments, including 1865 Broadway, 22 River Terrace, 101 Murray Street, One Court Square, 510 Madison Avenue, 511 Fifth Avenue, the MetLife Building at 200 Park Avenue, 666 Fifth Avenue, the portfolio sale of Park Avenue and 850 Third Avenue, and the ground leases under 625 Madison Avenue, 2 Herald Square and 75 Rockefeller Center. For the sale of 88 Leonard Street, Ms. Hwang was honored with the Real Estate Board of New York’s highest achievement, the 2012 Most Ingenious Sales Deal of the Year (Robert T. Lawrence Memorial Award). She also set numerous pricing records in the development/redevelopment arena in Columbus Circle, Lower Manhattan, Midtown West, West Village, Upper East Side, and Brooklyn.Ms. Hwang has marketed significant New York assets for clients such as Africa Israel Investments, Ashkenazy Acquisitions, Bank of America, Capmark Financial, Dermot Company, Epic UK, Five Mile Capital, Istithmar, J.E. Robert Companies, Paramount Group, Park Tower Group, Rockrose Development Corp, SL Green, Vornado Realty Trust, and Macklowe Properties. She has been a trusted strategic advisor to numerous prominent New York institutions, including American Bible Society, St. John’s University, Children’s Aid Society, MTA, Verizon, and Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York. Ms. Hwang was awarded the Top Broker of the Year by Real Estate Forum Magazine, a leading trade publication, and won CoStar’s prestigious Power Broker of the Year award from 2010 through 2014. The Asian American Business Development Center named her one of the 50 Outstanding Asian Americans in Business in 2011. Ms. Hwang also serves as an industry expert guest speaker for numerous conferences and some of the top REIT equity research teams in the nation, including Bank of America Merrill Lynch, ISI Group, FBR Capital Markets & Co, JMP Securities, and UBS. Ms. Hwang received her Bachelor of Science degree from the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration (Real Estate Finance), where she graduated “With Distinction.” She also holds a Master’s degree in Real Estate Investment and Development from New York University. Ms. Hwang is a New York State Certified Real Estate Appraiser and is a New York and New Jersey Licensed Salesperson.
Karen WiedenmannManaging Director
Karen Wiedenmann is a Managing Director in the Institutional Investment Sales Group of Meridian Investment Sales, LLC and has over 20 years of experience in the real estate industry. Ms. Wiedenmann specializes in due diligence review, preparation of marketing materials, and project management oversight for the sale, acquisition, and recapitalization of Manhattan properties. Notable transactions she has worked on include 666 Fifth Avenue, The MetLife Building, Park Avenue Tower/850 Third Avenue, 750 Third Avenue/485 Lexington Avenue. Ms. Wiedenmann was previously with CB Richard Ellis for seven years as a Senior Project Manager for the New York Capital Markets team, where she managed all components of the group’s marketing programs. Prior to joining CBRE in 1996, Ms. Wiedenmann managed New York City real estate assets for CB Hampshire, a New Jersey-based property management partnership between CBRE and Hampshire Management. Her prior experience includes facilities and property management experience for a 5.5 million square foot mixed-use New Jersey portfolio, as well as, free-lance property management and lease abstracting work. Ms. Wiedenmann has been involved in representing institutional owners and international marketing programs for over $18 billion of commercial real estate. Ms. Wiedenmann is a licensed real estate sales person in New York State. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Emerson College.
