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Author: Patty Drummond

August 2022 CREW Luncheon: “Leadership Lessons from an Industry Trailblazer” with Lee Ann Nance, Stewart

Lee Anne Nance, President and COO of Stewart, shared with us her core values and strategic goals that are the foundation of her success. A devoted wife and mother, with a background as an Economist and Analyst in Economic Development, Lee Anne has used her leadership skills to help develop a unique culture at Stewart. She shared how she has developed the acronym T H R E A D which has become part of the everyday language and culture for Stewart.

Lee Anne leads by example with the Big Three in Leadership: Communication, Relationships and Perseverance. No matter what, be your authentic self – embrace who you are. Be strategic and tactful, while having the discipline to create white space to visual the future while balancing demands. Decisions have far reaching impacts. Surround yourself with a trusted team that you can challenge because of the trust you have in each other. Tough decisions balance empathy and courage. Put yourself in the position of the people are you are responsible for, yet set boundaries since you cannot lead with an empty cup.

Regarding teamwork, Lee Anne shared her philosophy to treat anyone and everyone with respect and insist it is reciprocated. It is important to create Your Legacy. People don’t remember details, they remember how you made them feel. Be sure to perform character checks daily as stress makes us remember that we are all human. Pay it forward and remember to celebrate the small wins along the way. Silence your inner critic and don’t let it spiral! Be and advocate for yourself and others and bottom line, Hard Work Gets Noticed!! Yet, don’t focus on getting the credit. Ego is the enemy…

Lee Ann also shared her favorite books, authors, and podcasts as she stated, “I totally believe in Life Long Learning”. Lee Anne’s presentation is available by clicking here.

June 2022 Luncheon: New Trends in Retail Development

Submitted by Ashleigh Mellon, Geo Hydro Engineers


Katie Grissom, Managing Director, Asana Partners delivered an informative and positive message about the Trends in Retail Development at our June 2022 luncheon. Generation Z, the largest generation, is coming into buying power and more broadly, consumer preferences are evolving as a result of the last two years. With convenience at the forefront – mixed use, neighborhood near urban and suburban neighborhoods are becoming more desirable for retailers. New categories focused on convenience are emerging, like Medtail (vets, dentists, primary care). We better understand the halo effect, the impact of opening a new store on the retailer’s sales, and digital marketing costs are pushing retailers to find new avenues to acquire customers. All of these factors point to continued growth in the brick-and-mortar retail space.

Signature Luncheon with Alison Levine: On the Edge: The Art of High-Impact Leadership  

Submitted by Danielle Kuhn and Keiko Pace 

CREW Charlotte hosted a very motivating speech given by Alison Levine at the Westin for their Signature Luncheon on May 4th.  Alison Levine is no stranger to punishing environments. She has survived sub-zero temperatures, hurricane-force winds, sudden avalanches…and a career on Wall Street. Alison has made a career out of breaking boundaries and inspiring others to achieve more than they ever thought possible.

Levine has climbed the highest peak on every continent, served as the team captain of the first American Women’s Everest Expedition, and skied across the Arctic Circle to the geographic North Pole. In January 2008 she made history as the first American to follow a remote route across west Antarctica for 600 miles to the South Pole. She completed this arduous journey on skis while hauling 150 lbs of her gear and supplies in a sled harnessed to her waist. Her success in extreme environments is noteworthy given she had three heart surgeries and also suffers from a neurological disease that causes the arteries that feed her fingers and toes to collapse in cold weather, leaving her at extreme risk for frostbite.

Levine spoke about how you must climb up a few thousand feet and then go back down to base to rest, hydrate, and then go back up a little higher each time. She related the ascending and descending climbs to work and life. Sometimes you must go backward in order to move forward. She continued to talk about how fear is normal. She had fears about the weather, the journey, and whether she would reach the top, etc. Fear, willpower, and commitment to success can also help propel you forward.  

Alison did not make it to the top of Mount Everest on her first expedition. She encountered a few severe storms along her journey, and they had to make the extremely hard decision to turn back and head down the mountain for her safety and her team’s wellbeing. It was heartbreaking not to make it to the top her first time, but the lessons she learned were invaluable.  

Alison did go back and reach the top after encouragement from her late, best friend who was also an amazing athlete.  On this expedition, she encountered another storm and saw other climbers heading back down the mountain. But Alison had more experience this time and wanted to check out the conditions for herself. After a grueling trek up the mountain, again with more severe weather conditions, she made it to the top of Mount Everest!  

She learned many lessons along the way but one of the best lessons was that failure prepares you for success. Without failure, you can’t experience the sweet feeling of success. Failure motivates you to keep moving forward. Willpower and the determination to succeed must come from your heart.  


