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News and Views: The CREW SF Blog

Apr 30, 2018
Elevate Event a Huge Success!



This year’s Elevate event was  a huge success !! CREW SF was honored to be part of a wonderful real estate event! We wanted to congratulate all of the honorees:


Our CREW SF Chapter MVP - Ginger Bryant, Sares Regis


Our Chapter MVP Nominees

Kristin Paul, PGIM

Alicia Deschamps, RIM Architects

Molly Jans, Paradigm

Rebekah Palmer, Veritas

Donna Schumacher, Donna Schumacher Architecture

Amy Watson, Noll and Tam Architects


The 2018 Rising Rockstar - Kristina Owyoung Vinson, Pankow Builders


Rising Rockstar FinalistJolene Goldsmith, Stok


The 2018 Inspirator AwardMichelle Jones, RIM Architects



Congratulations to you all!  The honors are well-deserved!


Special thanks to Alaine Raven and Kristina Owyoung Vinson, for serving as the CREW SF Elevate Steering Committee members.

Apr 17, 2018
VMware Tour


By Laura Engen, Account Executive, Corovan


In March 2018, CREW’s San Francisco Chapter’s Rising Leaders Committee was invited to tour the new VMware building under construction at the VMware Campus in Palo Alto. The tour was led by the all-female construction management team from Turner Construction, which included members of Turner Construction’s Future Leaders Group and Professional Women Group. We had a wonderful time!


We could already see that the building has a great layout. The first floor contains office workstations of varying arrangements, colorful conference rooms, and a large fitness center. The 2nd floor holds additional offices and a large café. We loved the super high ceilings! It was also very nice to hear from Turner Construction about all the work that goes on behind the scenes to build such a space!

After the tour, the group enjoyed cocktails and light bites while networking at The Patio in Palo Alto. Overall, the tour provided a great overview of the new VMware building, and a great opportunity for CREW to interact with these two groups within Turner. We learned that there is a lot of overlap in the mission statements of Turner Construction’s Future Leaders Group and Professional Women Group and CREW’s Rising Leaders Committee and we look forward to other opportunities to collaborate!

Mar 25, 2018
CREW Rising Leaders Coffee Talk: Angie Sommer and Kristy Davis


By Kara DiBiasio, Real Estate Litigation Attorney, Burke Williams & Sorensen LLP 
On March 15, 2018, the CREW San Francisco’s Rising Leaders Committee hosted its quarterly Coffee Talk, featuring speakers Angie Sommer, Associate Engineer for ZFA Structural Engineers, and Kristy Davis, Business Development Manager for Truebeck Construction.  
Both Angie and Kristy started out as structural engineers.  They shared the stories of their paths to their current jobs, including the various twists, turns, and self-reflections that got them to where they are today. 
Kristy told the story of how her start in structural engineering made her realize she craved more client interactions, which ultimately led to her to looking for opportunities to focus on business development.  She found her fit at Truebeck, where she is now Business Development Manager and responsible for seeking out and securing new projects.  Kristy explained how her structural engineering background gives her an advantage when she comes to the table to try to win projects.
Angie found a good fit in structural engineering, but did not let the job stop her from pursuing her dreams of living in Australia.  After working for a few years after college, Angie moved to Australia, where she continued to work as a structural engineer--though she admitted transitioning to the metric system was a steep learning curve!  Angie described her return to San Francisco after a year in Australia, and the challenges she encountered in finding and establishing a new professional network when she got here.  Both Angie and Kristy agreed that CREW SF was instrumental in building their professional networks, but even more importantly, led to strong friendships with many of the women they have met through CREW. 
During the question and discussion portion of the talk, Kristy and Angie answered questions from CREW SF members about seeking out career opportunities, finding and working with a mentor, and building confidence in yourself through your professional development.  One of the pieces of advice they offered is to remember the value of peer mentoring.  Though we often think of mentors who are more established in their careers when we look for mentors, both Angie and Kristy agreed that peer mentors had been extremely valuable in their professional growth, and encouraged the women in the audience to view mentoring with an open mind and never miss an opportunity to build a relationship with someone.  
Perhaps the most important takeaway from this Coffee Talk was the reminder that the paths we take may not always look like straight lines, but that we have a better chance of finding fulfillment in our careers by focusing on our strengths, following our passions, and building a network of supportive colleagues and mentors.  
Speakers Kristy Davis (Left) and Angie Sommer (Right) at the March 2017 CREW SF Rising Leaders Coffee Talk
Mar 16, 2018
Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Life Learning Academy Student Dormitory

By Denise Yee

March 16, 2018


The Community Affairs Committee’s mission is to coordinate community service and community outreach programs throughout the year.  The committee currently sponsors the Life Learning Academy (LLA), a charter high school for at-risk youth, located on Treasure Island.  The school was founded in 1998 by the non-profit Delancey Street Foundation and since inception, has graduated over 200 students. 


