New York's Women of Influence
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NEW YORK CITY-Sister publication Real Estate Forum has weeded through some 200 worthy nominations to come up with 45 executives whose accomplishments were particularly impressive in its latest issue. Below are the New York City-based women who have been chosen as the most powerful and prominent.
• Luise A. Barrack, managing partner at Rosenberg & Estis PC
Luise Barrack’s illustrious 32-year legal career kicked off at the Kings County District Attorney’s office, where she honed her considerable litigation skills. Having met her career goals to date, Barrack has turned her attention to the challenge of continuing to grow Rosenberg & Estis, a boutique real estate law firm that boasts more than 50 attorneys. Barrack is also a member of the Leadership Council of the YMCA’s Development Committee, which leads the organization’s fundraising efforts. She is proud to witness women’s prevalence on the legal side of the real estate industry, observing many times that “all of the professionals at the table are women—the principals, as well as the lawyers—and I’ve noticed in court that even the judge and the attorneys are women.”
• Brooke Denihan Barrett, co-CEO at Denihan Hopsitality Group
National and independent. That’s Brooke Denihan Barrett’s goal for the lodging firm she oversees. With flags in New York City, Chicago, Miami and Washington, DC, this 36-year industry veteran plans to expand from 15 assets to as many as 30, branching out into Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Denver, Atlanta, Dallas, Austin, Miami and Boston by 2016. And she intends to do so without relying on buy-in by bigger brands. That’s not to say she and co-CEO (and brother) Patrick are immune to a ripe JV; they’ve joined forces with such institutional investment partners as Pebblebrook Hotel Trust, LaSalle Hotel Properties, Brack Capital Real Estate and KSL Capital Partners. A founding member of the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s New York/New Jersey Chapter of Women in Lodging, Barrett is one of a handful of female executives who head up hotel companies. Not surprisingly, she’s an outspoken advocate of women’s advancement in the industry.
• Faith Hope Consolo, chairman, retail leasing, marketing and sales at Prudential Douglas Elliman
The words “retail” and “Manhattan” are often synonymous with one of New York’s most prominent leading ladies: Faith Hope Consolo. With more than 25 years in the business, Consolo shows no signs of slowing down. During this year alone, she’s brought international retailers like Muska Milano, Perrin Paris, Piero Guidi, Cotelac and Yigal Azrouel’s Cut 25 to the city’s most expensive and highly sought-after high-street retail corridors. As for the general market, Consolo says today’s consumer is seeking either true luxury and its resulting quality, or discounted fashion. “Among the affluent, it isn’t surprising to see a consumer visit stores from Armani to Zara in the same day,” she says. “Those of lesser means, of course, don’t have that option, and remain loyal to the discounters. Even the still-chastened middle class has discovered frugality and now considers shopping as entertainment, but purchasing an investment.”
• MaryAnne Gilmartin, EVP at Forest City Ratner Cos.
“MaryAnne Gilmartin arrived on the scene fully formed. She’s an extraordinary blend of great intelligence, boundless energy and immense charm—that whole package was there.” That’s quite a compliment, and it has quite a source—legendary Woman of Influence Mary Ann Tighe of CBRE. Gilmartin is indeed one of the most prominent and powerful decision makers on the New York commercial real estate scene. It’s a role that’s been cultivated for 19 years; upon graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Fordham University in 1986, she won an Urban Fellowship and chose the NYC Economic Development Corp. In seven years there, she helped to develop Manhattan’s West Side and southern tip. Now, as head of the commercial and residential development division for Forest City’s Atlantic Yards Development Group, she’s overseeing one of the biggest, and most controversial, projects in the city. Gilmartin has also directed two of Forest City’s most prestigious projects—the 1.6-million-square-foot New York Times Building in Midtown Manhattan and the Frank Gehry-designed 8 Spruce St., the tallest residential building in the city. Women’s roles will grow in the development world, she says, aided by “the model FCRC and Bruce Ratner have fully embraced, with women in prominent roles throughout the company as well as in critical positions for ongoing advancement.”
• Mira Graetz-Ball, managing director at Centerline Capital Group
A managing director in Centerline’s asset management department, Mira Graetz-Ball is responsible for leading 24 investment professionals. That translates to 1,050 affordable housing assets, or some 124,000 units, across the US. At roughly $8.5 billion in value, this is among the largest LIHTC portfolios in the country. Graetz-Ball’s mandate for the past 12 months has been to design and build an asset management team recognized as “Best in Class” in the LIHTC industry. To accomplish this, she drove a number of important initiatives, including skill-development programs and promoting a culture of collaboration. “Thanks in large part to women’s natural inclination to nurture talent, senior female professionals today are far more engaged in activities designed to encourage young women to enter and stay in the real estate field,” she observes. “Organizations like WX and CREW have active mentoring programs and summer internships, which help these young women succeed. Female-oriented conferences have strong business content and are focused more on professionalism and thought leadership, rather than highlighting gender differences. It’s wonderful to see young women have a greater place.”
