The Power of CREW Network – Making the Most of Your Membership

By Nikkia Fitch, CPA, CREWBaltimore President-Elect

Are you taking advantage of all that CREW Network offers its members? 

Most of you are aware that members receive discounted pricing for CREWBaltimore events and have access to some of the most influential professionals within the commercial real estate world at each CREWBaltimore event, but guess what?  There’s so much more value to being a member of CREW Network!

Two of the most valuable CREW membership benefits are:

  • Access to CREWBiz, CREW Network’s exclusive membership community of professionals in the commercial real estate industry from the U.S., Canada, and the UK; and
  • The ability to attend CREW Network Leadership Summits and its Annual Convention

Since CREW Network relaunched the organization’s website in 2017, some fantastic, new features have been added to the CREWBiz Community. Not only do CREW Network members have access to the exclusive member directory, but now every member can connect with other CREW Network members through the CREW Network Open Forum. 

What is the CREW Network Open Forum? The CREW Network Open Forum is a tool to participate in discussions with other CREW Network members globally about topics that are important to members. 

Some of the daily activity on the Open Forum includes:

  • Discussions about the advancement of women in the commercial real estate industry and the 2017 Whitepaper on Diversity and Inclusion
  • Job postings for open commercial real estate positions from other CREW Network members
  • Members seeking referrals for attorneys, accountants, title and escrow companies or others to assist with current commercial real estate transactions
  • Requests for suggestions and best practices for chapter level initiatives
  • Invitations for members to connect at upcoming conferences related to commercial real estate

New discussion topics are added each day and give members the opportunity to connect with each other using the Open Forum. CREW Network promotes this through the daily CREW Network Open Forum Digest emails. It is a resource for all members to start a dialogue about the topics that interest us the most, you can view the most recent posts here.  

Do you have the CREWBiz App on your mobile phone?  In relaunching the CREW Network website, the CREWBiz App was also relaunched. The CREWBiz App gives you mobile access to the CREW Network member directory, the CREW Network Open Forum and to documents in the CREWBiz Library, which is a resource for chapter playbooks, chapter tools, the speakers’ directory and much more. At a recent event, I used the CREWBiz app to electronically exchange contact information with another CREW member, no business cards needed! There are so many features to explore, I encourage you to give it a try!

CREW Network events are held regularly during the year and all members can take advantage of discounted pricing. All CREW Network events offer professional development and leadership training as well as ample opportunities to increase your network beyond your local market and to become involved in CREW at the Network level. For instance, at the 2018 Winter CREW Network Leadership Summit, there were invigorating leadership sessions with Marsha Petrie Sue and Bonnie Marcus, two leading professional development coaches, and networking receptions with members from all over the country and Canada. You do not need to be a Chapter leader to attend these events!

Members who attend these CREW Network events come back motivated to advance their careers and invigorated by the comradery exhibited at each event. Valuable relationships are built and deals are made from attending the CREW Network Leadership Summits and Annual Convention and Marketplace. Also, many members participate in CREW Network Committees and the CREW Network Board after making connections at these events, which can launch your career to a higher status. Please consider attending CREW Network’s 2018 Spring Leadership Summit in Cleveland, OH and the 2018 Annual Convention and Marketplace in San Diego, CA. For additional information about upcoming CREW Network events, please visit  

These are just a few of the many benefits of being a member of CREWBaltimore. There’s much more to gain from being a member of the premier professional organization in the commercial real estate industry. So ask yourself what you can do to gain more value from your membership and take steps today!






Merriweather Post Pavilion Renovations

Merriweather Post Pavilion recently hosted CREWBaltimore members and guests for a construction tour of the newly renovated historic concert venue. Initially built in 1967 to be home to the National Symphony, Merriweather is celebrating over 50 years as a historic location for some of music’s biggest artists. 

