2014 Most Influential Women in Commercial Real Estate

From architects to brokers and marketing managers, the women on this list excel in their work and within their communities, making a lasting impact on Arizona and its future.

The most influential women in Arizona’s commercial real estate industry
The most influential women in Arizona’s commercial real estate industry

The work of women in commercial real estate does not pass by unnoticed. The effect the professionals pictured below have on Arizona can be seen with just a glance of the Arizona skyline. A number of commercial buildings in Arizona exist and thrive today thanks to the women who designed, develop, manage and market them. AZRE chose to honor these achievements by recognizing a number of women who stand out in the industry.

AZRE Magazine took a deeper look into the work of women within the industry and picked 20 who exemplify the qualities of a successful leader in commercial real estate.

Lorraine Bergman
Lorraine Bergman

Owner/President/CEO, Caliente Construction Inc.
Though Bergman founded Caliente Construction in 1991 with her husband, she didn’t enter commercial real estate until 2000. When he passed away in 2005, she took over Caliente. “Many people believed the company would not survive under my leadership. If you educate yourself, and surround yourself with a team who [has] the skills and knowledge you lack, and trust their decisions, being a women in commercial real estate is not a challenge.” Surprising Fact: “My favorite pastime is singing.”

Judi Butterworth
Judi Butterworth

Senior Vice President, Velocity Retail Group
As an independent contractor with 35 years of experience, Butterworth loves that every day is different at her job. “The people are smart, funny and a little crazy – who else would work solely on commission with no salary and no benefits,” she asks. She was appointed the first and only female Arizona State Director for the International Council of Shopping Centers in 1990. Surprising Fact: “I participated in the first Women’s March on Fifth Avenue in New York City in 1970 with Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan.”

Rory Carder
Rory Carder

Managing Director/Principal, DAVIS
Carder’s work covers an array of disciplines. She advises aspiring professionals to pay attention to news and trends and the changes in construction costs. “Never underestimate what the future can hold, and, most importantly, align yourself with a mentor in the industry.”
Surprising Fact: “When I was 5 years old, I had two eye surgeries. I went through years of…doing everything to strengthen my eyes. Now, I have 20/20 and 20/15 vision and the only time I wear glasses is when I’m burning the candle at both ends to get my work done!”

Molly Ryan Carson
Molly Ryan Carson

VP of Development, Ryan Companies
Carson models her career after the mantra “you only get to go around once, and you want to do it the right way.” After 12 years, she feels equally proud about every ground breaking and ribbon cutting. The hardest challenge for a woman in the field, she says, is something that men will never know: “Wearing high heels on a site tour. Seriously.” Her success is a result of “great role models and mentors, wonderful teammates, a great support system at home and a little Irish luck.” Surprising Fact: “I can do a back flip and am the oldest of eight.”

Danielle Feroleto
Danielle Feroleto

President & Owner, Small Giants LLC
Feroleto began her foray into commercial real estate nearly 20 years ago as an editor for a trade publication. Although her roles in the industry have advanced, she always knew she would be in commercial real estate. “There are no better people. The most dynamic, driven and successful women [I know] have built a great career in commercial real estate,” she says. Surprising Fact: “I have eight siblings, which has always made for adventure, drama and a very full life!”

Pictured, left to right:
Pictured, left to right:

Danielle Feroleto, Lorraine Bergman, Rory Carder, Judi Butterworth and Molly Ryan Carson.

Sharon Harper
Sharon Harper

President/Founder/COB, Plaza Companies
Harper looks to the words of John Quincy Adams for her motivation to succeed: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” Harper founded Plaza Companies 34 years ago. “We strive to partner with people who exhibit integrity in their business dealings and care about their impact on the community.” Surprising Fact: “I worked in Kenya, east Africa, with my physician husband for a year and was trained to do vaccinations seven days a week in villages.”

Vanessa Hickman
Vanessa Hickman

Arizona State Land Commissioner
Responsible for more than 9.2 million acres of State Trust land, Hickman is a part of some of the highest profile properties in the Southwest. “There is a difficult balancing act between demands from the job that arise all hours of the day and into the evening while also providing for young children,” Hickman said. Her secret? “I know enough to know what I don’t know.” Surprising Fact: “I participated as a dancer in the 2014 National Kidney Foundation of Arizona Dancing with the Stars.”

Heidi Kimball
Heidi Kimball

Senior Vice President, Sunbelt Holdings
Kimball has been with Sunbelt Holdings for more than 30 years and is in the midst of her most monumental project to date, Marina Heights — the largest single-tenant office project in Arizona, She did not reach this point without following her own advice: “Be fearless. Recognize that you will have to deal with difficult people in your career; just don’t let them shake your resolve or your confidence.” Surprising Fact: “I started out as a theater major in college. My first college production was ‘The Women.’”

Pictured, left to right:
Pictured, left to right:

Vanessa Hickman, Heidi Kimball and Sharon Harper

Mindy Korth
Mindy Korth

Executive Vice President, Colliers International
Thirty years ago, Korth began an achievement-laden career based on teamwork, “maintaining a positive attitude, and living the RISE values – Respect, Integrity, Service and Excellence.” Korth believes CRE is a wonderful industry for women “because a person’s capabilities and quality of work helps propel the professional forward…It is the pursuit that is the most fun and inspiring.” Surprising Fact: “I enjoy collecting hand woven carpets from around the world. Each is a work of art.”

