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Leaning In, Real Estate Style

National Other

This week, we launched our inaugural Power Women list in New York City, highlighting the 50 most influential women in commercial real estate, including Related chief legal officer Jennifer McCool, above. (Here are the first three issues of a five-part series, Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, which will be capped off with a sold-out event celebrating the honorees. ) Our NYC list follows the successful Power Women lists in DC and Dallas, and we'll soon be honoring women in Atlanta, Chicago, LA, Boston, and Toronto as well. We’re also starting a series highlighting top leadership and networking opportunities for women around the country. Meet the ladies at the helm:

CHICAGO: CBRE's Lisa Konieczka


Lisa, an EVP, founded the CBRE Women’s Network in 2000. Since then, membership has skyrocketed to more than 2,000 women, she says, and the Women’s Network has morphed into a formidable tool for change. Its tenets: networking, mentorship, professional development, and personal enrichment. Major initiatives include an annual global forum (last year 450 women met in Chicago) and a field delegate program to build more robust communities in CB’s local markets. The Women’s Network also offers a popular mentorship program, Lisa says, covering topics like negotiation training and personal branding. Success story: Lisa’s former administrative assistant, through the network, is now CB’s Southeast regional marketing manager. “That’s the essence of the Women’s Network,” she says, “Tapping women with great potential.”

BOSTON: Sperry Van Ness' Diane Danielson


The COO (snapped above in SVN's Chicago office, testing out Google Glass) works with her firm’s national franchisees to go outside their normal hiring zone (the average broker is a 57-year-old white male) to find more women (seven out of SVN | Chicago Commercial’s last 15 hires were women). SVN is a founding sponsor of 5050x2020, an organization that promotes gender-balanced leadership. We don’t even notice many institutional barriers out there, Diane says, like marketing material that doesn’t include women. Her top advice: Earn more credentials, and sometimes you have to gain skills outside commercial real estate to get yourself to that next level (for Diane, that was her law degree and time in the tech industry). “I’d love a property manager that got some sales training and came back as a broker,” she says.

BALTIMORE: Pinkard Properties' Katherine Pinkard Bowers


The firm's president is only in her early 30s, but she’s paying it forward early. This year, she helped found an as-yet-unnamed network for young women coming up in the industry to find partnerships and encourage doing business with other women (Katherine is snapped third from right at the group's most recent happy hour). The grassroots network has already grown from a small lunch group to happy hours with more than 20 local women across the industry (with an email list and LinkedIn group to follow). Katherine and her friend Kathleen Schindler, who owns a janitorial company and is also one of the group's founders (third from left in the above photo), are an example of its success. They’ve mutually furthered each other's careers via their personal networks, she says, and work as a team in promoting women in the business.

Do you know of a fantastic women’s group in your local market? Send Marissa Oberlander the details!