With its rich history, there was a lot at stake with the new renovations, including risk to losing Merriweather’s original character. Designers at JP2 Architects were innovative with the renovation while keeping the same character Merriweather has created for itself.

Many factors were taken into consideration when redesigning the space. Being located in the heart of Symphony Woods Park, the venue was already one unlike any other. However, that wasn’t enough.

Merriweather’s biggest goal is creating accessibility for all concert goers. With that, they are going to great lengths to create a venue that is completely ADA accessible. A new crosswalk will be installed that will connect all parts of the venue for the handicapped and disabled. They are also creating an elevator that will allow people to be dropped off at the midway point of the site, something that is extremely unique for an outdoor concert space.

Another goal relates to the performance space and backstage space for artists and their entourages.  Designers hoped to keep the performance space similar to the original design, being that it was so unique. After several refurbishments, they were unable to salvage the original wood floors on the notoriously low performing stage; however, they were able to give it a bit of a facelift. The stage is set lower than most stages and is constructed of wood, with a turntable in the middle. This allows stage crews to set up two artists at once for events such as festivals.

Backstage, renovations to the dressing rooms and VIP space are finished. There were numerous things that needed to be changed specifically for artists and their entourages. For example, countless artists have been required to rely on tents to act as different amenities, such as the kitchen. The overall new feel of the backstage is pretty modern – everything from the floors, the light fixtures and furniture bring a modern vibe to the venue. Merriweather is also the only concert venue that has a pool for its artists. The backstage also boasts extremely large dressing rooms and VIP spaces fit to cater to the largest of entourages, whether they chose to be indoors or outdoors.

The office space is the most recent project for the renovation team. Doubling as an office space and an adult playground, you’ll find everything from desks and computers, to ski ball, basketball, and Pac-Man. A modern feel is brought to the offices as well, with each office door decorated with the historic artists and bands that have performed there.

Merriweather Post Pavilion is becoming an entertainment mecca in every sense of the word and the 2018 outdoor concert season is expected to be one of the most exciting yet! This was an amazing renovation project executed by JP2 Architects, Howard Hughes Corporation, I.M.P., and the Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission, which will ensure the venue will be relevant for decades to come.

Beacon Awards Finalists Announced!

Congratulations to the following individuals and companies who have been selected as finalists for the 2018 CREWBaltimore Beacon Awards!! They were selected from multiple outstanding nominees for their contributions to the Baltimore commercial real estate market and CREWBaltimore. 

 Member-to-Member Business Award: This award will honor a CREWBaltimore member who consistently demonstrates an extraordinary commitment to marshal CREW talent, resulting in measurable business for other CREW members. This individual exemplifies the power and spirit of CREW, and the award recognizes the collective CREW business completed over the last 24 months as a result of this member’s efforts.

2018 Finalists:

Tammy Baczynskyj, VSC Fire & Security Inc

Polly Houck, Absolute Service Industries, LLC

Amy Lacock, JLL


Chapter Champion Award: This award is given to the company that has, over the last 24 months, made a significant and sustained commitment to CREWBaltimore through the devotion of monetary resources, employee time commitment, and other support.

2018 Finalists:

Cohn Reznick, LLP



Circle of Excellence Award: This award is given to a CREW member or any other person in the Baltimore-area commercial real estate community who consistently embodies CREWBaltimore’s mission and core values of leadership, excellence, influence, advancement, and community.

2018 Finalists:

Joan Renner, The Brick Companies 

Kristen Schrader, KBE Building Corporation

Rookie Member Award – The Dive Right in Award: This award will honor a member who, in the first 2.5 years of membership, has most embraced the CREWBaltimore mission and core values through chapter involvement, member-to-member business, mentoring, and/or career/professional development.

2018 Finalists:

Lindsey Kiefer, Manns Woodward Studios

Toni Prince, The Brick Companies


Community Impact Award: Real estate projects can transform the built environment and have the power to transform and revitalize a community, often beyond the boundaries of the project. The Community Impact Award honors a commercial real estate professional or team that played a pivotal role in a real estate project that was completed or achieved a significant measurable milestone in the last 24 months, and which had a significant and measurable positive impact on the community.

