Sanford “Sandy” Sigal
President and Chief Executive Officer
Sandy Sigal is a graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles and has been an entrepreneur in the real estate industry for over 30 years. In 1997, Mr. Sigal founded and currently serves as Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of NewMark Merrill Companies, which has grown to be one of the fastest growing privately held developers and owners of shopping centers in California, Colorado, and Illinois. He is also Chairman of BrightStreet Ventures, a company he co-founded to provide more opportunities to his tenants and other owners of centers by integrating on-line and social platforms with traditional brick and mortar businesses.
Mr. Sigal’s first career started at the age of 12 as a programmer and software developer for personal computers in their infancy, learning accounting and project management while computerizing different businesses. Mr. Sigal started his career in real estate at the age of 20 by joining West Venture Companies, a Southern California-based homebuilder, first to computerize their business processes. While there he founded West Venture Commercial, the commercial retail division, where he built or redeveloped over 25 shopping centers as well as oversaw their management. In 1993, Mr. Sigal was promoted to President and CEO of the parent company giving him responsibility for the land acquisition, development and sale of over 700 homes, and oversight of the commercial and mortgage divisions. In 1997, Mr. Sigal left West Venture and co-founded NewMark Merrill Companies at which time he purchased the West Venture retail assets, including 15 retail centers and 4 development projects.
Since NewMark Merrill’s inception in 1997, Mr. Sigal has acquired, developed and/or managed and repositioned over 100 additional retail centers. NewMark Merrill has been ranked one of Los Angeles’ Fastest Growing Private Companies by the Los Angeles Business Journal for 7 years, Top 10 Property Management Firms & Top 10 Development Firms by the Los Angeles Business Journal and currently owns and/or manages 85 shopping centers throughout California, Colorado and Illinois representing almost 11,000,000 square feet with a collective value in excess of $2 billion dollars. The Company received “The Best Retail Project of 2013” by the Los Angeles Business Journal for a project it renovated and redeveloped in Baldwin Park, California. It credits among its tenants Wal-Mart, Target, Whole Foods, Sprouts, Ralph’s, Albertsons, Ross Dress for Less, Marshalls, Regal Theaters, 99c Only Stores, CVS, Walgreen’s and other local and national retailers. The company has offices in Thousand Oaks, Norwalk, Anaheim, Oceanside, Sacramento, Chicago and Colorado and a corporate office in Woodland Hills.
Mr. Sigal is also active in community organizations serving on the Board of the Camp Bob Waldorf Foundation, a camp for underserved children which Mr. Sigal attended when he was a child. He is currently serving as Vice Chairman of the Board and dinner chair since 2004 and was recipient of the William Shatner Humanitarian Award in 2007 for his work for the Foundation and the Camp. He serves on the Board of Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters (JBBBS) serving on their executive committee. Mr. Sigal serves as a mentor for young adults interested in real estate through the Community Leadership Institute (CLI) and mentors an Olympic Athlete on transitioning from sports to private industry. Currently Mr. Sigal is Co-Chair of the Real Estate Principals Organization (RPO), a group of senior Jewish Real Estate Principals and Owners which provides financial and logistical support to a variety of organizations needing assistance. In 2019, Mr. Sigal was the honoree at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles Real Estate and Construction Dinner, and currently serves on their Board.
Mr. Sigal is an active member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO), the leading organization of CEO’s and Presidents in the World. He currently serves as Network Chair of the Real Estate Network, representing over 3,700 Real Estate CEO’s, Regional Membership and Engagement Officer for the Pacific Region, and serves on the Board of YPO Pacific Coast Gold (which he co-founded) and YPO Angeleno Gold. In 2013, Mr. Sigal’s YPO Education program for his chapter won “Best of the Best” for all YPO Chapters Worldwide. And in 2017, he again won “Best of the Best” Internationally for his Education Program, “House of Cards”, the only Learning Officer to win that distinction twice. Mr. Sigal was a finalist for the 2014 EY Entrepreneur Of The YearTM Awards Program, winning that award in 2016 in the Services Category for Greater Los Angeles.