• Alexandra Hill, managing director at the Blackstone Group
When your boss nominates you as a Woman of Influence, you must be doing something right. And Alexandra Hill has been doing a lot of things right in her 10-year career. The former lawyer—first with Clifford Chance, then Colony Capital—heads up Blackstone’s Real Estate Investor Relations and Business Development Group. She’s helped raise what’s said to be the largest private-equity real estate fund in the world, the $12-billion (and growing) Blackstone Real Estate Partners VII, and is currently working on launching a real estate debt product. When she’s not working at her day job, Hill is co-founder and president of Women in Real Estate, an organization created in 1996 that’s grown to include over a thousand members from all real estate backgrounds in the US, Asia, the Middle East and Europe. It’s a cause she’s committed to: “Senior women today have a responsibility to mentor rising female stars to continue to expand the ranks of women at every level in commercial real estate,” says Hill, who is also a member of the Rising Leaders Committee for the Pension Real Estate Association.
• Melinda Katz, shareholder at Greenberg Traurig
Melinda Katz knows balance. She’s built her career combining private-practice and public-service experience. Katz represented the 29th District in Queens on the New York City Council, and returned to private practice in 2009 at Greenberg Traurig, where she is a valuable asset to clients negotiating New York City and State governmental processes. Katz was instrumental in working with NYU through the approval process for its major campus rezoning, for which Manhattan Borough president Scott Stringer recommended approval, as did the City Planning Commission. She’s an active member of REBNY and the New York State Bar Association and serves on the board of the Queens Jewish Community, among other activities. Katz feels the industry is bouncing back, and women’s roles are vital. “It’s important that women continue to be a strong, growing voice. Having women at the table brings a diverse and valuable perspective.”
• Yin Li, managing director at Studley
Leading the expansion of the tenant rep firm to Asia, Yin Li was tapped as managing director to head up Studley’s China business. Splitting her time between Shanghai and New York, Li advises Chinese businesses looking to invest in the US and American clients interested in expanding into China. Over the past year, she’s assisted several pharmaceutical, technology and legal tenants with their real estate needs in China, Singapore, Korea, Japan and Manhattan. Her globetrotting and cross-border efforts are already paying off: she was honored with the 2011 Dealmakers Award from Tishman Speyer, and was chosen as a featured speaker at February’s China Investment Group at Studley’s New York City headquarters. “As the Asian commercial real estate market continues to mature, tenants are requiring better service from their brokers,” she notes.
• Adelaide Polsinelli, senior director at Eastern Consolidated
Regarded as one of Manhattan’s most respected and well-known investment sales brokers, Adelaide Polsinelli has a solid track record of completing deals in some of the top-performing submarkets in Manhattan and the outer-boroughs. During her 25 years in the business, Polsinelli has sold over 800 properties totaling more than $4 billion in every asset class. Having recently joined Eastern Consolidated as senior director, she’s already doing big deals, including a $28-million land sale to Hidrock Realty at 133 Greenwich St., where a new hotel will rise near the World Trade Center. Her advice for young women in the business? “Associate yourself with a firm that appreciates your unique talents and allows you to grow your business with equal opportunities,” she says.
• Jodi Pulice, president of JRT Realty Group
As founder and president of one of the largest certified woman-owned CRE services firms in the nation, Jodi Pulice heads a team responsible for a nine-million-square-foot-plus portfolio of assets. A respected broker and consultant with over 30 years experience, within the past year she’s overseen the management of more than 100 properties in major markets nationwide. These include 470 Park Ave. South; TIAA CREF’s global HQ at 730 Third Ave.; and Pacific Plaza in San Diego. Pulice is also on the leasing team for One World Trade Center, spearheaded by her strategic partners at Cushman & Wakefield, along with the Durst Organization and the Port Authority of NY/NJ. “The changing nature of the gender landscape has been a long-term process,” she says. “But more than ever, we’re seeing an increase in the number of women at the helm of companies.”
• Suzanne West, managing partner and co-founder at Park Madison Partners LLC
Since 2006, when Suzanne West and partner Nancy Lashine formed Park Madison Partners, the private equity placement and advisory firm has led or co-managed the placement of eight real estate funds with over $4 billion of equity capital raised. West calls upon her extensive experience on both the buy- and sell-sides to find investment-management teams that embody the necessary fiduciary mindset for the market. Before starting PMP, West was responsible for raising some $3.5 billion of equity for real estate ventures. She launched her career with seven years in the real estate group of the then-$20-billion State of Connecticut Trust Funds, ultimately co-heading the group. In 2009, PMP was selected by the US Treasury as one of nine managers of its Public-Private Investment Program for Legacy Assets, raising $1 billion with the team.
• Laca Wong-Hammond, SVP and head of healthcare real estate at Raymond James, Morgan Keegan
Laca Wong-Hammond acts as her company’s division head, maintaining client relations, sourcing new business, providing transaction advisory services for clients that include hospitals, healthcare systems and providers, developers, private-equity organizations and publicly traded companies. She entered the field thanks to advice from a Cornell Alum who suggested she start her career in real estate investment banking at JP Morgan. In the past year, Wong-Hammond closed $600 million of medical office deals and was nominated vice-chair of the BOMA Medical Office and Healthcare Facilities annual conference. She is also on the Board of Trustees at Chen Dance Center and is a volunteer with Cornell University’s Career Services. Wong-Hammond is optimistic about her slice of the industry. “Healthcare is becoming a recognized asset type,” she says. “The industry remains dynamic and full of opportunities for emerging female leaders.”
-Compiled by editors Jacqueline Hlavenka, Paul Bubny, John Salustri, Sule Aygoren and Miriam Lamey
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