2018 Finalists:

Howard County Nonprofit Center Development Team: including CREW members Abby Glassberg, NAI KLNB; Amy Lacock, JLL; and Cynthia Newman-Lynch, Howard County Housing Commission

Lion Brothers Building Development Team: including CREW member Theresa Stegman, Development Director, Cross Street Partners

R. House Development Team: Seawall Development


Join us at our Preakness-themed Beacon Awards gala being held May 3, 2018 from 6-9pm at The Belvedere Hotel to celebrate with our finalists and find out who will be named as winners! Check out the Beacons page for the latest details surrounding the event.

A huge thanks to the event sponsors whose support makes it all possible!

   JLL: Triple Crown Premier Sponsor Mechanical Systems, Inc.: Black Eyed Susan Cocktail SponsorArris Design Studio: Paddock Networking Sponsor
  Howard Bank: Grandstand Venue Sponsor Altus Group: Actress Award Sponsor CK Commercial: Trifecta Sponsor

         O'Leary Asphalt "Fast Track" Sponsor Ruppert Landscape: Race Day Line Up Program Sponsor  floral sponsor Choice Plantings

All Star Commercial Contracting Services
PCM Services
The Brick Companies
The Stone Store


Winter Leadership Summit 2018

CREW Network posted a recent article featuring the latest CREW Leadership Summit in Tucson, Arizona. Leadership Summits are not just for delegates—outside of chapter leader development, the panelists spoke about leadership and development training that can be useful for each member. In addition to informative seminars, CREW Network also informs members of organization updates. At this summit, attendees were notified that Network will soon be releasing an updated Strategic Plan and that the Gold Standard Playbook is being re-worked. Please enjoy the article below, with one of the photos featuring our President-Elect, Nikkia Fitch of RS&F

CREWBaltimore President-Elect Nikkia Fitch

Read CREW Network’s post here

Influential Women in CRE

CREWBaltimore hosted the “Women of Influence” Luncheon at the Center Club on January 9, 2018. We welcomed back moderator Christine Espenshade, a CREWBaltimore member for six years, and a Managing Director at Jones Lang Lasalle. The panel included Lisa Goodwin, Sr. Vice President of MRP Industrial, Amy Bonitz, President & CEO of Baltimore Arts Realty Corporation, and Caroline Paff, Vice President of Sagamore Development. The women covered topics that are beneficial to all women in the industry and also discussed the results found in CREW Network’s White Paper on gender bias and other barriers for women in the CRE industry.

All three panelists noted that they did not originally plan on getting into the commercial real estate field, but that they were successful at the start of their careers due to the mentors they sought out.  Mentors are important at all stages of your career, and can help determine your career plan.  Knowing where you want to end up will help you seek out the opportunities and challenges that will positively impact your career and set you up for advancement. Goodwin revealed that taking advantage of “sink or swim” opportunities propelled her forward in her career path. Mentors would provide guidance, but she found that she learned more when she was in the depths of these challenges. Paff mentioned that while opportunities are important in gaining traction to move forward, so is the support system around you. Your mentor will give you the balance of both support and opportunity. Bonitz confirmed that you must set up your parameters and guard them, and she also noted that sometimes you must “hit the shark in the nose and take charge of an intimidating situation.  If you take responsibility for your own progress, stand up for your ideas or projects and exude confidence in your ability to get the job done, you will be more likely to earn the respect of your peers.

Growing your career over time does not come without diligence. Goodwin discussed how personal accountability and being responsible for your own growth will help you move up the ladder in your career. She also noted that when you love what you do, love who you are doing it with, and you feel that you are a valued team member, you are more likely to choose to continue in that particular career. Putting in the extra hours is sometimes inevitable in the commercial real estate field; however, “you have to challenge yourself to be resilient,” added Espenshade. “If you are feeling alone in your [work life balance] situation, then find women in similar life situations to [talk to]”, and get input about your own situation, shared Paff.