Mr. Sigal was honored by Commercial Property Executive as Retail Property Executive of the Year Honorable Mention from CPE’s Executive of the Year Awards 2020. The San Fernando Valley Business Journal recognized NewMark Merrill as the #2 Fastest Growing Private Company in San Fernando, Santa Clarita, Conejo and Antelope Valleys in 2019. NewMark Merrill was also recognized in Inc.’s 2019 annual guide to the 5,000 fastest-growing privately held companies in the United States. Early in the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Mr. Sigal focused on publicly sharing guidance during the crisis on multiple video interviews and calls outlining strategies for surviving the severe impact to small businesses, frequently appearing on CNBC, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, NBC Los Angeles, ABC Los Angeles, LA Business Journal, GlobeSt., Shopping Centers Business, Commercial Property Executive, Commercial Observer, and many others.
Mr. Sigal has 4 children, and resides in Hidden Hills, California with his wife, Allison.
Chief Operating Officer
Long before Susan joined NMC as Chief Operating Officer (where she’s served brilliantly for the past seven years), her father gave her some life-changing advice. “I don’t care if you’re a ditch digger,” he said, “as long as you’re the BEST ditch digger.” Susan carried that be anything you want to be attitude from her childhood in Chicago to Purdue and Southern Illinois University and eventually to USC where she earned her MBA.
Susan’s real estate background is vast and significant. With more than 25 years of institutional asset management and investment advisory experience, paired with a strong track record of building and managing high-yielding teams, she has emerged as a veritable industry leader. She has overseen portfolios of more than 500 properties for both private and public companies.
She started as Vice President of Prudential Real Estate’s regional and mixed-use shopping centers, where she directed development, redevelopment and management of these properties. From there, she served as National Director of Asset Management at Burnham Pacific Properties, a public REIT, and was responsible for more than 10 million square feet of shopping centers and a team of 20 asset/property managers.
Later, she became a pension fund advisor for CalPERS, leading development, leasing, and management of various CalPERS shopping centers and multi-family assets, and then Senior Vice President at Centro-Watt, a private REIT, where she grew the portfolio to over $7 billion in assets spanning 39 states. Just before joining NewMark Merrill, Susan served at Shapell Industries managing joint venture relationships, creating strategic plans to unlock value, sourcing and nurturing new business opportunities, and supervising asset management and integrated disciplines.
In her role as COO, Susan has spearheaded many of NewMark Merrill’s initiatives to enhance the overall customer experience, creating collaborative synergy between operations and marketing. She has a distinctive mastery of deeply analyzing all facets of a project, synthesizing disparate data sets and infusing her thoughtful and personal approach to provide clear and concise direction to her team.
Susan has been inspired not only by her father, but also by formidable women like Julia Child and NASA’s Hidden Figures mathematicians. She has a fondness for music (Eric Clapton on guitar) and impressionist art (Van Gogh and Hockney) and she enjoys a full life outside of our doors - cooking, gardening, wine tasting and spending time with family and friends.
Chief Financial Officer
Some things are just meant to be. With real estate, development and accounting in Sandra’s blood—both sets of grandparents and parents had prominent careers in these fields—it was no wonder she landed in the CFO role at NewMark Merrill. Witnessing first-hand the many accomplishments of these familial role models, she was determined to follow in her ancestral footsteps.
Sandra joined NewMark Merrill Companies in 1999 as its Controller and then promptly promoted to Chief Financial Officer. Others might describe it as a roller coaster ride, but Sandra would choose another reference. She and roller coasters don't mix. She is responsible for all financial operations, including cash management, financial analysis of properties, feasibility studies and the due diligence for acquisitions, and brings more than 30 years of experience in Real Estate Accounting, Finance and Operations to the company.
Sandra attended University of San Diego and graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration. After working at the CPA firm, Kenneth Leventhal, and another firm in South Pasadena, Sandra earned her CPA license. Sandra also served as Assistant Regional Controller at CB Commercial, before she joined NewMark Merrill Companies 22 years ago.
