President's Message Rowena Fratarcangelo

News Article:

March 15, 2006. The date of the first CREW Richmond meeting I attended. I don't remember the luncheon topic but I do remember being a bit overwhelmed by the number of (in my mind anyway) confident, experienced, and established women in the room. I was only about seven months into my new career at the Greater Richmond Partnership and didn't meet the membership qualifications, so I didn't make meeting attendance a priority.

March 19, 2008. The date of the second CREW Richmond meeting I attended. I'd gained two more years of work experience, but I know I was still a bit overwhelmed by the women in the room!

April 4, 2008. The date on my membership application. I enjoyed the previous month's luncheon (I assume, details are foggy!), my bosses were supportive, and CREW Network offered a discounted membership rate for "civic" (public sector)occupations. The time seemed right to join. I was incredibly lucky to have two great sponsors - Brett Womack (McNamee) and Suzanne White. I'm sure they would have been as skeptical as I would have been if someone had told us that one day I'd be typing up a President's Message for the newsletter!

I could list other dates - the year I participated on the membership committee, the year I served as chair of the membership committee, the year I joined the Board as director of communications, the year I served as director of media relations. But despite the specific dates I've given above, the exact details of my involvement with CREW aren't the point.

The point - and I know other presidents before me have said something similar - is that after taking that first step of joining and the second step of actively participating, you just never know where your involvement in CREW will lead you! Even now, after a year in the president-elect position and three months into my presidency, I still can't believe that I have the honor of being president of a CREW chapter made up of so many amazing commercial real estate professionals! Wow!!

This honor is heightened by the fact that, although CREW Network includes economic development among the 36 qualified fields accepted for membership, economic developers aren't the first people you think of when you think about commercial real estate. We may not even be the last! If you look at our chapter metrics, the Top 5 specialties represented by our members are Law, Brokerage-Leasing, Engineering, Finance, and Title/Escrow. And if you look on the CREW Richmond website at our list of Past Presidents, you will see the names of all the impressive women who have served in this role since the Richmond chapter was formed in 1990. There are several names I'm not familiar with, but I'm guessing none of them were in economic development!

I feel like this is a great example of the diversity of CREW. While it is an exclusive organization in that it is limited to Network-approved fields of commercial real estate, it is also very inclusive. Even if you're not working in a specialty ranked in the Top 5, there is a place for you, and the only limits to how far you will go in CREW are your desire and your level of participation.

If you're reading this and already a member, I hope you are motivated to become more involved. If you're not a member, I hope you are encouraged to apply. And if you don't meet the qualifications - yet - don't wait two years like I did to attend another meeting! Even if you can't picture it today, I hope all of you feel like someday you could be typing a President's Message! If I can help make that happen, please let me know. And if you would like to have a better understanding of what economic development is, let me know that too!