CREW Network Special Report: Meet the Impact Award Winners

CREW Network applauded the winners of this year's Impact Awards at its annual Convention & Marketplace last week, focusing on 14 winners who exemplified creativity, insight and excellence in business.

By Sanyu Kyeyune

CREW award group
Winners of the Career Advancement for Women award.

New YorkCREW Network paid tribute to the winners of the 2016 Impact Awards during its annual Convention & Marketplace in New York City, spotlighting 14 people who have exemplified creativity, insight and excellence in four key areas: Career Advancement for Women, Entrepreneurial Spirit, Economic and Community Improvement, and Member-to-Member Business.

There were two Career Advancement for Women awards this year. One went to Jill Bosco, principal at CliftonLarsonAllen LLP, and the other went to an accomplished six-person taskforce (pictured). The taskforce comprised Angelia Wesch, partner at Oles Morrison Rinker & Baker LLP; Anne DeVoe Lawler, managing partner at Jameson Babbitt Stites & Lombard PLLC; Ginger Bryant, COO & CFO at SARES*REGIS Group of Northern California; Kris Beason, construction executive; Lori Hill, managing director at JLL and Shawn Rush, founding partner at Workplaceworks LLC.

Jill Bosco believes that shared success is key to women advancing in commercial real estate. She brings 18 years of experience to distinguished mentoring roles, having spearheaded the Mentorship Committee at CREW Orlando, where she is also president. Thanks to her, CREW Orlando has seen its best year in terms of member retention, outreach and sponsorship. As CPA & principal with CliftonLarsenAllen LLP, Bosco has helped retain and promote numerous women in her workplace through Wingspan, the firm’s coaching program, and by engaging women across the industry in CREW events. By helping women build strong professional networks, Bosco aims to develop the future leaders of the commercial real estate industry.

The cause of women in commercial real estate is one that cannot be achieved alone. This sentiment was echoed at this year’s third annual CREW Seattle & Sound Leadership Series, led by a six-person Leadership Series Task Force founded by and comprised of former CREW chapter and CREW Network presidents and CREW Network board directors. Having contributed 200 hours each to the series per year, these female leaders have used guest speakers, TED talks, books and other media to share the particular hurdles they have overcome in becoming industry leaders and the insights they have harnessed to accelerate their careers. Guided by a Task Force member, participants in the series define their career goals, develop a plan to achieve them and build the confidence to ascend to leadership roles in commercial real estate.

Starting with 11 participants in 2013, the series reached its target size of 14 participants in both 2014 and 2015. The third annual series, which took place from September 2015 to April 2016, centered on eight interactive sessions: Leaning In, Dynamic Communication, Networking, Presentation Prowess, Powerful Negotiation Skills and 5 Key Leadership Challenges, Building High Performance Teams, Developing Your Own Brand/Authentic Leadership and Preparing an Individual Executive Development Plan. A networking component enabled participants to make inroads with peers and industry leaders. Following the series, a survey showed that 40 percent of participants joined CREW Seattle as a result of the series and 70 percent deepened their engagement with CREW by joining a board or committee.

Diane Butler, chairman of Butler Burgher Group Inc. (BBG), won the award for Entrepreneurial Spirit. She was the driving force behind a total transformation of her company, which she founded in 1985, sold in 2007 and then bought back and relaunched in 2009 during one of commercial real estate’s most trying times.

Butler has amassed 30 years of experience in commercial real estate valuation, meanwhile taking BBG out of bankruptcy and growing it into one of the nation’s largest valuation, advisory and assessment firms. Under Butler, BBG has expanded across 21 offices, with 200 employees nationwide. Since 2014, she has focused on cultivating BBG’s presence by acquiring its regional competitor, Leitner Group. Last year, Butler’s team engineered Silver Oak Services Partners’ recapitalization, which also entailed adding new senior-level staff and improving the firm’s financial reporting, appraisal review and advisory capabilities. Now, BBG is able to serve diverse clients, such as financial institutions, real estate managers and notable investment funds. Butler’s willingness to take risks has positioned her company for a strong growth trajectory.

Outside of her own enterprise, Butler embodies the qualities of a true industry leader. In 2012, she was the CREW Network president and is now chairman of the Real Estate Council. In 2014, she was recognized as a CREW Distinguished Leader. Butler also holds several professional designations as a member of the Appraisal Institute, Urban Land Institute, Dallas Women’s Foundation, NMHC, NCREIF and ICSC.

The award for Economic and Community Improvement went to a coalition of four: Ellen Smith, partner at Holt Ney Zatcoff & Wasserman LLP; Sandra Zayac, partner at Arnall Golden Gregory LLP; Shannon Price, vice president of brokerage at JLL and Amanda Calloway, associate attorney at Calloway Title and Escrow LLC.

One day in 2014, JLL took a call from Mercedez-Benz USA regarding the automobile manufacturer’s wish to relocate its North American headquarters from New Jersey. After submitting a winning bid, JLL’s Atlanta office was tasked with finding a site of at least 250,000 square feet, with another 10 acres for development, in what was known as “Project Eagle.” Several months later, after Mercedes executives surveyed numerous options, Atlanta emerged as the the unanimous choice for the new headquarters. Shannon Price and the JLL relocation team helped Mercedes narrow down sites and introduced the team to the 76-acre Glenridge Hall site in Sandy Springs, Ga., which was once home to the Glenridge family’s historic mansion. Mercedes’ counsel brought in law firm Holt, Ney, Zatcoff & Wasserman in December 2014, and Ellen Smith of HNZW represented Mercedes on zoning and land use entitlements. In January 2015, Mercedes announced its relocation and secured a lease, with the help of Price, for a temporary headquarters at Sterling Point in Dunwoody, Ga., where the firm moved in July 2015.

Mercedes will ultimately occupy 12 acres of the Glenridge Hall site by 2018. Mercedes was interested in the available financial incentives for the sale, and Zayac represented the Development Authority of Fulton County to negotiate with Mercedes and issue sale-leaseback tax incentive bonds for the project, which will also provide increase tax revenue to the county and to Sandy Springs. Calloway and her firm provided title and closing services throughout the land sale transaction.

Mercedes’ relocation is a big win for the city of Atlanta. Capital investments of $100 million have been committed between office locations in Sandy Springs and Dunwoody, and two developers are also planning to build hundreds of homes and retail next to the headquarters’ site. Mercedes is also donating its name to the upcoming $1.5 billion stadium that will be home to the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons. The move will likely be the impetus for the relocation and growth of more companies into the city.

The Member to Member Business award went to Connie Menor, executive vice president of Perimeter Realty Inc./Fort Family Investments, and Laura Gonzales, senior relationship manager of TD Bank. The two worked together to revitalize the Baymeadows extension of Jacksonville, Fla., which sat as largely vacant land with just one senior housing development and an apartment community built in 2001. Menor and development company Perimeter Realty wanted to build new multifamily communities offering much-needed, modern housing, but she needed the financing to do it. Menor called on Laura Gonzales, formerly of Birmingham, Ala.-based lender BBVA Compass, to secure the necessary financing to bring 1,058 units across four communities to the area. The additional housing has brought businesses to the area and is expected to add more than $2.3 million in annual real estate taxes, as well as spur job growth in the area.

Because of CREW, Menor and Gonzales have grown their collaboration to include two additional projects, both apartment developments. The women have also enjoyed career advancement due to their shared efforts, with Menor receiving a promotion from vice president to executive vice president and Gonzales from vice president to senior vice president.

Look for more about these award winners and their accomplishments in the November 2016 issue of CPE, and be sure to watch the accompanying video featuring their insights on business and leadership on CPE TV.

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