Playing an active role in overseeing the financial aspects, as well as guiding the strategic direction of the company, Sandra is constantly inspired by her team and the success of the company.
When she’s out of the office and on the road, Sandra (along with her boyfriend) is likely to be on the back of a motorcycle or scoring on the soccer field. She has taken pet ownership to a new level with 2 dogs, 2 ducks and 4 horses, and loves a proper British plate of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.
Executive Vice President, Leasing & Development
When Co-Founders Sandy Sigal, Founder, President and CEO, and Brad sat down to form NewMark Merrill Companies in 1997, Sandy had an unusual recipe for success. He suggested that if they came to the office with the intention of proving that each was more valuable to the growth of the company than the other, they would thrive. Brad believed he was right and both he and Sandy have been successfully proving themselves ever since. Leading both the retail leasing and development divisions, he is directly involved in the repositioning and growth activities for the company with more than 1,500,000 square feet in the pipeline.
After graduating from UCLA with a degree in Business Economics, Brad (a native of Los Angeles) began his career in commercial investment real estate with Marcus & Millichap in Encino, California, and then at the San Fernando office of Capital Commercial Real Estate, where he specialized in commercial land development and retail leasing. He also has specialized in Retail Tenant Representation and maintained exclusive relationships with major tenants.
Since starting NewMark Merrill, Brad has negotiated lease agreements for well more than 3,000,000 square feet of retail space and has overseen the acquisition of the companies’ shopping center and development projects with values in excess of $400,000,000.
As an avid basketball player through his early 40s, he has always been a "team player." This philosophy encompassed all facets of his life which taught him how to solve problems, support his teammates and work toward common goals. He is extremely grateful to have been able to help instill the same sense of camaraderie within the NewMark Merrill team.
Brad is driven by an optimism about the future, living by his favorite John Wooden quote: “Things work out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out.” He’s never met a pizza he didn’t like and enjoys skiing, traveling and watching sports. Along with his wife and two grown children, he continues to enjoy the ride!
Senior Vice President, Acquisitions
Jim Patton has been part of the Newmark Merrill team since its very inception, helping launch what would become the lucrative and cutting-edge business it is today. In those wild “West Venture Development'' days, Jim’s USC/Penn State education and advertising industry experience proved invaluable in his first role as Marketing Director.
Today, Jim serves as the company’s Senior Vice President, Acquisitions where he is responsible for acquiring existing shopping centers, securing management contracts and sourcing raw land for development. Additionally, he oversees the asset management of several NewMark Merrill Southern California properties.
After a Southern California childhood in Rancho Palos Verdes, Jim earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from University of Southern California before heading east to complete his MBA at Penn State. Jim has been a featured guest on several panels for the International Council of Shopping Centers and served as the Co-Chairman for the 2010 ICSC Long Beach Convention. He’s also contributed back to his alma mater, USC, as a guest speaker at the Marshall School of Business.
Jim is a modern-day Renaissance man. He’s sold two original screenplays and has watched Jaws more than 100 times. A self-proclaimed expert pumpkin carver, he also boasts a stellar youth sports coaching record (lifetime winning percentage above .900), collects wheat pennies, keeps up with the National Enquirer and celebrates his birthday annually with KFC. Additionally, he can recite the poem Jabberwocky verbatim, is the reigning office trivia champ and has a strong distaste for slim-fit clothing. He loves ‘70s movies and ‘80s music, drinks Irish Whiskey, cold Mexican beer, lime Perrier and is a sucker for sushi and chicken parmesan. He also believes Pringles go well with everything.
A product of his SoCal upbringing, Jim is a true blue LA sports fan — a USC season ticket holder since 1995 and a loyal Dodgers and Rams fan since he could swing a bat and throw a pass.
Jim and his family (wife Michelle; kids Abby and Sean; and Vizsla Hooper) reside in Manhattan Beach, CA, where he enjoys watching his kids play soccer and lacrosse (Abby), and football and baseball (Sean). Inspired by his self-made-man father, he strives to be a similar role model for his own children.