Do not let your failures isolate you; talking about them with others will allow you to grow from these experiences. “All business women have experienced failures of some sort in their career” said Paff. Bonitz added that a deal sometimes dies fifteen times before it lives, and the team she has put together at her firm always remains positive and looks at how they can learn from each situation. In order to have the team remain positive and motivated to move forward it is important to have a vision that everyone wants to see brought to fruition. Goodwin followed up with noting that most of the time mistakes are made when you are involved in the unknown, and you can learn and grow from them. The ability to get back on the field and resume play is how you will determine your success moving forward.

The panel also had a chance to discuss workplace diversity. Paff suggested providing a written pathway as a way to hold everyone accountable to deliver on the promises made when you are first hired. Goodwin shared that over the years she has never seen it as men vs. women, but one team working towards an end goal. She also added that women bring an emotional balance to their team and their successes. Women play an integral role in commercial real estate, and the panelists provided insightful commentary and real-life experiences when asked questions by the audience members at the end of the event. We appreciate their willingness to share their experiences with us at this event.

Please join us on April 11 for our next Center Club luncheon about the State of the State!

Beacon Award Nominations

Beacon Award Nominations Deadline Extended

The Beacons Committee has been diligently working to pull off the biggest and best awards gala to date for CREWBaltimore. Save the Date now for May 3, 2018 from 6-9pm!  If you enjoyed specialty cocktails served in beakers & selfies with the MD Science Center dinosaur at our last #CREWBeacons, you won’t want to miss what we have planned for the upcoming Preakness-themed Gala.

We have already begun receiving nominations for the five (5) award categories BUT we need YOUR help to make this the most exclusive list of finalists in Baltimore commercial real estate.

What better compliment can you give a client, prospect or colleague than an award nomination? This is an opportunity to recognize and support the remarkable work of the admirable professionals in our market.

Nominate TODAY- the online portal will close at 5pm EST on January 15, 2018 and all finalists will be announced at an upcoming CREW event. Click here to make a nomination.

Check out the Beacons tab above for the latest details surrounding the event or additional information relating to the award categories criteria
Thanks to the event sponsors whose support makes it all possible!
There are still a few sponsorships available here



2018 President’s Letter

FROM THE PRESIDENT’S DESK                                                                     January 2, 2018
Karyn Tasker
Audit Manager
CohnReznick, LLP

2018 CREWBaltimore – The Year Ahead

Welcome to 2018! I am excited to be your CREW Baltimore President for 2018.

CREWBaltimore is making some changes this year that we hope will provide a better experience for our members.
     • We realize schedules are hectic and last year many of our luncheons conflicted with other events. This year we are moving many of our luncheons and programs to Tuesday or Wednesday in an attempt to reduce conflicts. You can find our full calendar of events in 2018 here.
     • We’ve also changed up the order of some of our program topics. We know you are accustomed to seeing our State of the State luncheon in January. We have moved this topic to the April luncheon in order to invite speakers who are unavailable in January.
While change is good, there are some old habits we want to keep going in 2018.
     • CREWBaltimore has met the CREW Foundation Chapter Challenge for the last two years! This means the Chapter donated at least $1,000 to Foundation, 100% of our board members donated and at least 50% of our members donated. A giant Thank You to all of our members who donated and made this a reality. I ask you to consider helping CREWBaltimore make it a three-peat in 2018. CREW Foundation provides scholarships to real estate students each year. There are several ways to donate. You can add a donation to the Greatest Needs Fund when you register for one of our chapter events, you can use the envelopes provided at each event, or you can go to CREW Network’s Foundation webpage to donate. No amount is too small. It all adds up to make a big difference. Thank you.
     • CREW Baltimore retained 83% of our members last year. The Membership Committee hopes to increase our retention percentage for 2018 and meet CREW Network’s Gold Standard of 85%. We value the knowledge of the various fields of commercial real estate each of our members brings to the Chapter and want to provide great networking opportunities for all.

