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Member Spotlight

Sheri Commander

Lincoln Harris

Current job:  Senior Facility Manager / Lincoln Harris

Summary of your role in the company: I manage a team of property managers, analyst and transition managers on the Atrium Healthcare account.

How I chose my occupation: I didn’t choose property management, it chose me.  I made a job/ career change 21 years ago when I agreed to go work for a friend’s real estate company and the rest is history.

Years in the business: 21 years

My specialization is:   Medical Office Property Management

The most satisfying part of my job is:  The unpredictable nature of property management.  Every day is a new adventure but at the end of the day, a satisfaction knowing you are providing a safe, clean, comfortable and welcoming environment for medical patients.

Best leadership advice I have been given:  To lead with your team in mind.

Greatest professional achievement:  I’ve worked for Lincoln Harris for almost 14 years.  I have grown in my positions during this time and continually strive for more responsibility.

Number of years with CREW: 3

Most significant CREW connection: I completed CREW Charlotte’s Authentic Leadership Program and was very fortunate to connect with a wonderful group of “badass” women.

Place of birth/hometown: Charlotte, NC                       

Number of years in Charlotte: 49 (guess I just told my age)

Family:  I share a home with my husband and mom.  I have a son & his wife that live in CT, a stepson in the US Navy and a stepdaughter in AL.  I also have (3) Furbabies.

My ideal vacation spot: My family loves Disney World and we go at least once a year despite the fact that we have no small children.  It’s a magical place where everyone can be a kid.

Hobbies/Interests: I enjoy entertaining with family and friends.  I also am passionate about community service and participate in projects as I can.

Other professional organizations I belong to: Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM)

I wish I could: Travel more…there are so many beautiful places I would love to visit and learn more about.

Tanna Thomas

Terracon

Current job:  Client Development Specialist with Terracon

Summary of your role in the company: Responsible for identifying leads and developing long-term client relationships.

How I chose my occupation: After serving as the 2017 CREW Fort Lauderdale/Boca Raton President it was clear that my passion was connecting and promoting people. I wasn’t feeling challenged anymore as a Senior Property Manager and I knew once I made the move to Charlotte that I wanted to head in a different career path. It wasn’t easy and initially I took a pay cut as a newly single mom but it’s been all worth it and I’ve never been happier.

Years in the business: Two in Relationship Management, over ten in Commercial Real Estate

My specialization is: Taking challenging relationships and improving them significantly. I owe that to my years in Property Management.

A good lead for me is:  Developers, Architects, Engineers, General Contractors, Property/Building Managers, EDCs

The most satisfying part of my job is: Meeting new people. I’ve met so many people that I truly admire and it really inspires me to give my best. It’s brought both professional and personal success and I’m always proud to reciprocate.

Best leadership advice I have been given:  Be your authentic self. For many years I tried to be the most neutral, almost bland person but that just makes you part of the pact and restricts you from rising above it. My supervisor at a previous job said to me you need to present your authentic self because that’s what truly sets you apart. It’s served me well.

Greatest professional achievement:  Our team at Stiles Corporation many years ago won numerous BOMA awards in South Florida but being the 2017 CREW Fort Lauderdale/Boca Raton President was of my greatest achievements. We had some hardships that year (our incoming President died) and our group trusted me to take the reins. I wasn’t perfect but I did what I could to keep us going.

Number of years with CREW: 6

Most significant CREW connection: Dawn Royle with Investors Title, my amazing mentor!

Place of birth/hometown: Trinidad and Tobago. Island girl at heart.

Number of years in Charlotte: 2

Family: My son Roman, 7 and my pyre-poodle puppy Spicy.

My ideal vacation spot: I’d love to visit New Zealand but Tobago is where I had the sweetest vacation memories with loved ones.

Hobbies/Interests: Hot yoga, running, reading, anything fitness related (except Crossfit-do not get me started), hiking (new to it, was in flat Florida for 18 years so…) and I got into vocal lessons this year again. Maybe I’ll start a band and call it Mid Life Crisis.

Other professional organizations I belong to: ULI so far and to be honest with the pandemic it’s something I’m still trying to evaluate.

I wish I could: Start a Boss Chick Boot Camp. It’s for women to become more assertive, whether professionally, personally or psychologically. I’ve found we tend to put everyone before ourselves and we always want to be conflict averse and polite often at our own expense. You can be polite and tactful and still put yourself first when you have to. I’d love to get a group of women I admire together and bestow what we know. Also I’m fully aware that the term “chick” can be viewed as sexist. Work in progress.