Managing Director, NewMark Merrill South
On John’s first day at NewMark Merrill in 2003, he stepped into an empty San Diego office without a desk, computer or employees—literally not a thing in it. He was hit with the reality that the company was placing total trust in him to build the San Diego division from the ground up. Though nerves were on edge at the time, this sense of empowerment and ownership has been a consistent driving force for John as he continues to grow the San Diego region through acquisitions, management and new development.
Previously, as Sr. Vice President with Flocke & Avoyer Commercial Real Estate, John was recognized as the Top Salesperson of the Year for the company a total of nine times during his 17 year tenure. He was also honored twice as the Retail Deal-Maker of the Year from the San Diego County Commercial Association of Realtors. In total, John has been involved in hundreds of deals totaling more than $1B in retail sale and lease transactions.
With undergrad and graduate degrees in Economics and Finance from University of California, San Diego and San Diego State University, respectively, John lives by the mantra, “Whatever you are thinking, think bigger.”
He spends his free time on the golf course, hiking Torrey Pines with family and enjoying local fare at nearby restaurants. He’s tremendously proud of children; a daughter, in Medical School at UCSD and a son, recently graduated from SMU and working for Wells Fargo in their Dallas real estate lending program.
Senior Vice President, Leasing
Several mornings a week, Darren grabs his bike and climbs to the top of a local mountain. On his run down, he relishes the wonders of nature — grand sunrises, rugged terrain, an occasional creature and peaceful solitude. It is this ritual that clears his head for a day of intense leasing strategy and deal-making.
During his over 20 years with NewMark Merrill, Darren has made a different kind of climb, starting as Leasing Associate and working his way up to his current role as Senior Vice President, Leasing. He’s seen and enjoyed it all - epic holiday parties, strategy meetings, scotch Friday’s (self-explanatory) and mostly witnessing the rise and success of the company and his teammates, believing that growth is contagious when everyone is headed in the same direction.
From managing all things leasing across the portfolio for centers in California, Colorado and Illinois, to forming invaluable long-lasting relationships with owners, tenants and brokers, Darren has contributed immensely at NMC. His efforts include more than 1,000 leasing and management transactions – comprising millions of square feet in more than 50 shopping centers.
Darren was exposed to retail as a teen, when he worked in a clothing warehouse and saw first-hand the hard work it took to run a retail business. With a BS in Marketing and Entrepreneurship from University of Colorado (Go Buffs!), Darren landed a spot at the Enterprise Rent a Car management training program. As Assistant Manager and then Account Manager, he found a passion for sales and a knack for relationship building, so he made the leap to NewMark Merrill and hasn’t looked back since.
Darren is a taco sensei and a sucker for a thoughtfully-crafted Italian sub. He leads an active life with his wife, two children and border collie (Dotty) — swimming, riding bikes, playing sports and hanging at the beach.
Danaria McCoy, CRRP
Vice President, Operations & Marketing, NewMark Merrill Mountain States
When President/CEO Sandy Sigal told Danaria that community engagement was a top priority at NewMark Merrill, she knew she had landed in the right place. As Vice President of Operations & Marketing (and previously Division Operations Director), she leads NewMark Merrill’s Colorado division. One of her great joys is creating engaging experiences for communities while achieving optimum values— a feat she regularly accomplishes having developed successful marketing programs for more than 5,000,000 SF of Class A retail assets valued at nearly $1 billion. Danaria's passion for service was naturally fostered by both of her parents — a creative author mother, and an Army Colonel father — and her childhood spent in the heart of America, Kansas City, MO.
After graduating from the University of Nebraska with dual degrees in Advertising and Broadcasting, Danaria served as Director of Sales and Marketing for Rocky Mountain Entertainment, then was introduced to commercial real estate by ServiceStar Development Company. As Vice President of Property Management & Marketing, Danaria was integral in the development, asset management and marketing for the first-ever privately-operated shopping center on a U.S. military installation — Freedom Crossing at Fort Bliss — where she navigated the complexities of PPV agreements and integrating 3rd party tenant property management and Department of Defense regulations.
