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CREW Charlotte Announces 2023 Impact Award Winners
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CREW Charlotte Announces 2023 Impact Award Winners

CREW Charlotte Announces 2023 Impact Award Winners

On the evening of November 1st, CREW Charlotte celebrated their annual Impact Awards celebration at Myers Park Country Club.  The awards honor members and projects that have had a meaningful impact on the Charlotte area community and CREW Charlotte.


Nikki Thornton, Controller at MECA Commercial Real Estate, received the Emerging Leader Award.  The Emerging Leader Award honors those CREW Charlotte individuals that embody excellence, spirit and energy in the field of Commercial Real Estate and the CREW Charlotte Chapter.

Nikki has been extremely active during her time with CREW by serving in multiple capacities including as a Board Member, and has served on numerous committees. She is an outstanding CREW CLT emerging leader!

Elsa Simaan of Stewart Title National Commercial Services was awarded The Carrie Sharp Power Connector Award. This award honors a CREW Charlotte member that goes above and beyond networking to actively establish or strengthen relationships with fellow CREW members and sponsors by intentionally connecting members and sponsors to other members and sponsors through business and referral generation.

This individual also demonstrates an extraordinary commitment to marshal CREW talent, resulting in measurable business for other CREW members or sponsors. This individual exemplifies the power and spirit of CREW and their efforts result in measurable CREW business.

Elsa is the embodiment of this award as she is continually driven and genuinely motivated to invest in the successful networking of her fellow CREW members.

Tonya Brandon of Cushman & Wakefield was the 2023 recipient of The Career Advancement for Women Award. This award honors a CREW Charlotte member who consistently exemplifies CREW Charlotte’s commitment to elevating the status of women in commercial real estate by working to advance the careers of other women. This award is presented as a result of actions of this individual that had a significant impact on one or more women, giving them the skills or confidence to pursue and succeed in new opportunities.

Tonya is a passionate advocate for the advancement of women in commercial real estate.  For more than a decade, she has championed for elevated roles and compensation for women within her company.

Monika Nessbach, founder and Chief Interior Designer of DESIGNBAR is this year’s winner of The Entrepreneurial Spirit Award.  This award honors a CREW Charlotte member who achieved a unique career success or milestone as the result of an exceptional entrepreneurial spirit. This individual is often a risk taker and is willing to step outside the box to create something new or different – providing services, creating products or improving practices by innovatively organizing, developing or deploying resources either within their own company, as part of a larger organization their industry or community.

Fourteen years ago, she embarked on a journey to start DESIGNBAR. Four years later she left her successful corporate career to put her heart and soul behind her dream. Along the way, she didn’t just build a company; she built a workplace that encourages authenticity, and creativity, an environment that embodies EPIC fun and where collaboration thrives.


The recipient of this year’s DEI Impact Award was Diana Palecek of Fox Rothschild. This award honors a CREW Charlotte member who tirelessly helps to advance the organization’s goals to increase diversity, equity and inclusion in membership and leadership.

Diana was nominated because she is helping to change the culture of CREW Charlotte by expanding our community cohort program to include a cohort centered on professionals with disabilities.

Camp North End was the unanimous winner of The Community Project Impact Award -for Profit. This award honors a building or project that positively affects not only its inhabitants, but the surrounding community. The winner of this award exemplifies meaningful change in our city in the physical space, whether it is a development with great green space or a building that services those in need in our community.

CREW Charlotte Silver Sponsor, Trinity Partners, provides leasing and property management services for the site. Other CREW Charlotte members participating with goods and services at Camp North End include: Barringer, Choate, Swinerton, Scotties, and O’Leary Waste.


Amy’s House, the new shelter for Lincoln County Coalition Against Domestic Violence (LCCADV) that was designed by SGA|NW in partnership with IMEG is the 2023 CREW Charlotte Community Project Impact Award – non-profit.  This award honors a building or project that positively affects, not only its inhabitants, but the community surrounding it. The winner of this award exemplifies meaningful change in our community in the physical space on the non-profit side.

This project relied on multiple CREW Charlotte members who contributed to its success.  Architects Kelly Steele and Krista Karlson of SGA|NW a GF design company, led the design.  They partnered with Scott Campagna and Marissa Date of IMEG for the MEP and Structural Engineering.  Carrie Sharp with Indoff Commercial Interiors assisted with providing comfortable and long-lasting furniture, and Lacey Johnson provided artistic and interior design direction to help the space feel welcoming.


The Creative Design Award winner for 2023 is the Gresham Smith Building.  Creative design of a building comes in many forms, including exterior architecture, interior design, art, branding and furnishings. How a space is designed immediately impacts people and their experience. This award goes to the project that inspires the world around it and moves the needle in creativity.

Marie McLucas, CFO of Primax Properties is the winner of The Circle of Excellence Award. This award recognizes a CREW Charlotte member or sponsor who consistently delivers excellence and whose efforts advance the commercial real estate industry and support our mission. This individual sets and achieves the highest standards of performance, accomplishing superior execution and results. The award winner is trusted and respected by others, and is seen as a thought leader, change agent, and champion of diversity.

Marie has served in several leadership roles within CREW Charlotte and CREW Network which culminated in her serving as president in 2017 and on the 2024 Board of Directors for CREW Network. She helped to create the inaugural CREW Charlotte’s Authentic Leadership Program in partnership with CREW Charlotte and Athena International and is a 2023 recipient of the Athena Leadership – Corporate Award.

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