November 2016  |  Newsletter

President’s Letter

As you can see by the attached articles and photos, our 30-member gang from Connecticut certainly enjoyed attending the recent national convention in NYC. We asked a number of our members to write a reflection so you will get a sense of the conference. We are already looking forward to next year’s conference in Houston, Texas.

Jennifer Marks PhotoJennifer Marks, President

Many thanks to Katie Pelczar of UBS Realty Investors for arranging a very special part of the conference, our networking cocktail party with chapters from NYC and NJ. It was held on the rooftop at the lovely Quinn Hotel with 60 in attendance. Our members enjoyed catching up with people they had met at previous conferences as well as meeting new connections. There is obviously a lot of synergy in the Tri-State area.

Thanks also to Lisa Lugauskas, JoAnn Fenty and Sharon Alleman for arranging our very informative program November 15 presented by attorney Barbara Taylor of Reid & Riege who provided estate planning tips. Our speaker was showered with questions from an animated crowd of members.

I look forward to seeing all of you on Dec. 14 for our annual holiday celebration to be held at The Pond House, Elizabeth Park in Hartford.

CREW Convention

We asked a few of the 30 CREW CT members who attended our national convention in New York City to provide commentary on their experience and what they learned. Universally, attendees appreciated the opportunity to strengthen relationships with other CT members, expand their network, and stay in the forefront of industry trends. They valued the private tours and hearing the “inside story” about prominent real estate developments.

CC Photo
President Jen Marks is proud of the recognition CREW CT received for completing two of the CREW Foundation chapter challenges in 2016
From left to right: Enjoying the Ice Bar were
Nikki Witaszek, Cherie Lawton, Jen Marks,
Jenna Bennetti, JoAnn Fenty, Kelsey Rath, guest

From Kelsey Rath, Talcott Realty Investors:
Over the past five years, I’ve been fortunate to attend the CREW convention twice. This year, breakfast and lunch speakers included Mary Ann Tighe, CEO of CBRE’s New York Tri-State office and Sallie Krawcheck, former CEO of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. Listening to these women talk about their careers left me feeling inspired and excited. I attended a break-out session on the Hudson Yards project, the largest private real estate development in the history of the U.S. The project will add 17 million square feet of commercial office and residential space as well as 1 million square feet of retail. Through CREW, conference attendees were able to hear about the project from five of the individuals involved in the day-to-day development process.

From Lisa J. Chapman, Performance Environmental Services:
With an initial bit of trepidation, I attended my first National CREW Convention with 1,000 powerful, professional real estate women in attendance. As a representative of a commercial janitorial and building services company, I wondered where and how would I fit in. The CREW “culture” did not disappoint! I DID belong. And, my reasons for attending were solidified by making so many great connections with my own CT Chapter members and people from throughout the country. Thanks to a generous CREW CT member introduction to a contact they had made in previous conferences, I made a connection that might even result in business for my company.

Group Photo
From left to right: Circulating in the exhibit area were
Janet Wheeler, Jennifer Carey (CREW NY),
Jen Marks, Lisa Chapman
I’ve decided that I agree with what Amy Cuddy said; “Networking is not greedy, it is generous.” Of course, this is only part of the benefit of “being present”. Most importantly is the wonderful feeling of cultivating new relationships, having fun, and expanding my industry knowledge.
group1 CREW CT Group

From JoAnn Fenty, Chicago Title:
Three words: AMAZING, IMPRESSIVE AND INSPIRATIONAL. In addition to the conference, I was honored to have been able to attend the Leadership Summit. In the roundtable discussions with other chapter leaders, we shared best practices and examples of great programs going on around the country and looking at new ways to engage our members and do things in new ways. I particularly liked the idea of “Dine Arounds” in which members host small groups (6-8) in restaurants, bars or their homes as a way for people to get to know each other better. I could see that as popular in our chapter.

The speakers at the convention were top-notch. By their remarks and stories, I have been inspired to take chances, to honor myself and my strengths. I feel so empowered and have already started working on my personal strategic plan!

From Jenna Bennetti, CPA, Whittlesey & Hadley
The biggest takeaways from this year’s convention are pieces of advice from two strong women, Mary Ann Tighe, CEO of CBRE’s NY Tri-State Region and Sallie Krawcheck, CEO of Ellevest. Mary Ann advised us to figure out what you want to be known for, then build your credentials around it. I am a firm believer in knowing your strengths and using them.

