GlobeSt. Real Estate Forum has recognized accomplished female commercial real estate professionals for their remarkable achievements since 1983. The Women of Influence they highlight annually are acknowledged for their individual impacts on the market, as well as for their collective successes, which drive the commercial real estate industry to significant new heights with each passing year.
In 2021 in particular, GlobeSt. was overwhelmed by the quantity and quality of the nominations they received. And because the additional hurdles and challenges of 2020 and 2021 called for a different sort of leadership, initiative and grit, their team worked hard to select top professionals from across the commercial real estate industry who stood out from their counterparts and emerged as leaders, particularly during the uncertainty of the pandemic.
To be singled out for one of these honors from a pool of one’s peers is a big deal! And so, it is with great pride that we announce that three of NAI Elliott’s very own were chosen for awards this year.
It makes perfect sense to us that NAI Elliott’s go-to mentor Julie Fuhrman would receive special recognition in the Mentor category. Julie joined the company with 20+ years’ experience in commercial real estate. Her unselfish transparency is key to helping Julie’s colleagues and mentees succeed. “We all make mistakes, and should expect others to. I share my correspondence with my team members, so they can see—and hopefully benefit from—what went right and what went wrong.”
Julie works with her team to establish trust, determine roles and responsibilities, and implement communication protocols that align them in their work toward client goals. When Julie transitioned recently, to NAI Elliott’s longest-held and second largest client, the switch was seamless. Julie took advantage of an overlap with the outgoing manager to integrate herself into the team, once again showing her natural skill and affinity as a mentor. “Never miss a learning/teaching opportunity, to explain why we do something a certain way, or welcome suggestions for doing it another. Support and genuinely-expressed appreciation for accomplishments are key.”
“Mentorship means building on an individual’s strengths. I’d start a person who enjoys personal interaction in a role in the field, meeting with tenants and vendors, and establishing strong relationships. A less people-oriented individual who is detail-focused and enjoys organizing data might be better suited to take on the project of gathering all of our information. I want set up our team members for success; for me, starting with their strengths and adding new tasks and responsibilities as we go is the best recipe for that.”
Leanne Menashe joined NAI Elliott in 1990 as a shopping center manager and the fifth employee of the company she’s now served unswervingly for over thirty years. As the company grew, Leanne grew with it, gradually assuming more responsibility for NAI Elliott’s most important clients, and eventually distinguishing herself for a leadership position overseeing the entire management department.
In a historically male-dominated industry, Leanne excels as an effective spokesperson and leader in commercial property management in Oregon and beyond. Leanne is a wonderful mentor, too; her personal involvement in the professional growth of her “direct reports,” as well as women in other departments, has been key to the success of the company as a whole. Leanne offers, “While the real estate industry has been traditionally a male-dominated one, the specific field of property management tends to be where women can excel and thrive. I have found my way through the ranks by ignoring statistics and not dwelling on gender differences. I don’t golf and I don’t drink scotch but I am known by my colleagues to “get the job done.”
Throughout the past year, Leanne has been instrumental in the company’s success with rent collection, tenant relations, trouble-shooting property issues, and client satisfaction. She has been a leader in compassionate communication with tenants and clients during this challenging time, continually rising above the turmoil to provide answers.
“Traits including reliability, flexibility and curiosity, coupled with the importance of a “hard candy shell” have allowed me to succeed. I suggest we avoid dwelling on gender differences and work to be valuable members of an industry. Old norms die a slow death. Don’t take things personally and put the needs of the job before the needs of self.”
Liz Killpack has distinguished herself among NAI Elliott’s ranks as the lead Real Estate Manager of 1000 Broadway, a 24-story class A high-rise office tower in the Portland CBD. Over the past year, Liz initiated a review of the operations and financial production of 1000 Broadway’s 8-story parking lot, identifying opportunities for practical improvements and revenue increases. Taking the work out to competitive bid, Liz conducted an analysis that culminated in awarding the contract to a new vendor who gave the property an HVAC upgrade, enhanced building security, and automated parking equipment. The process overlapped with the onset of the pandemic and lockdown, which required a simultaneous increase in labor to adapt the building for its tenants. Still, Liz stayed focused and resolute, completing the process and transition, and more recently, preparing the building for an improved post-pandemic tenant experience and increasing revenue for ownership.
“As we navigated the pandemic analyzing our building systems and how to provide a safe, healthy work environment for our tenants, one silver lining about this past year is the human connection we experienced in our relationships. We all went through a transformation together and bonded over it, sharing our experiences, struggles and best practices together. This connection helped us learn more about our tenants, what they needed during the pandemic and moving forward. Our professional relationships with tenants, vendors, and colleagues have strengthened.”
Though we’ve long appreciated these three women as valuable members of our company, recognition from one’s peers offers its own special satisfaction. Last year especially, Julie Fuhrman, Leanne Menashe and Liz Killpack proved what we’ve always known: that they can prosper in adversity, solve problems creatively, and work with tenants to find solutions. During a difficult time, they gave building owners and tenants confidence that they and their environments were not only surviving, but thriving. We’re pleased that their colleagues across the commercial real estate industry recognized that these women are also flourishing.