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Bisnow Honors New York City's Power Women: Part 1

From Emily Warren Roebling to Leona Helmsley, NYC's skyline has been defined by powerful, influential women. That's why Bisnow is hosting an entire event honoring NYC's Power Women in a special awards reception, and starting a multi-installment series placing the spotlight on some of today's biggest female industry movers and shakers

Brooklyn Navy Yard EVP & head of asset management Sukanya Paciorek


With an energy and international policy background, Sukanya Paciorek started at the United States Mission to the UN and in the energy industry before joining Vornado in 2008.

Now overseeing leasing and operations for the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Sukanya finds bringing new tenants to the Navy Yard ecosystem—while growing the Navy Yard team and executing on leasing targets and operational growth—to be "enormously rewarding," especially as space at the Yard is set to double in the next three years.

That's not to say she's straying from her energy roots; she's still concerned about the next 10 years of workforce development for technical fields.

"Real estate relies on electricians, carpenters, plumbers and skilled trades to build and maintain its infrastructure," she says, "and we need to ensure that there is adequate funding, training and apprenticeship opportunities to prepare the next generation of the workforce."

AvalonBay senior development director Lauren Cahill


A former dancer, Lauren Cahill—seen here with her father at the top of their AVA DoBro/Avalon Willoughby Square building in Downtown Brooklyn—got her start working for Robert A.M. Stern. Finding architecture to be too constricting, Lauren was drawn to the dynamism of real estate development, and the power of being the decision-maker in the developer-architect transaction.

She studied urban planning at the University of Pennsylvania's Design School and real estate development at the Wharton School. It wasn't long after graduating that she helped redevelop the Shops at Georgetown Park. Lauren is currently overseeing the development of AVA DoBro/Avalon Willoughby Square and 1865 Broadway.

To Lauren, the greatest thing about development is the satisfaction she gets seeing her projects being delivered and fully leased after years of pre-development and construction. But forming these properties will be a huge challenge going forward, she warns, especially with the expiration of 421-a. That's why she advises up-and-coming developers to build a network.

"I continue to be amazed by how small our industry is," she says.

EisnerAmper Tax Partner Lisa Knee


Lisa Knee (pictured with her family) says she had a "roundabout introduction" to the real estate industry, starting with a high school job at a forklift company. Combining this industry knowledge and passion with her love of accounting and law, Lisa worked as a CPA in a firm specializing in real estate, rubbing shoulders with industry legends, which she describes as both an educational and transformative experience. One such legend is Larry Silverstein, whom Lisa interviewed at 7 World Trade Center.

Interactions like these are why Lisa believes a strong network and coaching from an experienced mentor are the keys to success. Whether it's through attending meetings or volunteering, no opportunity for networking or learning should be passed up.

Lisa's also very interested in how technology is going to continue to disrupt real estate, making companies more nimble and efficient and creating entirely new opportunities. EisnerAmper is involved with technology incubators and accelerators, which bring entrepreneurs and investors together in order to fund new ideas. Lisa says some of the ideas being developed are going to revolutionize the way real estate companies do business.

Cushman & Wakefield managing principal Betty Castro


Even before establishing herself in the industry, Betty Castro (pictured with her son, Hamid, being honored as one of Brooklyn's Top Women in Business) was setting precedents and defying conventions, becoming the first female to run the sales and trading floor of a predominately male securities firm.

Despite being warned of the challenges, Betty was able to transform its sales team and operations into a well-oiled machine that produced seven consecutive record years of sales. That coaching and mentoring ability has carried on to this day; she continues to inspire salespeople to be the best they can be.

"Helping someone who is struggling to achieve great success is truly the most rewarding part of my job," she tells Bisnow.

Betty came into the industry as the VP for Edison Properties, where she developed strategies for the acquisition of investment properties. She was then hired by Massey Knakal shortly before its merger with Cushman & Wakefield, and was sent to run its operations in Queens and Brooklyn.

It's in these more dynamic boroughs—full of revolutionary tech, diversifying Manhattan investors and booming TAMI tenants—that Betty says she's challenged to stay ahead of trends and provide knowledge and research to C&W's clients.

Rosenberg & Estis managing member Luise A. Barrack


When Luise A. Barrack—seen here with Lightstone Group acquisitions and development director Meir Milgraum at ICSC in Las Vegas—left the District Attorney's office, she was looking for a practice area that was both challenging and evolving. She found it in real estate when she joined Rosenberg & Estis, where she has built relationships with clients and colleagues, helping to make the firm seamless, collaborative and more successful.

This collaboration is incredibly important, she says, as "the labyrinth of local rent regulatory laws" present a huge challenge to the industry. Until recently, many of these laws did not apply to commercial properties. However, she explains, the City Council passed a bill into law intended to protect commercial tenants against "harassment"—effective Sept. 28—which, in many ways, places commercial property owners in the same position as residential property owners.

Luise believes that working hard and putting "everything you have into what you do" is the key to success. And, if you need to clear your mind and get some exercise, you can join a bike club and go on long-distance bike trips, as she does.

Angelo, Gordon & Co managing director Dana Roffman


After graduating from Duke, Dana Roffman (pictured here with her husband, Michael, and two children, Leah and Henry) worked in Arthur Andersen's real estate consulting department, but soon left to get her MBA from NYU. By chance, her résumé was forwarded to Angelo, Gordon & Co. and she became the first real estate analyst hired on the firm's first opportunistic fund in 1994.

Since then, Dana has helped the firm grow considerably. She says she enjoys being part of a team that has a consistently strong investing track record and has maintained strong relationships with JV partners throughout the US.

To be successful, Dana says, it's vitally important that up-and-coming women find a role that plays to their strengths.

"In real estate private equity, you have to be prepared to almost always be the only woman in the room, but there are more women out there in real estate every day, and many in senior roles," she tells Bisnow. "It is always going to be a challenge to find balance, but thanks to phones and email we all have greater flexibility in life balance and ability to be anywhere and get your work done."