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5 Questions For Philly's Power Women: City Planning And Development Director Anne Fadullon

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Philadelphia Director of Planning & Development Anne Fadullon has been a constant in an ever-changing and ever-challenged part of Philly's city government for years. Though her department's influence is curtailed by other entities, like Philadelphia City Council and the much-maligned Zoning Board of Adjustment, Fadullon is a tireless voice for inclusive growth and development.

We asked Fadullon and other speakers for Bisnow's Philly Power Women event Oct. 30 at The Rittenhouse Hotel five questions to get a sense of the many different ways one can be a Power Woman. Here are Fadullon's answers.

Anne Fadullon
Philadelphia Director of Planning and Development Anne Fadullon

Bisnow: If you could teach women growing in the industry today just one thing, what would it be?

Fadullon: Don’t be afraid to conduct business like a woman. Being compassionate, nurturing, open to different perspectives, admitting what you don’t know, apologizing when you’re wrong, etc., are not negative traits. They can be incredibly positive and bring a much-needed perspective to the workplace.

It’s not really about “leaning in,” it’s about leaning on and lifting up. Especially as women, we need our village, we need our voices and we need the grace we are capable of bringing to our work. And we need to do our best to acknowledge the diversity of those around us and ensure all of our voices are heard.

Bisnow: What is your biggest career failure and what positive lessons did it teach you?

Fadullon: As I say to my kids all the time, the story of what I learned from what I did right is very short!

A specific incident that comes to mind is a time when the company I was working with was also working very closely with the leadership of a municipality that was trying to re-create itself and bring development into the center of town. We had been working very rigorously and it came to the day of the “big reveal.”

Internally, we had decided that it was not financially viable to pursue the project. The CEO and I disagreed about telling the municipality ahead of time over the phone or going to the meeting and letting them know. I pushed for telling them in person. I was wrong.

We got there and several of the volunteer leadership had taken the day off and they had ordered in a big lunch for what they thought was going to be a big celebration. Instead we had to tell them we were not pursuing the project. To say they were upset is a gross understatement.

The lesson learned is that it's never OK to allow folks to go into a room, meeting, process, whatever, blind. It’s always best to share as much information as possible and to really walk the road together. No one likes to be blindsided and feel they have been misled.

5 Questions For Philly's Power Women: City Planning And Development Director Anne Fadullon
CLA principal George Kotridis, Alliance Partners HSP Managing Partner Richard Previdi and Philadelphia Director of Planning and Development Anne Fadullon

Bisnow: What accomplishment are you most proud of in your career and how did you achieve it?

Fadullon: The accomplishment I am most proud of is that I believe I have a reputation for doing my work with integrity and humanity. I achieved this by letting the work speak for itself; it has never been about credit or recognition. I also think I am pretty good at setting a welcoming, diverse table, although this is a lifelong process and believe I still have much to learn in this regard.

Lastly, I am motivated to do my work in a way that is a source of pride for my daughters. When I look at myself in their eyes, I don’t want to have to look away. I want to be held by the knowledge that their love for me is given willingly.

Bisnow: How have you seen companies change the way they address wage and gender inequality in recent years?

Fadullon: I think this an issue many organizations are still struggling with. Many employers base pay on past wage history, which we know for women and people of color has often been lagging. Pay is often also based on years of experience and again, since there have often been limited opportunities, the pay for women and people of color has been lagging.

To address this, organizations really need to focus on the nature of the work. If you’re doing the same job, you should get paid the same wage.

Bisnow: What is your favorite part of working in the Philly market, and what is the thing about other markets/another one in particular that you envy most?

Fadullon: I love working in Philly! I believe I have the best colleagues and live in the city with the best residents, hands down! I love the variety of neighborhoods, opinions, activities … you name it. Philly has this incredible pride and humility at the same time. The more places I go, the more I appreciate and love Philly. I honestly wouldn’t want to work or live anywhere else. Sorry Philly, you’re stuck with me!

Honor Anne Fadullon and other women shaping Philadelphia at Bisnow's Philadelphia Power Women event Oct. 30.