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2014

Arizona

Commercial Real Estate Women Championing the advancement and success of women in the commercial real estate industry

PUBLISHED BY


AzCREW

Arizona CREW Network Members Rise to C-Level

W By Amanda Ventura

hether someone is looking up, through or down at the glass ceiling, research suggests a the oft-discussed gap between men and women in commercial real estate is in fact dwindling. If the current velocity is any indication, there are still a few decades before the C-level roles find an equilibrium. In the meantime, organizations such as CREW Network ensure female industry professionals remain empowered, connected and at the forefront of industry research. CREW Network has two chapters in Arizona. AZCREW, formed in 1985, predating CREW Network’s formal establishment, is the Greater Phoenix chapter. In

50 | July-August 2014


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AZCREW 2002, Tucson CREW was formed for professionals in southern Arizona. “When I look around our organization I see women who hold positions at the top of every commercial real estate category, which was something I didn’t see 20 years ago when I entered the business,” says Karen Halpert, senior vice president of single tenant property management for Karen Halpert American Realty

Capital Properties, Inc. and immediate past-president of AZCREW. “Women such as Mindy Korth with Colliers International, Vicki Williams with Alliance Bank of Arizona and business owners such as Patty Hartley with Mode Real Estate and Liz Paquette with Sonoran Property Maintenance provide role models and examples to younger women of what can be achieved. Women have made huge strides toward positions of leadership and are now creating their own companies at twice the rate of men.” In a 2010 benchmark study conducted by the Cornell University Program in Real Estate and sponsored by CREW Network, surveyed commercial real

estate organizations reported a 7-percent increase in female employees from five years previously. Women, according to the survey, now comprise 43 percent of commercial real estate professionals in the U.S. The percentage of women specializing in asset management and brokerage increased since 2005, while women in financial and development services declined. Eleven percent of women surveyed in 2010 had an income between $100,000 and $250,000. This is a 3-percent increase from 2005. The survey findings also found a closing compensation gap. Women in commercial real estate earned 82.8 percent of the median weekly wage of men in 2009. A

CREW NETWORK’s MEMBERSHIP BY SPECIALTY 17.56% Law 11.96% Brokerage Sales 7.16% Property/ Facility Management 6.99% Finance 5.84% Construction 4.68% Title/Escrow 4.61% Marketing/Business Development 4.44% Architecture 4.23% Real Estate Development The CREW Network, founded in 1989, has more than 9,000 members in more than 70 markets in the U.S. To be a member, someone has to work in commercial real estate and care about sdvancing the achievements of women in the industry. Members come with all sorts of specialty. While each chapter has its own dynamic, here is the breakdown of all CREW Network members.

3.96% Accounting 3.78% Interior Design/Space Planning 3.58% Commercial Lending 3.54% Consulting 3.22% Asset Management 3.15% Engineering 2.54% Corporate Real Estate 2.39% Appraisal 1.99% Economic Development/Public Sector 1.36% Environmental Planning 1.13% Investment Management 1.03% Acquisitions/Dispositions 0.84% Other* * Relocation Services, Quasi-Govt Transportation, Journalism, Public Relations, Personnel/HR, Market Research, Education, Administration Information retrieved from crewnetwork.org

52 | July-August 2014


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AZCREW decade earlier, women made 76.1 percent of men’s salaries. Some of the difference, the survey suggests, may be attributed to more men engaging in commission-based compensation than women. Multiple sources also cite Halpert as a key member of AZCREW’s recent success. “Karen Halpert should be recognized for her hard work and efforts in making our board meetings extremely professional and for enacting a multitude of changes and efficiencies Christine Veldhuizen that will carry forward in making AZCREW an outstanding organization for years to come,” says Cassidy Turley CPA and AZCREW Finance Chair Christine Veldhuizen. “Karen is a fabulous role model to all women.” Vicki Williams, the 2014 AZCREW president and senior vice president of Alliance Bank of Arizona, also cites Halpert in recharging AZCREW’s industry role and bringing the organization back to black after the Great Recession. “All local real estate organizations were negatively impacted by the recession, and AZCREW was no exception — a painful lesson highlighting the need for strong financial controls,” Williams says. “We are happy to report that we are in sound fiscal shape and continue to pay attention to our budget, due in no small part to the services of our talented treasurer. The second biggest achievement is that we now hold an annual business meeting each August to promote transparency. We share with our members how the organization is managed, what the leadership opportunities are, what our budget looks like, and where their membership dollars go. I want to thank our immediate past president, Karen Halpert, for putting that meeting in place.”

