CREW Network Impact Awards: Women of Influence

The 2013 Convention & Marketplace offered a natural setting to honor this year’s winners of CREW Network’s top awards.

The 2013 Convention & Marketplace offered a natural setting to honor this year’s winners of CREW Network’s top awards. All go-getters and entrepreneurs that have furthered their own careers while encouraging advancement of other women in commercial real estate and benefiting their communities, the seven winners of the Impact Awards and all-around achiever recognized with the Circle of Excellence Award have made a real difference.

Circle of Excellence

Diane Paddison, Chief Strategy Officer, Cassidy TurleyDiane Paddison

CREW Network’s Circle of Excellence award is based on extensive criteria, including ideals few achieve in combination. They include exhibiting excellence and integrity, providing innovation and expertise, being a thought leader and change agent, championing diversity and—perhaps most difficult of all—achieving this as “a complete package,” applying these ideals in all aspects of life. But for Diane Paddison, this attainment has been her life’s work.

Paddison has achieved success in her career, serving in executive positions for four major real estate firms, and she sits on multiple executive boards. Yet she makes her faith and family her priorities. Herself seeking to achieve balance among those three aspects of her life, she wrote Work, Love, Pray and is actively involved in running her non-profit organization to help young professional Christian women achieve the same ideal.

Valedictorian of her class at Oregon State University, with an MBA from Harvard University, Paddison entered the real estate business in 1987 as a Tulsa-based leasing agent for Trammell Crow Co. She rose through the ranks of the longtime development and services giant, drawing on the support of key sponsors and mentors—something she strongly advises others to do as they climb the career ladder. As COO for global services, she developed the company’s global services client strategy, then, in 2006, worked on the acquisition by CB Richard Ellis Inc., integrating the 4,500-person team in her new role as president of client accounts, global corporate services. In 2008, she replaced the then-retiring Walt Rakowich as COO of ProLogis, then moved to the growing Cassidy Turley to serve as chief strategy officer in February 2010, just as it was gearing up for its official launch as a single, branded company.

At Cassidy Turley, Paddison is drawing on her strength in working with people to provide strategic planning, integration of the companies continually being acquired by the fast-growing service provider, and assisting with leadership recruitment and development, new business development, diversity and operations. CPE named her one of the Top Women in Real Estate in March.

Entrepreneurial Spirit 

Coni Rathbone, Shareholder, Zupancic Rathbone Law Group P.C.Coni Rathbone

Coni Rathbone took a chance in departing an established law firm after 10 years to start her own businesses. But she wanted to fulfill two longtime dreams: forming her own law practice and becoming a real estate developer. So in February 2010, she left Davis Wright Tremaine with Jim Zupancic to launch Zupancic Rathbone Law Group P.C., offering services in areas including real estate, land use and real estate finance and securities, among other specializations. Clients range from tenant-in-common investors to major corporations. The firm has twice been listed by the Portland Business Journal as one of Oregon’s 100 Fastest-Growing Companies.

Rathbone also joined Zupancic’s efforts to develop a fitness club, and the 93,000-square-foot, two-building Stafford Hills Club opened on five acres of a 16-acre parcel in Tualatin, Ore., in November 2012. The first built in the Portland area in 35 years, it was the largest private economic development in Clackamas County in 2012, achieved a LEED Silver certification and will ultimately employ 80 people. The team overcame hurdles including lining up financing and working with wetlands and a partial presence in the 100-year flood plain.

Recently, Gov. John Kitzhaber appointed Rathbone to the Oregon Real Estate Board, and the Portland Business Journal honored her with a Women of Influence Orchid award.

Career Advancement for Women

Lesli Pintor, Senior Vice President, National Bank of ArizonaLesli Pintor

As a woman who has achieved success in a male-dominated business, banking veteran Lesli Pintor has made a concerted effort to help other women advance their careers. In just a few years, she has already helped some 362 women, from Girl Scouts learning the business end of cookie sales to bankers, through both one-on-one interactions and class groups.

“Leadership isn’t about managing people or being in a position with a title,” reads her statement on LinkedIn.

“Leadership is about knowing what you believe in, living out those beliefs and encouraging others. Pay it forward each and every day, as a parent, mentor, manager and a leader in your community.”

Now a senior vice president at National Bank of Arizona, Pintor earned an undergraduate degree in finance from Arizona State University and has since spent nearly 30 years in the banking field, joining the bank in 1997. She became the Tucson real estate banking group manager in 2008, and four-and-a-half years later assumed her current position of senior vice president & commercial banker, developing and managing business relationships across a variety of industry sectors. She is now the highest-ranking woman in commercial lending in southern Arizona.

Pintor co-founded the bank’s mentoring program, True Partner Path, and its Women’s Financial Group, which numbers more than 500 female leaders in business, non-profits and public service.

