Women’s Leadership Initiative Continues to Increase Visibility of Women Leaders in the Industry
October 15, 2019
The ULI Chicago’s Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI), launched in 2015 to raise the visibility and number of women leaders in ULI and the real estate industry, focuses on four main goals: (1) Promoting the advancement of women, (2) Increasing the number of women who serve in leadership positions, (3) Increasing the visibility of women leaders, and (4) Increasing the number of women who are active ULI Full members.
Read more below about how the ULI Chicago Women’s Leadership has been working to accomplish these goals:
WLI Breakthrough Series
In September, the ULI Chicago Women’s Leadership Initiative honored Eleanor Gorski, who at the time was Acting Commissioner of the City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development. The event took place at Skender, which is located in the Fulton Market District, one of Acting Commissioner Gorski’s many planning achievements. Guests at this sold-out event were treated to a warm and lively discussion between City planning veterans, as Terri Haymaker, now SVP Real Estate Solutions, IFF, interviewed her former City colleague.
Eleanor shared her background and experiences, including childhood road trips to historic sites that sparked her interest in historic preservation, her undergraduate focus on art history, and enduring the friendly teasing of her art history professors when she transitioned to architecture. She discussed how unique opportunities for international study and travel shaped her perspective and approach to historic preservation, including a year-long sabbatical at the American Academy in Rome, a Civic leadership Academy program in India, and the C40 Climate Initiative (sharing best practices addressing climate change and resiliency). She also provided a first-hand account of how the City’s approach to planning has evolved during her tenure, and the changes she sees on the horizon as the current administration moves forward. Guests picked up on that theme, quizzing Eleanor on such topics as aldermanic prerogative, community engagement, and measuring the impact of development on the community. A well-timed delivery of wine signaled Eleanor’s release from the hot seat.
The ULI Chicago WLI Executive Board members thank the slate of annual WLI Chicago sponsors:
WLI Platinum Sponsors include Chicago Title Insurance Company and Ventas; WLI Gold Sponsors include Bucksbaum Properties, Cushman & Wakefield, JLL and TCF Bank
The Breakthrough Series was established to highlight and celebrate the accomplishments of women in the Chicago real estate market. If you have a recommendation of someone WLI should feature in an upcoming event – please let us know. Otherwise we hope you can join us at our next Breakthrough series event.
WLI Regional Summit
Members of ULI Chicago recently attended the inaugural WLI Regional Summit in Louisville, KY. Hosted by Committees from ULI Kentucky, ULI Chicago, ULI Cincinnati, ULI Indiana, ULI Iowa, ULI Kansas City, ULI Memphis, ULI Nashville, and ULI St. Louis, the Midwest centric conference was assembled to explore “Equity in Land Use & Leadership” which is consistent with the primary mission of WLI: to raise the visibility and number of women leaders in our industry. Three attendees from Chicago were highlighted as speakers on various panels and keynote sessions: Serena Wolfe, Partner, Ernst & Young LLP; Ciere Boatright, Vice President of Real Estate Inclusion, Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives; and Kim Liautaurd, Managing Director, Head of US Commercial Real Estate, BMO Harris Bank. The conference also featured a Mayor’s Forum with Mayor Greg Fischer (Louisville, KY), Mayor Linda Gorton (Lexington, KY) and Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson (Gary, IN) which explored the topic of equity in the public realm and specific challenges in their respective cities.
The Summit concluded with regional leadership awards presented to an individual or collection of individuals from each ULI chapter who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and contributed to advancing the overall goals of WLI. Julie Heigel, Assistant Vice President, Acquisitions, Waterton and ULI Chicago WLI Executive Board Member had the distinct honor of presenting this award to Kirsten Ekdahl Hull, VP Development, EQ Office, and Molly McShane, Chief Operating Officer, The McShane Companies for their tireless support of WLI and impactful stewardship as co-chairs of the WLI Chicago Executive Board from January 2017 through June 2019. Under their leadership, the WLI Chicago Executive Board set forth a strategic plan for impact and growth and executed that plan to yield meaningful and measurable advancements towards WLI National’s primary objectives.
Next year’s WLI Regional Summit is scheduled to be held August 5-7, 2020 in St. Louis.