7% 54 | July-August 2014

Real estate organizations reported a 7-percent increase in female employees from five years previously

AZCREW has 120 members with a number of new applications pending. Williams expects membership to reach 150 in 2015. CREW Network has Vicki Williams more than 9,000 members, mostly women, who work in a qualified field of commercial real estate for more than two years. Nearly half of CREW Network members have worked in commercial real estate for more than 16 years and 76 percent of members are presidents, CEOs, partners or senior managers of their companies. The leading speciality among CREW members are law and brokerage. “I appreciate the fact that AZCREW has standards for its members, both in terms of level and number of years of experience in commercial real estate,” says Veldhuizen. “AZCREW does a nice job of limiting vendor members to 10 percent, so the interactions between members are meaningful and connective.” AZCREW’s board in particular ranges from seven to 33 years of experience with an average of 18 years in the industry. “My most recent career milestone is that our team was awarded a project that came from a lead I brought in,” says Weitz’s Senior Pre-Development and Marketing Manager Samantha Pinkal. “As someone new to business development, it was one of my long-term BHAGs ­— big, hairy, audacious goals — to take Samantha Pinkal a generated lead to a negotiated contract. The fact that it only took eight months from my first day in my new role to the first project award worth over $1 million is something I’m a

43%

Women now comprise 43 percent of commercial real estate professionals in the U.S

little proud of.” Tucson CREW also saw its share of member spotlight, says Cushman & Wakefield | PICOR Principal Barbi Reuter. “Last year was a stellar year for our members,” says Reuter. “We had a member sworn in as a U.S. Bankruptcy Judge (Brenda Whinery), a CREW Network national mentoring participant (Eileen Lewis), a member voted ‘Lawyer of the Year’ by her peers for Tucson Real Estate Law (Linda McNulty), a National award winner for advancing other women’s careers (Lesli Pintor), two members named Women of Influence by Inside Tucson Business (Janice Cervelli and Roxanne Veliz), and a member involved in the state’s largest real estate development project in history (Linda McNulty).” Tucson CREW’s biggest achievements, Barbi Reuter Reuter adds, are driving member-to-member business and earning recognition as a leading source of talent and knowledge instead of a “leading women’s organization.” Her company is currently listing Tucson’s largest available industrial building, thanks to a referral from a board colleague with Tucson CREW, she says. Reuter, who was also a participant in CREW Network’s inaugural C-suite mentoring program, is now a mentor for a student at University of Arizona Eller College. “Given the experience requirements for membership, CREW members represent some of the most knowledgeable CRE professionals in the business,” she says. “Leaders are not born,” Halpert says, “but are made as skills are developed through experiences. Harnessing intellect, experience and through collaboration of the members, AZCREW aims to provide a forum where women can discuss the common elements of their success and provide exposure to women who have achieved uncommon success.”

11%

Women in commercial real estate surveyed in 2010 had an income between $100,000 and $250,000. This is a 3-percent increase from 2005


AZCREW THE NEW CREW

provides scholarships at a national level. Clearly there are challenges in attracting a younger membership to get involved and also to help them advance their careers in real estate. We continue to strive to close the gender gap by leveraging the talented and successful women leadership in our own ranks.