Quotes from Alison Levine: 

  • “Backing up is not the same as backing down”
  • “Take action based on the situation not based on a plan “ 
  • “Fear is okay, it is just a normal human emotion. Complacency is what will kill you.” 
  • “The storms are always temporary” 
  • “No one gets to the top by themselves”

Key Takeaways: 

  • Climbing Everest is nothing at all like the movies! 
  • Just like in life, while you are climbing a mountain you must act and react quickly in environments that are constantly shifting and changing 
  • You don’t have to be the best or the fastest or strongest, you just have to be relentless and want to continue 
  • Leadership is about realizing that everyone has a responsibility to help a team move towards a goal, not just the leader themselves. 
  • Leadership is not about you; it is about everyone around you. You must think about every move you make because it is going to affect everyone else on the team and not just you.
  • We cannot control the environment, but we can only control the way we react. You may be put in scenarios where you have to act based on the situation and not the plan. 
  • If the conditions aren’t right, it is okay to cut your losses and walk away because one person’s poor judgment can bring down an entire team or organization 
  • When you are going to try hard things, you are going to have to give yourself and your team the freedom to fail and come back around to try it again. The hard work you put in will impact those who come behind you and do remarkable things because of your experience. 
  • Failure stifles people from taking a risk. However, because of the previous failures Alison had or people had before her, she was able to be where she is today. 
  • The lessons you learn along the way and what you are going to do with that knowledge going forward is what continues to change the world.  
  • You do not have to have complete clarity to move towards a goal. But if you do have the big picture in sight, sometimes it is necessary to break down the big picture into smaller more doable goals.  

CREW Charlotte’s April 2022 Luncheon “Inclusive Design: Designing for Everyone”

Submitted by Jaren Wells. Gensler

Gensler’s Inclusive Design Champion for the Northeast, Jennifer Ellis-Rosa’s presentation on Inclusive Design certainly opened our minds to what is truly Inclusive (the “I” in DEI). Jenn is a client engagement and workplace strategy specialist in the New Jersey office. There were great comments and conversation starters provided by the audience that will help us think differently, go beyond the Accessibility Code and ADA compliance, and will hopefully inspire and challenge your teams and organizations to be thinking of what is implemented in the built environment.

A general description of Inclusive Design was outlined as design for All People and creates environments that are healthier, safer, easier, more convenient, and more comfortable for Everyone. Questions such as “when did the minimum become acceptable” were asked. Inclusive Design + Universal Design = Good Design.

The eight core elements of Inclusive Design were discussed, which are based on research from the University of Buffalo Idea Center: Body Fit, Comfort, Awareness, Understanding, Wellness, Social Integration, Personalization, and Appropriateness. Examples of each were shown along with a discussion. The Design Goals exercise can be shared upon request.

March 2022 Luncheon – “She Shoots, She Scores! Women in Sports”

Submitted by Robin Haddock, RLH Development

The March luncheon panel was an inspiring showcase of the tenacity of three women who have thrived in the male-dominated sports industry.  Cristy Nine, Corporate Managing Director at Savills, asked the three panelists to respond to four questions: (1) How did you make your way into this industry; (2) What obstacles have you had to overcome; (3) What are some of your proudest moments; and (4) Who has served as your mentor or helped you get your start?

The responses provided many good lessons, for women and men alike, about why representation is important. Among the highlights:

Donna Julian, Executive Vice President & Spectrum Center General Manager at Hornets Sports & Entertainment offered one of the best pieces of advice saying, “You don’t know what someone can do until you give them a chance to do it.” As an African American woman, she has often encountered biased opinions from people who think they know who she is before they get to know her. Her gauge of success is her ability to set the record straight through her accomplishments while also being a good mom.  Because she has been a trailblazer in the sports industry, she had to rely on men as role models in the beginning.  She is now in a position to be a mentor and champion to other women and considers it success when her team members move on to bigger opportunities because she has invested in them.

Judy Rose, UNC Charlotte Athletic Director Emeritus, credits Title IX for opening the door to the sports industry for her. And what an entrance she made! Only the third woman to achieve the level of Athletic Director of a Division 1 school, she quickly realized she had to get the men to understand what needed to be done without them realizing she was doing it.  Her husband pointed out that the men were also struggling to adjust to her being in the room.  As he put it “we don’t know what to do with y’all” with “we” being men and “y’all” being women, of course.  His advice was to ask for what she needs without worrying about feeling weak.  And she clearly made that work, as she is credited with bringing football to the Charlotte 49er athletic program.

Jasmine James rounded out the panel. The first African American to become ticket sales manager with the Carolina Panthers, she is committed to making space for others who look like her. Anyone who might question whether she earned her current role as the Manager of Group Sales for both the Carolina Panthers and the new Charlotte Football Club need only watch the coverage of the inaugural home match on March 5 as 74,479 fans packed Bank of America Stadium.  She believes that networking is everything and regularly pushes herself to be present in rooms and conversations she wasn’t previously invited to.