On March 9th, LLA held a groundbreaking ceremony and celebration for the new student dormitory that will house 20 students in its first phase.  As a member of the committee, I was invited to attend this event which attracted 200 people, including former students of LLA, the media, the press and local politicians, such as mayoral candidates, Jane Kim and Mark Leno.  The program began with a presentation by the Executive Director, Teri Delane, followed by The Honorable Mayor Willie Brown, who honored the late Mayor Ed Lee for his leadership in spearheading this project and providing funding through an anonymous donation of $1.5M.  In addition, two former students spoke of how they came to the school as troubled teens and received an education, practical skills and emotional support and have become successful, working adults. 


Speaking on behalf of the Community Affairs Committee, we are very happy to be sponsoring LLA and look forward to planning volunteer events with them later this year.


Treasure Island is currently undergoing a massive redevelopment which began in 2016.  The first phase will include around 2,100 residential units, up to 500 hotel rooms and 90 acres of parks, built on around 45 acres on Treasure Island’s Western shoreline and the 80-acre Yerba Buena Island.  The project, which will take 20 years to complete, will also include 140,000 square feet of retail and commercial space and 100,000 square feet of office space. This former naval base will be transformed into a vibrant community with more housing, jobs and economic opportunities for residents. 


The ceremony was held in a large tent outside the school


A rendering of the exterior of the dormitory


The featured speaker, The
orable Mayor Willie Brown



A rendering of the interior of the dormitory


The groundbreaking ceremony with Willie Brown, Jane Kim and two former students holding their shovels and the Executive Director, Teri Delane, getting them into place



Mar 14, 2018
2017 CREW National Convention – Keynote Speaker, Geena Davis


By Denise Yee, Assistant Property Manager, Cushman & Wakefield


February 22, 2018


As we continue to see the rise of the #metoo movement that’s taken place over the course of this past year, I am moved by the thought that this will be a great year for women, as we are no longer being silenced but are able to voice the truth and be heard and respected. The theme of empowering women and girls around the country brings forth thoughts on my first CREW Network National Convention experience from 2017, which was held in Houston at the beautiful, newly-built Marriott Marquis Hotel. 


I had a wonderful time meeting CREW chapter members from all over the country, listening to speakers, attending break-out sessions of my choice, and participating in a learning excursion to see the revitalization of downtown Houston. One of the highlights of the convention was hearing the keynote speaker, actress Geena Davis.  She spoke about her non-profit foundation, Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which engages film and television creators to dramatically increase the percentages of female characters and reduce gender stereotyping in media made for children 11 and under.  She said she has spent much of her adult life trying to empower women and girls and selected acting roles that were encouraging, inspiring and served as role models.  She gave examples of strong, fearless and confident characters as positive girls’ role models such as Elsa, from the movie “Frozen” and Katniss, from the movie, “Hunger Games.”  In regards to gender balance in the media, she talked about how women are seriously underrepresented not only in the media, but in leadership roles in other sectors of society (business, politics and academia).  Davis was down-to-earth, engaging, witty and totally charming.  She was an inspiration to all the women in that room. I look forward to attending this year’s conference in San Diego!


Actress Geena Davis, Keynote Speaker at the convention.


Members from the CREW SF Chapter who attended the convention

Feb 06, 2018
Rising From the Ashes: Disaster Recovery


On January 23, members and guests of CREW SF gathered for a presentation on disaster preparedness, recovery and resilience featuring architect and lawyer Julia Donoho, AIA, Esq. of Legal Constructs, and David Witkowski, Executive Director of Joint Venture Silicon Valley's Wireless Communications Initiative (WCI), with a guest appearance by Haywired Scenario co-author Anne Wein of the US Geological Survey. Armed with an informative set of slides, Donoho, Witkowski and Wein shared their data and analysis of disaster recovery following the 2017 Sonoma County wildfires and from a potential earthquake on the Hayward Fault.


Wildfire Response, Recovery & Resilience


At the start of her presentation, Donoho confirmed a heartbreaking statistic: Over 6,000 structures were destroyed in the 2017 wildfires in Sonoma County. The fires destroyed communities and neighborhoods, and now residents are tasked with rebuilding. Donoho explained that the recovery process is broken down into three stages: response (a few days), recovery (a few months) and rebuilding (a few years).


