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San Diego Power Women: Part 10

Today, we bring you the final installment of our 10-part Power Women series profiling the 50 most influential women in San Diego commercial real estate. Then join Bisnow and partner Allen Matkins on Thursday for a cocktail awards reception to honor these amazing leaders at the San Diego Public Library, 6-8pm.



SLP Urban Planning founder Stacey Pennington has been very involved in the development of Downtown San Diego, working on projects that include Broadway 655, Smart Corner, Lane Field, the North Embarcadero Visionary Plan, Public Open Space Implementation Plan and most recently, Makers Quarter (an urban innovation district anchored by entrepreneurs, innovators, artists and makers). When Stacey graduated from UCLA in 1999, she worked for Lankford & Associates, where she fell in love with the energy, dynamics and personalities of the real estate industry. She then received a master's in urban planning from Harvard, where she was awarded a fellowship that led to an opportunity to consult with Skanska UK. In her spare time, the mother of two boys (ages 3 and 6) loves spending time with her family—hiking, swimming, cooking, going to the beach or just hanging out.



Fairfield Residential SVP Kim Bender was going to be a veterinarian until she realized that talking to dogs wasn't much of a conversation. Instead, that part-time job she had in college leasing apartments became her passion. For the past 29 years, the multifamily industry is where the Texas native has stayed. Kim encourages the younger women she mentors to learn everything about the industry, and “don't be in such a hurry to move up the corporate ladder.” “Savor each opportunity you have and get exposed to as much diversification in your industry as possible,” she says. Despite the years in real estate, Kim has not lost that love of animals that once pushed her to be a vet. Most recently, Kim and her husband did the first leg of the Iditarod race in Alaska. She's also into scuba diving and horseback riding.



Atlantis Group principal Marcela Escobar-Eck counts the Liberty Station redevelopment spearheaded by Corky McMillin Cos. among her proudest moments. In a 24-month period, Marcela shepherded the project through a master plan agreement with environmental, demolition and any number of other permits and approvals. No small feat when you're talking San Diego. This native of Colombia started her career as an assistant planner in San Diego, rising through the ranks (and a brief stint in the City of Carlsbad) to the director of development for the City in 2006. During the recession, she got the bug to start her own entitlement business, which has its hands in many of the city's most high-profile projects, including One Paseo. Her advice: “Don’t give up when it seems overwhelming. There is nothing in development that is easy or straightforward anymore,” Marcela says. “If development and real estate were easy everyone would be doing it.”



Construction executive and business development manager at Turner Construction Lori Ann Stevens is responsible for procuring $250M worth of work each year. She literally built her career brick-by-brick, donning overalls and a tool belt hammering nails and pouring concrete as a field engineer in an occupied prison. Lori Ann tells us she was the only woman on site and earned respect from her male peers working side by side on the same job. Gender doesn’t matter, she says, so long as you’re working harder and smarter than the guy next to you. Her advice: be tenacious and have the humility needed to ask questions. Lori Ann is currently working on two major projects: the Hoehn Dealership in Carlsbad and the UCSD Triton Ballpark. Lori Ann devotes her free time to running—she’s just completed her 20th marathon—weekly golf, and cooking with wine. Sometimes she even incorporates the wine into her recipes.