Event Recap: CREW Network Convention & Marketplace

CREW Detroit scholarship recipients DISRUPT the CREW Network Convention!

by Lisa Robach, Chair-Communications


I was excited to learn that I had received a scholarship to attend the 2017 CREW Network Convention and Marketplace held in Houston. As the CREW Detroit Communications Committee chair, I had been promoting the event to our membership and fielding concerns about the devastating hurricane that swept through the host city. CREW Houston assured membership that they would be ready – and were they ever!

Eighteen women represented our chapter this year at the convention, including:

  • Andrea Burg, 2017 CREW Detroit President; UnitedHealth Group
  • Krista Capp, Member; Bedrock Real Estate Services
  • Jean Drouillard, Member; Plante Moran
  • Sara Faircloth, Chair-Membership; Allsteel
  • Heather Green, President-Elect; Stantec Architecture
  • Laurie Hughet-Hiller; Board Liaison-Impact Awards; McIntosh Poris Associates
  • Tamara Knapp, Member; Bedrock Real Estate Services
  • Dana Kreis Glencer, Past President; Dawda, Mann, Mulchay & Saddler, PLC
  • Amanda Kugler; Co-chair-Membership; brick+mortar group
  • Eileen McCarthy; Programs Committee Member; McCarthy & Smith
  • Nichole Pikur, Co-chair-Programs; Shaw Contract Group
  • Heather Obercht White, Board Liaison-Membership; AKA Architects
  • Annette Popiel-Hammerle, Professional Development Committee; American Interiors
  • Lisa Robach, Chair-Communications; NORR Architect, Engineers, Planners
  • Rachel Smith, Member; PEA, Inc.
  • Kelly Sternberg, Board Liaison-Communications /Secretary; Barton Malow Company
  • Tracy Taylor, Professional Development Committee; T-Squared Designs
  • Jennifer Thomas, Chair-Impact Awards; McCarthy & Smith

The kickoff event for Convention is the Welcome Reception and Marketplace on Wednesday. I caught up with the other CREW Detroit members and we discussed the exciting events ahead of us. CREW Detroit member, Jean Drouillard said “The marketplace was another great way to connect with members from our chapter and meet some of the vendors.”  Following the reception was the invitation only Distinguished Leaders Roundtable, moderated by 2015 CREW Network President Lori Kilberg. The panelists discussed career challenges they faced and how they’ve overcome various obstacles along the way.

2017 CREW Network Distinguished Leaders Sheila Botting, Deloitte, Crystal Maggelet, FJ Management Inc., Sherri Schugart, Hines, Angela Mago, KeyBank, Karen Whitt, Colliers International, with moderator Lori Kilberg, Hartman Simons & Wood LLP.


Afterward, a group of us had dinner together and one of the hotel’s awesome restaurants – we even sampled a trio of insects. We talked about our lives – parenting, workloads and juggling it all among other personal topics. In the words of fellow member, Tracy Taylor:

“The convention was a great opportunity to really get to know many of the CREW Detroit attendees on a much deeper level.  Not only did I come to better understand the businesses that they represent, but I also came to know them on a personal level.  It was an opportunity that you don’t get from an event that lasts a couple of hours nor from a series of events throughout the year.  I am blown away by the many wonderful, professional, successful, and energizing women in CREW Detroit.

Opening Session featured speaker Dr. Travis Bradberry

On Thursday morning, Dr. Travis Bradberry, award-winning coauthor of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 spoke at the morning general session. He discussed intentional and unintentional communication, and taking ownership of how you contribute to the discussions and reactions that you solicit from others. I was so intrigued by the subject that I ordered his book as he was speaking. (Mission accomplished, Dr. Bradberry).  I wasn’t the only one moved his presentation. CREW Detroit Membership co-chair, Amanda Kugler provided this review:

“Dr. Travis Bradberry did an excellent job engaging the audience. I did not know much about Dr. Bradberry prior to his session, however, I found myself intrigued by the 4 Emotional Intelligence (EQ) skills and was able to apply them to myself and my own EQ, as well as others with whom I work closely with. I also found it extremely interesting the correlation between CEO’s and low EQ scores. As a business owner myself, I did a deep reflection into my own EQ skills and ways to continue to operate at a high EQ level.

