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Real Estate Associate – Development, Self-Help Credit Union

As far as DFI is concerned, it was love at first sight for Jonathan Peterson. Peterson was admitted to UNC for a Master’s in City and Regional Planning and heard a student present her DFI project at an open house. “I just fell in love with the concept of being a consultant for local government, doing real estate development for public service… I knew then I wanted to go to UNC and that I wanted to become a DFI Fellow,” he said.

Peterson said of his DFI training, “It really challenged me in ways I don’t feel like I’ve been challenged before. When I first started, I knew how to work Excel, but I didn’t know how to build financial models.” This experience has helped Peterson in his role at Self-Help Ventures Fund, where he is working on community development and affordable housing projects in Durham and Greensboro.

His tenure as a development associate allowed Peterson to be mentored by DFI project managers. “I had some great mentors, who took the time, time they didn’t have to take, to really provide guidance and be a sounding board for future plans.” Peterson noted that even before he became a Fellow, DFI faculty director Tyler Mulligan sat down with him for “two hours, learning my story.”

Peterson hopes that one day he can bring the skills he first developed at DFI back to his home state of Mississippi. “It’s been awesome to see all the things happening here . . . My time at both DFI and at Self-Help are helping me develop a critical lens in development, so when I go back to Mississippi, I can help out there.

It really challenged me in ways I don’t feel like I’ve been challenged before.


-Jonathan Peterson

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