James Lester is President of Pioneering Group Development, LLC.
Jim grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, a city whose faded economic vibrancy sparked an early interest in the power of real estate development to drive, or derail, the growth of the social, economic, and cultural life of a city. This interest has only deepened over his 20-year career, during which he has encountered many unseen pockets of opportunity for development in neighborhoods with varied economic profiles in Manhattan and Brooklyn. At the helm of PGD, Jim is poised to finally seize some of these opportunities and bring his ideas to fruition.
Before launching PGD, Jim served as Executive Vice President of Sports and Entertainment Development at Forest City Ratner Companies. At Forest City Ratner, Jim was tapped to lead the development of the most high-profile project in the company's portfolio, Barclays Center, the sports arena that would become the home of the Brooklyn Nets and the cornerstone of the $4.9 billion, 22-acre mixed-use, Pacific Park project in Brooklyn.
In his 17 years at Forest City Ratner, Jim also worked on the purchase, oversight, and sale of the Nets Basketball franchise, built the 2,000 person-operating organization that runs the arena, led negotiations with Nassau County to acquire the right to redevelop Nassau Veteran's Memorial Coliseum, and developed various residential, commercial and mixed-use projects in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Jim also spent nearly a decade as a work place mentor for Big Brothers, Big Sisters of America. He has served as a member of the board of Long Island Association, Inc., since 2016.
Jim began his real estate career at Austin Lawrence Partners in Aspen, Colorado. Jim is a graduate of Duke University.