Women of Distinction

Forest City Stapleton's Women of Distinction

From left to right: Katy Dunn, Diana Fiore, Lisa Hall. Lisa Ratcliff, Tasha Jones, Claudia Saez, Kari Curtis, Molly Morrow

By: Gin Butler, Visitor Center Ambassador

Tasha Jones, Brookfield Properties Senior Director of Marketing + Community Relations, was recently selected as one of the ten Girl Scouts’ Women of Distinction for 2015. While that is an honor in itself, it is also an honor for Forest City, the master developer of Stapleton.

As I’ve mentioned before, I was appointed to the Stapleton Development Board (SDC) at its inception in 1995. As the chair of the Human Resources Committee, I was responsible for staffing the organization. If I thought identifying individuals to be considered for president of the organization difficult, finding female candidates for any of our positions was even more challenging. (I had authored the diversity plan and now I couldn’t fulfill my own goals!)  Most of the leadership positions in the real estate master development industry were seen as “nontraditional”; hence, there were very few if any females.

Now, 20 years later I work for Forest City (now Brookfield Properties) and I quietly cheer as I view all of the women that currently “fill” those nontraditional positions. In addition to Ms. Jones, here are some others:

Katy Dunn: Ass’t General Counsel (The person who holds the title Gen. Counsel (also a woman, by the way) is located at the corporate headquarters in Cleveland.)

Lisa Hall: Community Development Director (Decides what goes where.)

Tasha Jones: Director of Marketing (Establishes and manages the brand for the development.)

Kari Curtis: Interactive Marketing Manager (Remember when women were viewed as “non-technical”?)

Diana Fiore: Gen. Mgr. The Shops at Northfield (Managing a shopping mall!)

Molly Morrow: Marketing Director The Shops at Northfield

Lisa Ratcliff: Regional Mgr. Leased properties (Manages millions of dollars in leased property.)

June Buffone: Property Mgr., Residential

Claudia Saez: General Manager, Residential.

*Heidi Majerik: Director of Development (Ensures the Master Plan is followed).

*Tammy Tran: Visitor Center Coordinator

*Have left the company. You guessed it; they both climbed another rung of the ladder when other companies made them offers they couldn’t refuse and were in line with the career paths they had set for themselves.

All of the positions listed above are “leadership” positions and are members of the team that guides this development program of Forest City Enterprises (now Brookfield Properties) and at one time were all filled by men. Additionally, their level of higher education ranges from none to graduate degrees. However, that hasn’t prevented them from crashing through the “glass ceiling”; and for some, they crumbled the “cement ceiling”! As you sit in a meeting with them you first note they truly do represent the “Rainbow Coalition”, in that they come in all nationalities, ages and intelligence levels and are valued for those differences.

In a former blog, I wrote about Forest City (now Brookfield Properties) and its commitment to the personal development of its work force. We are all encouraged to include a “development goal” on our evaluation. There’s an internal library at our disposal; there are outside classes we are encouraged to attend, at company expense, to increase our knowledge of and/or contribution to the success of the company.  A considerable percentage of the FC workforce is promoted from within.  The above list of names is proof of that commitment.

Has John Lehigh, the president of Forest City (now Brookfield Properties), created a dilemma? Well, yes and no. He has set a definite example of evaluating and then valuing the skills of his employee base and utilizing them to ensure the success of the Stapleton Development.

On the other hand, other companies recognize the talent of these women and hire them away. Therefore, Mr. Lehigh has to start all over again.

Is he up to the challenge? I have no doubt! He has demonstrated his commitment to women and diversity. He even hired this particular 73 year old “mature adult”. How’s that for commitment?

So I say “thank you, Mr. Lehigh”!

And to all of you women—know that you are all WOMEN OF DISTINCTION and we salute you as excellent role models!

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