The successes achieved by each of these women are impressive by any standard, but even more so because they had to prove they should have a seat at the table in the first place.  Their businesses, their communities, and women everywhere are better for it.


January 2022 Luncheon “What to Start, Stop, Continue, and Learn in 2022”

Submitted by Jaren Wells, Gensler

Our very own CREW Charlotte board member, Victoria Taylor, Esq, Director, Development & Diversity, Womble Bond Dickinson, shared with us an inspiring message based on her recent study “What to Start-Stop, Continue and Learn in 2022”. Opening with an amazing historical story about Amelia Earhart (this day in history, Jan 11, 1935), to sharing take-away from (3) forms of inspiration, Victoria motivated us with a Kick-Start for 2022.


The first Inspiration message was from the podcast “Dare to Lead”, Brene brown interviews America Ferrera. How do we manage others’ expectations? Focus on your whole self, so you can be the best human being and leader you can be. There is power in integration and wholeness. Instead of being overwhelmed, take baby steps.


From the article by, “Things Wharton Psychologist Adam Grant Wants You to Rethink in 2022”, Victoria shared that some of your assumptions could be wrong. How well can people learn to do a job? Not, how well you have been doing your job. It’s important to rest, even for a little at the right time, in order to kick-start your productivity. Use writing to think about your own thoughts. The quickest path to sharper thinking is frequent writing. In order to open other people’s minds to rethink their assumptions, engage them in a motivational interview. Spend time with those that disagree with you, but that you respect. Intellectual chemistry and innovative thinking can open your mind.


Lastly, Pastor Clifford Jones’ recent sermon from Jan 9, 2022, entitled “Not yet,…yet”, there is still work we have to do. It’s not time to move on yet. Self-care and rest plays into our lives so we can keep the energy going. Cultural Competence can be gained by using story-telling to learn something new. Get to know others by sharing something about yourself. By doing this, and listening with empathy, we can change lives and perspectives.


Victoria closed with this thought to consider, “What can we learn differently this year, in 2022”?

National Closing Coordinator – Stewart Title Guaranty Company


  • Review Purchase Agreement and comply with all terms
  • Review Escrow Instructions and comply with all terms
  • Review Title Commitment and coordinate with appropriate parties to clear objections
  • Instruct appropriate parties what curative matters need clearing; i.e., payoffs, lien payoffs, update taxes, assessments, etc.
  • Assist appropriate parties with document preparation
  • Prepare Closing Statements
  • Review all closing documents
  • Coordinate with appropriate parties for updated title commitment and/or proforma
  • Coordinate with Buyer/Seller/Lender for approval of closing statement and obtaining all necessary signatures
  • Balance Closing File Ledger
  • Disburse Closing File: i.e, initiate wire transfers and write checks
  • Organize file and set reminders for post-closing items
  • Follow-up on post-closing items and transmit to appropriate parties
  • Maintain closing file in SureClose
  • Prepare invoices when necessary
  • Track payment of invoices
  • Keep Business Development Officer informed as to status of their transactions
  • Update Business Development Officer as to any leads generated following the closing
  • Participation in Special Projects
  • Maintain current knowledge of operating divisions, products and services
  • Develop and maintain good working relationships and image of Company with customers
  • Ability to perform overtime work as necessary
  • Other duties or special projects as assigned by supervisor



  • Prior experience in a similar position or prior commercial or residential real estate experience
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Word, Excel and Access, knowledge of Internet applications, knowledge of real estate terminology, proficiency with AIM+ and SureClose is a plus.
  • Ability to learn alternative closing systems when necessary
  • Ability to create support materials (i.e., databases, spreadsheets, etc.)
  • Capable of multi-tasking, working under pressure and meeting deadlines
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills, particularly phone
  • Strong problem solving and analytical skills
  • Strong customer service skills for both internal and external customers
  • Detail oriented
  • Strong organization and interpersonal skills
  • Self-motivated, results oriented individual
  • Knowledge of accounting principals a plus
  • National commercial closing experience a plus


For more information or to apply, please click here.