Since joining NewMark Merrill, Danaria has sought every opportunity to improve the customer experience and property operational performance. From the smallest landscaping detail to 10,000+ person events, every touchpoint is considered, prioritized and innovated under Danaria’s keen leadership.
A recognized expert within the industry, Danaria has continued to hone her craft, earning an impressive number of marketing and real estate certifications including Certified Retail Real Estate Professional (CRRP), Certified Retail Executive (CRX), Certified Marketing Director (CMD) and Certified Shopping Center Manager (CSM). She has won several ICSC U.S. MAXI Gold Awards and regularly serves as an ICSC faculty member, presenting and instructing classes throughout the United States.
In any given free moment, you might find Danaria and her husband and two sons, traveling an off-the-beaten-path Colorado road with some “Yacht Rock” playing (Danaria’s guilty pleasure) - seeking new possibilities for outdoor adventure. Oh, and rumor has it that she holds a solid 20+ year streak of starting one-match campfires.
Vice President, People Operations
The people at NewMark Merrill are key to the company’s success and Lisa Polis is at the heart of this vital priority. Maya Angelou once said, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Crafting and influencing the way employees feel on a day-to-day basis is Lisa’s most important consideration. Bringing previous experiences at PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Laurel Hall School with her, Lisa handles everything human resources at NewMark Merrill.
Lisa’s approach to work and life was shaped by a mother who had never-ending perseverance and a remarkable work ethic. She seeks to make a positive impact on everyone with whom she interacts and thrives on getting out into the field to make a heart-warming community impact alongside fellow employees.
Her hometown of Hauppauge, NY (she’ll pay you $1 for a first-time correct pronunciation), led her to Binghamton University where she earned a BA in Political Science and Economic Issues. She is the proud mother of a daughter (24) and two boys (21 and twins) and considers raising them her biggest, best and most joyful accomplishment in life.
Lisa’s a fierce Scrabble competitor, an avid fiction reader and she MUST have lasagne for her annual birthday dinner.
Luca A. Giovanardi
Vice President, Development & Construction
Growing up in the Italian Alps, Luca Giovanardi was first on skis at the age of three. But skiing was not the only thing he experienced early in life. Luca’s father was a developer who brought Luca to site visits at a very young age. It was these frequent and experiential snippets that led Luca to uncover his passion for real estate development.
After moving to the US at age 19, he graduated Summa Cum Laude from Arizona State University with a BS in Business Management, at which time he launched his career following in his father’s footsteps.
Before joining NewMark Merrill, he was Vice President and Director of Project Management at Evergreen Devco, where he established and led a development team responsible for executing the strategic rollout of Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market stores in CA for Tesco, the third-largest retailer in the world. During his time at Evergreen Devco, he managed more than 45 ground-up and remodel developments and completed over 500,000 sf of retail space equating to approximately $100MM in construction costs. He was responsible for the development of the 300,000 sf Goodyear Centerpointe regional shopping center in Goodyear, AZ.
As NewMark Merrill’s Director of Development and Construction, Luca is responsible for the execution of all ground-up and remodel projects nationwide, including due diligence, lease exhibit negotiations, budgeting, entitlements, design, permitting, bidding, value engineering, and construction management. Since joining the company in 2012, he has overseen the development of over 1.25MM sf of retail space and managed over $100MM in construction costs.
Most notably, Luca executed the ground-up development of the 490,000 sf, $90MM Village at the Peaks mall in Longmont, CO, and the redevelopment of the 314,640 sf Crenshaw Imperial Plaza shopping center in Inglewood, CA. The prior renovation of the 180,000 sf Park Plaza On Maine shopping center in Baldwin Park, CA received the Los Angeles Business Journal’s Best Retail Project award in 2014.
With a knack of building strong relationships with municipalities and retailers, and always seeking and identifying value-engineering opportunities, Luca has been instrumental in positioning NewMark Merrill with a strong competitive edge. He’s currently working on hotel and residential development opportunities to enhance the company’s retail centers and expand their capabilities.
