Power of CREW

March 13, 2019
Written by: CREW-St. Louis
CREW-St. Louis honored several women leaders in the commercial real estate industry at its 14th Annual Networking Awards banquet. Shown, and their respective honors, are: (front row from left: Lauren Talley and Margaret MacDonald (Economic Impact), and Ann Schmelzle (CREW Impact Award); (middle row) Kimberly McKinney and Linda Loewenstein (Economic Impact), and Jenna Knatt (New Member of the Year); and (back row) Mary Campbell (Woman of Influence). Karen Karwoski received the Career Advancement for Women award but was unable to attend the event.
Photo by Stacey Hudson

Aspire: Award Winners Demonstrate the Power to Do More

 
A sold-out crowd of nearly 170 members, industry colleagues and guests celebrated the achievements of several members at the 14th Annual CREW-St. Louis Networking Awards. The event also heralded the accomplishments of the Woman of Influence, the fourth time the chapter has honored a female leader in the St. Louis commercial real estate industry.
 
Held at the historic St. Louis Woman’s Club on March 5, the networking hour provided time to gather with colleagues and friends before moving to the ballroom for some outstanding cuisine.
 
Michelle Yates, 2019 President, did the honors of starting the main event by welcoming all. She also provided insights into the chapter’s mission to advance, educate and support women to influence the industry. Front and center in her remarks, she noted that all the honorees exemplified this year’s theme of Aspire, their willingness to achieve more by doing more.
 
Monica Adams, Fox 2 News morning traffic anchor and community affairs reporter, served as the evening’s master of ceremonies. Lesley Hoffarth, the 2018 Woman of Influence recipient, made a special appearance to introduce the newest honoree of this prestigious award.
 
Kudos to our chair, Dawn Humphreys, and co-chair, Mande Meyer, along with their committee members – Christine Ostrowski, Susan Bowen, Safija Advic, Anna Ives, Stacey Kamps and Kristy Hess – for planning the event and for making it as special as the awards presented.
 
Several nominations in each category made this a challenging task. They all aspire to do more by making a difference for our chapter, our industry and our region.
 
Congratulations to this year’s honorees!
 
Woman of Influence: Mary B. Campbell, Associate Chancellor for Real Estate, Washington University
 
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.
 
Mary had more than two decades of experience in real estate development, finance and management when Washington University enlisted her to run its massive off-campus real estate venture. She accepted the position of assistant vice chancellor of real estate in April 2009.
 
Since then, she has been responsible for overseeing more than 1,300 units for student housing, one million square feet of administrative and academic space for more than 1,100 employees, and community-based retail.
 
Her involvement in marquee projects include the Lofts of Washington University in the Delmar Loop. The complex offers both apartments and townhomes, as well as amenity and community space, for university students. 
 
The Lofts project also was designed to serve the community and the vibrant Loop business district. A comprehensive community planning process identified gaps in service, such as a grocery store, so the retail space could address the needs of the adjoining neighborhoods.
 
She also spearheaded the historic renovation of the former Shriner’s Hospital and Central Institute for the Deaf buildings on the Washington University Medical Center campus to create 177 apartments and hotel units. These projects include an array of amenities, such as a fitness center, music and game rooms, and a commercial kitchen, to serve students on the university’s Medical Campus. 
 
Other off-campus projects include the renovation of the historic Crescent Building in the Cortex Innovation District. This provides affordable lab and office space for biotech start-up companies. 
 
Under her guidance, more than 1,100 apartment units have been renovated over a six-year period, with a total investment exceeding $250 million. These residential projects bring new life to four neighborhoods in the City and University City. All were designed to ensure that they blend in with the area and provide opportunity to spur growth.
 
Before joining the university, she had already built a remarkable career and legacy in the commercial real estate industry. She spent more than 25 years as a leader in housing and community development in the region. Projects in the region included the acquisition and redevelopment of the University Lofts, a warehouse conversion on Washington Avenue; the acquisition of Cupples Station, a 12-acre site in Downtown St. Louis containing vacant, turn‐of‐the‐century brick warehouses; and the development of new, single family homes in Wellston and the city’s West End neighborhood.
 
Her civic contributions involve policy and administrative positions, including the Director of Neighborhood Development for the City of St. Louis and the Director of the Office of Community Development for St. Louis County.
 
She believes in giving back to the region. She is a Past President of the Board of Directors of the St. Louis Zoo Association and the Board of Directors of Grand Center.  She is currently the President of the Board of Directors of Rise. She is a member of the Urban Land Institute, serving on the organization’s national Responsible Property Investing Council.
 
Her position at Washington University returns her to the campus where she received her law degree.
 
New Member of the Year: Jenna Knatt, Account Manager, CI Select
 
Presented to a new member who joined the chapter in 2017 or 2018 and demonstrated commitment and support to the chapter.
 
Last year, nearly 50 newcomers joined the ranks of CREW-St. Louis so the selection committee reviewed a wealth of worthy candidates. Jenna was selected for her many contributions.
 
In fact, a nominator points to her encouragement to join CREW-St. Louis even before Jenna herself decided to join. And she continues to reach out to other professionals to get involved by becoming a member. “She sees the power of CREW and the many benefits that are associated with being a member,” the nominator states.
 
Knatt began playing a leading role on the communications committee after joining CREW-St. Louis last August. She oversees all of the organization’s social media outreach. She continually creates content to generate interest in the organization, with weekly posts on upcoming programs and key accomplishments by its members. She also informs her audience of trends and major news impacting the commercial real estate industry and the region.
 