National Title Officer – Stewart Title Guaranty Company



  • Review title opinion/reports and documents to insure accuracy and that all documents are received
  • Prepare title commitments and have them reviewed by underwriter
  • Post documents to on-line document system
  • Understand the real estate transaction process to determine the correct documents and forms required to convey transfer the title of the property or to secure the loan being made on the property in accordance with the terms of the transaction transaction
  • Distribute commitment and documents to appropriate parties
  • Coordinate with the appropriate parties for documents to clear title issues
  • Coordinate with appropriate parties for updated title commitment and/or proforma
  • Follow-up on post-closing items and transmit to appropriate parties
  • Prepare title policies
  • Prepare income reporting and closed order forms, give to accounting
  • Maintain closing file in on-line document system
  • Prepare invoices when necessary
  • Keep Business Development Officer informed as to status of their transactions
  • Update Business Development Officer as to any leads generated following the closing
  • Participation in Special Projects
  • Develop and maintain good working relationships and image of Company with customers
  • Ability to perform overtime work as necessary
  • Other duties or special projects as assigned by supervisor


  • Prior experience in a similar position or prior commercial or residential real estate experience
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Word, Excel and Access, knowledge of Internet applications, knowledge of real estate terminology
  • Ability to learn alternative closing systems when necessary
  • Ability to create support materials (i.e., databases, spreadsheets, etc.)
  • Ability to work without direct supervision
  • Capable of multi-tasking, working under pressure and meeting deadlines
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills, particularly phone
  • Strong problem solving and analytical skills
  • Strong customer service skills for both internal and external customers
  • Detail oriented
  • Strong organization and interpersonal skills
  • Self-motivated, results oriented individual

For more information or to apply, please click here.

CREW Charlotte December 2021 Luncheon – “A Friendly Rivalry – How Two Women Competitors Found Common Ground”

CREW Charlotte’s virtual December luncheon was a celebration of ‘Women supporting Women’ in power roles combined with a presentation of our year-end 2021 Impact Awards.  We had Morgan Fogarty and Molly Grantham, two respected reporters and newscasters on competing television networks.  They have struck up an unlikely friendship and were virtually on with our CREW Charlotte network to talk about their relationship, as to inspire our group to build each other up even in the most unlikely and unusual of situations.

Morgan and Molly discussed how their friendship began and has continued over their similarities with career and their family life.  They both had very competitive work environments and when Morgan reached out to Molly to say Congrats on the baby and welcome back to the workforce they started to text more and eventually became really good friends. They bonded and had a lot of similarities in a male-dominated environment.

3 things to take away:


  1. Trust your instinct- Don’t shut it down and second guess yourself. Follow your gut instinct and you can’t go wrong. Give other women validation of being seen, heard and supported. We all go through mommy guilt and they both felt guilty for wanting to go back to work but they both related to the same feeling. Find a group to support each other. Build each other up.
  2. Stronger Together- You will be more fulfilled developing friendships with your competitors. Differences make us all unique but how we handle it and adjust, adapt is what makes us different. It is ok to say NO. We feel like we have to say yes all the time and No is a complete sentence. Listen to your own voice.
  3. Utilize your differences to strengthen your bond – Molly is a giver and never wants to say “NO”, where Morgan tries to encourage her to think about doing things for herself more and to find finality in situations sooner, leading to peace.


Do the next right step when you start doubting yourself. Pull yourself out of insecurity. They are both not intimidated by younger reporters but feel like they can be a great mentor to them and help them grow and learn. In turn, there is a huge level of respect for each other. Women building other women up. Build their confidence.

They ended with Q & A and presenting the Impact awards; with the below winners being announced by Morgan and Molly:

2021 Convention Highlights from CREW Charlotte Scholarship Recipients

This was my first CREW convention and I was fortunate enough to be awarded a scholarship to attend. I am grateful for the opportunity, the new contacts, and the inspiring educational topics.

As I’m new to CREW I haven’t fully grasped the extent to which CREW has and will continue to change its members’ lives. As our CEO Wendy Mann opened the meeting she spoke about disruptions and how it has affected the way we do business. That is something I believe we can all relate to. But Wendy also mentioned that through the constant disruptions throughout the past year that the CREW network was a constant through the chaos. Many women shared their stories both on and off the stage about their journeys and setbacks and how their CREW network was their lifeline. Wendy also mentioned that CREW creates “Warriors to Advance Women”. I appreciated that sentiment as it perfectly embodied the competent, caring, strong women I have met in my short time with CREW Charlotte and the wonderful women I was introduced to in the convention.

Among the lineup of amazing events, connections and fun I was blessed enough to hear two wonderful women speak. Linda Alvarado and Sarah Thomas were absolutely inspirational. I loved hearing their stories about being the first females in their industries and how they blazed the way for other women. I also enjoyed the similarities in their upbringing, both with parents that pushed them to go for their dreams and helped support them by standing up to authority figures on behalf of their children.

Another great announcement that will affect all CREW chapters is the launch of the CRE Pledge for Action, an industry-first, CEO-driven initiative to advance women. CREW is hoping to elevate actions that encourage greater diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the commercial real estate industry. It was mentioned that 17 CEOs have already committed to the pledge and asked for our help in creating the dialogue with other CEOs.

I also learned about the leadership program that can further advance skills and connect me with those of influence in the industry. That program looks amazing and hope to attend.