Natasha Branch

Fidelity National Title Company

Current job:  Branch Manager/Title Counsel

Summary of your role in the company: I oversee and manage Fidelity/Commonwealth’s Charlotte and Winston Salem Branch offices. Our office is a direct office for the Company and we underwrite residential and commercial transactions. I also provide legal/underwriting support to my staff and our customers.

How I chose my occupation: I began working for a solo real estate practitioner soon after graduating from law school. I then branched out and opened my own firm in the early 2000s. While I enjoyed handling real estate transactions, I always wanted to do more, while continuing to learn and grow. My desire to grow in my profession led me to Fidelity National Title Insurance Company in 2007.

Years in the business: 13 years

My specialization is:   Commercial and Residential Title Insurance

A good lead for me is:  An entity (LLC, Corporation, etc.) or law firm interested in partnering with a team of highly experienced, customer service driven, title insurance professionals to assist with their commercial real estate transactions.

The most satisfying part of my job is: I am by nature a problem solver. It is very satisfying to me when I have the opportunity to help one of our approved attorneys resolve a title issue in a way that is most favorable to their client.

Best leadership advice I have been given:  Always lead from the front! A leader is a servant, first and foremost.

Greatest professional achievement:  I recently had a candid conversation with one of Fidelity National Financial’s (parent company) executives about my thoughts and concerns surrounding racial diversity and inclusion (or lack thereof) within our family of companies. It was not an easy conversation for me to have with an executive of our Company whom I had never spoken to directly. However, one of my friends told me once before, “Do it afraid”. I did it afraid!

Number of years with CREW: This is my first year as a member.

Most significant CREW connection: Given that I joined CREW just before we began to feel the effects of COVID-19, my CREW connections have been minimal and mostly online connections via zoom. I would say my most significant connections have been those made through the CREW Network or CREW New York webinars I have attended. I am looking forward to more meaningful connections with CREW Charlotte members going forward.

Place of birth/hometown: Goldsboro, NC

Number of years in Charlotte: A little over a year. Our family moved from the Triangle area mid-2019.

Family: Husband of 17 years, Corey L. Branch; two adult (bonus) children: Stacia and CJ; and two minor children: Mikayla and Laila.

My ideal vacation spot: Hawaii or Costa Rica…they are both on my bucket list.

Hobbies/Interests: I am a waterfalls chaser. I enjoy being outdoors, running/jogging, weight lifting, spending time with my family and friends, and movies (specifically, chick-flicks). I am adventurous and will try almost anything at least once.

Other professional organizations I belong to: North Carolina Bar Association, Mecklenburg County Bar Association, and Mecklenburg Real Property Council

I wish I could: I wish I had the time to write a book about my life. I am certainly not the most interesting person in the world. However, I believe a book about my life experiences, the highs and the lows, could help many black and brown girls look past their current circumstances and believe they really can set and reach attainable goals. Ultimately, I wish I could instill hope in teen girls and/or women in their early twenties who may be enduring difficult circumstances in their lives.

Colleen Brannan

Branstorm PR

Current job:  Owner & President, BRANSTORM PR

Summary of your role in the company: Lead public relations and marketing efforts for retainer clients, primarily in the CRE industry with a few fun exceptions.

How I chose my occupation: Growing up, I always wanted to be a reporter. Many internships taught me I could still write but do more with a career in public relations.

Years in the business: 30

My specialization: Brand building, storytelling and community engagement

A good lead for me is:  A professional services company without in house PR and marketing leadership

The most satisfying part of my job is: Connecting others

Best leadership advice I have been given:  Lead by example

Greatest professional achievement:  Owning my own PR firm for 14 years AND recently passing the National & NC broker exams, which makes me the only PR professional I know with an active broker’s license.

Number of years with CREW: Two

Most significant CREW connection: Kim Marks at Progressive AE

Place of birth/hometown: Whidbey Island, Washington

Number of years in Charlotte: 15

Family: Husband Scott, Son Nick (18), Daughter Phoebe (16) and Rescue Pup, Violet (4.5)

My ideal vacation spot: Hilton Head Island

Hobbies/Interests: Life management for teenagers, college essay coaching and concerts

Other professional orgs I belong to: PRSA, Women Executives, Uptown Rotary & CRCBR

I wish I could: Own a bed and breakfast somewhere fabulous. I love to write for fun, usually on a rant.  Read my latesCharlotte Ledger story

Amber Westerduin

McMillan, PLLC

amber

Current job: Attorney at McMillan PLLC

Summary of your role in the company: I handle all aspects of commercial real estate transactions and closings, including title searches and opinions, land sales and acquisitions, lease drafting and negotiation, commercial building purchases, business entity formations, licensing agreements, and real estate financing and construction loans.

