Before work-life balance was part of the modern lexicon, Johnna Goodmark was practicing it. When she was an attorney with the firm Powell Goldstein (which later became Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner), Goodmark and her husband left their jobs to travel around the world, including backpacking in South America and touring Fiji, Australia and Northern Africa.
When she returned, she pivoted her job to work with the Atlanta Women’s Foundation for two years, then with a boutique real estate law firm, then took time off work again when she had her first child, only to come back under then Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed as the deputy city attorney.
It was during that time, under Reed and then Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, that Goodmark made her mark in some of the most transformational real estate deals in the city, including the sale of Turner Field to Georgia State University, the state’s purchase of the historic Bobby Jones Golf Course and, now with Parker Hudson, assisting the development firm Carter in its redevelopment of the Summerhill community in Downtown Atlanta.
Tina Renee McCall equates being a leader with being a servant.
“Over the years I have learned that by serving others and showing humility, rather than commanding others and trying to assert myself, you can unlock creativity and a sense of purpose in others,” McCall said.
That philosophy has taken her from her career beginnings as an appraiser to handling Bridge’s growing national office portfolio.
But all the while, McCall said she has and will continue to foster the careers and passion for commercial real estate with fellow women in the industry through CREW Atlanta and as co-chair of the Bridge Women’s Network, a platform at her company that is aiming to recruit and foster women toward careers at Bridge.
Yeji Moon, like many women in the industry, feels she has to work extra hard to achieve her goals.
Moon moved to the United States from Seoul, South Korea, in 2016 and said she has learned the hard way the struggles of balancing work and her life not only as a woman but also as a minority and a new mom, especially since the pandemic.
She gave birth to her daughter six months ago and said it surprised her how hard it is to keep her life balanced, something she said the industry could do more to address.
But she said sensitivity helps her in her job with Vecino, where, as a senior development analyst, she helps build communities catering to distinct communities with various needs, including homeless veterans, those with mental illnesses and survivors of domestic violence.
Moon said she credits her supervisor and mentor, Vecino Affordable Housing President Sharon Guest, from whom she said she learned “true leadership” skills.
When Trina Joseph was asked if she wanted to become Coro Realty’s asset manager, her first feeling was terrified.
But a string of mentors in her life — from her mother to her high school science teacher to Patti Pearlberg, the late chief financial officer at Coro who died in 2018 — Joseph said she took a challenge as an opportunity. It led her to eventually becoming Coro’s managing partner, tasked with searching for and assessing acquisitions for its growing portfolio.
Now Joseph said she has a voice at the table, both at Coro and within the industry, which gives her the opportunity to guide young women of color in the industry as well as find ways to deal with the struggles of work-life balance.
“We are seeing more burnout than ever before. Work-life balance is hard especially if you are the primary caregiver of children or aging parents,” she said. “That is one of my goals is to encourage minority women to not be afraid to take the next step.”
Affordable housing is a notoriously difficult, stressful section of the commercial real estate industry, and it was an all-consuming passion for Columbia Residential Senior Asset Manager Jen Nyquist.
But a heart attack this January, which the 38-year-old said doctors told her was caused by stress, made her step back and focus on wellness, too.
After a three-month recovery, Nyquist said she pivoted her lifestyle to incorporate more focus on herself and her health.
“I am Leading with Wellness. I can be a high achiever, game changer, working mom and wear all the hats. Not at the same time,” she said. “I make sure I get outside, breathe the air, feel the ground below my feet and most of all be present.”
Nyquist also has helped to facilitate that focus at Columbia with hybrid work options, a quiet room, additional personal time off hours for health and wellness and no meetings on Fridays for the corporate staff.
Ashlyn Laney, who brokers apartment sales for Matthews Real Estate Investment Services, said one of the biggest successes in her young career was to help a homebuilding client sell a 275-bed student housing portfolio at her alma mater, Clemson University, despite the obstacles of a fast-rising interest rate market.
While historically, Laney said women had to fight to have a voice at the table in an industry dominated by men, the investment climate coming out of the pandemic has “provided a perfect catalyst for women to leverage their relationship skills,” she said.
Because, for Laney, she said every “no” she receives “is one step closer to a ‘yes.’"
After eight years as a commercial real estate broker, Jue Wang said she has become passionate about bringing the Asian American perspective to the industry and servicing the Asian community.
Wang joined the storied brokerage firm T. Dallas Smith & Co. in February and has fast become a rising star in the industry. Wang said she sees her role in leasing retail and industrial space as being a positive role model and creating job growth, especially opportunities for women and minorities.
“I’d encourage any young woman entering the business to start as early as possible. This is a long game, so keep learning along the way,” Wang said. “[Be] bold and be yourself because we are all unique individuals.”
Malloy Peterson enjoys building, whether it is the bricks-and-mortar of commercial real estate or the careers of her teammates.
Before joining Selig Enterprises, Peterson worked for development firm Carter on the Downtown Atlanta Summerhill development, The Banks in Cincinnati — a mixed-use development along the Ohio River between the Reds and Bengals stadiums that includes offices, retail and residential — and the City Springs development in the city of Sandy Springs.
Now, Peterson is tasked with leasing up The Works, an 80-acre project that she described as a “labor of love” for Selig that is growing to include a new residential component.
“The Works has become the centerpiece for the Upper Westside and a beloved community asset,” Peterson said.
But Peterson said developing co-workers and building strong teams is just as important as new development projects.
“Watching others grow and succeed is one of the most rewarding parts of my life,” she said. “It is a treat to have the opportunity to impact so many communities in Atlanta and beyond, but the best part is the chance to have an impact on the careers and lives of others, particularly women, in our industry.”
Debbie Frank has spent more than 25 years building up communities, including time as a city planner where she implemented redevelopment policies and plans for Nashville-Davidson County and as the project manager for Music City Center, a 2.1M SF convention center in Downtown Nashville.
Now, that experience in urban planning is key to her role as MARTA’s director of transit-oriented development. The transit agency already completed transit-oriented redevelopments at four of its stations, creating 1,200 apartment units and 150K SF of office and retail space.
She is overseeing 18 projects for MARTA in various stages of development, including the recently announced redevelopment of the Bankhead MARTA Station, which will include nearly 500 apartment units as well as office, retail space and a hotel.