Women of Influence 2013
This is an HTML version of an article that ran in the July/August 2013 issue of Real Estate Forum. To see the original story, click here.
Meet 45 of the most powerful and prominent female executives in commercial real estate today. Chances are, you know them already.
Chairman & Founding Partner
Colliers International South Florida
Coral Gables, FL
Call her a pioneer. For years, Donna Abood was the only female CEO of a Colliers partnership worldwide. The 28-year commercial real estate veteran got her start at Abood & Associates in 1989, birthing the skills she’d need to lead Colliers through the ups and downs in Florida. A dealmaker at heart, Abood still works on transactions every day, even while mentoring the next generation of CRE pros. She’s inked more than 50 million square feet of office leases in South Florida over the years and has a reputation for her ability to lease any kind of office building. She sits on too many boards to list here. “Gender has become less and less of an issue for both men and women at negotiating tables,” Abood says. “The attributes of women’s empathy, ability to listen and ability to naturally multi-task make them more likely to be a strong player in commercial real estate.”
Executive Vice President
New York City
Robin Abrams has been in the commercial real estate world for 34 years at Lansco, where she specializes in Northeast retail leasing. She oversees business development at the firm, acting as a mentor to 20 brokers. She became a partner at the firm in 1999 and is the only principal at Lansco who was not one of the six founding male partners, rising through the ranks after starting as an administrative assistant. Abrams has traveled extensively in the last year through Asia and Europe to meet with prospective tenants, all with an eye to translating them to the US. “It’s an extremely exciting time for women to be involved in the retail industry, particularly retail leasing,” she comments. “Because retail leasing tends to be very instinct-driven, with retailers focusing as much on physical appearance and location of a space as they do costs, the number of women in the industry will continue to grow.”
BA Realty Advisors
Laguna Nigel, CA
BK Allen’s 30-year career in the business began in residential real estate. She gained her license in just 60 days and made her first sale in 30 days. During her time as an agent, she was given an opportunity to list and sell an apartment complex. It was then that she went on to obtain her broker’s license, pursue the CCIM designation and start her own commercial real estate company, BK Allen Real Estate. Allen was one of two women in 1980 to receive the CCIM designation and was part of the initial startup community of women involved in the CRE business in the early 1980s. In 2011, she decided to focus on real estate gifting and moved from the Washington, DC area to Orange County, CA, where she founded her own practice focusing on providing non-profit organizations with counsel and support around real estate gifting. She helps 501c3 charities set up their real estate gifting programs on a daily basis, fostering her motto, “Helping Make the World a Better Place for All.”
Executive Director, Transaction Real Estate
Heidi Barath got her start at EY 18 years ago and worked her way up the ladder. Today, she’s the highest-ranking female executive in the firm’s US Transaction Real Estate Practice. Barath works with many of EY’s REIT, hospitality, real estate development opportunity fund and mortgage banking clients. Within the past year, she’s been involved with multi-national deals involving large corporate client mergers, IPOs, REITs and private companies. Her focus is on workplace flexibility and inclusion and on advancing women in EY and the greater industry. “Globalization is the most important trend in the industry today,” she comments. “Succeeding requires unprecedented flexibility, agility and tolerance for ambiguity. The diversity of perspectives and skills that women bring to commercial real estate is an under-utilized resource.” Barath’s 24 years of experience includes appraisal and research jobs with McRoberts & Co. and CBRE. She also does work on behalf of organizations including the March of Dimes and United Way.
Vice President, Leasing and Marketing
Commitment. Dedication. Perseverance. These are the qualities that make Maridee Bell a woman of influence in South Florida’s commercial real estate market. This no-nonsense leader climbed the ranks from an administrative assistant to her current role at Sunbeam, where the 21-year veteran oversees leasing and marketing at Miramar Park of Commerce, one of the largest business parks in Florida. Over the past 12 months, she reduced the vacancy rate at the park from 8% to 3% through her hands-on, customer service-oriented approach to developing plans for tenants who need to expand or downsize in a changing market. “There are successful women throughout the industry who have paved the way for new women leaders and that is something to be proud of,” Bell says.
