GlobeSt.com is partnering with the Real Estate Board of New York around its annual banquet, which takes place next week, on Jan. 17. Click here to find out more information about the event. Dottie Herman, CEO of Douglas Elliman, is this year’s Kenneth R. Gerrety Humanitarian Award Winner. She spoke with us about the importance of helping others and how New York City continues to thrive in uncertain times.
GlobeSt.com: What has REBNY meant to you over the years?
Dottie Herman: REBNY is the voice of New York real estate. It’s such a fabulous group of professionals and the best organization in the industry, both commercial and residential. It acts as an advocate for New York City and a wealth of knowledge. When I initially came to New York real estate from Long Island, I was very impressed, and overwhelmed by the knowledge and professionalism. It the crème de la crème of our industry. As a woman, I am so proud of the organization for electing Mary Ann Tighe as a chairman. It’s a great honor to be recognized by them.
GlobeSt.com: What significance does the humanitarian award hold for you?
Herman: When you are a leader, you have a lot more ability to influence people, so a lot more people follow you. I’ve tried to make a difference in any way I can. With the hurricane, I just acted immediately and did what my instincts said. I started broadcasting on the radio. I opened the offices which had electricity and allowed people to go in, get warm and make phone calls all over New York City, Long Island and Westchester. Then people started calling in and donating. It was wonderful. At the end of the day, when you have that ability to influence people and give back, that’s what it’s all about. Hopefully that’s how you want to be remembered. That you built a great company, were successful and you made a difference. That really is most important to me. Being successful, if that’s all you have, it’s not true success. It’s important to give back and help people, get to people where they want to go. I have found that so many people don’t have role models, mentors or support systems, so I try to do that when I can for people, whether they are in my industry or not.
GlobeSt.com: Do you think Sandy will be on the minds of most people, or where there will be more discussion about other topics?
Herman: I would hope that people look at New York City as a role model. Where the rest of the country is off from the peak of the market by 30%, New York is off the peak by 10%, if that. That is because of organizations like REBNY and the mayor and past leadership that really invested in the infrastructure, keeping it competitive, looking at its future and keeping it safe. People have said to me: “Now people won’t want to move downtown.” I have said: “You have a short memory. After 9/11, you never thought people would be in a high-rise building, and look what sells for $90 million.” New York City has a tremendous resilience, and they are going to make everything work. I don’t think Sandy will take up the whole thing. It will be part of that, and how you rebuild that, so that if we have another hurricane, we rebuild it better.
It’s really keeping the city globally competitive and finding a mayor who is going to keep the city competitive because we really don’t compete with the rest if the United States. People want to continue to see New York City the way it is, and that’s really what’s going to be on their minds.