CREW is starting CREW Councils which consist of 25 members with only one CRE professional per market in each council. The hope is that it will provide a place for members to gain global exposure and create connections that lead to deals/projects.

I couldn’t help but tear up a bit when it was announced that CREW gave a small token to the participants. We were all given a CREW chip as a token of the bet we should make on ourselves. What a genius concept. A simple, meaningful reminder.  It wasn’t the gift that made me emotional, but the thought of how often I don’t bet on myself. That small token will surely help me to remember that and the other important lessons learned at the convention.


Nicole Holcomb

Dogwood State Bank

This year’s CREW Convention did not disappoint when it came to the speakers.  The convention kicked off with a witty yet inspiring tale of a young Hispanic woman from humble beginnings, who takes a road less traveled in the construction business. Despite pitfalls, male resistance, and the fact that she was viewed more as a “laborer” than a leader, Linda Alvarado’s progression from working in landscaping while in college, to the creation of a highly successful construction firm is nothing short of a miracle. The true miracle and fascination with her story is the fact that she became the first female to own an MLB franchise, the Colorado Rockies.  Unconventional in many ways, Linda used her grit and her connections to enable her rise to power and success.  Although humble to the very fiber of her being, she truly believes she belongs at the table, and because of her success, so do we. One of Alvarado’s favorite quotes that he used during his talk was, “Dumb questions are better than dumb mistakes.” Today, she is one of the most successful and wealthiest women in the United States.

Mauro F. Guillen – This was a fascinating and original thinker.  Guillen is a Professor and expert in Global Economics.  Guillen’s speech was centered around the notion that our existing world, as we know it, will end.  That is not to say that our world is ending, but rather the idea that what we have become to understand as our existing world economies will change radically.  His thesis is rooted in radical changes in three distinct areas, 1) population changes, 2) technology changes, and 3) dramatic economic shifts.   He also alluded that climate change will adversely affect our globe and migration patterns.

Some unanticipated events include the fact that the number of children being born is dropping.  In the 1950’s, women were having, on average, five children.  By 2050, it is expected that women will not even have an average of two children.  The reason for this stark contrast is that women are becoming more educated.  In higher developed countries, the populations are dropping, and in lesser developed countries, populations are rising.  We as humans are also living longer. Currently, we are expected to outlive our parents by seven years, and more than eleven years longer than our grandparents.  Rising life expectancy is going to occur all over the globe, and it is believed that by 2030, Africa will become the most populated region in the world, surpassing India, and China. What an amazing thought!

The increase in minority populations, largely due to immigration will affect our demographic balance. Minorities in the United States will become the majority. This group will be solid consumers, having children, buying cars, and purchasing homes.  This will stimulate the economy, but the overarching  looming threat is the issue of carbon emissions.   In cities around the globe, they comprise about 1% of the land area, 60% of the population, yet produce 80% of carbon emissions.  The increase in carbon emissions is directly correlated to those cities that have more than 10,000,000 people, and that number is expected to continue to rise to an estimated $25,000,000 by 2050.  Scary thoughts, truly.

And speaking of quotes, here are a few of my favorite take-a-ways from the convention:

“I don’t like four letter words like bake, cook, dust”

“When you multiply two negatives you get a positive”

“We are not defined by our own setbacks, but by our own comebacks.”

“Collect people”

“There is only one vowel difference between networking and not working.”

“Learn how to ride the waves of change by learning to surf”

“Accept the fact that some days you are the pigeon and some days you are the statue”

“Don’t let people drive you crazy when you know it’s within walking distance”

“Don’t do it to prove people wrong” (this is a never-ending cycle of playing defense)

“Don’t do it for the recognition” (the toes you step on today to get up the ladder will be the backside you kiss on the way down!)

“Do it because you LOVE IT!”

“A successful person is someone who lays a firm foundation with the bricks that others have thrown at them”

“Be yourself because everyone else is taken”

“Did you know that SUCCESS only comes before WORK in the dictionary? COMPARISON is the thief of joy”


Sallie Jarosz

FNB Corporation

I’m not gonna lie… being a 1st time attendee to the CREW national convention, made me a little nervous. To say that I was anticipating being the proverbial “fish out of water”, is an understatement. Physically, I look like your typical Caucasian, frat boy from an overpriced liberal arts school in the Midwest. While my complexion is white- yes, I am born and raised in Puerto Rico, and have spent most of my professional career trying to explain, clarify, correct, or justify my preconceived mold-breaking to the person across the table from me. If I had $1.00 for every time I have heard “Why don’t you have an accent?…”, but I digress.

