This story was originally reported for our content partner, GlobeSt.com.
PHILADELPHIA, PA (SBN)—The Philadelphia Chapter of Commercial Real Estate Women celebrated the 20th anniversary of its fall fundraising luncheon by honoring 20 distinguished female leaders in the commercial real estate community at a lavish event attended by more than 800 people in Philadelphia’s cavernous Pennsylvania Convention Center.
“We just want everyone to see how amazing women are in commercial real estate,” says Stephanie J. Sprenkle, a partner with Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel, 2018 president of CREW Philadelphia. “We’re recognizing 20 women for shaping the Philadelphia landscape. These women have made a powerful impact on the region in the various industries that make up commercial real estate. It is far too often that when you get to a deal or a project, you’re the only woman in the room. We don’t have enough women at the c-suite level that other women can look to or aspire to. I think that’s what is so important about these women, they are the women we aspire to be.”
Among the honorees was Jane Golden, executive director of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, which has decorated the Philadelphia urban landscape with large scale murals inspired by Philadelphia history, culture, and sports.
“We serve thousands of young people, people in prisons, people in the behavioral health system,” she says. “Art is like oxygen, and I think for us it is a matter of equity and access and opportunity, so we’re on a mission to make sure our programs and projects reach every nook and cranny of Philadelphia.”
You can hear interviews with some of the CREW Philadelphia honorees in this audio news report. If you don’t see a player below, you can click here to listen to the news report.
Maria Gonzales, president of the Hispanic Association of Contractors and Enterprises, says her organization is mentoring Latinx housing counselors to go into real estate development, but minority women still face stiff challenges in a predominantly white, predominantly male industry.
“It’s a man-controlled world, real estate development,” she says. “You have to really work hard to make sure that you preserve your seat at the table, and to demonstrate much more emphatically than a man that you belong there.”
JoAnn Magnatta, senior vice president of facilities design and construction and real estate at Main Line Health, entered the commercial real estate industry more circuitously, starting in residential real estate and then entering the commercial sector through the health care industry, which has historically been more receptive to advancing women’s careers.
“When I started, there were only about three of us in the country that were in the real estate and construction area,” she says. “Within healthcare in particular, there’s a very open mind, and there are a number of us who are very involved in health care construction. It’s a very welcoming environment.”
The complete list of honorees was:
- Anne Cummins – Liberty Property Trust
- Anne Fadullon – City of Philadelphia
- Anne Papageorge – University of Pennsylvania
- Chellie Cameron – PHL
- Emily Bittenbender – Bittenbender Construction
- Fon Wang – Ballinger
- Hether Smith – Savills Studley
- Jane Golden – Mural Arts Philadelphia
- Joan Rosoff – White and Williams, LP
- Joan Waters – Cofco
- JoAnn Magnatta – Main Line Health
- Leslie Richards – PennDot
- Maria Gonzales – Hispanic Association of Contractors and Enterprises
- Maura Hesdon – Shoemaker Construction
- Prema Gupta – PIDC
- Sarah Peck – Progressive Housing Ventures
- Shari Reams – PNC Bank
- Sr. Mary Scullion – Project HOME
- Suzanne Mayes – Cozen O’Conner
- Tiffany Millner – ACE Mentorship Program
A major goal of CREW’s mentoring and professional development for women in the field is to eliminate the barriers that prevent advancement, says Sprenkle. To that end, the CREW chapter uses the proceeds from its luncheon to support the ACE Mentor Program of Eastern Pennsylvania, which provides grants and scholarships to young women in area high schools interested in careers in architecture, construction, and engineering.
“I would just like that we don’t have to talk about women in commercial real estate, because we are professionals and leaders in commercial real estate,” she says. “So let’s just have more diversity and inclusion, more people with different thoughts and different backgrounds having a seat at the table.”