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DEBRA LACY

Washington DC Office

Always a hard worker—she grew up assisting in her parents’ shrimping business in Key West—Lacy Ltd's Debra Lacy was actually told by her college guidance counselor not to get into business because she was a woman. She tells us she pursued medicine for a while, even earning a masters in audiology, but ended up in the male-dominated commercial real estate anyway. Starting out with a small DC company, Debra formed her own firm in ’81 and a year later coaxed husband Ben (that guy on the left) to join forces and leave NBC News. Over the years, they've carved out a successful niche representing foreign buyers in the US and have closed deals in excess of $2B. (When we spoke with Debra last Friday, she had just closed a deal on behalf of Zurich-based Credit Suisse hours before). Her best advice? Form relationships early on, and find someone to learn the ropes from: “It’s important to find a mentor or a sponsor… I didn’t have one but wish I did.”