Executive Team


Milton V. Peterson

Principal and Chairman

Milt Peterson is the Principal and Chairman of Peterson Companies. Over the past fifty years, he has built a family company with a reputation based on integrity and vision.  Known for developing high-quality, well-designed, cutting-edge properties, Peterson Companies has developed, acquired, managed and leased more than 26,000 residential lots and approximately 34 million square feet of retail, hotel and office space throughout Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC.

Milt has received numerous awards both locally and nationally, and is recognized as an industry leader for state-of-the-art real estate development. He has been awarded NAIOP’s “Developer of the Year”, Fairfax Chamber of Commerce “Man of the Year” and named “Trendsetter of the Year” by Trendlines. Urban Land Institute honored him with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding contribution to the real estate industry and he has been inducted to the Washington Business Hall of Fame.

Milt is an ROTC graduate of Middlebury College and remains on the Board of Trustees of his Alma Mater.


Jon Peterson

Chief Executive Officer

Jon M. Peterson is the Chief Executive Officer of Peterson Companies, one of the largest and most admired privately-held real estate companies in the Washington DC area.  Founded more than 52 years ago, the company is responsible for some of the most prominent and successful mixed-use retail, residential and office developments in Northern Virginia and Maryland including Fairfax Corner, Fair Lakes, National Harbor, Virginia Gateway, Downtown Silver Spring, RIO Washingtonian, Burke Centre and Tysons McLean Office Park.  

In 2016, he became Chairman of the Executive Committee which oversees all aspects of the retail, residential, commercial and mixed-use development and management. Prior to that, Jon served as Senior Vice President of Commercial and Business Development which allowed him to develop close ties to the entire metropolitan real estate community.  He has led all aspects of build-to-suit, purchase and acquisition, sale, leasing and financing of commercial properties as well as the ground up development of approximately 3.5 million square feet of commercial office product in the Washington Metropolitan area.

Jon and the Peterson Family believe passionately in giving back to the communities they serve.  Jon has served on numerous philanthropic boards and committees including Joe Gibb’s Youth for Tomorrow and Inova Hospital’s Life With Cancer.  He currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Visitors for George Mason University, a member of the Board of Trustees at Inova Health Care Systems.  He is a member of The 2030 Group, Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance and NAIOP.  


William C. Smith

President, Office

William Smith is President, Commercial Office, for Peterson Companies and serves on the Company’s Investment Committee.  As head of the Commercial Office Division, Bill oversees the effective operation of the company’s approximately 3.75 million square feet of office space, and approximately 390 acres of commercial land.  Over the past 40 years, Bill has been principally involved in more than 8 million square feet of the Washington areas most recognizable office projects.  During his eighteen year tenure with Peterson Companies, Bill has established one of the region’s most successful platforms for the development and ownership of U.S. Government long-term leased buildings.

Bill received his Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.  He earned his Master’s in Business Administration at Stanford University.  Bill is a member of Urban Land Institute, NAIOP, and has served as a board member/advisor to a number of charitable non-profit organizations.


Taylor Chess

President, Development

Taylor Chess is President, Development, for Peterson Companies and serves on the Company’s Investment Committee. Over his career, Taylor has developed over 2 million square feet of retail projects valued at over $250 million, and acquired over $270 million of retail real estate.  Most recently, he was instrumental in establishing a partnership with Tanger Outlets to develop high-end outlet projects at National Harbor.  

Taylor is a graduate of California State University, Northridge. He served as ICSC’s State Director of Maryland, Washington D.C. and Virginia and currently serves on the Board of Joe Gibb’s Youth For Tomorrow, United Way Regional Advisory Board and mentors real estate students through ICSC’s mentoring programs.  Taylor is also an annual guest speaker at GWU Real Estate Program.


Paul Weinschenk 

President, Retail

Paul Weinschenk is President, Retail for Peterson Companies. Paul oversees all facets of the Company’s 6 million square foot retail portfolio including Development/Construction, Asset Management, Leasing and Legal.  Most recently, he was Vice President and Managing Director for the Retail Division at Washington Real Estate Investment Trust (WRE) and oversaw the growth and operations of WRE’s 2.4 million square foot retail portfolio, in the Washington, D.C. area. Prior to that, he spent 15 years at Peterson Companies as Vice President of Retail Development and was instrumental in the development of Fairfax Corner, Virginia Gateway and East Market among others.  

Paul holds a B.S. in Architecture from the University of Virginia and a Masters of Business Administration from The University of North Carolina. He is an active member of the International Council of Shopping Centers and served a three year term as State Director for Maryland, Northern Virginia and the District of Columbia. Paul is also President of the University of Virginia School of Architecture Foundation. 