Brian SzczapaSenior Director
Brian Szczapa is a Senior Director in the Institutional Investment Sales Group of Meridian Investment Sales, LLC and has over 13 years of experience in the commercial real estate industry, including acquisition/disposition, development and corporate real estate management. Prior to joining Meridian Investment Sales, Mr. Szczapa was a member of the New York Investment Sales team at Cushman & Wakefield, which closed more than $6 billion in volume during his employment. He acted as a key member on due diligence and underwriting on several significant transactions in the residential and land/development sectors including 88 Leonard Street ($220 million), 22 River Terrace ($230 million), 101 Murray Street ($223 million), and 140 West Street ($274 million). Prior to joining Cushman & Wakefield, Mr. Szczapa was an Acquisitions Associate at SOVA Holdings, LLC, a subsidiary of a start-up Israeli publicly traded real estate investment company with an investment portfolio in the United States. The investment focus of the company was on income producing real estate, mezzanine debt, preferred equity deals and development projects. While with SOVA, Mr. Szczapa was involved with the firm’s operations, including initial capitalization, acquisitions, asset management and restructurings. Mr. Szczapa played a key role in the acquisition and refinancing of the company’s office assets, including Merritt Crossing (a Class-A office building in Milford, CT) and the L&C Tower (a Class-A office building in downtown Nashville, TN). Mr. Szczapa started his career in real estate as a financial analyst for Northern Bay Management Group, a full-service real estate management and consulting company in Long Island, NY. While at Northern Bay, Mr. Szczapa participated on a team that provided corporate real estate services for Computer Associates and was involved with the acquisition of the Long Island Marriott along with the initial planning of several large scale development projects. Mr. Szczapa received a MBA in Finance from Hofstra University and a BA in Journalism from New York University.
Ernie NicholsProject Manager
Ernie Nichols is Project Manager at Meridian Investment Sales, LLC and has 6 years of experience in the commercial real estate industry, including marketing platform management, deal and team administration, account management, and project management. Prior to joining Meridian Investment Sales, Mr. Nichols was a Senior Brokerage Coordinator at Cushman & Wakefield, where he worked with top executives in the New York Investment Sales Group in closing more than $6 billion in transaction volume. Prior to that, Mr. Nichols was Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations, Investor Services and Database Management for Touro Infirmary in New Orleans, where he managed the development of strategy, prospect identification, engagement, solicitation and stewardship of regional and national corporations and private foundations, oversaw the grants and proposals process for development and research and managed funds and the capital budget. Mr. Nichols has also supervised research protocols for the Federal Drug Administration at the Center for Gene Therapy at Tulane University’s School of Medicine. Mr. Nichols received a Bachelor of Science degree in Neuroscience and a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from Tulane University’s School of Science and Engineering. Mr. Nichols is a licensed real estate salesperson in New York.
Yasmin Kheradpey is an Associate in Meridian Capital’s Institutional Investment Sales Group. Her responsibilities in this role include, but are not limited to, acquisition/disposition, valuation/underwriting, research, transaction due diligence, and property marketing. Prior to joining the Meridian Capital, Ms. Kheradpey was an Associate with Cushman & Wakefield’s Capital Markets Group, as well as a part of Cushman & Wakefield’s inaugural Professional Real Estate Program (PREP). Through PREP, Ms. Kheradpey rotated within the firm’s numerous business lines, including; Valuation & Advisory, Equity, Debt & Structured Finance, Corporate Occupier & Investor Services, Investment Sales, Brokerage and Research. Ms. Kheradpey received her Bachelor of Science degree in Finance and Human Resources Management from Lehigh University’s College of Business and Economics. While at Lehigh University, Ms. Kheradpey was a three-time recipient of the Fioretti Family Scholarship for Real Estate and Entrepreneurship and won the Collins Family Real Estate Scholarship Competition and Practicum. Ms. Kheradpey is a licensed real estate salesperson in New York and a LEED Green Associate.
Ashley KimSenior Marketing Associate
Ashley Kim is a Senior Marketing Associate in the Institutional Investment Sales Group of Meridian Investment Sales, LLC. Her responsibilities at Meridian include the design of specialized, high-quality marketing pieces, such as offering memorandums, presentations, virtual tours, RFPs and all other marketing collaterals. Prior to joining Meridian Investment Sales, Ms. Kim worked at Cushman & Wakefield as a Senior Marketing Specialist. Prior to that, Ms. Kim was a Senior Designer Assistant at JST Trading Corp., a jewelry production company. At JST Trading Corp., she was responsible for the design all the marketing materials and maintenance of the company’s website. She also planned and designed marketing materials for the Las Vegas Jewelry Show. Ms. Kim received her Bachelor of Arts in Design from Hong-Ik University in Seoul, South Korea and studied Graphic Design at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Ms. Kim is a licensed real estate salesperson in New York.
