Celebrating 35 Years of CREW Detroit

August 6, 2021
Written by: CREW Detroit
This year marks the 35th anniversary of CREW Detroit. To celebrate, we caught up with ten current and former members to learn about their experiences and the benefits of membership.

“It wasn’t easy being a woman in a man’s field. Finding other women in the commercial real estate field was happenstance. At times, you felt like you were the only one.” – Marilyn Nix, principal and broker at Marilyn P. Nix & Associates LLC

Marilyn Nix helped found the Detroit chapter in the 80s. Now retired, she reflects on how far CREW Detroit has come in the past 35 years and how the organization showcases the industry as a whole. Today, women in the field are making strides that weren’t possible 35 years ago. Nix credits CREW Detroit for raising the profile of women in commercial real estate in the local business community by bringing women together to connect with and support one another.

“Looking back, I think joining CREW Detroit was the best decision I made in my professional career.” – Susan Cook, technical director at SA Cook & Associates

When Susan Cook began her membership in 2003, she didn’t expect the organization to have as much of an impact as it did. Now 18 years later, she’s thankful for the first step that took her out of her comfort zone. What started as a professional means to an end became a resource offering personal and professional growth, meaningful connections and endless support. 

“Your company can be diverse, have equity and make sure it stays diverse, but inclusion is what really makes a difference.” – Holly Tiller, director of property management at Bedrock Real Estate Services

Holly Tiller became a member in 2019 and immediately joined the professional development committee. Before long, she was called to launch something new for the chapter – the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) committee. Tiller is passionate about her work and inspired to push the organization forward, weaving diversity, equity and inclusion into every aspect of the business. 

“No matter who is leading or what the composition of the membership is, we are a group that seeks more, tries to be better.” – Jennifer Chambers, CPA, partner at Plante Moran

According to CREW Detroit Chapter President Jennifer Chambers, the organization has grown so much in its 35 years, and its level of programming continues to elevate. There is no better example of this than the evolution of the Impact Awards. From location changes, charitable elements and, of course, understanding the true community impact of development projects – the Impact Awards remain the chapter’s signature event. Rest assured, in the 35th year, the event will continue to evolve.

“I enjoy the feeling of picking up the phone to call and connect with another woman; my CREW network is always my first go-to when I have a referral.” – Dana Kreis Glencer, member and attorney at Dawda, Mann, Mulcahy & Sadler, PLC

Your membership is what you make of it, just ask Dana Kreis Glencer. Like many CREW Detroit members, Kreis Glencer has been active through multiple committees and leadership positions – from membership, outreach, Impact Awards, industry research and more. The more you do, the more people with which you meet and establish connections. Everyone is connected, and in this industry, involvement is everything.

“CREW Detroit is one of the reasons I am where I am today. They’ve had a major impact on my life – both personal and professionally.” – Jumana Judeh, president and CEO at Judeh & Associates

Put simply, membership makes it easier to meet like-minded professionals in the industry. For Jumana Judeh this meant new opportunities for business referrals. Coming out of a recession, Judeh joined CREW Detroit to build connections with a network of women in her industry. What she didn’t expect was the moral and professional support she’d receive from her CREW colleagues.

“CREW Detroit provides the opportunity to learn about yourself and the privilege to pay it forward.” – Heather Greene, principal and commercial studio lead at Stantec Architecture

In the past decade, Greene realized the beauty of CREW Detroit can be seen in every aspect of membership – from small moments like overcoming imposter syndrome with the support of CREW colleagues, to big moments like landing your dream job through a network referral. That’s the strength of this organization.

“The most valuable part about being a CREW Detroit member is networking to get more involved in, and around, the city.” – Ryan Doyle, vice president for the Michigan at The Albert M. Higley Co.

Acknowledging construction is a predominately male-dominated industry, Doyle became a CREW Detroit member in 2018 to connect with colleagues who might be interested in construction. His membership and involvement with UCREW gave him the opportunity to network with students, the next generation of the industry, he wouldn’t have met otherwise. You never know who you might run into at the next CREW event, which is what makes attending them so valuable.

“CREW Detroit changed my whole life.” – Lynn Drake, president and founder at Compass Commercial

When Lynn Drake turned 40, she climbed a mountain. When she came back down, her entire life changed. She realized she had been working in the wrong industry, decided to make the switch to commercial real estate brokerage and joined CREW. According to Drake, CREW Detroit changed the trajectory of her life.

“There’s something to be said about the legacy of CREW.” – Stephanie Meiers, director of business development at SmithGroup

Stephanie Meiers knew about CREW Detroit, but only recently became a member in April 2021. When she joined, she immediately had access to a group of strong female mentors to support her. To Meiers, the 35-year CREW Detroit legacy is a testament to how hard all the women before us have worked.

CREW Detroit was founded to bring together women involved in the many aspects of commercial real estate. For 35 years, CREW Detroit members have exchanged information, developed business contacts and helped one another succeed. Learn more about becoming a CREW Detroit member here.