President's Message

December 15, 2021

Reflecting on 2021 as your CREW Greater Philadelphia President, we started the year praying for the end of Covid and are ending it with Covid but continuing to advance the Chapter. The year saw a committed membership, continually being creative to pivot and provide excellent programing to ensure the success and impact of our Chapter. Being a glass half full person, in lieu of focusing on what could have been without Covid, below is a synopsis of the wonderful work our Chapter accomplished in 2021: 

  • Communications: In 2020, we rebranded from CREW Philadelphia to CREW Greater Philadelphia. In 2021 our Communications Committee, led by Co-Chairs Laura McLaine and Marya Liebezeit and Board Member Sue Taylor, began to leverage the GREATER in CREW in all our communications. Multiple campaigns all strategically aligned with propelling our mission to advance women in commercial real estate.
  • Chapter Champions: Most outside of CREW have no clue who and what the Chapter Champion is and does. The Chapter Champions are the team at CREW Greater Philadelphia that raise awareness and funds for our commitment to CREW Network Foundation. It is through CREW Network Foundation that CREW Network impacts our industry through critical industry research, scholarships to young women pursuing careers in commercial real estate and career outreach to encourage women and girls to seek careers in commercial real estate. Each year they challenge all chapters to raise the funds through a Chapter Challenge. This year, our Champions, Donna Volpone and Mayva Donnon, assured that we met and exceeded the challenge!
  • Corporate Engagement: Sponsors are our stakeholders. As such, assuring that the benefits we provide back to them align with our programming and further encourage their support and involvement with our Chapter, our Corporate Engagement Committee, led by Co-Chairs Linda Plesic and Heather Schwemlein, and Board Member Susanne Hanson, engaged in a deep dive into sponsorship and the attendant benefits. Their exhaustive work resulted in the 2022 Sponsorship Brochure. A huge undertaking that not only renamed our sponsor levels and realigned benefits, but also allowed us to find a nice way to highlight minority, women, LBGTQ and veteran owned businesses in further support of our mission to build a more inclusive commercial real estate community. 
  • DEI Advocacy Group: Beginning in February 2020, CREW Network as part of its strategic plan convened and I was a member of the Diversity & Inclusion Taskforce. From that endeavor sprung our local Chapter work through a DEI Advocacy Group which began in 2021. Led by our President Elect, Kathy Fahy, the committee has worked to activate the CREW DEI Playbook in our Chapter. Their efforts this year resulted in an excellent panel discussion on the Commercial Real Estate Development Gap, DEI Resources available on our website and active engagement in all of our committees to work towards a more diverse and inclusive Chapter and industry. 
  • Events: Led by Co-Chairs Amy Kearney and Emma Fox and Board Member Donna Volpone, our Events committee hosted 45 events in 2021 or nearly four each month! Small, large, in-person, virtual, they all took tons of coordination to assure that all was aligned for the execution of what was being offered. As the keeper of our calendar and coordinating between all the other committees and our chapter administrators, our membership is indebted to the work of the Events Committee because they make sure we stay connected, Covid or not!
  • Fundraising: Leaning on the talents of our overall Fundraising Chairs, Autumn Harris and Janet Hutchinson Nitka and Golf Outing Chairs, Tonya Zatko and Shannon Lane, because of Covid we again pivoted from our famed annual luncheon to three successful events to raise important funds to support our philanthropic partner and scholarship program. For those of you that were able to join us, you recall a fun golf outing at the Union League Golf Club at Torresdale, an amazing experience sampling wine and touring the vineyard at Karamoor and lastly, our well subscribed Clay Shooting event at Lehigh Sporting Clays. We proudly raised over $50,000 which we have plowed back into the efforts spearheaded by our Outreach Committee. Not bad for a year with Covid!
  • Membership: Our Chapter is finishing the year 181 members strong. This is nearly a 12.5% increase from 2020. Our growth comes from intentional efforts over the last 18 months of Covid to assure member engagement. While all our committees have a role in keeping members engaged, the Membership Committee led by Co-Chairs Kathy Kostiuk and Justine McGinley along with Board Member Dina Miller, were committed to engaging those that inquired, inspired by our programming, to join CREW Greater Philadelphia. They hosted get to know CREW events both virtually and in person, and were sure to follow up with those that attended our programs. Additionally, the committee cohosted a session on the value of a CREW Membership with our sister chapters in Baltimore, Richmond and Pittsburgh. They are helping to build a legacy of membership and hopefully leadership for our Chapter.
  • Outreach: Our Outreach Committee, led by Jill DiClementi and Kaitlyn Wahl along with Board Members Liv Carter and Dina Miller, is how CREW Greater Philadelphia gives back. With both an outward and inward focus, the committee works to build capacity for the commercial real estate industry. Our outward contributions included awarding five $5,000 scholarships to women pursuing careers in commercial real estate and a $20,000 donation to The Fund of the School District of Philadelphia to support the CAD/Architecture program at West Philadelphia High School. And our inward contribution continues to be the leveraging of CREW Network’s programming by sending Chapter leadership and members to CREW Network Leadership Summits and Convention. Lastly in 2022, after many years of development and under the leadership of Rebecca Udell, a past president of CREW Greater Philadelphia, we will launch our inaugural class of the CREW Greater Philadelphia Leadership Program
  • Recognition: While many in the chapter and in the industry have made a difference, in 2021 we recognized the following at our annual holiday party:

    Committee MVP’s:

    • Communications - Beth Slanker
    • Events - Kim Hamilton 
    • Corporate Engagement - Rosemary Loverdi
    • Outreach - Rebecca Udell
    • Membership - Anne Klein 

    Chapter Awards:

    • Catalyst Award – Clayton “Mitch” Mitchell, Jefferson University
    • Entrepreneurial Spirit – Marya Liebezeit
    • Member to Member – Stacey Boston & Kathy Fahy
    • Rising Star – Heather Schwemlein
    • Sue Welch Career Advancement – Rebecca Udell
  • CREW Greater Philadelphia Board: What a gift to serve with all of you. Some of you continue in 2021, others roll off. I have loved working with all of you and CREW is better because of you.
    • Kathy Fahy, President-Elect
    • Rosemary Loverdi, Past President
    • Stacey Boston, Delegate
    • Melissa Hassenmayer, Treasurer
    • Kimberly Freimuth, Secretary
    • Liv Carter, Director
    • Dina Miller, Director
    • Donna Volpone, Director
    • Susanne Hanson, Director
    • Sue Taylor, Director

As I move on from being the 2021 President of CREW Greater Philadelphia know that you have given me a year of personal growth that I expect to leverage as I reach for more significant impact and responsibility in commercial real estate. In 2022, our new Chapter leadership, led by incoming President Kathy Fahy, will launch our Strategic Planning for 2023-2028, hopefully host our annual luncheon, launch our inaugural leadership program and continue the creative effort to move us forward sometimes while pivoting. 

I encourage each of you to continue to support CREW Greater Philadelphia, CREW Network and our mission to advance women in commercial real estate by always thinking CREW first when you are building the team. Our membership has some of the best and brightest in the industry and we will continue to get stronger and have more impact because our stakeholders and admirers support and do business with CREW members.

All the best for the remainder of 2021 and continued successes and happiness in 2022.

Carol Horne Penn
2021 President, CREW Greater Philadelphia