Middle-Market Investment Sales
David SchechtmanSenior Executive Managing Director
Mr. Schechtman joined Meridian Investment Sales in April 2015 as a Senior Managing Director, overseeing a team of originators, analysts and other professionals. Mr. Schechtman is widely recognized as one of the most active and respected investment sales brokers in New York City, where he executes transactions throughout the City and across all asset classes, including multifamily, retail, office, industrial as well as land and conversions. While Mr. Schechtman routinely sells stabilized properties, he is acclaimed for his ability to work through complex transactions and recognize hidden value in various asset classes. A former bankruptcy litigator, he regularly is retained by major institutions to value and market senior, secured first mortgages. Over his career, Mr. Schechtman has completed more than $5.4 billion in real estate sales transactions. In 2015 alone, Mr. Schechtman completed more than 38 transactions totaling over $1 billion in proceeds. Prior to joining Meridian, he held the position of Principal and Executive Managing Director at Eastern Consolidated, where he was named “Broker of the Year” on multiple occasions. Prior to Eastern, Mr. Schechtman was a practicing attorney at DLA Piper in New York, where he specialized in commercial and property-related bankruptcy and litigation. Mr. Schechtman has been publicly recognized by The Real Deal as a “Titan”; on two occasions as among the “25 Most Visible New York City Real Estate Players Post Credit-Crunch” by The Commercial Observer in its “Power Broker” rankings; by The Real Deal as one of the “25 Most Visible New York City Real Estate Players Post-Credit Crunch”; and by Real Estate Weekly as one of New York City’s “Rising Stars.” Mr. Schechtman holds a J.D. from the Benjamin Cardozo School of Law where he graduated Magna Cum Laude and a B.A. from University of Delaware.
Lipa LiebermanManaging Director
Mr. Lieberman joined Meridian Investment Sales in April 2015 as a Managing Director. He has closed during his career more than $2 billion in real estate transactions. In addition to traditional commercial transactions, he has developed an expertise in bankruptcy sales. Prior to joining Meridian, Mr. Lieberman held the position of Senior Director at Eastern Consolidated, where he repeatedly was named the “Most Promising Broker of the Year.” Prior to that, Mr. Lieberman worked at Cornerstone Property Group. Mr. Lieberman has been recognized by Real Estate Forum as one of “Tomorrow’s Leaders,” and by Commercial Property Executive as a “Star to Watch.”
Mr. Kassin joined Meridian Investment Sales in April 2015 as a Director. Over the course of his career, he has closed more than $1 billion in real sales estate transactions. Prior to joining Meridian, Mr. Kassin was an Associate Director at Eastern Consolidated where he worked on variety of sales transactions. He specializes in the sale of high-end retail space in SoHo and on Fifth and Madison Avenues
Inbal Himelblau-DenmanManaging Director
Inbal Himelblau-Denman is a Managing Director in the New York office of Meridian Investment Sales, with extensive experience in commercial real estate investment sales in New York City. She has represented buyers and sellers in numerous complex transactions including ground leases and joint ventures across all asset types including office, multifamily, development, retail, and mixed-use properties. Overall, she has been responsible for the completion of approximately $1 billion in real estate transactions. Inbal participates in all aspect of investment sales, including property valuation, marketing and new business development, property tours and interactions with investors during the due diligence process. Inbal’s previous real estate experience includes the coordination and review of underwriting materials including offering memorandums, investment summaries, financial models, transaction analysis and property valuations. Inbal received her Masters of Science in Real Estate Finance from New York University’s Schack Institute, and a Bachelor Degree in Business and Information Technology from The Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), Arison School of Business in Israel. Inbal serves on the Sales Brokers Committee of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) and is an instructor for REBNY’s Continuing Education Program. She is also a Member of the Board of Directors of the NYU Alumni Association’s Marketing and Communication Committee, and participates on NYU Educational Panels. Inbal also volunteers for the United Land Institute (ULI) under its UrbanPlan program, which helps educate local high schools children on the fundamental forces that affect real estate development in our communities.