Rozlyn Lipsey
Rozlyn Lipsey

CEO, Jokake & Managing Partner, Appian Companies
With 16 years of experience in commercial real estate, Lipsey has many professional achievements under her belt. Her proudest one is the day in 2008 that she and the Jokake employees purchased the construction company from its founders. Lipsey attributes her success to caring for others: “When people know you care about them, they have more courage to dare and dream big in their lives.” Surprising Fact: “I can throw a perfect spiral with a football.”

Terry Martin-Denning
Terry Martin-Denning

Principal/COO/Designated Broker, NAI Horizon
After 29 years in commercial real estate, Martin-Denning still views each day as an adventure. “Not every person you meet is going to make you money but over time strong relationships, built on trust and respect, have tremendous value.” Surprising Fact: “I love football so much that I coached my son’s Pop Warner team. I would have loved to play myself when I was growing up but that wasn’t an option for girls in the ‘old days.’”

Deb Sydenham
Deb Sydenham

Executive Director, Urban Land Institute, Arizona
With 30 years in the industry, Sydenham said she couldn’t have reached success without “dark chocolate, a good belly laugh, and following the Golden Rule.” As “the face of ULI,” Sydenham practices its mission ”to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities”personally and professionally. Surprising Fact: “I have flown in an F-16 aircraft and experienced aileron rolls, aerial loops, pulling 5Gs, and going Mach 1.1 to break the sound barrier.”

Karrin Taylor
Karrin Taylor

Executive Vice President, DMB Associates
For the first few years of her career, Taylor doubled as a law school student. Twenty years later, she feels “blessed to work for a company that challenges her. “This can be a very aggressive business and women need to own their competitive side and be strong advocates for their clients,” she said. Surprising Fact: “For nearly a decade, I have served on the United States Air Force Chief of Staff’s Civic Leaders Group. I’ve had the opportunity to travel the world…including an active war zone.”

Beth Harmon-Vaughan
Beth Harmon-Vaughan

Managing Principal, Gensler
Harmon-Vaughan entered the CRE world more than 30 years ago and earned her proudest professional achievement when she became a principal and managing partner for Gensler. She reached this point through “perseverance and an extremely high demand for quality in everything” she does. Surprising Fact: “I have a collection of nearly 50 pairs of iconic Ray-Bay Wayfarer sunglasses in assorted colors and limited editions.”

Cindy Winters
Cindy Winters

President, Eagle Commercial Realty Services
With her recent acquisition of Eagle Commercial Realty Services, Winters has reached the top of her 26-year career. “I see very few women in the higher levels of business ownership such as development companies and/or brokerage firms,” she said, adding that mentors and community involvement are gateways to board involvement. Surprising Fact: “I love competing (and getting dirty) in mud run competitions.”

Pictured, left to right:
Pictured, left to right:

Deb Sydenham, Karrin Taylor, Beth Harmon-Vaughan and Cindy Winters

Megan Creecy-Herman
Megan Creecy-Herman

Senior Director of Leasing & Development, Liberty Property Trust
Creecy-Herman, the 2014 Chairman of NAIOP-Arizona, is the first female in Arizona and one of the youngest in the country to hold this seat. “Regardless of gender…one of the hardest challenges for all young people in our industry is finding time to build a strong professional network,” she said. Creecy-Herman developed such relationships and worked full time while she pursued an accelerated MBA at the University of Arizona. Surprising Fact: “I am huge fan of classic movies from the 1930s to 1950s.

Jackie Orcutt
Jackie Orcutt

Director, Cushman & Wakefield
New to the industry, Orcutt believes her “shining moments are yet to come.” She has already received honors in her seven-year career. In 2013, she was promoted to director at Cushman & Wakefield and recognized as one of the top 10 producing brokers in its Phoenix office. “As one of the only female brokers who has ever achieved this status in our office, it was humbling to stand among the ranks of several inspiring colleagues,” she says. Surprising Fact: “My first job out of college was a risk management consultant for a sorority.”

Jami Savage-Gray
Jami Savage-Gray

Vice President of Retail, CBRE
Savage-Gray has already reached the goal she set for herself when she began working at CBRE two years ago: a spot on the top 20 brokerage professionals list for CBRE’s Phoenix office. “People are more likely to be surprised at my age rather than the fact that I’m a woman,” she says. Surprising Fact: “I am a germaphobe and don’t like to walk barefoot unless I am lounging by the pool.”

Anita Verma-Lallian
Anita Verma-Lallian

Director of Marketing, Vermaland, LLC
Verma’s family business saw its beginnings 20 years ago and is now one of the largest landowners in Arizona. As head of the company’s renewable energy department, Verma takes pride in the company’s work with solar development. During Phoenix’s worst housing recession, between 2008 and 2012, Verma’s team managed to generate millions of dollars in revenue from solar development. Surprising Fact: “I met my husband in high school (Xavier Prep).”

Michelle Schwartz
Michelle Schwartz

Business Development/Marketing Manager, RSP Architects
Schwartz’s position with RSP allows her to have one foot in the business and creative sides of design. A part of the industry for nine years, Schwartz says a passion for learning is what makes someone a sought-after resource. “Overcoming the initial stereotype of being the only woman in the room can be challenging, but I have found that as soon as you bring value to the conversation there is great respect.” Surprising Fact: “I was manager of the Penn State wrestling team and traveled throughout the Big Ten Conference with the team.”

Pictured, left to right:
Pictured, left to right:

Megan Creecy-Herman, Jami Savage-Gray, Jackie Orcutt and Anita Verma

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