Executive Vice President
New York City
Karen Bellantoni has more than 25 years of experience in retail, retail leasing and merchandising. She represents tenants and landlords across the country and is currently focused on leasing New York’s South Street Seaport and finding homes for several fashion brands. She also manages many of RKF’s brokers on a daily basis. Her current goal is to expand her focus internationally. Bellantoni began her career as an import program designer for the May Co. in St. Louis and buyer/merchandiser for the Belk Stores of Charlotte, NC. “Women have already changed the business. They have grown into a big percentage of the dealmakers in retail as a whole, both on the brokerage side and the landlord side.”
Vice President, Marketing
Phyllis Cafaro began assisting her family’s business while raising her three children, and joined full-time as vice president of marketing in 1991. She was the first female department head at Cafaro and oversees a team of 55 marketing professionals and an in-house agency that service over 30 million square feet of real estate. In the past year, Cafaro helped to create Rock the Mall Midnight Balls across the Cafaro Co.’s huge shopping center portfolio, successfully launched the new Ohio Valley Mall in St. Clairsville through a highly targeted grand re-opening program and secured Erie General Electric Federal Credit Union as partner of the Millcreek Mall Children’s Play Area. In addition to mentoring young women in the industry, Cafaro has also spearheaded an industry-wide push to prevent bullying through her Captain McFinn and Friends program, which was recently adopted by over 400 shopping centers for a national anti-bullying campaign during the month of October, national Anti-Bullying Awareness month.
Jones Lang LaSalle
Elizabeth Cooper is a consistent top producer, achieving top 10 ranking over multiple years and negotiating more than 25 million square feet of leases during her 16 years at Jones Lang LaSalle. The 26-year industry veteran has quadrupled the size and doubled the volume of JLL’s law firm group during her tenure—and personally closed more than $5.7 billion in leases. Her work spans the globe to ensure JLL teams provide strong tenant rep support to some of the world’s most preeminent law firms. Part of her success is knowledge. Cooper launched her career as a commercial real estate attorney at an AmLaw100 firm in 1987. Cooper is known for nurturing the next generation of women in real estate: “I advise young women to know their own brand, to develop both personal and professional networks,” she says, “and to define success on their own terms, finding their own path to a sustainable and fulfilling career.”
Vice President & Associate Director
Newmark Grubb Knight Frank
Thirty-year industry veteran Barbara Crane’s resume includes jobs at Newmark Grubb Knight Frank (formerly Grubb & Ellis) and Johnson-Rast & Hays. She’s also worked on behalf of nonprofit organizations including the American Heart Association and Birmingham Museum of Art. Additionally, Crane has taught at the CCIM Institute since 2005; she’s the 2013 Chairman of the CCIM Institute’s Course Curriculum committee and recipient of the institute’s Robert L. Ward Instructor of the Year award. Crane’s on-the-job activities include brokerage, agency leasing services, tenant representation, consultation and client development. Her current focus is on General Services Administration lease transactions and the sale of income-producing office properties. Unlike the late 1970s when Crane got her start, “today, women are fully engaged in all aspects of the business and professional world,” she remarks.
Founder & Chief Executive Officer
Anchor Health Properties
As CEO of Anchor Health Properties, Paula Crowley is responsible for the management of day-to-day development and operations, new business development and, most importantly, pushing for new and creative facility solutions for the healthcare industry. Under her leadership, Anchor Health achieved a milestone of close to two million square feet of healthcare real estate both developed and under development. With the Rouse Co. before co-founding Anchor Health, this three-decade commercial real estate veteran continues to meet changing facility needs of healthcare providers, balancing them with the demands of the healthcare consumer. Crowley is a board member and member of the Investment Committee at the High Cos. in Lancaster, PA. She represents a recent direction in the industry whereby women have brought new ways of thinking and executing real estate projects by combining strategy, design, construction and financial objectives.