By Amanda Ventura

V

icki Williams is the senior vice president of commercial real estate at Alliance Bank of Arizona, where she has worked since 2004. She is the 2014 president of AZCREW, the Phoenix chapter of CREW Network, and former chair of AZCREW’s programs committee. Williams has been the vice president on the board of trustees for Childsplay, Inc., a professional theater company that produces plays for young audiences. WHAT KIND OF MOVEMENT TOWARD LEADERSHIP ROLES ARE YOU SEEING AMONG THE PHOENIX CHAPTER’S MEMBERS? HOW DOES THIS COMPARE TO THE INDUSTRY WHEN AZCREW WAS FOUNDED 30 YEARS AGO? Having been a part of AZCREW in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I am honored to have witnessed firsthand the evolution of both the local commercial real estate industry and also AZCREW’s evolution into a highly professional and more mature organization. In the early years, our membership was dominated by women in the fields of title and lending. Today, AZCREW is a well-known and respected part of the metro Phoenix real estate scene. We now have many more members involved in brokerage, law, architecture, asset management, construction and development. Moreover, a good number of these women are in senior leadership positions, including some who have founded and currently own businesses. That was certainly not common 20 years ago. The quality of both our programs and networking events is phenomenal. Attracted by our high caliber speakers and timely topics that include development case studies, industry updates, financial market panels, and other topics impacting commercial real estate in the Valley, nonmembers and guests are coming to our luncheons in larger numbers than ever before. When we ask respected members of our local real estate community to speak, we receive enthusiastic responses. They know who we are and support our mission. 56 | July-August 2014

Our monthly special events are also in high demand as they include mixers at popular venues, brown bag networking lunches and an annual golf tournament where a portion of the proceeds benefit a local charity.

WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING PEOPLE NEED TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT AZCREW? What people need to know most is that AZCREW is part of a national and dynamic organization with more than 75 chapters and 9,000 members in the U.S. and Canada, whose resources and influence have a significant impact locally and nationally. For example, CREW Network’s annual national convention held each fall features five-star national speakers presenting important market trends and is a great platform for building relationships and sharing ideas with women from other metropolitan areas. Open to all CREW Network members, this convention is truly an inspiring experience even for those whose business is primarily local. Last year, there were close to 1,000 in attendance. Simply promoting the benefits of our parent network to both our members and prospective members is an opportunity to increase engagement.

HOW DOES AZCREW MAKE AN EFFORT TO AFFECT GENDER INEQUALITY AMONG LEADERSHIP IN THE CRE INDUSTRY? We champion the advancement and success of women in commercial real estate industry through four key areas: leadership, professional relationships, education and excellence. CREW Network, our parent organization, funds research into women’s representation in the commercial real estate industry nationally, including representation in leadership and managerial positions. Paid for in part through our local dues, CREW Network produces highly respected white papers that are now being referenced by other commercial real estate industry groups who are also seeking more participation by women in their own organizations. AZCREW and CREW Network also raise funds to provide scholarships for young women looking for careers in commercial real estate. Specifically, we have an annual signature Black & White event in November to raise funds for local scholarships and for CREW Foundation, which is our parent’s arm that

WHAT WAS A MEMORABLE MENTORING EXPERIENCE? I didn’t have a mentor in the field of commercial real estate, per se, but did have a formal mentor when I got my first banking job in Arizona, fresh from NYC. My mentor was president of the bank, who provided a great example by being professional, thoughtful and respectful in his dealings with everyone equally. I was fortunate to never have felt I was being treated differently or underestimated because of my gender at a time when there were certainly other male managers with less progressive attitudes toward women in business, much less real estate. He was very patient and encouraged me to ask questions and, so long as I had done my research, to make recommendations despite my lack of experience. I felt I could ask him the “dumb” questions as to why things worked a certain way. The best thing I learned was that big, critical decisions should not be made in a rush, no matter what pressure you may feel. Looking back, I wish I had followed that advice a little more often.

I find it gratifying that we are able to have more female speakers, which is indicative of women’s increased leadership within the industry. Incidentally, other industry groups are also including women on their panels, which is great to see.


