Our Team

Next Generation lays claim to decades of experience in site selection, land development and market research in the Chicagoland suburban market.

Jim Hughes, Jr. - CEO

With over 30 years of real estate experience, Mr. Hughes, Jr. has been involved with all aspects of real estate development, design, procurement, entitlement, planning, and sales and marketing.

Mr. Hughes, Jr. has an extensive history of overseeing the planning, development and consulting of land portfolios after the company’s predecessor organization, Wiseman-Hughes. Mr. Hughes, Jr. has been responsible for providing some of the Chicago area city managers with award-winning and best-use developments. Mr. Hughes currently serves on the board for Rush-Copley Board of Directors.

Gail Payonk - Director of Marketing

A 25+ year executive in the real estate industry, including a 14-year employment with NGD, Gail provides experience in residential and commercial real estate, residential product launch, market trends and research, design and sales start-up and public space design. Additionally Ms. Payonk excels at social media campaigns, Google Ad Word campaigns, website design and creative marketing- all in effect to drive more activity to a site.

Gail oversees operational and strategic marketing activities including coordinating land plan design, product introduction and roll-out, pricing strategy and competitive analysis, sales center design, model home design and merchandising. Her primary focus is related to market research and consumer trends in on-line advertising, website and e-marketing strategies, promotion, public relations and brand management. With a history in designing various products for all market segments, Gail has successfully brought to market some of Chicago area’s top selling products and award winning models.

Ms. Payonk has a Bachelor of Business degree in Marketing and has served on several boards of the Home Builders Association of Greater Chicago.

Don Zierer - Director of Construction

Mr. Zierer has over 30 years of construction experience in the Midwest region in residential construction. Don also has been involved in the commercial construction of restaurants, dozens of office buildings, hotels, and medical offices. As the Director of Construction since 1998, Mr. Zierer had built over 3,000 homes for NGD and its predecessor Wiseman-Hughes Enterprise, Inc. and is a critical link in the design, estimating, contract awarding and production of these residential products.

Having the expertise in negotiating permits, navigating utility company engineering and municipal building codes, Mr. Zierer is integral in coordinating with agencies, architectural firms, and engineers on all compliance issues. He also coordinates the production of all homes including site management, trade quality control, safety programs, time management and scheduling of production.

Melanie Smith - Controller

Ms. Smith is the Controller for Next Generation Development. She is responsible for management and oversight of Accounts Payable, Financial Accounting, Fiscal Control and Materiel Control.

Ms. Smith has over 30 years experience in Administration/Accounting and has been a part of the Wiseman Hughes/Next Generation team for 14 years. She is accomplished in administering financial strategies that enhance organizational growth and maximize sustainability. Her expertise includes design of short- and long-term financial plans, investment management, financial problem solving, corrective action plan implementation, and compliance.

Ms. Smith holds a degree in Business Administration from Northwestern Business College and has received specialized training in Accounting from the College of DuPage. She has also received specialized training in Sales & Use Tax, Organizing & Managing Accounts Payable and Construction Management.