Head, Global Occupier Consulting
CBRE Group Inc.
Karen Ellzey is a leader in various strategic development and consulting capacities, winning recognition as a best practice, organizational solution and process design guru. She leads a team organized to deliver tailored solutions to occupiers of commercial real estate through a core team of platform consultants, as well as account-based and consulting practice leaders and worldwide teams. She joined CBRE when the company acquired Trammell Crow in 2007. She spearheaded CBRE’s Workplace Strategies initiatives and helped create CBRE’s Workshop concept, a system of workplaces that will be accessible to anyone in which time can be bought by the hour through annual memberships.
Founder & Chief Executive Officer
Community Investment Strategies Inc.
Christiana Foglio likes to say she builds communities for the long-term, rather than just bricks and mortar. Since 1994, when she founded Community Investment Strategies Inc., Foglio has developed or revitalized around 3,000 units valued at more than $350 million throughout New Jersey. Prior to this, while with the New Brunswick Development Corp., she began changing the perception of public housing communities by using tax credits to help transform them into safe, attractive places. Under her leadership, CIS eventually emerged as a fully integrated commercial real estate company with a focus on multifamily, senior housing and mixed-use redevelopments, as well as market-rate and affordable housing. Her senior-level management team consists of an all-female corps of professionals, and women also oversee the firm’s portfolio of multifamily properties, acting as facilitators, role models and confidantes.
Executive Vice President, Office Leasing
Coldwell Banker Commercial NRT
Boca Raton, FL
Ingrid Fulmer has consistently been ranked as a Top Real Estate Producer, and earned the 2007 designation of #1 Sales Associate in the Southern Region of the US for Coldwell Banker Commercial. As executive vice president of office leasing, she has been involved in over 2500 lease transactions in South Florida. To date, Fulmer has represented both landlords and tenants in over 18 million square feet of property negotiations representing over $1.9 billion in real estate transactions. Fulmer is committed to the community via her volunteer and board work with the Rotary Clubs, PROPEL (People Reaching Out to Promote Education and Leadership) and the George Snow Scholarship Fund, where she is active in raising money for much-needed scholarships for young people. Fulmer is also is a past recipient of the Rotary OPAL (Outstanding People and Leaders) Award.
MARY JO GEORGE
Real Estate Partner
As an attorney with 27 years of commercial real estate business under her belt, Mary Jo George understands the broader implications of every multifamily transaction and is known for finding creative solutions to get deals done. George joined Ballard 17 years ago and rose to co-leader of the firm’s housing group in 2007. Over the past 12 months, she has doubled her deal volume while simultaneously expanding attorney recruiting efforts. Her leadership in annual housing conferences has helped raise Ballard’s profile—and her own—in a competitive industry. She’s determined to position Ballard’s housing group as the premier practice in the nation—and herself as the “go-to” lawyer for handling challenging and creative financings. “The increasing participation of women has definitely changed the industry,” she remarks, “bringing an increased level of collegiality among various participants in any given transaction, and it has fostered an environment that encourages participation and inclusiveness.”
Area Vice Chair, Managing Director &
Gallagher Real Estate & Hospitality Services, Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.
With 29 years in the business—12 in her current position—Alex Glickman is recognized as an authority in the development and execution of insurance and risk financing programs for clients throughout the world. Glickman created Marsh Inc.’s real estate & hospitality group in 1998. In addition to her worldwide leadership responsibilities, she leads a team of 18 people who represent clients ranging from the largest institutional owners to family enterprises and engages in the placement, claims management and administration of risk financing programs for 104 clients representing more than $70 billion in values. In the past year, Glickman led a team that executed more than $145 million of premiums and the development of new insurance captives designed specifically to cover the risk of tenant defaults. In 2012, the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s real estate section gave her their leadership-in-real estate award—the first time the Bar had ever recognized a woman, as well as a non-attorney or real estate owner.