TUCSON CREW

THE KEY TO THE CORNER OFFICE

with Tucson Crew President Jeannie Nguyen By Amanda Ventura

J

eannie Nguyen is a vice president and relationship manager with National Bank of Arizona’s real estate banking group in Tucson, Ariz. She specializes in investor and developer commercial real estate relationships exceeding $5M. Jeannie is the 2014 president of Tucson CREW. She is also involved with National Bank’s Women’s Financial Group and Angel Charity for Children, Inc. ONE OF AZCREW’S MAIN OBJECTIVES IS TO CHAMPION SUCCESS OF WOMEN IN COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE THROUGH LEADERSHIP, RELATIONSHIPS, EDUCATION AND EXCELLENCE. WHAT KIND OF MOVEMENT TOWARD LEADERSHIP ROLES ARE YOU SEEING AMONG THE TUCSON CHAPTER’S MEMBERS? HOW DOES THIS COMPARE TO THE INDUSTRY FIVE, 10 OR EVEN 20 YEARS AGO? Tucson CREW is dedicated to the advancement of women in commercial real estate and we are certainly seeing evidence of such. We have members in senior positions such as senior/managing partner, principal, senior vice president and CEO. Growth is happening. Twenty years ago, one would have walked into a board room and probably witnessed 25 percent, or less, representation by women. That gap is closing but does still exist at some levels of senor leadership. Tucson CREW, in unison with CREW Network chapters nationwide, have put forth focus to assist women in empowering themselves to attain greater levels of leadership and personal and professional confidence. At the chapter level, we provide opportunities to assist individuals with this through multi-faceted opportunities

58 | July-August 2014

including involvement in chapter leadership roles, structured luncheons offering programs designed to increase marketplace and subject matter knowledge, ability to build networks and foster relationships. Participation in CREW, and CREW-related activities affords an additional level of individual and company visibility as well. HOW DOES TUCSON CREW MAKE AN EFFORT TO AFFECT GENDER INEQUALITY AMONG LEADERSHIP IN THE CRE INDUSTRY? ARE THERE ANY OTHER OBSTACLES OR CHALLENGES TUCSON CREW IS WORKING TO OVERCOME? At the national level, CREW Network performed a benchmark study which addressed gender inequality among leadership in CRE. Based on the research, between 2005 and 2010, women at the SVP/VP/managing director/partner level increased from 20 percent to 24 percent. In 2010, male counterparts were noted at 27 percent, versus 25 percent in 2005. However, the greatest inequality remains at the C-suite level (president, CEO, CFO, COO). Of women surveyed in the 2010 benchmark study, only 9 percent of women respondents held C-suite positions compared to 22 percent of their male counterparts. In answering one question of how to increase women leadership at the highest level, CREW Network has deployed a mentoring program known as “Bridging the C-Suite Gap.” This executive mentoring program allows mentees to work with mentors to create executive development and action plans to achieve development and career goals. The ultimate goal will be to see more women attain the top tier of leadership. In Tucson CREW, we have one member as a current participant in the national-level program and a second member who is a recent graduate.

Locally, Tucson CREW is working to make an impact not only with its members but also the next generation of young professionals. While our chapter has had a long history of reaching out to both high school and college students, through an annual event intended to introduce them to areas of commercial real estate, we recently elevated this approach to the next level. Through our partnership with University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management and College of Architecture, Tucson CREW members have dedicated additional time and energy to become increasingly involved with students through panel participation and networking events. This year, Tucson CREW began its first formal mentoring program. Seven Tucson CREW mentors are mentoring six students for a one-year period. Through these different touch-points, it is our chapter’s goal to not only cultivate professional and leadership development but also to expose students to the many career possibilities within commercial real estate. WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING PEOPLE NEED TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT TUCSON CREW? We are a vast resource of knowledge and talent. Further, our chapter is one small part of a larger 9,000-member base that encourages networking, deal making and cultivating of ideas and resources.


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AZCREW

AZCREW MEMBER

SPOTLIGHTS Vicki Etherton

President,Landmark Title Assurance Agency Years in commercial real estate: 25+ Years as an AZCREW member: 9 AZCREW holds mentorship and professional relationships among its highest values. During your career, what is a particularly memorable mentoring experience or advice you received? Early in my career I worked with a woman 15 years my senior and she became a mentor that I have continued to work with throughout the years. She treated me as an equal and often partnered with me on deals. She wisely advised me, “All things being equal, people like doing business with people they like and trust.” I find her words to be true to this day. How do you feel AZCREW membership has aided your professional success? I joined AZCREW years ago, because it was one of the only industry organizations that focuses on developing women in the industry and providing an opportunity for us to connect. As a member, I have learned a great deal from the speakers and enjoyed access to industry leaders in a small venue. People I have met through AZCREW have become clients and friends. Since this is an organization that focuses on the advancement of women in commercial real estate, I’d like to know if you feel gender factors into the way you view professional achievements. How has being a woman been an advantage or disadvantage? Has this changed over the course of your career? Where is there still room for gender equality to grow in the industry? The title industry has historically been more female dominated and female friendly, even on the commercial side. Individuals are rewarded for skill and talent, so gender does not come into play when it comes to professional achievement. On the other side, the clients are definitely male dominated. On both sides, I am seeing a change with more men working in the title industry and bright young women entering commercial brokerage firms. There is definitely still room for growth in gender equality in both areas of the industry. What noteworthy achievements or career milestones have you completed that I may be able to highlight in the story? When I started in the industry as a part-time runner, I never imagined I would end up building a career and helping expand our commercial title business in the Phoenix market. My most notable achievement was this past year when I was named president of Landmark Title Assurance Agency. 60 | July-August 2014