Claudia Sensi

Chief Financial Officer

Claudia Sensi is the Chief Financial Officer for Peterson Companies and serves on the Company’s Executive and Investment Committees. Claudia oversees the Company’s Accounting, Tax and Information Technology Departments.  She also heads up the Family Office and oversees the cash and management of the Company.  Claudia joined Peterson Companies in 1986 and has over 30 years of accounting and commercial real estate experience.  As a member of the Executive & Investment Committees, Claudia is involved in all areas of strategic planning with emphasis on the company’s financial relationships, including those with its partners.

Claudia is a Certified Public Accountant and a graduate of George Mason University.  She is a member of the American Society of Public Accountants (AICPA), and Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants (VSCPA).


James J. Vecchiarelli

Chief Operating Officer

Jim Vecchiarelli is the Chief Operating Officer for Peterson Companies and serves on the Company’s Executive and Investment Committees. He has been employed at the Company for his entire career - over 36 years.  Jim plays a key role in setting the company’s deal structures and business plans for its properties and oversees the company’s financial planning and analysis, project proformas and risk management functions.  As a member of the Executive & Investment Committees, Jim is involved in all areas of strategic planning with emphasis on the company’s financial relationships, including those with its partners.

Jim is a Certified Public Accountant and a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting. 


Nancy Zabriskie McGrath

General Counsel

Nancy McGrath is General Counsel for Peterson Companies and serves on the Company’s Investment Committee.  With over 25 years experience in commercial real estate, she concentrates her practice on all aspects of real estate development including the structuring of complex mixed use projects, land and building acquisition, joint ventures, financing, construction, leasing (government and private sector), project management and operations, and dispositions. She also advises the company on general business and corporate matters. 

Nancy received her bachelor’s degree magna cum laude in history and political science from Duke University and her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia Law School. She is a member of the Virginia State Bar, the District of Columbia Bar, and the Urban Land Institute, and a  graduate of Leadership Fairfax.


Emory B. Peters


Emory Peters is the Treasurer for Peterson Companies and serves on the Company’s Investment and Finance Committees. As Treasurer, Emory oversees all loan originations for the company. Over his career, Emory has arranged over $4 Billion dollars of loans for the company.  With over 30 years experience in commercial real estate, he has made direct placements with leading commercial banks, CMBS firms and insurance companies. Placements include shrimp farms, wetlands, airplanes and every conceivable type of real estate loans.

Emory received his Bachelor’s degree in Accounting with honors from George Mason University. He has Executive Education Credits in Finance, Real Estate and Management from University of Virginia, MIT and Harvard.


Kent Digby

Senior Vice President

Kent Digby serves as Senior Vice President and Senior Asset Manager for all Peterson entities at National Harbor.  Kent serves as National Harbor Owner’s Association President as well as numerous other associations holding positions of Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary.  National Harbor is considered one of the crown jewels in the D.C., Maryland, Virginia landscape now exceeding 5 million square feet open and operating. Kent holds the unofficial title of “Mayor” as National Harbor is now seen as a small city.  Tanger Outlets, MGM National Harbor and The Capital Wheel are some of the unique aspects of this new city. 

With 30+ years of experience, Kent has managed some of the largest commercial real estate projects in the country.  During this time, Kent’s experience as Executive Vice President of the Mills Corporation and Vice President of Harborplace & The Gallery for Rouse made him uniquely qualified to handle this one of a kind waterfront destination.


Stuart S. Prince

Senior Vice President, Residential

Stuart Prince serves as Senior Vice President, Residential, for Peterson Companies and serves on the Company’s Investment Committee. As head of the Residential Division, Stuart oversees all aspects of the Company’s multifamily and residential lot development and sales effort at over ten residential projects in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia comprising over 3,500 housing units.  Stuart plays a significant role in the residential development at National Harbor, which currently features five active residential projects.  He also has extensive experience in community association and condominium formation.

Stuart earned a bachelor’s degree from Duke University and a Juris Doctor magna cum laude from the Washington College of Law at American University. He is currently a member of the Urban Land Institute.


Garry Witt

Vice President, General Counsel-Retail

Garry Witt is Vice President, General Counsel-Retail for Peterson Companies.  Garry provides legal services relating to the Companies’ retail, lifestyle and mixed use projects. With over 30 years of commercial real estate experience in the permitting, development, leasing, construction and operation of the power and grocery store-anchored, upscale, enclosed mall, mixed use and lifestyle centers, as well as condominium and Class A office projects, Garry understands how project documentation and structure enhances and maximizes value. Prior to joining Peterson Companies, Garry served as General Counsel of The Goodman Companies, the developer of numerous enclosed malls and retail properties, including the Nieman Marcus and Esplanade located on Worth Avenue, and as in-house counsel to Melvin Simon & Associates. 

Garry received his Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Political Science from DePauw University and a Juris Doctor from the Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis.