Women We Admire is pleased to announce The Top 100 Women Leaders in Real Estate of 2021. These leaders are recognized for going above and beyond their pursuit of real estate excellence, paving the way for future female leaders in the industry. For many centuries men had historically dominated the field until the past century where women now represent the majority and are advancing into leadership positions across the nation. The National Association of Realtors’ first female member, Corrine Simpson, first joined in 1910 and smashed barriers for equality along the way. She helped change the ideas of the time making it socially acceptable for women to enter the profession, proving that women were just as capable as men.
With time comes incredible success. Awardee Chelby Sanders, Executive Vice President with CBRE’s Advisory and Transaction Services group in Dallas co-leads a successful tenant representation team and has negotiated over $4 billion over the course of her career. Saundra Kandler started off her career only 21 years ago in bookkeeping and has since risen into the roles of Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Keller Williams Connected. Meanwhile, Sandy Borman continues the success of Better Homes and Gardens, serving as the Chief Executive Officer of the Boreman Group.
A benchmark for excellence in the industry, the award celebrates and acknowledges these outstanding women who are influencing others in the real estate profession. These women leaders exemplify the qualities needed for success within the field. They are tenacious, savvy, persistent and determined and their reach extends beyond the communities they serve. Please join us in celebrating the accomplishments of The Top 100 Women Leaders in Real Estate of 2021.
2. Chelby Sanders
Chelby Sanders began her professional career 29 years ago. Today, she is the Executive Vice President with CBRE’s Advisory & Transaction Services group in Dallas, where she co-leads a successful tenant representation team. CBRE Group, a commercial real estate services and investment firm, is one of the largest commercial real estate service companies in the world.
In 1992 Sanders served as a VP at Morgan Stanley. From there, she went on to Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, before eventually rising to VP of Americas Brokerage at Jones Lang LaSalle, her most recent position prior to joining CBRE. Over her career, she has negotiated over 40 million sq. ft. of client engagements worth over $4 billion in consideration. Sanders graduated from the University of Texas at Tyler with an undergraduate degree in accounting.
4. Roxanne Kemph
Roxanne Kemph is a Senior Vice President in Brokerage Services with CBRE. She first joined the company in 2003. CBRE offers a range of integrated services including project and property management, appraisal and valuation, property leasing and sales, and mortgage and development services.
For the past 20 years, Kemph has represented landlords and tenants in the Tampa Bay area and throughout Florida. Kemph’s success has been in the repositioning and leasing of suburban and CBD office properties where recent transactions have included Cognizant, Baycare Healthcare Systems, McDonald’s and the Attorney General. She has also facilitated the repositioning of medical office buildings in the Tampa Bay area. Her leasing responsibilities have also included a Class A high-rise office building in downtown, San Juan, Puerto Rico. She is bilingual and an asset in the Florida and Puerto Rico markets. Kemph earned an undergraduate degree in business from the University of South Florida.
8. Tawanna Armstrong-Ivory
Tawanna Armstrong-Ivory began her professional career over 27 years ago. Today, she is the Vice President and Global Senior BI Platform Owner of JLL. JLL is a global commercial real estate services company, founded in the United Kingdom with offices in 80 countries. The company also provides investment management services worldwide, including services to institutional and retail investors, and to high-net-worth individuals.
Armstrong-Ivory first got her start in 1994 as a data manager at Cleveland Clinic. From there, she went on to Case Western Reserve University, before eventually rising to project manager at KeyBank, her most recent position prior to joining JLL. Armstrong-Ivory graduated from Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University with an MBA in entrepreneurship and marketing and from Baldwin Wallace University with an undergraduate degree in business and sociology.
10. Dana Rice
Dana Rice began her professional career 30 years ago. Today, she is an Executive Vice President and Realtor with Compass and Founder of the Dana Rice Group. Compass is a real estate technology company with a powerful end-to-end platform that supports the entire buying and selling workflow.
Rice first got her start in 1991 as an account executive at Goldberg Marchesano Kohlman. From there, she went on to AAA Mid-Atlantic, before eventually moving on to advertising with TV Guide and SistersMedia. Rice later became a licensed realtor on the Diana Keeling Team at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, which was her most recent position prior to joining Compass. Rice graduated from the University of Maryland with an undergraduate degree in journalism.
13. Tillie Ross
Fidelity National Title
Tillie Ross is the Vice President of National Commercial Services of Fidelity National Title. Fidelity National Title has more than 165 years of underwriting experience. Its centralized team of industry experts provides commercial and industrial developers, builders, lenders, attorneys, and other real estate professionals with reliable, integrated, and high-liability services nationwide. Ross has over 37 years in the real estate industry. She began her career in 1984.
Before joining Fidelity National Title, Ross was a VP for commercial and special projects at Old Republic Title Company and before that a president at CREW - East Bay Chapter. Earlier in her career she worked with Great Western Bank as a financial services representative. Ross graduated from the University of San Francisco with an undergraduate degree in economics.
19. Anneke Greco
Anneke Greco is an Executive Vice President with JLL. She first joined the company in 2013 as Vice President. At JLL their mission is to create rewarding opportunities and amazing spaces around the globe where people can achieve their ambitions. In doing so, they are building a better tomorrow for their clients, people and communities. They are a world leader in real estate services, powered by an entrepreneurial spirit.
Earlier in her career Greco was a VP with CBRE. She earned an undergraduate degree in business administration and management from the University of Southern California.
22. Lara Shuqom Gehl
The Collective at Compass
Lara Shuqom is a Co-Founder and Principal of The Collective, a top-producing team based out of Compass' Back Bay office. She co-founded the company in 2016. Compass is a real estate technology company with a powerful end-to-end platform that supports the entire buying and selling workflow. They have grown to be one of the largest real estate companies in the country with over 144,000 transactions in 2020.
Previously, Shuqom was a CEO and principal consultant at Catalyst Consulting of Boston. Prior to joining Compass, Shuqom was a member of Cushman & Wakefield’s Capital Markets Investment Sales Group. Earlier in her career she worked with Boston Homes Real Estate as a real estate agent. Shuqom earned an undergraduate degree in art history and political science from Simmons University.
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24. Loren Larsen
Loren Larsen is a Senior Vice President and Principal of Compass. She first joined the company in 2015 and specializes in representing clients during divorce by drawing upon her previous experience as a divorce attorney. Compass brings a modern approach to new development marketing and sales using their powerful end-to-end platform to support the entire real estate selling and buying workflow. Their focus on luxury has placed them second by volume in 2020, closing $151 billion in sales.
Previously, Larsen was a director of business development at EntertainHer.com and before that a senior associate trial attorney for the Law Offices of Stephanie R. Cooper. Earlier in her career she worked with Nottage and Ward as a family law attorney. Larsen earned a JD from DePaul University College of Law and an undergraduate degree from Boston University.
31. Kelly Marsh
Cornerstone Home Lending
Kelly Marsh is the Vice President of Cornerstone Home Lending of California. Founded in 1988, Cornerstone Home Lending is a full-service mortgage lender. For over 30 years they have been committed to the core values of lending with a servant's heart, closing mortgages on time, treating their borrowers like people and not just a number, and making buying a house feel easy. Marsh has over 25 years of experience in the mortgage and real estate industry.
In addition to her current roles, Marsh regularly facilitates seminars for other real estate professionals. Before joining Cornerstone Home Lending, Marsh was a branch manager at Broadview Mortgage Corporation. Earlier in her career she worked with Capital Financial Services as a loan consultant. Marsh is a graduate of San Francisco State University.
36. Saundra Kandler
Keller Williams Realty
Saundra Kandler began her professional career 21 years ago. Today, she is the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Keller Williams Connected. Keller Williams Realty is the world’s largest real estate franchise by agent count and largest in the U.S. by units sold and sales volume, with over 1,000 offices in 52 regions globally.
Kandler first got her start in 2000 as a bookkeeper at Legal Assistants and Land Title Services. From there, she went on to SAEDACCO where she served as an accounting assistant. She has held multiple positions within sales operations and accounting with companies like Time Warner Cable, Combined Insurance and Web Analytics Central. She has been coaching real estate professionals and brokerage leaders to build profitable businesses and legacies for 6.5 years with MAPS Coaching and most recently, Forward Coaching. She’s worked with over 4,200 Real Estate agents as a speaker, leader, and coach over the past 8 years resulting in several Million Dollar+ Revenue Real Estate businesses being grown and hundreds of thousands of dollars being donated back to communities all over the world. Kandler graduated from Limestone University with an undergraduate degree in accounting.
42. Jamie Gavello
Old Republic Title
Jamie Gavello began her professional career 20 years ago. Today, she is the Vice President and Assistant County Manager of Old Republic Title. Old Republic Title is one of the largest real estate title insurance groups in the United States. They operate through a national network of company-owned offices, affiliates, authorized agents and approved attorneys, which allows them to service their customers in both large and small markets across the country.
In 2001 Gavello served as an AVP, account executive and branch manager at Ticor Title, before eventually rising to account manager and sales manager of Contra Costa County at North American Title, her most recent position prior to joining Old Republic Title. Gavello graduated from California State University - East Bay with an undergraduate degree in liberal studies.