Her activity builds awareness and further cements CREW-St. Louis’ foundation as a premier organization in the commercial real estate industry.
 
CREW Impact Award: Ann Schmelzle, Balke Brown Transwestern
 
Recognizes an outstanding member who embraces the goals and mission of CREW.
 
Ann was honored for her ability to move the organization’s goals and mission forward. She always lends a hand to her fellow members. She also excels in her ability to provide solutions for her clients, oftentimes by bringing CREW-St. Louis members onboard.
 
She is the embodiment of CREW-St. Louis, a colleague states. “As a new attorney and member of CREW-St. Louis, she made me feel welcome attending CREW Convention in Washington, DC. And she has been a continuing inspiration to me,” her fellow member says.
 
She has served in many roles as a Board Member, CREW Network Delegate, CREW Risk Rewards Panelist and Committee Chair, to mention a few.
 
As the Chapter’s President in 2011, she consistently reinforced the value of Mentoring. She believes that mentorship is a large part of success and emulates leadership. As part of this, she created the chapter’s Legacy Advisory Board to capture the experience and expertise of longstanding CREW-St. Louis members. She has a passion to serve and continues to take an active role in our chapter. 
 
Ann never fails to advocate for women in the industry, serving as a mentor to many. She knows her success came from the help she received from so many others throughout her 22-year career.
 
In fact, she entered the brokerage field after seeking the counsel of a real estate professional. She has always been thankful for this guidance and continuing counsel from her mentor and now lifelong friend.
 
Economic Impact: Kimberly McKinney, Habitat for Humanity St. Louis; Lauren A. Talley, Cushman & Wakefield; Linda Loewenstein, Lawrence Group; and Margaret MacDonald, HOK
(Habitat for Humanity’s New Headquarters and ReStore)
 
Honors a CREW or CREW-St. Louis 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.
 
Several CREW-St. Louis members played a pivotal role in the completion of the new headquarters for Habitat for Humanity.
 
After selling its former headquarters on Forest Park Avenue in April 2017, Habitat was on a tight timeframe to relocate. With the clock ticking to find a new home, a 41-year-old building in the city’s Dutchtown area became available in November 2017. Habitat was able to purchase the 51,000 square- foot facility from Schnuck Markets, including a charitable contribution from the hometown food retailer.
 
Construction and remodeling were put on a fast track. And by April 2018, Habitat for Humanity had a new home to carry on its mission.
 
While the overall dollar amount of the project may seem small, its completion brings enormous impact in many ways. The $2.5 million project provides a community anchor in what was a vacant and underutilized building in south St. Louis. There’s an outparcel that will eventually serve the community’s needs. And the project will spur redevelopment in this area of the city.
 
Its 10,300 square-foot office space houses seven private offices, a multipurpose room, three conference rooms, a break room and 2,500 square feet of open office space. The new space also holds a 14,600 square-foot warehouse and fabrication shop including truck access and a loading dock.
 
Inside the new headquarters, there’s a nearly 21,000 square-foot ReStore, chockful of donated goods. The store features new and gently used home improvement products and building materials for purchase. The ReStore provides revenue to fulfill Habitat for Humanity’s mission. The bigger store expanded its customer base and generated more than $500,000 during its first 10 months of operation.
 
Several CREW-St. Louis members played a key role in helping the organization find and build its impressive headquarters.
 
Linda Loewenstein from the Lawrence Group was Board President during the relocation and worked with Kimberly McKinney throughout the project. Linda’s design expertise assisted in working closely with the design and construction team to help procure donations of products such as flooring, paint and office furnishings. And she worked closely with Lawrence Group on their donation of graphic/branding design.
 
Lauren Talley from Cushman & Wakefield helped with due diligence in making sure the site met Habitat’s needs. She then served as project manager, overseeing architectural design and construction. Lauren worked with subcontractors who generously donated time and materials to assist Habitat.
 
Margaret MacDonald with HOK worked on all aspects of the project design, including developing a program of needs and square footage requirements to better explore options. HOK collaborated with Habitat on the design, provided construction documents and developed the environmental graphics.
 
Career Advancement for Women: Karen Karwoski, Simmons Bank
 
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 strives to advance, educate and support women to influence the commercial real estate industry. More than words on paper or a digital screen, it requires members to place the mission in action.
 
How do you elevate the status of women?  You consistently find ways to help others advance their careers by listening, by offering advice and by providing coaching.
 
Karen works tirelessly in helping other members. As a fellow member notes, “She has deep connections within CREW-St. Louis. And she is always available to listen to fellow members and offer advice and coaching.”
 
Since joining CREW-St. Louis 15 years ago, Karen has immersed herself in meeting the goals and mission of the organization.
 
She has done so by chairing or serving on numerous committees – Awards, CREW Careers, Membership and Finance. She has served and continues to serve as a key member on the Executive Board. This included an expanded stint as President from July 2014 to the end of 2015.
 
A consummate mentor to many fellow members, Karen launched the chapter’s formal Mentorship Program in 2018. She rallied the task force and worked tirelessly to devise and promote the inaugural program. This included making sure mentors were carefully matched with mentees to ensure both parties received benefits and met their objectives.
 
The program’s success led to this year’s Mentorship Program, and she serves as a liaison to the committee charged with its implementation.

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