Leadership Team

We bring a diverse perspective
to all of our projects

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Benathan Upshaw
Managing Partner/ Co-Founder

Ben Upshaw is a real estate executive that has structured and closed over $500 million of housing projects. As the former Director of Finance for the New York City Housing Partnership (NYCHP) – one of New York City’s largest sponsors of residential housing—and former Director of Real Estate Development for Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement, Inc. (HCCI) he has been involved in the financing and developing of multi-family, single-family, condos, coops and mixed-use properties. Ben has also served as a consultant for non-profit organizations within the City of Buffalo developing affordable housing.

As co-founder of CB-Emmanuel Realty, LLC, he works with the organization to oversee the financing and development of CBE’s pipeline across New York State. In recent years, he has spearheaded the firm’s expansion into Western New York to include deals in Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Cheektowaga, Rochester, Sodus and Williamson, NY. His desire to help shape housing policy has driven him to seek opportunities to serve on boards such as the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB), the Erie County Housing Task Force and most recently the New York State Advisory Board of Enterprise Community Partners. Ben enjoys mentoring students at the University of Buffalo’s Master of Real Development Program where he serves as member of the Advisory Committee.

Ben received his Bachelor of Science from Canisius College and his Master of Science in Real Estate, with a concentration in Investment, from NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate. 

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R. Christopher Bramwell Jr.
Managing Partner/ Co-Founder

R. Christopher Bramwell, Jr. is a second-generation real estate professional and investor with over 25 years of industry experience.  His passion for community development led him to co-found CB Emmanuel Realty LLC (CBE) with his partner Ben Upshaw in 2005.  He is also a founding member and co-chair of the New York Real Estate Chamber (NYREC).  

His leadership, combined with CBE’s innovative investments, has garnered widespread recognition from notable organizations such as the Citizens Housing Planning Council of New York City and the Westchester Clubmen.  Chris actively seeks opportunities to mentor young professionals of color to expose them to the myriad opportunities in the real estate industry.  

Chris has served as President of Shinda Management Corporation (SMC), a MBE certified property management firm which he now co-chairs.  He sits on various boards and serves as a trustee of Mount Ararat Baptist Church in Brownsville, Brooklyn.   Chris is a proud graduate of SUNY New Paltz and holds a  Bachelor of Science in Business, NYS real estate brokers license and multiple Tax Credit and Property Management certifications.

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Margarita Pajaro
Managing Director

Ms. Pajaro leads CB’s development activities including oversight of all rehab and new construction transactions, liaising with general contractors, government agencies, lenders and tax credit syndicators.  Since Joining CBE in 2009, Margarita has closed projects in excess of $400MM in TDC.  Prior to joining CB, she served as Urban Specialist with the World Bank’s International Bank for Reconstruction and Development where she worked with teams on large-scale infrastructure projects in Latin America.   Earlier in her career, she worked as Housing Specialist for the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation and Project Manager for the City of New York, Department of Housing Preservation and Development. 

Margarita is an avid animal rights advocate and supports multiple organizations including the ASPCA, the Humane Society of the US and the Cornell Feline Health Center.  She holds a Bachelor of Science in City and Regional Planning from Cornell University and a Master of Urban Planning from NYU’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service.

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Rukia Jeffrey Hinds
Administrative Manager/ Special Projects Coordinator

Rukia Jeffrey Hinds joined CB Emmanuel in 2016 and is responsible for managing the administrative functions of the company as well as special projects.  Prior to joining CB, Rukia was an AmeriCorps NYC Civic Corp member and worked as a Volunteer Experience and Engagement Associate.  She is a graduate of Virginia State University and holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management. 

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Kurt Robinson
Senior Construction Supervisor

Kurt Robinson is from the Caribbean Island of Dominica.

He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from the City College of New York (CUNY) and a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) in Project Management from Columbia Southern University.

Kurt has 23 years of extensive experience in the construction industry with vast knowledge in the areas of Concrete placement, masonry (cmu and brick) construction, Reinforcement bar placement, soil compaction, Steel erection, bolting, and carpentry.

In the last 22 years, Kurt has been a reputable and valued employee managing $250K- $50MM projects in his successful roles as an inspector, field engineer, an assistant site supervisor, assistant project manager, estimator, and project manager for top companies. 

At CB Emmanuel Realty LLC, Kurt Robinson’s holistic experience in the industry is merged into the position he fills as Senior Construction Supervisor. He is responsible for the supervision of all construction activities of the company from new construction to rehabilitation as well as the development of related units and initiatives within the company.

Rachel Hezel Rzayev cbe

Rachel Hezel Rzayev
General Counsel & Project Manager

Rachel has several years of experience working in the field of affordable housing and community development. Rachel’s practice experience includes representation of a wide range of clients to structure and close on the financing for projects utilizing low-income housing tax credits, new markets tax credits, and historic tax credits. Rachel has also acted as a consultant to not-for-profit entities that have utilized LIHTCs to build affordable housing, assisting in pre-development processes, applications for funding, and overseeing the finance and construction.

Rachel is a graduate of State University of New York at Buffalo Law School, where she was Co-Executive Editor of the ABA Journal of Affordable Housing and Community Development Law as well as Head Note and Comment Editor of the Buffalo Law Review.  Rachel also has an LLM in Taxation from NYU School of Law and received her undergraduate degree from Wellesley College.