As the new year kicked off, your CREW-St. Louis leadership team prepared goals and strategies for a successful 2020. We planned much of this at our Strategic Planning meeting on Jan. 10.
We immediately began executing those plans, starting with a successful event at the Donald Danforth Plant & Science Center on the topic of cannabis and its impact on commercial real estate. Shortly thereafter, we held our first board meeting, and then traveled to Santa Clara for the CREW Network Leadership Summit. Our Chapter also achieved record sponsorship support, a testament to the value that our industry sees in our organization.
January was a busy month, filled with anticipation and excitement for an outstanding year. The economy was strong, unemployment was low, and the commercial real estate industry showed strength across the board.
The momentum continued into February with our first CRE 101 event for college students interested in a career in commercial real estate. Our event at Bloom Café discussing CRE in the non-profit sector was well-received. We also kicked off our popular mentorship program with 15 pairings.
Plans were in place with a big tour event of City Foundry STL in March, as well as our 15th Annual CREW-St. Louis Networking Awards. But then 2020 hit a brick wall. The vision for the year was clouded by a global pandemic.
Life changed and so did our vernacular. We familiarized ourselves with new terms such as “social distancing”, “shelter in place” and virtual meetings. Toilet paper became scarce. Our children went to school on laptops. Offices became ghost towns as many of us worked from home. The world seemed to change overnight; our future activity and outlook became as cloudy as a spring thunderstorm looming on the horizon.
We could neither despair nor succumb to the whirlwind of changing life. Instead, your leadership team did more than pivot. Collectively, we were resolute in providing value to our members. We were determined to pursue our mission – to advance, educate and support women to influence the commercial real estate industry. Sure, we knew the how to achieve our goals was indeed different but we began working to find ways to make a difference. The health and safety of our members remained paramount, so we had to find new and different ways to connect our members and to continue to add value to their careers.
We met the challenge. I am proud to say that by year-end, we will have had 75-plus events, including 35 virtual and in-person small group DineArounds, and small group golf outings. Our program offerings included CREW Conversations, and virtual tours of City Foundry STL and the Square headquarters and NOW Innovation District. We held a successful virtual Trivia Night, raising more than $4,600 for CREW Network Foundation. We announced and honored our networking award winners through social and traditional media. We also plan to present the awards personally when the COVID-19 threat subsides. We have added 28 new members this year so far, further demonstrating our value in the industry. Our Communications Committee continues to do an amazing job highlighting members and sponsors on social media and keeping our members abreast of all the opportunities that we offer.
Despite the challenges of our times, we endure with strength and determination. Our success falls firmly on the shoulders of our amazing board members, who were creative, strong leaders in the face of uncertainty and new realities. This success also comes from so many of our program chairs and committee volunteers who continued to perform admirably. And this success was not possible without the passion and strength of our members, who carry an unyielding commitment to elevate and support one another.
We remain strong. We soon enter a new year with plans to continue to advance our mission in 2021. We will do so with outstanding leadership in our Executive and Advisory Boards.
I look forward to continuing this CREW-St. Louis journey with all of you, and I am grateful for the opportunities this organization affords each of its members. CREW-St. Louis has enhanced my career and personal life since I joined in 2005. I expect that will continue for years to come. It is my fervent hope that each of you experience that same value this year and in the years to come.
Stay healthy. Stay engaged. Stay hopeful.
2020 CREW-St. Louis President
SVP, Commercial Real Estate