In addition to spending time with his wife Katherine and son Leo, Luca still ranks skiing at the top of his favorite activity list, along with travel to anywhere with a white sand beach. During the pandemic, he was drawn to the “socially-distanced” sport of golf and is now on the course every chance he gets.
Vice President, Acquisitions & Development
Barret believes in two notions related to business: First, one phone call can connect you to an amazing opportunity, and second, having the right mentor can absolutely change your life. While in college, he was fortunate enough to experience both.
After working at an excruciatingly painful summer internship while studying finance at University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, he knew next time he would follow his passion and not just “settle” for any job. Barret always had an interest in large buildings, construction projects and malls and wondered to himself, “who builds, owns and manages these things?”
That’s what led him to research and cold-call the owner/manager of a local apartment complex. What began as a surprising return phone call (after the many initial calls Barret placed), led to an internship and a mentor who was willing to expose him to every aspect of the business, including acquiring more apartment buildings while he was still an undergrad.
This unique hands-on experience led Barret to his role with CenterCal Properties as a Development Associate, where he was involved in more than $400 million worth of ground up development projects in California. He oversaw the entitlement, construction and stabilization of 2nd & PCH, a 215,000 square foot waterfront retail lifestyle destination in Long Beach and served on CenterCal’s investment committee, evaluating and analyzing new business opportunities for the company. Previous to that, he served in both Acquisitions and Asset Management at Site Centers.
As a relatively new team member at NewMark Merrill, Barret holds the position of Vice President of Acquisitions & Development for the San Diego division. He is responsible for sourcing and overseeing acquisitions of existing properties, and identifies and manages new development projects within San Diego, South Orange and South Riverside Counties.
Barret takes a competitive approach to his own growth, attempting to learn something new every day. This potentially stems from his one-time experience driving in the competitive 24 Hours of Lemons endurance racing series for “lemon” cars. Coming from a bitter cold climate, he thrives on many Southern California lifestyle activities and sports including skateboarding, basketball, beach outings, snowboarding and exploring the incredible food and beverage scene in the area.
Vice President, Leasing & Development
Nearly a decade ago, Greg Giacopuzzi took a leap of faith in NewMark Merrill. Living a sun-filled life on the beach in San Diego, he accepted the company’s offer to relocate to the sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles, leaving behind a good job, great friends and the city he had called home since college. Although growing pains were part of the transition, his decision to push beyond his comfort zone proved to be a good one. He’s learned tremendously from conquering his fears and now takes every opportunity to challenge himself and others in his daily work.
As part of the team, he quickly progressed with NewMark Merrill, starting as Leasing Associate and advancing to where he is today—Vice President, Leasing & Development. Orchestrating the leasing strategy and implementation for more than 30 Shopping Centers in Southern California, he heads the lease process from the initial letter of intent negotiations all the way through to the tenant grand opening. He also oversees marketing of the NewMark Merrill Southern California portfolio and interfaces with brokers and tenant real estate executives to lease space to regional and national companies. Greg has successfully closed over 700 career lease transactions, including lease negotiations with more than 100 national companies such as Sprouts, ALDI, Grocery Outlet, ULTA, Starbucks, Five Below, and many more. He’s emerged as an industry leader and is an active member of ICSC and ACRE, frequently organizing social gatherings for colleagues and industry counterparts.
Prior to joining the NewMark Merrill team, Greg was a client services director for Superior Mobile Medics in San Diego, and managed the front desk at The Village at Mammoth hotel in Mammoth Lakes. He spends his weekends traveling, watching old movies with his wife, Rory, and going on excursions with his playful dog, Whisky. Greg is very active and loves to partake in almost any outdoor activity, including snowboarding, surfing and golfing. He’s also been known to occasionally strum some of his favorite Blink 182 and Metallica songs on his guitar.
When asked what drives him every day — he admitted, “Hands down it’s the amazing team I work with. When you surround yourself with such incredibly smart, committed and hard working people, you can’t help but to be motivated to contribute and do your part. The sky is literally the limit.”