For homeowners seeking to rebuild, insurance coverage remains an obstacle. Insurers will only pay to rebuild the home in its exact condition which is on the owner to have documented. With modifications to get up to the current building code, such as sprinkler and energy-efficiency requirements, insurance providers do not cover upgrades to the homes even if they are in lieu of a smaller overall home. In addition, most homeowners have only ever purchased a home and do not have experience with re-building from the ground up. Homeowners must piece together the blueprints – which may have burned in the fire –or for older homes do not exist. The takeaway is to annually review your home and earthquake insurance policies so that your settlement will cover the cost of rebuilding, replacing your belongings and living in temporary housing. Many people are insured to the amount of their mortgage and not to cover re-building costs in the competitive re-building environment of a large-scale disaster. If the worst occurs, negotiate with your insurer. You can likely get more than their first offer for your belongings and home. Have a copy of a video on the interior of your home saved off-site or online including any items that would be difficult to replace.


The HayWired Scenario


Witkowski started the Haywired presentation with a frightening note: There is a 33% chance of a 6.7-magnitude or greater earthquake on the Hayward Fault by the year 2043. Since the fault line runs through a densely populated area in the East Bay, a large quake on the fault could cause significant damage – and displace a great number of residents.


Witkowski shared tips and best practices for managing your digital life during the immediate aftermath of a disaster.


·       Let others know you are OK, but don’t overload the cellular networks (first responders use the same network):

o   Set your voicemail to say “I’m OK”

o   Post to social media (or ask someone to do it for you)

o   Text, don’t talk

o   Avoid streaming

o   Avoid posting video/images


·       When seeking info:

1.     Use broadcast radio/TV first

2.     Then, wired internet

3.     Then, cellular internet


·       Have backup power:

o   Batteries and solar

o   In-car charging cables for cellphones


·       Avoid using open/public wifi as many natural disaster victims become identity theft victims

o   Have a plan for finding hard-wired internet especially for making payments or sending sensitive information.


To ensure you are prepared in the event of a disaster, Witkowski concluded the presentation with a recommendation of shutting off your home or office’s main breaker for 24 hours and taking notes. You will learn quickly what you need to be prepared when the power goes out.


We hope the information gleaned from this program was helpful and informative. Thank you to all who attended, our sponsor Harbro Emergency Services and Restoration, and to panelists Julia Donoho and David Witkowski and contributor Anne Wein for an excellent presentation!


Jan 29, 2018


By Erica Levine CEM, LEED AP BD+C, Arup


This past December, CREW SF closed out the first year of the CREWmates mentorship program with an end-of-year celebration. Twenty-six CREW ladies participated in the one-on-one mentorship program to exchange professional guidance, develop skills, and network. In addition to monthly one-on-one meetings, program participants attended three networking mixers, toured prominent sites including the new Transbay terminal and 181 Fremont, and used the StrengthsFinder test to understand strengths, areas for development, and areas where they should partner with others.


As a mentee in the program, I cannot emphasize enough how valuable CREWmates has been for my professional development. There are few senior women in my field of energy engineering, and having guidance from a successful woman in commercial real estate helped to fill the gap. My mentor, Stacie Goeddel, provided advice on everything from cultivating confidence in my abilities to navigating tricky situations with clients. She even invited me to a gala related to one of my projects!


Building from last year’s success, we will be continuing CREWmates next year with a few changes:

  1. Pairs have the option to utilize the CREW Network e-learning mentorship modules
  2. We will encourage pairs to attend the following CREW SF events: Interactive Negotiation Workshop (Q1), Confidence & Self Promotion (Q2), and Programs Brainstorm (Q3)
  3. Current CREWmates participants are allowed to re-enroll for 2018 with the option to stay with their current partner or to switch it up


Thank you to all the CREW members who made the program a success, to 2017 mentorship program managers AJ Jacobsen and Morgan Ward, and to FORGE for sponsoring the program!


Dec 07, 2017
In Memory of Nina J. Gruen


“Women need to speak up and ask for what they want”

-Nina Gruen

“Dude, Where’s my Office” CREW SF event

July 11, 2016


CREW SF’s annual Winter Benefit took place on Thurs. Nov. 30, 2017, with a total of more than $13,000 in silent auction proceeds being donated to the CREW Network Foundation in honor of beloved CREW SF member Nina Gruen, who passed away on Sept. 15, 2017. Nina was an energetic contributor to our organization, a revolutionary in the real estate community and a pioneer for women in the field. Her company and kindness will be sorely missed.