How I chose my occupation: Law is a second career for me. In my previous life I was an associate producer for a news station, but I felt like there was something more out there for me. After a long conversation with my Grandmother, I ended up applying to law school and here I am!

Years in the business: I have been a practicing attorney for seven years, but I have been in the commercial real estate industry for a little more than one year.

My specialization is: I focus on guiding clients through the closing process of commercial real estate acquisitions, sales and refinances in North and South Carolina.

A good lead for me is: Anyone buying, selling, refinancing, or leasing commercial real estate! Commercial brokers, lenders and investors, and other attorneys of any practice area are particularly good resources for me.

The most satisfying part of my job is: I love helping clients anticipate all of the potential problems that could arise during and after a transaction so we can solve them in advance and they can focus on their business.

Best leadership advice I have been given: I once asked a former boss how she got to the top and she told me that when someone sees something in you and offers you a new challenge, you should believe you have what it takes and go for it.

Greatest professional achievement: Getting licensed to practice in three states – New York, North Carolina and South Carolina. Studying for the South Carolina bar exam while working was no picnic, but I am so happy I did it!

Number of years with CREW: About one year.

Most significant CREW connection: This may sound very cheesy, but honestly everyone I’ve connected with in CREW has been a significant connection. Commercial real estate, and law, tend to be male-dominated fields. It is inspiring and empowering to connect with so many strong, intelligent, successful women forging paths for others. The men that join CREW to encourage and promote other women should be praised as well!

Place of birth/hometown: I was born in Newark, Delaware but grew up in Fayetteville, NY.

Number of years in Charlotte: Seven. Charlotte was the last stop on a three-month cross-country road trip, and I loved it so I stayed!

Family: I have two fur children, Maya and Calvin (mini dachshunds), and my parents and brother followed me down to Charlotte a couple years ago.

My ideal vacation spot: Anywhere outside of my house these days! I spent a week in the Bahamas last year petting wild pigs and I would give anything to go back right now!

Hobbies/Interests: My hobbies and interests are really all over the map, but I love karaoke, live music, fashion, traveling, and working out (I’ve trained in boxing, MMA, karate, CrossFit, you name it I’ve probably done it).

Other professional organizations I belong to: ULI, North Carolina Bar Association, Mecklenburg County Bar Association, South Carolina Bar Association, and New York State Bar Association.

I wish I could: Go camping a lot more this year. I recently went camping alone for my birthday during the quarantine and it was such an incredible experience!

Sophie Wiley

PMC Commercial Interiors

Current job:  Senior Account Executive at PMC Commercial Interiors

Summary of your role in the company: To lead an internal team through a project from start to finish, acting as the main point of contact externally to our clients.

How I chose my occupation: I went to interior design school at Appalachian State, tried a few different design career paths after graduating, and landed on Contract Furniture Sales when I moved to Charlotte in 2011.

Years in the business: 8 years in Charlotte.  13 years total.

My specialization is:  Contract Furniture, with a focus on corporate office

A good lead for me is:  A commercial real estate broker helping a client look for space and a furniture partner, or and end user who is struggling to find a partner to help them with furniture changes.

The most satisfying part of my job is:  Being able to make a client happy when they see their furniture renderings come to life in their space.

Best leadership advice I have been given:  Your reaction to something is everything.  You are in control of how you react.

Greatest professional achievement:  Landing my job at PMC.  I’m super thankful to be a part of such a great, well respected team in our market.

Number of years with CREW: 3

Most significant CREW connection:  Heather Frant.  She has been a great networking resource and friend.

Place of birth/hometown:  Loring Air Force Base, Maine. Was there about 6 months before moving overseas.  Life of a military family!

Number of years in Charlotte: 9 years

Family: My husband Kyle, and our chocolate lab Bella.

My ideal vacation spot:  Anywhere tropical, or anywhere with super old architecture and history.

Hobbies/Interests:  I enjoy being on our boat, from Lake Norman to the coast. Relaxing, cruising, fishing, you name it!

Other professional organizations I belong to:  IIDA, International Interior Design Association

I wish I could:  Live on the intercoastal with a yacht in the water, and endless funds to travel wherever whenever.

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