44. Wendy Berger
Wendy Berger began her professional career over 33 years ago. Today, she is the Chief Executive Officer and President of WBS Equities. WBS Equities is a real estate development firm specializing in development, renovation and sale leaseback transactions of food manufacturing and food distribution buildings.
Berger first got her start in 1988 as a second VP at American National Bank and Trust Company of Chicago. From there, she went on to Berger Realty Group, before eventually rising to director for enterprise planning at Orbitz, her most recent position prior to joining WBS Equities. Berger graduated from Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management with an MBA and from Syracuse University with an undergraduate degree in finance and marketing.
50. Donna Bradley
Donna Bradley, MAI is an Executive Vice President for Newmark‘s Valuation & Advisory (V&A) practice. She is a leader within V&A’s Hospitality, Gaming & Leisure practice, specializing in Southern California markets. Newmark is a world leader in commercial real estate, seamlessly powering every phase of the property life cycle. Newmark's comprehensive suite of services and products is uniquely tailored to each client, from owners to occupiers, investors to founders, and startups to blue-chip companies.
Bradley has been actively engaged in the valuation and consulting services segment of the commercial real estate industry since 1986, receiving her MAI designation in 1992.
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54. Victoria Gillespie
National Association of Realtors
Victoria Gillespie is the Chief Marketing and Communications Officer of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). NAR is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.5 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. Gillespie has over 33 years of experience in banking and real estate. She began her career in 1988.
Before joining NAR, Gillespie was an SVP for enterprise marketing & communications at Northwest Federal Credit Union and before that a licensed realtor at RE/MAX Realty Affiliates. Earlier in her career she worked with Citizens Bank of Maryland as a VP for commercial real estate. Gillespie graduated from American University with an MBA in finance and from Penn State University with an undergraduate degree in finance.
58. Jennifer Warden
Baird & Warner Real Estate
Jennifer Warden began her professional career 41 years ago. Today, she is the Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of Baird & Warner Real Estate. Established in 1855, Baird & Warner is Illinois’ largest family-owned independent real estate services company. The brand has been synonymous with experience, innovation, and integrity for more than 160 years.
Warden first got her start in 1980 as a senior editor at Crain Communications. From there, she went on to Harry Alter Company, before eventually rising to principal at Jennifer Alter Warden Marketing Communications, her most recent position prior to joining Baird & Warner Real Estate. Warden graduated from Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management with an MBA in marketing and management and from Oberlin College with an undergraduate degree in English.
61. Courtney Schnee
Courtney Schnee is a Senior Vice President and Asset Manager of Northwood Ravin. Northwood Ravin is a leading full-service development, construction and management firm based in Charlotte, NC. They develop and manage signature apartment communities and mixed-use venues with a singular focus of building best in class communities and strong employees. Schnee has 17 years in the real estate industry. She began her career in 2004.
Before joining Northwood Ravin, Schnee was a property management and residential development professional at Capitol Broadcasting Company and before that a senior property manager at Greystar. Earlier in her career she worked with Lincoln Property Company as a property manager. Schnee graduated from Northern Illinois University with an undergraduate degree in history, political science, and economics.
65. Tanya Saffadi
Tanya Saffadi is the Chief Human Resources Officer of Kushner Companies and serves as advisor and resource on all related organizational development and human resource matters, including organizational design and employee development, recruiting and retaining talent, compensation and benefits, and employee relations. Kushner is a diversified real estate organization responsible for the ownership, management, development, and redevelopment of properties throughout the country.
Prior to joining Kushner, Saffadi was the Interim Global Head of HR supporting Thomson Reuters Financial & Risk - Product Strategy organization. Saffadi also served as VP and head of HR at Real Estate Investment Trust - Equity One for over six years and as senior vice president and head of human resources for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Saffadi’s past experience includes senior human resource positions at Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, Cisco Systems, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley. Saffadi holds an undergraduate degree from William Paterson University, a MEd in counseling psychology and an MA in organizational psychology, both from Columbia University.
69. Laura Brady
Laura Brady is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Concierge Auctions. She founded the company in 2008. Concierge Auctions is a residential real estate company based in New York and Texas. It auctions properties to the highest bidder and has worked with celebrity and business figures.
Previously, Brady was an associate at Sotheby’s International Realty and before that an analyst at Merritt Capital Partners. Earlier in her career she worked with Neiman Marcus as a buyer. Brady earned an undergraduate degree in business and marketing from Texas McCombs School of Business.
72. Phyllis Patterson
TTR Sotheby’s International Realty
Phyllis Patterson is an Executive Vice President of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty. She first joined the company in 2013 as a realtor and Senior Vice President. TTR Sotheby’s International Realty is regarded as one of the highest-performing real estate firms in the United States. The company now also offers private sales, selling exhibitions, retail wine and diamonds, financing and art advisory services, and a robust digital engagement that collectors can access at any time.
