13th Annual Networking Awards Dinner

March 21, 2018
Written by: CREW-St. Louis


More than 130 members, industry colleagues and guests celebrated the achievements of several members at the 13th Annual CREW-St. Louis Networking Awards. Additionally, we honored a Woman of Influence, the third such award since its establishment in 2016. All the recipients certainly reflect this year’s theme of Disrupt by demonstrating leadership and success in advancing the influence of women in our industry.

Held at the historic St. Louis Woman’s Club, the networking hour started the evening followed by an elegant dinner. Lynn Goessling, 2018 President, then kicked off the program by reviewing the chapter’s mission and accomplishments.

Cindy Preszler, broadcast and web meteorologist, did a masterful job as the evening’s master of ceremonies, presenting awards to members. Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge, last year’s second Woman of Influence recipient, made a special appearance to introduce the newest honoree of this prestigious award.

Kudos to our chair, Stacey Kamps, and co-chair, Dawn Humphreys, along with their committee members – Susan Chapman, Anna Ives, Mande Meyer, Christine Ostrowski, Nancy Petersen and Tim Sitek – for making this event as special as the awards presented.

Several nominations in each category made this a challenging task. All of those honored live up to the challenge by showing how they are making a difference in our industry and our region. Congratulations to this year’s honorees!

Woman of Influence: Lesley Hoffarth, President and Executive Director, Forest Park Forever

Started in 2016, the award recognizes a female leader who has made a significant impact on the commercial real estate industry through her leadership, accomplishments and service to our region.

Hoffarth was recruited by the board to lead Forest Park Forever while still overseeing the $535 million I-64 project. A 20-year veteran of the Missouri Department of Transportation, Hoffarth joined Forest Park Forever after she completed the massive transportation project one month ahead of schedule and $11 million under budget.

In January 2010, she assumed the helm of Forest Park Forever, the private nonprofit conservancy charged with restoring, maintaining and sustaining one of America’s greatest urban public parks.

Hoffarth is leading the organization through a transition of its mission. Initially focused on rebuilding the 1,300-acre park, the organization has expanded its mission to partner with the City to restore, sustain and maintain it forever. To do so, Hoffarth and her team successfully negotiated a first-in-the-nation innovative agreement with the City that forms a partnership, secures funding for ongoing maintenance and builds the next phase of capital projects. This public-private partnership is considered a leading national model, with requests from around the country for advice on what it takes to make it work.

As part of this mission, she launched Forever: The Campaign for Forest Park’s Future. The $130 million campaign was designed to raise $30 million to complete urgent capital projects and $100 million to expand the endowment for long-term park maintenance. The most ambitious fundraising initiative in the park’s history, the Forever campaign reached and even exceeded its goal.

Those gifts already have made an impact in improving the park:

  • Rebuilding the roads around the Zoo and Art Museum, adding safe crossings, LED lighting and more than two miles of new sidewalks;
  • rebuilding the bridge between the Boathouse and the Muny and adding safe sidewalks and a connection to the path system;
  • installing a comprehensive new way-finding system for drivers, cyclists and walkers;
  • and overhauling the Festival & Parking Plaza above the Muny.

Forest Park Forever now enters the second year of its new Strategic Plan based on its core mission to restore and sustain the park. It also adds components to enhance the experience of its 13 million annual visitors and to strengthen its partnerships in the community.

Her efforts and leadership extend beyond Forest Park Forever.

She is an alumna of the CORO Women in Leadership Program and was recognized in 2008 as one of the CORO Leaders of the Year for St. Louis. She is a distinguished member of the MU Academy of Civil Engineers. In 2009, she was recognized by the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri as a Woman of Distinction. Webster University honored her with its 2014 Woman of Influence Award and that same year, she received the Trailblazer Award from the St. Louis Forum. In 2016, she was named as one of the St. Louis Business Journal's Most Influential Business Women.

New Member of the Year: Lauren Berry, Gershman Commercial Real Estate

Presented to a new member who joined the chapter in 2016 or 2017 and demonstrated commitment and support to the chapter.

Over the past two years, CREW-St. Louis has attracted a wealth of new members, with nearly 50 newcomers just last year alone! Several new members received nominations, and Lauren was selected for her many contributions.

She jumped right in after joining CREW-St. Louis in late 2016. As a fellow member notes, “She has become one of the best-known CREW-St. Louis members in her short time with the organization. She is present at all events, actively seeks out opportunities to participate and takes on more responsibilities.”

She serves as a key member of the Communications Committee and has been a major contributor to its social media outreach. In fact, she recently agreed to chair the Social Media Subcommittee.

She also opens her arms to members even starting an informal Happy Hour for younger members looking to build their network. As part of this, she now also Co-chairs the Ambassador Committee.

But she is also making her mark on the commercial real estate scene as a retail broker at Gershman Commercial Real Estate. She focuses on landlord and tenant representation and investment sales of the Gershman Commercial retail portfolio along with third-party owned retail commercial properties. In her still young career, she has been involved in some significant retail investment sales as well. She performed financial underwriting for more than 50 commercial assets ranging in value from $5 - $30 million.

In her spare time, she serves as a Junior Board Member for Project Wake-Up, an organization that advocates for mental health resources and public education on this illness. She also volunteers for Safe Connections, an organization dedicated to reducing the impact and incidence of relationship violence and sexual assault.

Impact Award: Stacey Hudson, CORE Facility Services, a Division of POE

Recognizes an outstanding member who embraces the goals and mission of CREW.

Every CREW-St. Louis member knows the woman behind the camera. Stacey has devoted numerous hours to capturing the spirit of CREW-St. Louis in her photographs. As the Pulitzer Prize winning author Eudora Welty says, “A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away.” And her snapshots of so many CREW-St. Louis events and activities have preserved those moments in a timeless fashion.

