With Nearly $1 Billion Transactions Under Her Belt, Rachel Edwards of The Davis Companies Started as a Food Influencer

Rachel Edwards

BOSTON— With nearly $1 billion transactions under her belt, The Davis Companies Vice President of Investments Rachel Edwards is an early version of a food influencer.

“Many people don’t know that a key part of my early career included writing restaurant reviews,” says Ms. Edwards. “I’m a long-time foodie and was what I consider to be an early version of a food influencer.”

At Davis, Ms. Edwards is responsible for expanding the company’s existing multifamily investment business, targeting opportunities in the Eastern U.S. and Sunbelt. She plays a key role in pursuing value-add, development, workforce, and affordable housing.

Ms. Edwards will be honored as the Outstanding Women of Commercial Real Estate 2024 by the Boston Real Estate Times on Feb. 22, 2024 at its Annual Awards gala at the Burlington Marriott Hotel in Burlington, MA. To register for the gala, please click here.

Boston-based Davis is a vertically integrated real estate investment, development and management firm that leverages five decades of experience, the strength of its leadership team and employees, and a diversified portfolio to deliver maximum value for its investors and tenants. Investing across the United States, Davis prides itself on taking a nimble, collaborative approach to delivering best-in-class results from complex opportunities.

With $12.5 billion in gross asset value invested through real estate equity, debt and fixed-income securities, Davis today owns a real estate portfolio of approximately 14 million square feet of healthcare and life science, industrial, retail, office and hospitality properties and more than 5,000 residential units across the United States.

Aubrey Hills at Hayden Glade, Austin, TX

During the beginning of her career at Davis, Ms. Edwards worked with the team to acquire 1K units of rent-restricted apartment properties across three markets in Texas. The business plan for each property includes addressing deferred maintenance, actively managing the community to institutional standards, and improving resident services. This portfolio has played well to the firm’s skillset with physical and operational oversight, allowing for quality of life improvement for hundreds of families.

Stonehill at Hayden Glade, Austin, TX

Prior to joining Davis, Ms. Edwards worked for Winn Development as the Vice President of Acquisitions where she generated more than $900 million in real estate transactions, including acquisitions and dispositions of properties in 13 states. In her 14-year career at Winn she supervised the sourcing and acquisition of residential housing properties including rehabilitation of historic buildings and fractured condominium developments with a focus on the creation of mixed- and low-income housing.

Ms. Edwards is a past member of the Rental Housing Association Board of Directors, the Real Estate Finance Association Board and Government Affairs Committee at the Greater Boston Real Estate Board, the Legislative Committee at Preservation Massachusetts, the Historic Tax Credit Coalition at National Trust, board member at the Advent School in Boston and the Legislative Leadership Committee of National Housing & Rehabilitation Association. She was the recipient of the 2010 Preservation Massachusetts Paul E. Tsongas Profiles in Preservation Award and winner of the Connect CRE 2020 Women in Real Estate.

Ms. Edwards holds a Bachelor of Science from Boston University and is a licensed real estate professional.

Here is a Q/A with Ms. Edwards:

Boston Real Estate Times: What do you enjoy most about your work?

Rachel Edwards: Commercial real estate is both challenging and collaborative. Every day brings new scenarios and hurdles, as well as opportunities to work together with my team to navigate them. It is through these experiences that I’ve grown immensely from my mentors, and that I seek to help mentees looking to enter the field of commercial real estate to reach their full potential.

BRET: What do success and failure mean to you?

RE: In my experience, success and failure are often intertwined. I consider myself a juggernaut, continuously forging ahead with an unrelenting spirit. My growth has predominantly been fueled by hands-on experiences and learning through trial and error. I firmly believe that making mistakes and learning from them has been a crucial catalyst for my personal and professional development.

For me, success extends beyond the mere accumulation of accomplishments; it is about living a well-adjusted life professionally and personally, as well as nurturing both physical and mental well-being. It is the pursuit of a balanced and fulfilling existence, where each facet contributes to a sense of success and achievement.

