As I drove up the highway from Kansas to Des Moines, Iowa last month, I was consistently pulling my steering wheel from side to side to avoid major potholes in the road. It was, after all, post-winter months in the Midwest following major winter storms and extreme cold. While I inevitably hit a pothole, I focused on regaining control (some of the holes were deep and long!) and adjusting to the obstacles. I didn’t know what to expect along the way, but I kept my commitment to go with the curves in the road and push forward into the unexpected.
As I thought about meeting with the fantastic leaders of CREW Iowa, it reminded me of my drive and how you sometimes must be okay with not knowing what’s ahead, and to remain flexible to deal with the unexpected. This chapter started as a twinkle in someone’s eyes—an idea, an inspiration and a commitment. The leaders didn’t know what would come next or what curves in the road (or potholes!) they might face. Yet here we are seven years later, with a vibrant, growing CREW Iowa chapter.
This chapter is organized, driven, committed, and has experienced steady growth in its initial years. CREW Iowa has the secret sauce to become a powerhouse new(er) chapter excelling at bringing members together:
Engage members on committees;
Determine members’ hot buttons for programs and content; and
Navigate through challenges.
I made opening remarks at the chapter’s luncheon, which was focused on talent. As CREW Network is a champion of building a pipeline of diverse groups of women for the industry, it was interesting to hear the panel discuss the state’s challenges with attracting and keeping talent. The panel of amazing women shared data and information about incredible initiatives that are underway. The state and local governments are intentionally partnering with other organizations to bring talent to Iowa and leveraging all the opportunities available. It was a terrific event!
While in Des Moines, I also spoke at the Women in Real Estate, Principal Real Estate Investors WIRE monthly event. Brenda Stephany spearheaded my visit and has been instrumental in helping to lead the group. Ken Dubas, Sr. Managing Director/Principal Real Estate Chief Operating Officer, and Kevin Catlett, Managing Director, Private Debt, were in attendance—supporting this important internal initiative to advance women in the organization. Impressive as that is, Ken has also attended CREW Iowa events and the company is a lead sponsor. Principal is a great model for commitment and partnership with CREW. They have demonstrated their commitment to the journey and go with the curves as well. They are continually learning ways they can support the industry, CREW Iowa and their female employees.
Myself with Tasha Gould, Senior Appraiser at Principal Real Estate Investors.
While driving back to Kansas, I continued to navigate around some major potholes. As I reflected on the people I met in Des Moines, it was clear that the dedicated leadership of CREW Iowa has accomplished so much in such a brief time. I am so proud of the work that is happening in Iowa. Both CREW Iowa and Principal set the bar for commitment and dedication to transforming the industry and advancing women. There’s no curve in that road… it's right on track!
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Wendy Mann is the chief executive officer of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network and president of the CREW Network Foundation.