Member-to-Member Business 

Vicki Berman, Lawyer, Shareholder & Vice President, Dean Mead

When firm client A. Duda & Sons Inc. sold its Palm Beach County sugar operation to U.S. Sugar Corp., real estate attorney Vicki Berman was involved in restructuring the financing on the property. For the agricultural firm, that involved arranging $140 million worth of replacement property acquisitions in order to defer the taxes on the transaction through a series of 1031 exchanges. Berman reached out to a fellow CREW Orlando member, Mary Pat Dunleavy of Fidelity National Title, in mid-2011, engaging her firm as the closing agent on the 1031 transactions, which ultimately included 33 single-tenant retail properties, two single-tenant industrial properties and two agricultural properties in 12 states.

The process took six months, with the primary sale to U.S. Sugar closing on Feb. 29, 2012; during the course of her efforts to complete the exchanges, Berman involved qualified CREW Network members as local counsel in 13 closed deals totaling $62.2 million, including Christine Weingart of her own firm, Janna Shearman-Perret of First American Exchange Corp., Sally Hasenfratz of Phillips Murrah P.C., Susan Talley and Heather McGowan of Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann L.L.C., Kassandra McLaughlin of Brown McCarroll L.L.P. and Ashley Pearson of K&L Gates L.L.P. In many cases, one recommendation led to another in a process she described as “organic and evolving.”

Berman is a 28-year veteran of Dean Mead with a focus on real estate law. With experience in both office and retail properties, she works with clients including a large office REIT and a major Florida landowner. The A. Duda transactions won her, Weingart and Dunleavy recognition as CREW Orlando’s 2012 Networking Deal of the Year. This year, she was named among the Best Lawyers in America.

Economic and Community Improvement 

Andrea Daskalakis, Chief Investment Officer, Massachusetts Housing Investment Corp.
Kathryn Cochrane Murphy, Partner, Krokidas and Bluestein L.L.P.
Mary Thompson, Senior Vice President, Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Miriam Vock Sheehan, Partner, Nolan Sheehan Patten L.L.P.

Revitalizing Dudley Square in Roxbury has been one of Boston Mayor Thomas Menino’s top priorities in recent years. Now well underway, the project centers on redevelopment of the long-empty Ferdinand Furniture Store and will house the headquarters of the Boston Public Schools when it opens in 2015. The six-story, 180,000-square-foot building will house offices and 20,000 square feet of ground-level retail and will be LEED Silver certified. The $115 million project budget includes $40 million in New Markets Tax Credits, the first ever sought by the city, along with a bond from the Boston Industrial Development Financing Authority. It will also offer youth and education services and skills training to the low-income area, which features the highest concentration of school-age children in the city and a very high drop-out rate, and it is expected to generate 800 jobs and encourage progression of seven other projects in the area.

Nine members of the NEWiRE Boston chapter of CREW Network have been working on the project—which is also expected to help revitalize Dorchester and Jamaica Plain—but four have been particularly active. Jim Kennedy, the main point person between the city and the financing partners, brought in Andrea Daskalakis, an NMTC expert with the Massachusetts Housing Investment Corp., to help develop a strategic plan, provide structuring advice and line up financing partners for the credits. She involved Kathryn Murphy, who represented the city; Mary Thompson, who represented financing partner Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which aligned with the project as part of a commitment to invest $1.5 trillion in community development over 10 years; and Miriam Sheehan, tax counsel for the Massachusetts Housing Investment Corp. and The Community Builders. The team was awarded NEWiRE’s 2013 Networking Award in April.

Daskalakis has spent 20 years developing the low-income neighborhoods of the Bay State. A former senior executive and commercial real estate development manager at BayBank, she co-led the financing of the Fenway Community Health Center development through a groundbreaking leveraged NMTC transaction and the financing of the Holyoke Community Health Center and the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Center in Roxbury using the country’s first combination of federal loan guarantees and federal and state historic tax credits, according to Banker & Tradesman.
Murphy has represented a wide variety of commercial real estate players in transactions including acquisitions, dispositions, leasings, financings and other work. She has a particular interest in representing educational institutions.

Thompson is a senior vice president & senior equity originator in the tax credit investment group at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. She is responsible for originating NMTC and Historic Tax Credit investments nationally, with a focus on originating investments in the Northeast. She has worked in real estate groups of Bank of America and its predecessors since 1994, and in NMTC debt underwriting since 2004.

Sheehan’s federal income tax practice focuses on partnerships and exempt organizations, with an emphasis on federal and state tax credits. Previously, she was a partner with DLA Piper L.L.P. and Hill & Barlow.

Watch the video from the CREW awards here

This article appeared in the November 2013 issue of Commercial Property Executive  magazine.