Earlier in her career she worked with Coldwell Banker Previews International as a senior vice president. Patterson earned a degree from the University of South Carolina.
76. Pat Heller
Pat Heller is an Executive Vice President with Compass. She first joined the company in 2018. Compass is a real estate technology company with a powerful end-to-end platform that supports the entire buying and selling workflow. Their mission is to help everyone find their place in the world through building the first modern real estate platform.
Previously, Heller was the co-founder and owner of Gibson International where she served as the EVP for over 9 years. Earlier in her career she worked with Coldwell Banker as the Brentwood Office Manager. Heller earned a degree from Rowan College at Burlington County.
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78. Lissette Sabatino
Atlantic Pacific Companies
Lissette Sabatino, CAM, LCAM, CAPS joined Atlantic | Pacific Companies in 2003 and has 25 years of experience in the multi-family industry. She is currently the Managing Director for the Property Management Division and responsible for the overall strategy, operations, and profitability of an apartment portfolio of over 16,000 units across Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas. Coordinating a team of management specialists, she supervises more than 350 field personnel and serves as an operations liaison with asset owners.
Sabatino participates in administering the support services of APM to a team of regional managers and on-site personnel, which includes fiscal accountability, revenue growth, expense management, physical asset management, and the implementation of marketing and training programs. Lissette has always remained focused on providing extraordinary experiences to residents, clients, partners and employees of the company. She has excelled in all phases of property management including new development and construction, asset management, marketing, plus learning and development. Sabatino attended Florida International University and is an active member of the South East Florida Apartment Association and National Apartment Association.
84. Diana Pittro
Diana Pittro began her professional career 41 years ago. Today she is the Executive Vice President of RMK Management. RMK Management is a Chicago based real estate company which proudly manages 27 rental properties, totaling over 6,000 units throughout the Midwest.
Pittro began her career in a regional sales and marketing position with Robert Sheridan & Partners before moving on to Draper & Kramer, Inc., where she served as a VP dealing in third party management and was in charge of renovated and new construction properties. She then moved on to become a VP at The Habitat Company supervising high-rise buildings in the Chicago area, including Presidential Towers. In addition to her current roles she also serves as a president for the National Apartment Association Education Institute and on the advisory board for Rasmussen Colleges. Pittro graduated from California State University - Fullerton.
91. Larissa Kravanja
First American Title
Larissa Kravanja is a Vice President, Counsel and Sales Executive for First American’s National Commercial Services division at First American Title. She is responsible for the origination of title insurance business through developers, investors, lenders, law firms and capital market sources. As one of the largest title insurance companies in the nation, First American offers title insurance and settlement services through its direct operations and an extensive network of agents throughout the United States and internationally.
Prior to joining First American, Kravanja worked as an attorney in the commercial real estate practices of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP and Hunton & Williams LLP. She has also worked with clients as a licensed real estate salesperson in the New York City market. Admitted to the practice of law in the State of New York and the Commonwealth of Virginia, Kravanja received her JD from New York University School of Law and an undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia.
96. Cerissa Jornod
Ben Kinney Team of Keller Williams
Cerissa Jornod is the Dallas Partner for the Ben Kinney Companies, the #1 Real Estate Company at Keller Williams Realty. The Ben Kinney Team is also the #3 Residential Real Estate Business according to the Wall Street Journal. Jornod has over 16 years of sales and business leadership experience.
Prior to joining the Ben Kinney Team, Jornod grew her personal real estate sales business from $4 million in sales to over $40 million in under 4 years and the team now does $125 million. She leads a team of 16+ agents in DFW and is expanding into other Texas markets. Through the systems and models of the Ben Kinney Companies, she's leading her team to incredible growth and helping them to build big businesses. Earlier in her career, she worked as a pharmaceutical sales representative at GlaxoSmithKline and with Abbott Laboratories. Jornod graduated from The University of Texas at Dallas with an undergraduate degree in business administration.
100. Katie Geffken
Collective Property Consultants
Katie Geffken is the Founding Partner of Collective Property Consultants. She founded the company in 2019. Collective Property Consultants is a curated collaboration of vetted professionals who provide exceptional and inclusive care for homeowners and investors.
Previously, Geffken was an owner at Biker Barre and before that a licensed real estate agent at Long & Foster Companies. Earlier in her career she worked with Fleishman-Hillard as an account executive. Geffken earned an MBA and an undergraduate degree in political science and art history from the University of Michigan.
View the complete list of awardees.