As one nominee notes, “Our visual identity is paramount. We have such an identity because of her love for CREW and photography.”

Her impact on our organization began almost the day she joined in 1991 as she quickly became a board member filling the slot of someone moving away. Since then, she has co-chaired our Programs Committee and continues as a member on this important committee. She has shared the opportunities available in commercial real estate with female high school and college students.

In 2011, Programs held an event honoring our past presidents. For the event she compiled a rich history of these leaders chronicling their challenges, careers and contributions. As with her photographs, she again preserved the chapter’s history by updating this invaluable resource to celebrate the 35th Anniversary of CREW-St. Louis last November.

She currently serves on the Executive Board as Secretary and as the board liaison to the Communications Committee.

In her free time, she serves on the board and facilities committee of Kol Rinah, the synagogue that purchased the property at Hanley and Maryland. In that role, she is working with CREW-St. Louis member Anna Ives on the design of the new building.

Her creative talents extend to her nearly 35 years in the commercial real estate industry. This career includes stints with some of the most noted interior design firms in the St. Louis region.

In 2011, she joined Professional Office Environments (POE) and became the catalyst behind CORE, a division of POE. Today as the Director of CORE Facility Services, she helps plan client facility relocations, solve furniture refurbishment projects, build branded signage, and collaborate in artwork consultations. And she never fails to engage other CREW-St. Louis members to complete many of her client projects.

Economic Impact: Sarah Davis and Brittany Burke, CRG; Julie Panagos, Koman Group; Farris Hughes, Fifth Third Bank; Jenny Marler, Dentons US LLP; Eryn Bassett, Environmental Operations Inc.(Everly on the Loop)

Honors a CREW or CREW members who played a pivotal role in a real estate project that has a lasting, positive impact on the community. Project must have been completed or achieved a significant milestone in the last year.

It took vision to convert what had been a vacant lot into a 14-story, 209-unit residential complex. The site formerly housed the Yellow Cab Company but the building was demolished in 2006.

Working with the community, area business leaders and political entities, formal approval to rezone the property took place in February 2016. Construction on Everly on the Loop began soon after in May 2016. It was completed in record time, opening its doors in August 2017.

The student housing high-rise development anchors the East Delmar Loop in St. Louis City. Its impact extended development beyond Skinker Boulevard and connects to the nearby MetroLink station. And it will encourage future development.

The $66 million development greatly added to the region’s economy, supplying nearly 1,000 jobs as it rose from the ground. Equally impressive, 29 minority and women-owned firms were awarded contracts, expanding their capability to tackle larger projects in the future. Apprentices received experience, including several from the Construction Career Development Initiative.

Developed by CRG and the Koman Group, Everly on the Loop features one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments that appeal to students at nearby universities such as Washington University, as well as to young professionals who cherish urban living. Leases have been signed for more than 80 percent of the residential units.

The lobby and commercial retail space line Delmar Boulevard, providing direct access to One of the 10 Best Streets in America known as the Loop. And yes, those residents will soon be able to hop on The Loop Trolley. Clayco and Bob Clark have committed $500,000 to get it up and running this year.

Residents also have access to a 10,000 square foot landscaped amenity deck complete with an outdoor sunning pool, stadium-size TV and outdoor kitchen. Inside, there’s a fitness and yoga room overlooking the deck. Added features include secure parking, meeting rooms, a 1,900 square-foot lobby lounge, space for 110 bikes and a fix-it station.

The vision to move this forward required the skills of several CREW-St. Louis members.

Sarah Davis with CRG provided legal counsel before, during and after construction, and Brittany Burke handled public relations and marketing support.

Other members include those in the Koman Group, which became a partner in the project. Julie Paganos oversaw finish selections for the common areas and residential units, as well as details for the amenities and security.

Farris Hughes represented Fifth Third Bank, the project’s key lender, and she enlisted Denton’s Jenny Marler to oversee the legal work and due diligence to complete the $52 million syndicated construction loan. Eryn Bassett with Environmental Operations performed the environmental due diligence.

Career Advancement for Women: Erin Torney, Colliers St. Louis

Lauds a member who consistently exemplifies CREW’s commitment to elevating the status of women in commercial real estate. The member works tirelessly to support women in advancing their careers.

CREW-St. Louis members recognized Erin for her constant efforts to support and advance the careers of women in commercial real estate. In fact, one nominee credits her for helping when she contemplated a transition to a new company. “She provided me with valuable feedback, guidance and endless support during this time,” the fellow CREW-St. Louis member says.

Part and parcel, she has served in key positions as a member of the Golf and Ambassador Committees. She then became co-chair of the Ambassador Committee, which welcomes new members and provides networking opportunities to all members. She is ideally suited for her latest role as co-chair of the Membership Committee.

She extends this role outside of CREW-St. Louis as well by holding leadership positions with other industry organizations including CCIM and the St. Louis Association of Realtors. Not surprisingly, she focuses her efforts on education and advocacy to help others advance their careers in commercial real estate.

And Erin continues to excel in her own career. She started at Colliers in the retail brokerage leasing world and successfully helped Summit Development Group lease its retail space at The Crossings at Richmond Heights. Her accomplishments helped earn her the St. Louis Association of Realtors’ Rookie of the Year Award in 2015.

A licensed attorney, she combines her extensive knowledge of real estate law to advise clients on complex real estate decisions and investments. Now part of the Colliers Investment Brokerage Team, she helps property owners with the acquisition and disposition of their investment properties throughout the United States.

March 2018 Awards Dinner Photos

2018 Awards