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CREW Conference 2024 Reflective

May 23, 2024

CREW Network is a national organization that empowers women in commercial real estate through extensive networking, industry research, leadership development, and career outreach initiatives. Several years ago, CREW Network launched market-specific councils to provide enhanced networking and learning opportunities tailored to various sectors. In 2022, I had the privilege of joining the inaugural Affordable Housing Council. The council convenes twice annually, fostering collaboration and knowledge exchange among members.

Our most recent gathering occurred in the vibrant Dallas, Texas, this past April. Nestled in the heart of downtown Dallas, the historic Adolphus Hotel served as the venue for our conference. Its blend of timeless architectural charm and contemporary amenities provided an inspiring backdrop for our diverse group of professionals. Over two days, attendees immersed themselves in a rich tapestry of networking sessions, guided tours, insightful speakers, and focused council meetings.

Thursday evening set the tone for the event with an energetic all-council opening reception. Amidst the lively atmosphere, attendees shared anecdotes, forged new connections, and rekindled old friendships. As we dined at the local Italian eatery, Campisi’s, the air buzzed with excitement and anticipation for the days ahead. It was a testament to CREW Network gatherings’ collective energy and passion.

The following day commenced with a robust programming lineup, starting bright and early with a 7 am breakfast followed by a compelling keynote address. Christine Cooper, Chief US Economist and managing director for CoStar Group, delivered an incisive analysis of the current economic landscape, focusing on trends impacting the real estate sector. Amidst projections of continued consumer spending growth and labor market dynamics, Cooper highlighted nuanced insights into the evolving nature of inflation and its implications for various asset classes.

In the realm of real estate, Cooper’s analysis underscored both challenges and opportunities. Office vacancies continued to rise, juxtaposed against declining rents—a trend mirrored in the industrial market. However, amidst these headwinds, adaptive reuse emerged as a beacon of innovation, breathing new life into underutilized spaces, and bolstering affordable housing initiatives. The intersection of economic forces and societal needs set the stage for a dynamic exchange of ideas throughout the conference.

Following the keynote address, our council convened for engaging sessions featuring industry experts and thought leaders. Spencer Marks, COO of Arthoto, took the stage to share insights into innovative housing solutions leveraging modular construction and 3D printing technologies. His presentation sparked conversations around the potential for disruptive innovation to address housing affordability challenges, igniting a sense of optimism among attendees.

A highlight of the day was a thought-provoking dialogue with Elizabeth Beck, a Fort Worth city council member. Beck offered firsthand perspectives on the opportunities and obstacles in affordable housing initiatives, shedding light on the complexities of navigating local governance and community dynamics. Her candid reflections resonated with many attendees, inspiring renewed commitment to driving tangible change in their communities.

This year, our council welcomed eight new members, enriching our collective expertise across diverse disciplines, including construction, civil engineering, insurance, and conversion. The influx of fresh perspectives invigorated our discussions, fueling lively debates and stimulating new avenues for collaboration. From exploring emerging trends in insurance coverage for multi-family housing to legislative advocacy efforts, our agenda was brimming with substantive topics to advance our shared mission of promoting affordable housing solutions.

As we chart a course for the year ahead, I am energized by the prospect of delving deeper into innovations, policy frameworks, and personal narratives that will inform our collective efforts to address the pressing challenges in affordable housing. From presenting initiatives like CPACE (Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy) financing to facilitating knowledge-sharing on green infrastructure, I am committed to leveraging my expertise to drive meaningful impact within our council and beyond.

In closing, the Dallas conference was a powerful reminder of the transformative potential inherent in collaborative endeavors. As we navigate the complexities of the real estate landscape, let us draw inspiration from our shared vision and collective resolve to build a more equitable and inclusive future for all.


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