BRET: What is the one thing you attribute your success to?

RE: My mentors, people who believed in my potential and generously provided their time to answer my questions and offer guidance. Their support was instrumental in preparing me for success, as they not only shared their wisdom but also encouraged me to embrace risks. Their guidance became a driving force that propelled me throughout my career.

BRET: To which charitable, community and professional groups do you belong and why?

RE: I have been involved in more than 10 boards over the course of my commercial real estate career, including the Rental Housing Association Board of Directors; the Real Estate Finance Association Board and Government Affairs Committee at the Greater Boston Real Estate Board; the Legislative Committee at Preservation Massachusetts; the Historic Tax Credit Coalition at National Trust; and the Legislative Leadership Committee of National Housing & Rehabilitation Association.

Beyond real estate, I also served on the board of Harbor Arts, an East Boston organization that cultivates community at the intersection of public art and activism. I am incredibly passionate about how the arts can strengthen neighborhoods, create space for advocacy, and advance DEI efforts.

My future plans for community and professional involvement are evolving; looking forward, I plan to focus on mentoring the next generation of commercial real estate professionals, both within Davis and beyond, with a focus on elevating women and those from historically marginalized groups.

BRET: In what way do you feel you have most positively influenced or served the local community, your company/organization or professional field?

RE: I have been in commercial real estate for 19 years. When I look back over this tenure I have been actively engaged in various boards where I have fostered connections with stakeholders and utilized my growing knowledge to be a voice in problem-solving endeavors. As I look forward to the next 19+ years I have shifted my focus from board involvement to mentoring the next generation. I currently serve as the tri-chair of Davis’ Women’s Group, where I determine curriculum and run events to empower women across the firm. I also began mentoring high schoolers and young professionals interested in commercial real estate.

BRET: Is there any aptitude, gift or talent that not many people know about you?

RE: I’m a long-time foodie and was what I consider to be an early version of a food influencer. Many people don’t know that a key part of my early career included writing restaurant reviews.

BRET: What are your hobbies and interests?

RE: I am passionate about outdoor activities with my interests and hobbies revolving around nature. In the warmer months I enjoy gardening after work and on the weekends mountain biking the Eastern Trail, boogie boarding at Old Orchard Beach, skiing, and snorkeling. I find great joy in exploring countries outside the United States, embracing diverse cultures and landscapes.

BRET: Your favorite books?

RE: One book that had an impact on my life was Chimpanzee Politics by primatologist Frans de Waal, which analyzes the social structures and interactions that are commonly experienced between both humans and our early ancestors.

More recently, I enjoyed reading Michelle Obama’s Becoming and am currently reading Elon Musk’s biography; I admire their stories of how they’ve reached their potential.

I’m also awaiting the day my daughter is assigned to read Animal Farm by George Orwell in school so that we can read it together.

BRET: Your favorite quotes?

RE: I am stuck between “I need to save money” and “you only live once.”

BRET: The one person you would like to meet and why?

RE: Queen Elizabeth II is a remarkable figure, embodying strength in the face of adversity and witnessing a transformative shift in the perception of women leaders. Over seven decades, she navigated the complexities of monarchy, collaborated with 15 prime ministers, and balanced her royal duties while raising a family. Her extraordinary life experiences are truly captivating.

BRET: What are the core values you try to live by?

RE: I am a big believer in the value of paying it forward; this includes both through mentorship, as others have done for me, as well as through the concept that the more you make, the more you should give.

I am also incredibly passionate about social justice issues, especially food insecurity. An important value that I live by, and want others to be aware of, is that access to healthy food should be considered a basic human right.

BRET: What inspires you?

RE: I have always been inspired by other’s drive and ambition to be successful in whatever they do or whatever their passion is.

Growing up, I was told time and time again that there were things I couldn’t do and shouldn’t strive for – all of these “cant’s” have pushed me to establish my own metrics of success and motivated me to never stop striving for the best I can do.