Shirley Hawley

Regional Manager, Single Tenant Office and Industrial Property Management, American Realty Capital Properties Years in commercial real estate: 17 Years as an AZCREW member: 8, currently Sponsorship Chair and on the Board of Directors AZCREW holds mentorship and professional relationships among its highest values. During your career, what is a particularly memorable mentoring experience or advice you received? When I began working for RREEF as the property manager for Anchor Centre, one of my new duties included leasing. I was completely out of my comfort zone, but I was very fortunate to have John Amory Jr. with CBRE, who had the listing for this property at the time, take me under his tutelage. Amory told me, “Shirley, when I get done showing you the ropes you’ll be a leasing machine.” I have never forgotten the time spent, support and encouragement he graciously shared with me and from that moment decided I would pay it forward by mentoring other newcomers in the commercial real estate field. One of my mentees, Michelle Ramirez, began her property management career at RREEF as an administrative assistant in San Francisco, Calif., and later transferred to the RREEF property management team in Phoenix. Michelle has since obtained her real estate license, worked as an on-site property manager and currently works alongside me in our office and industrial property management team as a regional manager at for American Realty Capital Properties. How do you feel AZCREW membership has aided your professional success? I am a firm believer in relationship building on a face-to-face basis that promotes a longer lasting business partnership, which often evolves into a strong personal friendship. A good example of this is the monthly AZCREW luncheon’s five minutes of networking prior to the formal presentation. Within those five minutes, you are able to share and connect not only who you are but who is sitting around you. Texting and emails have their place in networking but a face to face exchange leaves a more lasting impression. One of my more memorable five minute connections I have made at an AZCREW luncheon was with Valerie Marciano, Esq., which led to a social gathering which then evolved into a working relationship both professionally and in AZCREW. We have worked together for the last four years on the sponsorship committee and I know going forward that I have a lifelong friend and colleague. Since this is an organization that focuses on the advancement of women in commercial real estate, I’d like to know if you feel gender factors into the way you view professional achievements. How has being a woman been an advantage or disadvantage? Has this changed over the course of your career? Where is there still room for gender equality to grow in the industry? Traditionally, commercial real estate (CRE) has been a male dominated field which I believe is now evolving into a more equal platform. Being a woman in any field has its advantages and disadvantages. In CRE, as a woman you had to work a little harder and a little longer but success no matter the gender will always achieve recognition and the rewards that come with it. Women in CRE in Arizona have seen a remarkable growth greatly attributed to affiliations such as AZCREW whose foundation is to promote women’s achievements. Gender equality in the brokerage arena is still in the infancy stage but through mentoring of the young women coming out of the universities, this too will change and grow.


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AZCREW

What are your proudest career milestones? During my tenure at RREEF, my team was awarded the first place national award for overall tenant satisfaction and “most likely to renew” in the million-plus-square-foot category. In 2010, I was tasked to open the Phoenix Voit Real Estate office which involved overseeing all property management, operations and leasing. Currently, at American Realty Capital Properties (ARCP), as a regional manager I successfully transitioned a portfolio of more than 50 acquired properties over the course of 18 months with a portfolio total of 11MSF and locations in 24 different states. Along with my CRE career my husband, Bill Blair, I opened Digital Video Networks, LLC (DVN), an audio visual integration company in Scottsdale, Ariz. DVN was acknowledged by Inc. Magazine (Inc. 500) in 2012 and 2013 as one of the fastest growing companies in the United States and Arizona. AZCREW is an avenue that has opened up my networking and years of relationship building to combine both my CRE career and my DVN business ownership. DVN has become a sponsor for AZCREW and proudly supports this organization as a leader in the promotion and advancement of professional women in all business industries.

