By Linda O’Flanagan
Fifteen years into a real estate career that had seen her ride a rising market as a leasing manager with a global company, Karen Dome found herself in the thick of it with her own fledgling firm and infant twins at home.
She said she turned to the New York group of Commercial Real Estate Women for some back up.“I was looking for an organization where members would help each other achieve their goals,” said Dome. “What I found at NYCREW really surprised me. What resonated most was that there was a tangible difference in they type of networking I’d been used to. It wasn’t about looking out for yourself. I found the members were really committed to the success of each other. The women were unique and truly interested in helping me.”
Those members ultimately became her friends, which was another surprise to someone who’d broken into commercial real estate at the height of its machismo.
Next week, Dome will have the opportunity to say thank you in style to the members who helped her navigate her way to a productive career as senior associate with Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services while raising her young family and supporting several charitable causes, when she co-hosts the organization’s 10th anniversary celebration at the Columbus Townhouse.
As the 2011-12 president of NYCREW, Dome will lead the celebration for an organization of choice for many influential women working in today’s commercial real estate market.“It’s a seminal milestone,” said Dome, “and we have a lot to celebrate.”
Indeed, the same could be said for Dome whose professional career began in the MUNI Bonds department of Security Pacific. She went on to work for PNE Properties and then Shroeder Real Estate before landing at the Japanese giant Sumitomo where she spent the next 13 years handling the leasing and asset management of a five million square feet portfolio that included 666, 659 and 693 Fifth Avenue.
“That was back in 1989 and, when I started, I was the only senior woman executive at the firm,” she recalled. When the Japanese financial markets collapsed, however, Sumitomo was forced to sell off its American assets — a job Dome helped complete before collecting her P45 as the doors behind her closed and the company huddled down in Japan to wait for the storm to pass.
She soon landed at Williams Real Estate where she managed 12 commercial properties and oversaw operations of the owners’ 2.5 million square feet portfolio. By 2006, with the market in the midst of its biggest boom in decades, Dome decided to venture out on her own and founded Justdan Realty handling brokerage, acquisition and disposition for non-profits.
In the midst of that, she gave birth to twins Max Jared and Madison Emma, who joined big brother Justin Ryan, seven, at home with restaurateur husband Eli.
“It was definitely a challenge,” recalled Dome, who said it was around that time that she met long-time NYCREW stalwart Barbara Champoux, a partner at the law firm Crowell & Moring, who encouraged her to attend a meeting that would ultimately have such an impact on her life.
With 8,000 members in 74 markets across the country, Dome was impressed by both the scope of the organization’s reach and the natural platforms it opened up to its members.
“Our members have given and received numerous leads over the years, from not only NYCREW members, but members nationwide — the CREW culture of doing business together is so ingrained in its members, they regularly see, and connect their CREW colleagues with opportunities, resources and information,” explained Dome.
From the retention of a member attorney to a billion dollar deal, to a referral by a lender of an investment opportunity to a member working at a fund, Dome said the collaboration among members working for the advancement of each other is unsurpassed.
NYCREW even has the statistics the prove it; 72% have given a referral to another member in the last 12 months and 52% reported receiving a referral from another in the last 12 months.
Members have gotten job offers, work on multi-site environmental projects and introductions to hard-to-reach CEOs all as a result of their NYCREW membership, said Dome, who added that she joined Marcus & Millichap in 2010 when she saw the firm’s track record as a leader in its field and impressive national platform at the fingertips of each broker mirrored that of NYCREW.
Dome, who is fulfilling her second term as president of NYCREW, said it was a job she couldn’t turn down,
“While a significant time commitment is certainly involved, the rewards are well worth it, and I have been fortunate to have an incredibly supportive company, and cadre of NYCREW colleagues working with me,” she said.
The group is developing next year’s programming to achieve its strategic goals and fulfill its mission is to achieve parity for women in commercial real estate through “power, influence and opportunity.”
This year, NYCEW has drawn big crowds to panels that have featured hard-to-get speakers such as Helena Durst and Alicia Silverstein.
“It’s truly invaluable to get the opportunity to sit down and talk to some the accomplished and dynamic people who have addressed our group over the years. There have been some turbulent and challenging times in the last decade, but our members have had a front row seat to the dramatic changes that have been made in how business is conducted today by the industry’s leading players.
Around 150 guest are expected at next week’s gala, including men, who Dome pointed out do make up a minority membership of NYCREW, but who are making strides themselves: “The Connecticut chapter has a male president,” she pointed out.
Tickets for the 10th Anniversary are $85 for NYcrew members, $110 for CREW members and $125 for non-members.
Tickets and additional details regarding sponsorship opportunities and this year’s award recipients will be available at NYcrew Network’s website, http://nycrew.org/node/89 or www.nycrew.org.