Not only did I feel welcome from the instant the event started, but I felt a sense of belonging and even empowerment when I attended the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) breakout session on Thursday morning. Hearing the sufferable stories from women of color were just as impactful as the forthrightness of the others (including myself) in the room that genuinely desired to learn from one another and be an agent of change for ignorant practices, unsubstantiated beliefs and flawed perceptions.

Stories were told about George Floyd, presidential elections, and other racial and culturally meaningful events in recent times. You could feel the healing and empathy in the air, and I’m so happy I was a part of such a session.

  • Takeaways and Lessons Learned: While everyone deserves a seat at the table, not everyone at the table will want you there, even knowing that your unique/diverse perspective will ultimately result in a better and more refined outcome/product. The trick is finding that ally (be it at your existing company or a new one) that is willing to get you close enough to the table, then “do you”… and others will surely take notice.


Ed Martinez

Wells Fargo Bank

The Distinguished Leaders Roundtable at this year’s CREW Network Convention offered the opportunity to learn from the insight and experience of three influential women in commercial real estate at the peak of their careers.


Although Stephanie Williams (President, Bozzuto Development Company) was there in person, Tammy Jones (Co-Founder and CEO, Basis Investment Group, LLC) and Siobhan Godley (Head of Deloitte Real Estate and Tax Partner) beamed in from New York and London, respectively. Despite having two of the three speakers appearing remotely, the discussion was just as seamlessly compelling as if all three of these amazing women had been right there with us in the ballroom.


Here are just a few of my takeaways from this inspiring session:


  • When asked about mentors, Stephanie urged us to always be open to mentors of any race, age, or gender. She shared that the mentor who had been most pivotal in her business career was a white male many years her senior.
  • It was fascinating to learn of Siobhan’s groundbreaking efforts as Chairperson of the UK CREW Chapter and their remarkable growth – even during the pandemic.
  • Tammy echoed a variation of one of my personal favorite sayings (“never ask for permission when you can ask for forgiveness”) and urged us to always be curious and open as we “collect people” in our personal and professional lives.


Learning from the wisdom of three powerful women in commercial real estate is what makes the Distinguished Leaders Roundtable one of my favorite sessions at every CREW Network Convention!


Nancy Olah

Nancy Olah Law

The CREW Network National Convention brings together women from all aspects of the Commercial Real estate world.  This year in Las Vegas there were over 300 first time attendees and I was lucky enough to be one of those!

The Networking event is filled with inspiring speakers, dynamic leaders, and incredible women supporting and encouraging each other – and fabulous food!  In addition to making new contacts, there are many learning opportunities available, from the general sessions, conversation corners, peer exchanges and breakout sessions to learning excursions, dine arounds and tours.

One of the breakout sessions titled ‘The Heyday of Industrial’ focused on current and future industrial sector trends. The pandemic brought many challenges, uncertainty, and disruption to commercial real estate, but with the onslaught of e-commerce the industrial and manufacturing market has thrived.  As e-commerce grows, we will see more significant growth in leasing and sales of warehouses and distribution centers.

With this industrial ‘boom’ we are seeing higher demand and low inventory.  Some trends for the industrial tenant will include vertical spread, ESG disclosures / measures and AI to increase efficiency – technology and e-commerce will be the driving factors in the future of the industrial sector.

Learning about the latest industry trends, hearing the stories of strong women and making new connections made for three great days.  Keynote Sarah Thomas was incredibly inspiring, she said ‘prove to yourself that you belong’ that resonated with me.  I left this first convention feeling motivated and inspired and I cannot wait to attend next year.


Peyton Maynard

Jenison Construction

I had the privilege of attending my first CREW Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada from September 28-30, 2021. Not only was I encouraged by my colleagues, who had previously attended past CREW Conventions, to attend the 2021 Convention but I was also supported by many fellow CREW Charlotte chapter members. While I only heard positive feedback from my colleagues and fellow chapter members, CREW Convention truly exceeded my expectations. Not only did the three-day event increase my knowledge in commercial real estate, but it also expanded my personal and professional development skills. Convention allowed me to spend genuine time with other CREW Charlotte members and deepen my connection with my chapter.

One of the most important lessons I learned while attending Convention was that I am not alone and that I have a crew of women from Charlotte to California and every other state in between who are experiencing the same or similar professional development struggles, worries, questions, successes, and triumphs. While at Convention, I attended a small group event entitled “Emerging Leaders/Young Professionals”. The peer exchange session included around 25 young professions from various CREW chapters, all with different careers in commercial real estate. As we went around the room one by one to introduce ourselves and share one personal struggle or concern as a young female in commercial real estate, it became apparent to me that I was in a room full of ambitious, intelligent, capable women that allowed themselves to be vulnerable in that moment (which, on its own, takes confidence). As each female shared their thoughts, the group leader allowed other attendees to assist in providing advice, feedback, or personal experiences on how those attendees may have dealt with a similar struggle or concern. Hearing the struggles of other females around my age in commercial real estate and the suggestions on how to overcome those struggles from other group members was truly eye opening and inspiring. I learned that no matter what industry or career one may have in commercial real estate, we, as young emerging leaders, are all trying to figure out how to fit in, how to be respected by our colleagues and clients, how to be intentional in our careers, and how to be confident in ourselves. More importantly, I learned that while each of our paths may be different, we can and should rely on our CREW network, find a mentor, and gain a support system from both males and females in our industry to ultimately strive towards our common goals. CREW Convention taught me the importance of leaning on my peers for guidance as I navigate my career as a young professional in commercial real estate and that I always have the support of CREW Charlotte and CREW Network.