Mindy Korth

Executive Vice President, Colliers International Years in commercial real estate: 29 Years as an AZCREW member: 25 AZCREW holds mentorship and professional relationships among its highest values. During your career, what is a particularly memorable mentoring experience or advice you received? Looking back, I could have started using mentors sooner in my career than I did. I am grateful for my mentors and will continue to be mentored through the rest of my life. The best mentoring advice I have received is to get a mentor, pick the mentor wisely, rely on the mentor and use him or her regularly. How do you feel AZCREW membership has aided your professional success? I couldn’t imagine not being a member of AZCREW. I have established some great relationships with various women real estate executives as a result of my AZCREW involvement. We collaborate, share ideas and, of course, conduct business together. Since this is an organization that focuses on the advancement of women in commercial real estate, I’d like to know if you feel gender factors into the way you view professional achievements. How has being a woman been an advantage or disadvantage? Has this changed over the course of your career? Where is there still room for gender equality to grow in the industry? Professional achievements are a result of proven results regardless of gender. CRE is a great industry for women. Women adapt well in a dynamic environment and they are excellent negotiators and consensus builders. I have seen a difference during the 29 years that I have been in this industry. There are many more women in higher level positions today. What are your proudest career milestones? Two career milestones come to mind: representing more than $2.6B in sales transactions and moving to Colliers International. 62 | July-August 2014

Samantha Pinkal

Senior Pre-development and Marketing Manager, The Weitz Company Years in commercial real estate: 6 Years as an AZCREW member: 1

AZCREW holds mentorship and professional relationships among its highest values. During your career, what is a particularly memorable mentoring experience or advice you received? I’ve been blessed with a few mentors along the way with a lot of helpful advice but I think the piece that has made the greatest impact is to “ask questions.” My first project manager shared that wisdom with me, a fresh college grad at the time. At first, it was simply a tool help me learn what I didn’t know about construction, which ended up being a lot more that I thought it would be. As I move forward in my career I use the same advice, “ask questions,” in a more thoughtful way: to create change and improve processes or circumstances or whatever is at hand. Those have been my favorite words of wisdom to pass along to others. How do you feel AZCREW membership has aided your professional success? Last fall I made a career change from the project management side of construction to pre-construction and business development, and part of that role was to become involved in industry organizations. AZCREW was recommended by a coworker and it absolutely has become the launching point for me. I’ve joined committees where I’ve been able to give my input on topics that I think are interesting and a little unique, some of which allow me to showcase Weitz and our clients in presentation and in property visits. I’ve met so many dynamic women who really emulate the AZCREW mission. They’ve been nothing short of champions for me, introducing me to decision-makers and influential people, providing me with projects leads, being role models for the type of businesswoman I want to be, and becoming great friends and a support system. How has being a woman affected the way you view your career and achievements? Where is there still room for gender equality to grow in the industry? In the past I’ve viewed gender as a qualifier to my career and success. I was “a woman” in the construction industry rather than just in the construction industry. In that way I try to be mindful of how I categorize success but still recognize great achievements in the movement toward gender equality. Anytime someone is different than the typical image or stereotype we picture for a particular role, he or she has an inherent advantage should they choose to see it that way. Through school and into my career, I’ve consistently been one of very few women in the room and I am asked often “Why are you in construction?” Over the years, I’ve learned to embrace the curiosity or the doubt. Telling my story allows me more opportunity to create an impact, not only for me but for others following similar paths. In my personal experience, the disadvantages of being a woman in construction and commercial real estate have been very limited and I credit that to the caliber of people I work with and for. I think there is room to grow at all levels of the commercial real estate industry. If you simply look at the numbers of men versus women, regardless of level of employment, there is an obvious gap. It will take time and a good amount of effort to fill that gap but I think that the industry is headed in the right direction, especially with the mentoring and outreach that so many organizations are offering.


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Vicki Williams SVP, Commercial Real Estate

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AZCREW 2014  

Arizona Commercial Real Estate Women championing the advancement and success of women in the commercial real estate industry. Published by A...

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