Power Women: Linda McMahon
The best way to take it easy after a successful, 30-year career in banking? A year after her retirement from JPMorgan in 2009, Linda McMahon took up the demanding post of president and CEO of TREC. (The nation’s shuffleboard makers are trying to cover up the fact that you don’t have to simply kick back when you retire.) The Real Estate Council Foundation is the philanthropic arm of The Real Estate Council and utilizes the expertise of its members through skills-based volunteering for nonprofits engaged in affordable housing, education, workforce development or the environment. It also provides funding to those nonprofits through grants, Linda tells us, whether it’s creating a home for a family with few resources, helping to build a school, or working in neighborhoods that haven’t seen investment in many years.
TREC members have been involved in many groundbreaking initiatives, such as seed funding Klyde Warren Park, helping the City of Dallas start an Urban Land Bank, or jump-starting transit-oriented development. Linda has been working with the mayor of Dallas in his Grow South Initiative focusing on creation of a commercial real estate investment fund for Southern Dallas. "These initiatives are all of the things that I’m passionate about and it excites me that we have the ability to do that work,” Linda says. That’s Linda with part of the TREC team and event speaker/social activist Geoffrey Canada earlier this year.
For the past 15 years, Linda (here in 2006 with her community development team) has been engaged in community development initiatives both at TREC and her former role as Southwest regional director of community development banking for JPMorgan. Her hallmark project: a redevelopment in East Austin with the Austin Revitalization Authority, and community and private stakeholders. Though it took many years, Linda says it financed the first new construction the area had seen in a long time (an office-retail complex). The first part, a $25M office building, was financed using new markets tax credits (the first such transaction in Texas), and the City moved its housing department into the building to provide the first stable tenant.
Linda (here with her husband at Martha’s Vineyard) grew up as an Army brat and moved to Texas when her dad was stationed at Fort Hood in 1970. She had no idea what she wanted to do after college but got a job with a bank—then stayed in the field for 30 years. Her biggest real estate transaction arrived less than 10 years into her career when she financed a very large multifamily project in Dallas (rehab and acquisition). In the private client group that she was in at that time, there were a couple of other women, but none in the real estate group, she recalls. “Banking is traditionally a man’s world, just like real estate.”
Two of her three daughters are with CBRE in Dallas (the third lives in Austin where she and her dentist hubby just opened their own practice, though she undoubtedly has favored status as the mother of Linda’s 18-month-old grandson, perfect in every way). Here’s family: Patrick McMahon; Linda; Vincent, Lindsey, and Vince Ip; McKay Heim; and Colleen McMahon.) The advice she gives to her daughters and young women: You’re always going to be outnumbered in the registry, but gender has no impact on the outcome. Work really hard and try to be innovative and creative. If you are performing, you will do well. It’s a family commitment for a woman to be successful in the business world. And finally, do what you’re passionate about.