Monday, November 19, 2001

Fern Barrueta is changing careers.
Mr. Barrueta, a veteran commercial real estate broker and a Washington business institution, will become president and chief executive of the Hispanic College Fund Dec. 1.
“I’m at the age now where I am starting to look at what I really want to do when I grow up,” says Mr. Barrueta, 58.
The move ends a 30-year career in real estate for the man known as “Fernie” to his oldest friends. Mr. Barrueta started his career in the early 1970s, and bounced around several local brokerages before starting his own firm in 1986. Eventually, his firm became part of national brokerage Transwestern.
During his career, Mr. Barrueta handled some of Washington’s biggest tenants and landlords, including the Washington Post Co. and Verizon.
He also racked up many industry awards. The Washington D.C. Association of Realtors named him Realtor of the Year in 1991, and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce gave him its Businessman of the Year award in 1994.
“I guess I’ve been as successful as anyone in this industry, but it just felt like I was going to be of coasting if I didn’t make a change,” he says.
Mr. Barrueta’s new job will give him a chance to pursue one of his passions: education. He also sits on the boards of trustees for the University of the District of Columbia and the Montgomery College Foundation.
“I get up at 5 every morning excited about my new job. Education is so important for young people. It’s so essential to success,” he says.
The Hispanic College Fund is a young outfit with only a handful of staffers, but it has ambitious goals. Mr. Barrueta believes the group will succeed, and isn’t worried about starting a career as a fund-raiser during a sluggish economy.
“It’s always hard to raise money, but businesses are looking at education as the most important investment they can make,” he says.
Mr. Barrueta will be missed, says one of his proteges, Willard Freeman of Washington’s Freeman Group real estate company. “He is a tornado of activity. This industry’s loss is the Hispanic College Fund’s gain,” Mr. Freeman says.

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Chris Baker can be reached at 202/636-3139 or cbaker@washingtontimes.com.

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