I also found his comments about stress levels extremely important. I loved his suggestions to keep stress to a minimum and have even started to implement some of his suggestions in my everyday life.”

The Convention also hosted Ashwin Karuhatty, Business Development Lead for Amazon Alexa. He collaborated with a few real estate industry leaders as to how voice recognition and voice technology will affect our lives and the commercial real estate industry through design and construction of technology integrated buildings.  Spencer Levy, Americas Head of Research for CBRE and a senior member of the company’s global research team (and former Price is Right contestant) was another dynamic speaker who somehow made the macroeconomics intriguing with his unique presentation style. You can also hear Spencer Levy speak at the annual CoreNet Economic Forecast event in January at the Dearborn Inn.

I was very inspired by the speeches from 2017 CREW Network President, Alison Beddard and President Elect, Tara Piurko, our first international President! I look forward to meeting up with Tara on my next visit to my company’s office in Toronto.  Both shared stories about their path in CREW and how it has helped them overcome obstacles both personally and professional.  They talked about CREW’s mission and how well we are carrying it out; but that we also need men to be involved in our programs, at convention, and as members so that they can bear witness to power of CREW Network.

In addition to the amazing speakers, the breakout sessions held something for everyone.  I attended several sessions relevant to the core business of my company, NORR, including: Leaders in Retail Real Estate and The Changing Delivery of Healthcare and its Impact on CRE.  New this year were the Conversation Corners, which almost every CREW Detroit member found as the most valuable experience at the Convention. Jennifer Thomas, CREW Detroit Impact Chair, had this to say about the Convention Corners:

“My favorite part to the convention this year that was the new Conversation Corners.   During the breakout sessions there were various areas with a narrator that would get the conversation started and then from there they took off.  It was great getting to sit down with Ladies from all over CREW network and listen to their experiences, advice, questions and get to know them.  The global marketplace conversation and Innovation in Construction (how does Technology effect your client and you) conversations were enlightening.  I was able to participate by asking questions to see how others are doing things and answer questions based on my own personal experiences.

Tamara Knapp and Krista Capp of Bedrock Real Estate Services receive National Impact Award

During the Convention luncheon, CREW Network honored excellence and outstanding achievement in commercial real estate with the 2017 Impact and Circle of Excellence awards. CREW Detroit members Tamara Knapp and Krista Capp of Bedrock Real Estate Services received the Economic and Community Improvement Impact Award for guiding the relocation of Detroit News and Detroit Free Press newspaper headquarters. Sara Faircloth, Chair-Membership, said “to see Bedrock win the National Impact award was phenomenal! For others all over the country to hear about the amazing things that are happening in Detroit was a huge win for all of us!”.

Following the excitement of the day, the entire contingency from CREW Detroit an awesome dinner together at Brennan’s Houston.  We could tell they really liked having us there – they tried to keep us as long as they could.

President Alison Beddard with keynote speaker Geena Davis.

Our closing keynote speaker was the multi-talented Academy-Award winning actor Geena Davis, founder of the nonprofit Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. Davis was engaging, witty, brilliant and inspiring. She provided great insight and thought-provoking discussion on how both men and women can shape the current and future professional environments, so that everyone can grow in their careers and accomplish professional development regardless of gender.

Participating in the convention strengthens personal and professional development, but also strengthens our chapter. In addition to the formal agenda, the time spent connecting on a personal and professional level with fellow CREW Detroit members, many of whom are my mentors, was invaluable and energizing.

As a host city, Houston was blew me away with the amazing venue – and the atmosphere with the World Series taking place added to the excitement.  I hope CREW Detroit has an opportunity to host Convention in the near future too!

I am thankful to my company, NORR, and the CREW Detroit leadership for supporting my participation in this amazing organization.

Checkout this video recap of the CREW Convention and Marketplace 2017

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