March 8th is International Women’s Day (IWD), a day to celebrate women’s accomplishments and push for equality. The theme this year is “Choose to Challenge”, which reflects the idea that “a challenged world is an alert world”. It calls on everyone to “challenge and call out gender bias and inequality”.
In honor of International Women’s Day, we wanted to profile employees of Rappaport and the women-centric organizations that the company supports. Rappaport is a sponsor of CREW Northern Virginia (CREW NoVA) and the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM). Rappaport’s Vice President of Marketing, Dee Singletary serves on the board for the CREW Northern Virginia Chapter – an organization that brings together women from all parts of commercial real estate.
She’s been a member of CREW NoVA, since 2017. The organization has helped her expand her network of commercial real estate professionals, she says. “I learned a lot from my peers, professional development programs and networking events over the years. Being a member of the board has also increased my visibility and productivity both within the organization and in the industry.”
CREW stands for Commercial Real Estate Women, and the Northern Virginia Chapter is aligned to the vision of transforming the commercial real estate industry by advancing women globally. Susan Bourgeois, Executive Director of Leasing & Brokerage, has been a member for over four years. She describes the organization as a “great network of women in our local industry supporting each other professionally and personally”. “Nothing like learning, laughing, and support all at the same time,” she adds.
Women’s empowerment is a passion of Dee’s and she sees this as her heeding IWD’s call to “raise your hand high to show you’re in and that you commit to choose to challenge and call out inequality”.
Below, we hear from Dee and four more of Rappaport’s leading ladies: Hayley Amey, Marlena Castillo, Stephanie R. Jolley, and Katherine Shipplett.
Stephanie R. Jolley, Rappaport’s Vice President of Human Resources, has been committed to empowering women and pursuing equality in society and the workforce for many years. She volunteers her time at women’s transitional homes and shelters in the Washington metro area, by providing training to develop communicational and interpersonal skills to empower women to achieve success. Through her membership with HR Alliance DC, she gains insight and expertise to assist Rappaport in challenging gender bias and inequality. Stephanie believes “having the difficult conversations with managers heightens awareness and gives opportunity for meaningful dialogues, which ultimately leads to change”
It is an idea that Rappaport as a company believes in too. We provide non-profit organization, She Believes In Me (SBIM), with retail space at Worldgate Centre to enable them to continue their incredible work in Herndon, Virginia. “Making our community strong is important to our company. SBIM is filling a vital and growing need, and we are proud to make it easier for them to do so,” explains CEO Gary D. Rappaport.
SBIM – which started in 2018 in Herndon, VA – is volunteer-run, and focused on addressing the urgent needs of young girls in the community, especially those affected by poverty and trauma. Since their beginnings, they’ve evolved to also offer support to the whole family unit of the girls.
Property Manager Hayley Amey has been a member of IREM since 2017. She says: “I enjoy being an IREM member because it gives me educational opportunities outside of the workplace and the ability to network with other property managers and vendors. She continues: “I thought the Next-Gen CPM program was a highlight of my experience with IREM. Being able to go through two years of classes, conferences, and the exam with the same group of people made the experience more supportive and fulfilling. This year I volunteered for the IREM summer party planning committee, and I look forward to being more involved in the organization.”
Another IREM member is Marlena Castillo. “As a property manager, the resources they provide for managing properties and the ever-changing codes are invaluable. They are always a go-to for innovative ideas for maintaining tenancy. Finally, they’re always a great reference for how the markets are changing financially for budgeting purposes.”
Katherine Shipplett, the Senior Vice President of Operations at Rappaport, concurs. As a member since 2005, she says, “Earning my CPM designation expanded my property management knowledge and increased my marketability. I also gained a network of professionals I can rely on and reach out to regarding industry trends, vendor recommendations, weird issues, or anything else you can think of. I’ve developed professionally through my involvement with the local chapter leadership, regional leadership, and attendance at national conferences.”
“Maybe most importantly, I have gained lifelong friends I know I can rely on and reach out to at any given moment,” she concludes.
Please join us on International Women’s Day, to raise your hand for women’s equality, in commercial real estate and everywhere else.