When I have the opportunity to do the things I am “a natural” at, I have much more satisfaction in my career and how I’m spending my time. Sallie’s advice was to become a mentor to help the women under you succeed. I personally believe that in order to be successful, we need to be open and encouraging of the potential successes of others. In a world where it has been difficult for women to make it to the top, I think we end up inhibiting our own upward mobility as well as that of others by not building strong relationships with other women – we all have so much to learn from one another! I look forward to working over the next year with those two pieces of advice in mind.

Group2 CREW CT Group

From Barrie Deschaine, KBE Building Corporation:
My initial reaction as I entered the Welcome Reception was “I’ve never seen so many women in one place!” While there was a smattering of well-dressed men, women dominated the venue with such a great vibe within the room, that it instantly energized me. I continued to feel this energy throughout the conference which offered such a diverse selection of activities and educational breakout sessions. I took notes on my thoughts throughout, and compiled the highlights below that truly impacted my experience:

  • Having been in the construction industry for over thirty years, at the start of my career I was the only woman in a predominantly male environment. Wow; how our industry has changed. It was enlightening to witness so many powerful women in such positions of status and to hear an Executive of Sam’s talk about Walmart’s big push to promote women and minorities.
  • I sat with a dynamic gentleman at the keynote luncheon and asked what drew him to the CREW network. He stated that the women in his Chapter of Indiana helped jump start his business and this was his way of giving back. He wouldn’t have been successful without CREW’s assistance.
  • Attending a tech session at Cohn Reznick and learning about their innovation/technology lab was fascinating and gave me ideas to implement within my organization.
  • Attending the CREW Connecticut’s (Tri-State) Champagne Reception and hearing what CREW means to our members:
  • Listening to keynote speaker Admiral William McRaven who spoke about teamwork, and never letting your leadership rise to a level so high that you forget about taking care of those who serve you. It was inspiring to hear fellow CT CREW member Shirley Harpool participate in the conversation with the Admiral and I thank Shirley and her husband for their service to our country as Marines.

Member News
Shipman & Goodwin LLP has been rated by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers one of the Best Law Firms nationally in Land Use & Zoning Law as well as in 33 practice areas in a metropolitan area. The firm received these high rankings based on positive rating by clients and peers for the quality and breadth of its legal experience. Receiving a tier designation reflects the high level of respect the firm has earned for its abilities, professionalism and integrity.

Community Investment Corporation (CIC) has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as the top lender in CT for its SBA 504 Loan program. The 504 program is a significant source of funding for small businesses in Connecticut, providing financing for owner-occupied real estate, including renovation or ground up construction, and for machinery and equipment. We also noted that CREW CT member David Raccio, Vice President at CIC was profiled in the October issue of The Commercial Record. Click here for article

Welcome New Members
We are pleased to welcome our newest member:
Max Nuki, Business Developer at SCOPE Construction Company, Inc.

Future Member News:
Please send news items and CREW CT network success stories to newsletter editor

Jennifer Marks
Principal, BL Companies


November 29, 2016
December 14, 2016
to you & yours!

Evening Program:
The World of Retail
The Gershon Fox Ballroom
5:30 - 8:00 pm
More + Register >


Members & Guests Only
Holiday Party
Pond House, Elizabeth Park
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
More + Register >


Thank you for your support of CREW CT in 2016.


Thanks to Our 2016 Sponsors!


BL Companies


CohnReznick LLP

Community Investment Corporation (CIC)

First Niagara Foundation

Hutensky Capital Partners

Phase Zero Design, Inc.

The Fidelity Family of Title Insurers:
Chicago Title / Commonwealth Land Title / Fidelity National Title

The Simon Konover Company

Whittlesey and Hadley, P.C.


Fuss & O'Neill, Inc.

Loureiro Engineering Associates, Inc.

McCarter & English, LLP


Peabody Office

Unity Construction Group



Bligh Graphics, LLC
Burke Reprographics LLC /
CBRE New England
Clohessy, Harris & Kaiser Architects, LLC
Cohn Birnbaum & Shea P.C.
Colliers International
Halloran & Sage LLP
Hinckley Allen
Interscape Commercial Environments
KBE Building Corporation
MetroHartford Alliance
Murtha Cullina LLP
Performance Environmental Services
Red Thread
Robinson + Cole, LLP
Shipman & Goodwin LLP
The S/L/A/M Collaborative, Inc.
Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, P.C.


More Sponsorship Opportunities Available. Contact: Janet Wheeler

Become a CREW Member TODAY! Conact: Kelsey Rath

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