Alex Puszczynski

McMillan PLLC

CREW featured “Repurposing Real Estate” as a breakout session at the Convention in Las Vegas. The panel consisted of Kevin Cavanaugh, Founder of Guerilla Development and Bill Arent, Deputy Director of Economic and Urban Development in the city of Las Vegas, and moderator Rainey Shane, VP and Adaptive Reuse Director for JLL. These experts discussed the state of the commercial real estate market and rise in repurposing vacant or underutilized properties, specifically in the office and retail space. Office and retail assets are a major source of investment today given increased vacancy due to a decline in demand for space resulting from Covid-19 and work from home mandates, increasing rental rates suppressing profit margins of corporations, and a rise in ecommerce over the years. The aforementioned items coupled with significant capital and a low-rate environment which is expected to continue through 2023, has driven the rise in repurposing of distressed assets. In looking for the highest and best use of the property, developers now approach real estate with creativity and design at the heart. The old way of waiting around for a tenant to fill the space “as-is” often no longer works. It is now about proactively finding tenants and modifying the space to fit the respective needs. This could include converting big box stores into healthcare or recreational centers, or office and warehouse space, old gas stations into micro-restaurants, and even large office or warehouse space into co-working space. As one panelist said, “mall today, gone tomorrow”. While the approach to real estate development may have changed in some ways, some positive have resulted as this is a greener alternative and a lower credit risk than a ground-up development. We will continue to see changes across the real estate market in the coming years, especially as the country returns to a “new normal” post Covid-19.


Genevieve Duffy

Wells Fargo Bank

Sarah Thomas was one of the first females to be added to the National Football League (NFL) officiating roster for the 2015 season, becoming the first full-time female official. On September 13, 2015, Sarah made history by officiating her very first game between Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans. Her hat, whistle, and flag from that game are kept on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

On September 30, 2021, Sarah Thomas introduced herself as a keynote speaker for the 2021 CREW Network Convention to over seven hundred career driven women in the commercial real estate industry. As Sarah told her story, she filled the room with hope. The trials and tribulations that Sarah endured in a male dominant industry are still relevant in the commercial real estate field today. The message Sarah communicated to the crowd was that women often have the most to prove to become noticed in any male dominant industry. Passion, work ethic, and attitude are some of the biggest drivers for one to become successful and gain the respect of others.

Sarah’s officiating career began in 1996, where she began officiating for youth sports, and high school football programs. Sarah put the first ten years of her officiating career into youth sports. Her trailblazer work ethic didn’t go unnoticed, and ultimately unlocked the next level of opportunity.  Sarah was then hired by Conference USA where she started officiating for college football. She became the first female to officiate in the NCAA’s Major College Football Bowl Division. From that point on, Sarah gained exposure from some of the top NFL officials scouting for new officials. Then, in 2015, Sarah was hired by the NFL, and her dreams had become a reality. Her determination, passion, work ethic, skills, and commitment gave her the opportunity to advance her career to the top.

Sarah’s message to the Vegas CREW convention that day was to never give up on your career goals, and not to compare yourself to others. She said, “comparison is the thief of joy.” Her advice to all the aspiring females in the room that day was to, “Work hard, and don’t do it to prove anyone wrong or for the recognition.” One’s work ethic is always seen. In 2020, Sarah was selected to officiate the Super Bowl LV. She shattered her own glass ceiling and became the first female ever to work a Super Bowl. “Success only comes before work in the dictionary.”


Katie Corrie

Insite Properties

As I close out on my first year as a CREW member and reflect on my first in-person CREW Convention, I am in awe of the amazing group of women that I am surrounded by. Other members had shared with me the positive experiences they had and the connections that were made during prior years’ conventions, so I was very excited to see what it had in store. Even within my first few hours at convention, I could already see what all the excitement was about.