Mr. Steinmetz joined Meridian Investment Sales as a Director in October 2015. Prior to joining Meridian he was a Senior Investment Sales Associate at GFI Capital Resources and a Director of Investment Sales at Rosewood Realty Group. Mr. Steinmetz is a seasoned investment sales veteran and has transacted over $1 billion in commercial real estate, created and implemented team sales techniques and generated leads. Mr. Steinmetz focuses primarily on off-market transactions across all asset classes.
Mr. Velotta joined Meridian Investment Sales as a Director in March 2016. Prior to joining Meridian he was a Director of Sales, Senior Associate and Associate at Cushman & Wakefield (formerly Massey Knakal) based in Brooklyn and focusing on that market. Mr. Velotta also held the role of Assistant Vice President at HK Commercial Real Estate Group in Westport, CT. He has transacted over $200 million in commercial real estate and is a Brooklyn specialist. Mr. Velotta received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Bates College.
Mr. Burk joined Meridian Investment Sales as a Director in 2017 and is a seasoned investment sales advisor in New York City specializing in retail, mixed use, multifamily, development and hotel asset classes. Mr. Burk has closed approximately 50 transactions during the last 5 years as a broker and dozens of transactions as a commercial real estate attorney prior to transitioning to becoming an investment sales broker in 2010. Of note, Mr. Burk represented the purchaser in the landmark sale of 341 Eastern Parkway, a brand new construction mixed use elevator building in Crown Heights Brooklyn in the fall of 2016 for $52,000,000. With over 10 years’ experience as a commercial real estate broker and attorney, Burk is creative, yet methodical in his approach to deal making. His wide range of transactional experience includes: acquisitions, dispositions, leasing, financing, refinancing, workouts, short sales and estate sales. Mr. Burk holds a J.D. from the Fordham School of Law where he graduated Cum Laude and a B.A. from the University of Michigan.
Paul PatafioVice President
Mr. Patafio joined Meridian Investment Sales as a Vice President, responsible for coordinating the team’s underwriting and marketing efforts. Since joining Meridian, Mr. Patafio has worked closely with Mr. Schechtman in completing over forty transactions totaling over $1.35 billion. Responsible for overseeing the entire sales process, beginning with the preparation of initial valuation materials and extending through broad marketing campaigns and contract negotiations, he has worked across all asset classes throughout New York City. Prior to joining Meridian, Mr. Patafio was a Senior Associate with CBRE as part of the Institutional Sales Group in New York City. Prior to CBRE, he was with FTI Consulting in the Real Estate Solutions Group focused on asset valuations nationwide. Mr. Patafio holds a M.S. in Real Estate Finance and Investment from the NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate and a B.B.A. from the George Washington University.
Michael Feldman Joined Meridian Investment Sales in August of 2015. Mr. Feldman brings with him five years of commercial real estate experience, representing owners and operators executing transactions across retail, mixed-use, multi-family and hotel assets in New York. Prior to joining Meridian Investment Sales, Mr. Feldman served as an associate at the New York offices of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank. Working alongside top executives in the firm, Mr. Feldman aided his team in achieving its best calendar year, completing dozens of transactions representing New York University, Empire State Realty Trust, and MGM Real Estate. Mr. Feldman graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Economics from the Baruch College Zicklin School of Business. He is a licensed real estate salesperson in the state of New York and a member of REBNY. In addition to being a member of REBNY. I am also a member of RSA (Rent Stabilization Association).