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Navigating ‘Impassable Roads’: How Houston Women In The C-Suite Are Leading CRE

This year, Bisnow’s third annual Houston Women Leading Real Estate event highlights the industry’s top-level executives and leaders, the women who are shaping the agenda, improving the fortunes of those coming up behind them and, in the words of 2022 honoree Lesa Nickelson French of Savills, making the most of a career “that allows you to be in charge of your destiny.” 

The 27 women celebrated this year include developers, personnel professionals, women in financial services, and sales and leasing dynamos. It also highlights women making a name for themselves in operations and asset management as well as those redefining construction, engineering, architecture and design.

All of them have done so in an evolving but still male-dominated industry, especially at the boardroom and executive levels. Women make up 25.6% of the highest-ranking executives at the country's largest commercial real estate firms, according to Bisnow’s 2022 industry analysis.

That’s something this year’s honorees aim to change.

“Impassable roads to success do not exist, as there is always a way to accomplish your goals, but you may have to explore a different route,” Nan and Company Properties CEO Nancy Almodovar said. 

Others, like 5Rivers CRE co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Dr. Ishnella Kaur Azad, talked about switching careers, in Azad’s case as part of a mission “to build generational wealth [allowing women] to take care of their families and their dreams.”

If there was one through-line connecting the hopes, dreams and ambitions of this year’s cohort, it was that supporting one another — paying it back and paying it forward — is the way ahead.

“I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to open doors for women in commercial real estate just as others have done for me,” George E. Johnson Properties Commercial Real Estate Advisor Michelle Johnson said. “The future is bright for women in CRE.”

This year’s Houston C-suite leaders, profiled below, will be honored at a Dec. 8 event to recognize their achievements and offer attendees education, networking and resources for professional development.

Also among the honorees this year are Williamsburg Enterprises Vice President Of Leasing Lauren Shepperd, Drox Investment Group Managing Partner Huyen Do, Gin Design Group founder and Creative Director Gin Braverman and Cobb, Fendley & Associates President Monica Silver.

— Katharine Carlon, Central U.S. Editor

November 17, 2022
Edge Realty Partners principal Debbie Adams +
Transwestern Senior Vice President Crystal Allen +
Nan and Company Properties CEO Nancy Almodovar +
5Rivers CRE co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Dr. Ishnella Kaur Azad +
Midway Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications Shannon Bedinger +
Marcus & Millichap First Vice President of Investments Jennifer Campbell +
Wolff Cos. Executive Vice President of Land Development Carolyn Wolff Dorros +
Savills Corporate Managing Director Lesa Nickelson French +
Kimley-Horn principal and Civil Engineering Consultant Ashley Frysinger +
CannonDesign Healthcare Design Principal PJ Glasco +
Hines Chief Digital Strategy Officer Ilene Goldfine +
George E. Johnson Properties Commercial Real Estate Advisor Michelle Johnson +
DC Partners Chief Marketing Officer Julie V. Kleine +
PDR Corp. President and CEO Lauri Goodman Lampson +
Douglas Elliman Texas President of Luxury Real Estate Catherine Lee +
Alara Ventures founder and CEO Alison Malkhassian +
NewQuest Properties Development Partner Heather Nguyen +
JLL Managing Director of Property Management Connie O'Murray +
Arch-Con Corp. Chief Financial Officer Geri Pacheco +
Method Architecture Houston Market Principal and Architect Jackie Rye +
SVN J Beard principal and Senior Adviser Brandi Sikes +
Partners Real Estate partner Kelli Walter +
HOK principal and Regional Leader of WorkPlace Micki Washington +