We were very lucky to hear from many amazing speakers and leaders within their industry. The most impactful session I attended was led by Shellye Archambeau, former CEO of MetricStream, who currently sits on the boards of Nordstrom, Verizon, Roper Technologies, and Okta. Archambeau spoke briefly about her most recent book titled, “Unapologetically Ambitious”. Something about this title really resonated with me and has become a mantra for how I want to create and envision my future. She spoke in detail about the goals she had set for herself and the plans she put in place to achieve those goals. Her ability to forge ahead and not allow obstacles to prevent her from reaching those goals was very inspiring. Overall attending convention not only expanded the respect I already had for the members within my own chapter but has allowed me the opportunity to be exposed the global network of CREW members.


MaKayla Stiffler

GreerWalker LLP


My Biggest Takeaways from CREW Convention 2021


Takeaway #1 focuses on managing your own career: the one thing that will stop us from achieving our dreams is the fear of failure. We often let things such as personal fears, managers, coworkers, partners, family and friends dictate our professional lives. We need to take back the reins and go for what we want. To do this we need to assume our plans will happen and if those around us are willing to invest in our futures, they will. But most importantly we need to remember to always invest in ourselves.

Takeaway #2 focuses on creating and sticking to goals: we tend to let time slip away and it can hold us back from accomplishing our goals. Some steps to help us stick to our goals include:

  • Set a timeline for your goals so that you give yourself accountability,
  • Write them down so they become less scary and more tangible,
  • Ask yourself, “What has to be true for this to happen?”,
  • Take some risks as they will help you get farther faster, and
  • Make decisions everyday based on the goals you set.

Always remember we are not defined by our setbacks but our comebacks!

Takeaway #3 focuses on self-care: As women we tend to give 100% of ourselves to everyone around us. This creates the very real possibility of BURNOUT! We need to decide on what we will allow ourselves to be judged on and then let go of the rest. Spend some time reflecting on what you need to care for yourself and then make those points nonnegotiable in your professional and personal lives. We are of no-good use to our organizations and family members if are tanks have run dry. As they keep telling us on every flight, “Put your oxygen mask on first before helping others”.

Emily Little

ESP Associates, Inc

CREW Network Convention 2021 Notes – Lacey Johnson, DLR Group

Keynote 1

  • Linda Alvarado – Alvarado Construction
    • One of the owners of The Rockies
    • Was a groundskeeper in college
    • Then started a curb and gutter company
    • Then started working with bus shelters
    • Alvarado Construction established 1976


Smart Buildings and Smart Cities

  • What is smart?
    • Communication infrastructure
    • Fiber deployment
    • Smart parking
    • Smart signage
    • Progressive public leaders
  • Components of a Smart City
    • Digitation of city
    • Converted 311 to an APP
  • Challenges of Adoption
    • Financial
    • Path to revenue
    • Permitting
  • Components of a Smart Building
    • Independent systems move to integrated systems
    • Safer because its one system instead of 10 or more
  • 95% of breaches are cause from user error




Keynote 2

  • Dean of Cambridge = Mauro Guillen
    • Lateral Thinking
      • Connecting the dots
      • Unanticipated effects in the world
    • In 1950s women had an average of 5 children. Now 2.4
      • Reason is availability of education
      • We’ve been below replacement since Nixon
      • Numbers growing because of immigration
    • A 60 year old is expected to live another 20 years
      • 60 year olds have better mental health
    • Technological change is making knowledge obsolete faster than the past
    • HNWI who are women – +/-50%
      • because of access to better education
    • Difference of spending of genders – women are more apt to:
      • Healthcare
      • Insurance
      • Savings
      • Investing
    • Men are riskier
      • Women do become riskier as their knowledge of financial market improves
    • Corruption is lower in countries where women are in power




Keynote 3

  • Shellye Archambeau
    • Former CEO of Metricstream
    • Became CEO at 40
    • Started in sales
    • “it takes intention”
    • Intentional – Done on purpose; deliberate
    • Manage your career
      • Set goals
      • Create a plan
      • Set a timeline
      • Be intentional
    • Her challenges
      • People calling her “sweetpea”
      • Respectfully corrected men
    • Her Approach
      • Leverage allies
      • “keep the goal – figure out a different path”
      • Give people permission to ask for help
    • Critical decision points
      • Be strategin on all fronts
      • Prioritize ruthlessly
      • Take risks
      • Ask for help
      • Swerve when necessary
      • Show confidence – don’t let imposter syndrome stop you
      • Let people know what you do
      • Use your voice – you are in the room for a reason
      • Avoid burnout – selfcare is imperative

Keynote 4

  • Sarah Thomas
    • American Football official
    • Wears number 35
    • Started in 2015
    • Officiated Superbowl 55
    • Quotes:
      • “Motivate yourself”
      • “Some days you’re the pigeon, some days you’re the statue.
      • “Be yourself because everyone else is taken”
      • “Don’t prove anyone else wrong; prove to yourself that you belong”
      • “Don’t do it for recognition; do it because you love it”
      • “Comparison is the thief of joy”