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DENVER-Susan Grafton, economic development manager for Westminster Economic Development, received the “Woman of Influence Award” from Commercial Real Estate Women, or CREW Denver. Grafton “exemplifies leadership” by surrounding herself with a team to serve as a catalyst for revitalization and to stimulate economic development, according to CREW. She started the development program in 1991 at the City Council’s direction.

“Grafton led the charge to diversify the city’s tax base that was hard hit when Flatirons Mall in Broomfield went head-to-head with Westminster Mall,” according to a CREW statement. Despite a 30% reduction in retail sales, Grafton and her team studied the demographics and focused on bringing new retailers and businesses to Westminster to offset the reduction in tax revenue. Under Grafton’s direction, Westminster has seen the creation of more than 3,000 basic jobs, a more diverse retail base, and the completion of special projects such as the Butterfly Pavilion, the Westminster Promenade, the Westin Hotel and Conference Center, and Westmoor Technology Park.

CREW also lauded Equity Office Properties by giving it the 2005 Champion Award that honors a company that strongly champions women in real estate and supports them in their advancement and development of leadership skills. At EOP, 25% of senior officers are women, females comprise 30% of upper management, two of every three general managers are women, three of the four employees on Equity’s Denver construction management team are female, three females serve on the board of trustees, women lead two of the company’s largest regions and one woman manages all the money. Equity provides for 100% tuition reimbursement for advanced education, a formal mentoring program, and flexibility in work schedules and benefits.

A jury of seven industry professionals selected Equity Office following their review of seven nominees. “The corporate real estate world is the last bastion for women–it’s not often that you see that the ‘top dogs’ in a corporate real estate company are women,” says juror Rick Egitto of Crimson Services. “Equity Office not only impacts its local market, but makes an impact industry-wide and we can see local, visible results from their national commitment. This company is indeed creating change industry-wide.”

Charmaine Rodden, marketing coordinator at Cushman & Wakefield of Colorado was named CREW Denver’s 2005 Unsung Hero. This award honors a woman whose contributions to the industry occur behind the scenes. Rodden began her marketing career in her father’s paint store at the age of 10. For the past 12 years, she’s been in commercial real estate marketing, 10 years for Cushman & Wakefield and two years prior for CB Commercial Real Estate Group. She is the marketing guru behind Cushman & Wakefield’s 28 brokers and provides local IT support as well. She’s prepared presentations for NAIOP, Denver Chamber of Commerce, Southeast Metro Chamber, DU Real Estate Forums, the DU Women of Enterprise, and the past five CREW Denver Women of Influence events.

Three additional awards were presented to CREW Denver members by its president, Carla Strain of Chase Commercial Real Estate. Sherri Oddo, Vice President, KeyBank Real Estate Capital, received the 2005 President Award. A member of CREW Denver since 2001, Sherri has served on the board of directors since January 2005 and has provided leadership and direction to three committees as the director of community affairs.

Jean Bitzer, Sherman Joint Venture, and Arlene Taniwaki, owner of ArLand, LLC were each recipients of the 2005 Member of the Year award. Their team manages and executes 11 CREW events each year by coordinating and planning the logistics each month. The 2005 Networking Story of the Year award was presented to Cathy Johnson, president of Latitude 39 Engineering & Development Consultants, LLC. In 2003, CREW member referrals accounted for 3% of gross sales and in 2004, that number climbed to 50%. By mid-year 2005, client referrals through CREW have contributed to 35% of the company’s gross sales.

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