Executives Lauren Ball and Juyuan Wei join CEO on a continued growth trajectory.
LOS ANGELES, CA – Westwood Financial (Westwood), a leading retail real estate investment firm, announces the promotion of senior retail executives Lauren Ball and Juyuan Wei to the company’s C-Suite. Chief Operating Officer Lauren Ball and Chief Financial Officer Juyuan Wei will support CEO Mark Bratt in steering the strategic growth of the privately held company. Both positions are effective immediately.
“These well-deserved promotions come at a time when Westwood is achieving record performance with the portfolio showing steady annual growth and a fully engaged team of employees,” explains Mark Bratt, Chief Executive Officer. “A good portion of our ongoing success is due to these leaders’ impressive depth of knowledge in their respective fields, excellent work ethic, and strong leadership skills.” Combined, the two executives add nearly four decades of commercial real estate experience to the executive management team.
Chief Operating Officer Ball joined Westwood as Senior Vice President and Head of Leasing in 2021. Since then, she has led the leasing team to the highest percentage of leased space in the company’s history. Topping 96.8% leased as of year-end 2022, the 127-property retail portfolio achieved same-store NOI growth of 5.6 percent year-over-year. In her new role, Ball will oversee a team of top leasing, construction, legal, marketing, and property management professionals who will support the stability and profitability of the 8.9 million-sq. ft. retail portfolio.
“In the two years since she joined our company, Lauren has impressed us with her willingness to roll up her sleeves and get things done,” says Bratt. “We brought her on to establish a leasing infrastructure to support a positive trajectory for our retail portfolio. She’s accomplished that and more, and I’m confident that as Chief Operating Officer, that trajectory will solidify and continue.” Ball is based in the company’s Atlanta office.
Previously, Ball served as Vice President of Leasing for SITE Centers. She and her team were responsible for leasing a retail portfolio of shopping centers throughout the Southeast totaling 18 million SF. Her commercial real estate career includes more than $1 billion in transactions across the United States. Ball earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Colorado.
Chief Financial Officer Wei joined Westwood in 2018 and previously served as Senior Vice President of Finance and Accounting. Since 2021, he raised $160 million in debt for the company’s credit facility and strategically shifted $115 million of variable debt to fixed debt as interest rates rapidly climbed. In his new position, Wei will play a pivotal role in strategic planning, business development, and risk management to ensure that the performance of Westwood’s $1.6 billion retail portfolio avoids pitfalls and works to outperform projections. He will oversee a team of dedicated accounting, capital markets, finance, tax, and investor relations professionals.
“Westwood’s overall financial strength is due to Juyuan’s dedication to achieving a flexible debt structure that allows Westwood to capitalize on opportunities,” explains Bratt. “From the moment he joined our team, he’s been instrumental in making data-informed strategies and smart decisions that have effectively positioned our retail portfolio for year-over-year growth. His ability to understand the complex relationships between finance, accounting, and the capital markets is a great asset for Westwood.” Wei is based in the Los Angeles office.
Wei previously served as Senior Finance Manager for Irvine Company, overseeing real estate strategy, financial analysis, and development planning for the 60 million-sq. ft. portfolio in both Irvine’s Office and Retail divisions. Wei received a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a master’s degree from the Paul Merage School of Business at the University of California, Irvine.
About Westwood Financial
Westwood Financial owns, manages, and operates 127 high-quality shopping centers in top U.S. metropolitan markets, including Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Orlando, Phoenix, and Raleigh. The centers are primarily anchored by top-tier grocers and leading service and experiential-based operators. Established in 1970, Westwood Financial is headquartered in Los Angeles, with regional offices in Atlanta, Dallas, and Phoenix.