“To say Nina was an inspiration is not enough,” said Molly Jans, 2019 President-Elect. “She brought me in as a friend and I love and will miss her. Her mentorship, keen observations and friendship have meant so much to me.”


“When Nina Gruen asked for something, she got it! I am so grateful that I had the good fortune to know her,” added Jennifer Raike, 2002 CREW SF President and 2016 CREW Chapter MVP. “I will miss her greatly.”


Nina was an integral and cherished founding member of CREW SF. She often shared her vast professional and personal knowledge through presentations, mentoring and animated conversations. Her experience and knowhow, coupled with her dynamic personality, greatly enriched CREW SF as an organization and also the individuals with whom she connected.


“Nina wasn’t just special for breaking barriers and blazing trails for women,” said Angie Sommer, former Managing Editor of The VIEW. “She was special because of her humor, her loyalty, her immense intelligence and her intense curiosity. Spending time with her and Claude (husband) was like drinking from a firehose of knowledge, stories and wit.”


Since co-founding Gruen Gruen + Associates, a renowned San Francisco–based firm that continues to provide research-based consulting and implementation services to the real estate industry and land-use policy makers, with Claude in 1970, Nina served as executive vice president and principal sociologist. She pioneered the use of behavioral research to predict market demand for commercial and residential real estate, and her work resulted in the development and redevelopment of numerous projects, varying in scale. Beyond the Bay Area, her efforts have led to the adoption of public policies and infrastructure programs that revitalized areas of California, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, New Mexico, Florida, Illinois and Ohio.


In 1982, Nina became the first woman trustee of the Urban Land Institute, and continued to be active in that organization, serving on ULI's District Council Executive Committee through 2016. In 1984, she became the first woman to be elected President of the academic Western Regional Science Association. An expansion of her presidential address to WRSA, "Sociological and Cultural Variables in Housing" was published in The Annals of Regional Science. Nina served on the State of California Transportation Department's Airspace Advisory Committee for 15 years and was its Chair from 2002 through 2005. She was also an active member of the International Women's Forum and President of its Northern California affiliate from 1995-1996. In the media world, she was known as Ms. Real Estate, writing an advice column for the ALM Media Group since 2014.


“I met Nina in 2008 when she was the featured speaker at the new members lunch I attended,” shared 2016 -2017 Board member Debbie Leifer. “She made me belly laugh with the story she told - she was hosting a meeting at her office with a group of men who naturally thought she was the secretary, and they asked how long she had been with the firm. She said, ‘ever since I founded it!’ Her wit and sparkle shine on.”


Nov 20, 2017
Boot Barn Fun!


During the CREW Convention, CREW SF Board Member Debbie Liefer led SF chapter members on a boot-buying excursion resulting in a lot of fun, bonding and of course new cowboy boots and hats. Debbie loved her new boots so much they inspired her Cowgirl Halloween Costume.


Nov 15, 2017
181 Fremont Tour


By Christina Rain, P.E., Project Manager, Langan


In October 2017, CREW’s San Francisco Chapter’s Rising Leaders Committee was invited to a once in a lifetime tour of 181 Fremont, a new skyscraper under construction in San Francisco’s South of Market District. Our tour was led by Kelly DeWees, Senior Construction Manager for Jay Paul Company, the developer of 181 Fremont.


Our first stop was the full-floor grand penthouse approximately 700 feet above Fremont Street, which was still open air when we visited! We were met with a spectacular view of the Bay Bridge and Treasure and Yerba Buena Islands. Around the corner, my favorite view yet was of downtown San Francisco – the tops of other skyscrapers appeared well below our perch with water views beyond. Because the penthouse was still under construction, we also visited one of the residences closer to completion, where we were provided a sneak peak of the high end finishes planned for the building.

Our group is pictured above on the open air terrace of the 37th floor, which will accommodate resident amenities.


Nate Warner with ARUP’s Structural Group also discussed the steel structure as we toured the building. Inside, he showed our group the viscous dampers incorporated into the steel mega-braces that lend to the building’s Resilience-based Earthquake Design Initiative Gold Rating and function to make the building resilient against a 475-year earthquake, the “big one” so to speak.

After the tour, the group enjoyed cocktails and light bites while networking at 83 Proof’s cozy upstairs lounge. Overall, the tour provided a great overview of one of the hottest properties being developed in San Francisco.

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