As we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, it’s essential to highlight the contributions and perspectives of Asian/Pacific American professionals in various industries. Today, we share the journey and insights of Danny Lee, a seasoned commercial real estate advisor and partner at SVN | Desert Commercial Advisors who has significantly impacted the industry.

A Journey From Hong Kong to Arizona

Danny Lee’s story begins in Hong Kong, where he was born. His family moved to Arizona in 1984 while he was still a young boy, a transition that marked the start of his American journey. This move laid the foundation for his future in commercial real estate.


After settling in Phoenix and attending Central High School, Danny pursued higher education at Arizona State University, majoring in the Real Estate Program within the WP Carey School of Business. This academic background provided him with the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate the complexities of the real estate market. Danny speaks fluent Cantonese, can converse in Mandarin, and learned English once he moved to America.

Danny Lee Headshot

Danny began his career as a full-time assistant to a senior real estate advisor. During this time, he also took on a part-time role as a researcher for Pierce-Eislen, an apartment research company based in Scottsdale. Pierce-Eislen was a prominent player in the market, expanding into over 50 markets, and eventually acquired by Yardi, a leader in property management software solutions. Lee states, “It was the time I spent researching, and as an assistant for an experienced real estate professional that strengthened my professional experience and developed the foundation for my business today.”  After making a few short stops with local commercial real estate teams, Danny found the right balance of local expertise and national presence at SVN in Phoenix, where he has been building a reputable career in commercial real estate since 2001.

Cultural Heritage and Professional Approach

Danny’s cultural heritage plays a crucial role in his professional life. Coming from a background that values hard work and perseverance, he emphasizes that there are no shortcuts in the real estate brokerage business. Patience and diligence are key principles that he upholds in his work.

The influence of his heritage extends to his interactions with clients and colleagues. He notes that Asian American and Pacific Islander professionals bring diverse cultural insights to the industry, enriching the business environment with unique perspectives.

Shaping the Commercial Real Estate Landscape

The influx of Asian investors into the Arizona real estate market has increased diversity among investors. This trend has created a dynamic and varied investment landscape, fostering growth and innovation. Despite facing some challenges, such as the preference of some Asian investors to work with bilingual professionals, Danny sees these as opportunities to bridge cultural gaps and enhance communication within the industry. 

Incorporating cultural values into his professional ethos, Danny believes in the importance of preparation and patience. “You just have to prepare to walk before you try to run,” he advises, highlighting the necessity of taking gradual steps toward success. He also stresses the significance of equality and teamwork within SVN, ensuring that everyone works together to provide the best service to their clients.

“Looking ahead, I would like to see more Asian/Pacific American professionals in the real estate industry, especially females.” – Danny Lee

Danny believes, increased representation will lead to a more inclusive and diverse industry, benefiting everyone involved. His advice for those just starting in commercial real estate is, Have a lot of patience, consider getting a part-time job to support yourself initially, and stay motivated by your passion for the business,” says Lee. His inspiration is driven by the goal of financial success and well-being for his family, embodying the spirit of hard work and dedication.

AAPI Heritage Month and its Significance Across the Valley

While Danny does not celebrate many holidays personally, he acknowledges the importance of AAPI Heritage Month as a time to reflect on and appreciate the contributions of Asian/Pacific Americans in various fields. It serves as a reminder of the diverse and rich cultural fabric that makes up American society.

Japanese Friendship Garden Phoenix waterfall and greenery

Phoenix offers numerous ways to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month, highlighting the vibrant contributions of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. Events and attractions like the Japanese Friendship Garden and Musical Instrument Museum offer opportunities to explore Asian cultures through art, music, and history. Additionally, the Phoenix Art Museum and Children’s Museum of Phoenix host special exhibits and events that showcase the talent of Asian/Pacific American artists and craftspeople.

Local culinary delights in Phoenix celebrate Asian heritage with unique dining experiences at restaurants like Harumi Sushi, Kaizen, and Paradise Hawaiian BBQ, blending traditional and modern flavors. These establishments, owned and operated by Asian/Pacific Americans, highlight the community’s rich culinary traditions and innovative approaches.

“My family and I will go to either Mekong Palace Restaurant or Phoenix Palace Restaurant for dim sum and my favorite chow fun, a traditional Cantonese dish made from stir-frying beef with wide rice noodles,” shares Lee.

Beef Chow Fun Bowl of Food

As we celebrate AAPI Heritage Month, stories like Danny Lee’s highlight the resilience, dedication, and unique perspectives that Asian American and Pacific Islander professionals bring to the commercial real estate industry. Their contributions are invaluable, and their presence helps shape a more inclusive and diverse business environment for the future.

By engaging with these local businesses and cultural events, you not only enjoy the richness of AAPI cultures but also support the vibrant community that makes Phoenix a diverse and dynamic place to live and work.