Alum Finds Niche in Real Estate Development Program

Jason McDonough had a rare opportunity to witness the benefits of the Mason Masters in Real Estate Development program before enrolling when a colleague completed the degree. Watching her knowledge base and industry connections expand during her time at Mason was the impetus he needed to apply.

A 2015Jason McDonough graduate of the program, McDonough is a senior vice president at Cardinal Bank. Currently, he is managing a $200 million loan portfolio and working with a number of builders, investors, and developers in the Northern Virginia market.

McDonough’s father was a well-respected, local community banker and McDonough notes “I had great admiration for him and the way he was able to help people.”

He joined Cardinal Bank right out of college in 2006, but it wasn’t until 2010 that he joined the real estate department at Cardinal and discovered his passion.

After realizing that he wanted to advance his career within the real estate sector and seeing the impact Mason’s MS in Real Estate Development had on colleague Alexandria Bettius, he decided to pursue the degree at Mason in 2013.

Accepting the Challenge

One of the most impactful experiences he had during the program was participating in the NAIOP Capital Challenge, both as a team member in 2014 and as a coach in 2015. An annual event, the best and brightest from the Masters of Real Estate programs at American University, Georgetown University, George Mason University, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Maryland create comprehensive real estate development strategies for a local development project. The winning team receives the Capital Challenge Cup and a $10,000 scholarship.

While they didn’t take home the prize in 2014, Mason won in 2015 with McDonough as the coach.

“This was a truly amazing experience to work hand-in-hand with the Mason MS in Real Estate Development program director, the department faculty, and my fellow students to produce a winning proposal that was recognized across the industry says McDonough. “Knowing that I helped coach a team to victory using the knowledge that I gained through my time in the program was extremely rewarding.”

McDonough credits much of what he learned in the program to Mark Hassinger, president of WestDulles Properties and an instructor in Mason’s program.

“Professor Hassinger taught several classes in the program which set the foundation for my career at Mason.” McDonough says, “I learned more from Professor Hassinger over the last two years than I think he realizes. I owe a lot to him.”

In addition to his success in the NAIOP Capital Challenge, McDonough maintained a 4.0 GPA in the program and was selected as the 2015 Outstanding Award recipient for the MS in Real Estate Development program.

Hassinger says, “Jason has been one of the finest students to have completed the program as well as one with superior leadership skills and great character traits.”

In addition to continuing to be a part of Cardinal Bank, McDonough intends to start investing in real estate development projects using the knowledge and connections gained during his time in the Mason Masters in Real Estate Development program.

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Janet Palmisano

Janet Palmisano is a member of the Recruiting and Admissions team at the George Mason University School of Business.

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