One way to get the most out of your CREW Baltimore membership is to become involved in a committee. Each month you will have the opportunity to meet with other committee members to build relationships and volunteer for tasks that will help you grow your leadership skills. If you are interested in joining a committee or want to find out more about what is involved, please feel free to contact me at or President-Elect Nikkia Fitch at You may also reach out to our 2018 committee chairs or co-chairs, you can find a list of them here.

Lastly, I want to encourage everyone to attend our Beacon Awards on May 3, 2018 where we will recognize and celebrate the amazing contributions and achievements our members and companies in the local market have made during the last two years.

Please feel free to reach out to me directly with any questions, comments, concerns.

Best Wishes,

Karyn Tasker
Audit Manager
CohnReznick, LLP

Member Spotlight: Maggie Witherup

Name: Margaret “Maggie” Witherup 

Company, Position and brief job description:
Member/Partner of Gordon Feinblatt, LLC. Environmental & Energy Attorney. I help developers, builders, businesses and property owners solve environmental challenges with property they own or want to develop.

How long have you been a CREW Member? 3 years

What was the experience or motivating factor that compelled you to join CREWBaltimore? Was there someone who influenced you to join? I was initially attracted to CREW through its excellent programs and events. I attended a few events over the years and was always impressed by the useful content as well as the people that I met at the events. Everyone I meet is an experienced commercial real estate professional and a useful connection for me and my clients.
List any CREWBaltimore positions held or committees you have been a part of: Programs Committee for 3 years; now serving as Co-General Counsel for CREW, along with my partner Michele Walsh.

In your experience, what makes CREW unique from other organizations?
CREW combines outstanding substantive programming with a variety of networking opportunities to help women in all aspects of commercial real estate make connections and help each other grow their careers. CREW is better organized than some other organizations and has an established track record of successful events and connections.

Have you done business with another CREW member, locally or nationally?
Yes, locally.

What 3 business tips can you share with others?
1. Always do your best work. 2. Treat each client as if s/he is the most important person in your life, e.g., your mother or your spouse 3. Be a good listener.

What is one trait you wish all female leaders could cultivate?
Self-promotion without shame. Growing up we are taught to be modest and humble, but we should not be afraid to promote ourselves and our accomplishments.

What is your favorite app or social media outlet and why?
Facebook has been a fun way to reconnect with classmates and stay in touch with friends and colleagues.

What is your dream vacation spot and why?
I would love to go to Italy for the food, wine, scenery, art, and old-world history

What is your guilty pleasure (TV show, sweet treat, etc.)?
A handful of Brookside dark chocolate balls after dinner.

What do you do in your spare time? Provide a fun fact about yourself.
As with many lawyers, I am really a frustrated thespian who was not talented enough to make it on Broadway and had to go to law school instead. I enjoyed performing in shows in high school, college, & in law school where I founded the American University Washington College of Law “Law Revue” which performed full-length student written and performed musical comedies where we changed the words to popular show tunes, wrote a play around them, and got professors to make cameo appearances. It was a lot of work, but tremendous fun and stress relief. Then I got a job, had kids, etc. and didn’t do any theater for 20 years until I got into a community theater show 2 years ago when I was in Charm City Players’ The Music Man with my daughter.

Goucher College Construction Tour

Goucher College hosted a construction tour for CREWBaltimore members and guests on November 9, 2017. Founded over 125 years ago, the college was an all women’s college prior to becoming co-educational in 1986. While also striving for academic excellence, Goucher is focused on fostering a close-knit community with the new construction on campus. All of the projects discussed focus on bringing students together.

For example, extensive studies were done to find the perfect location for the Mary Fisher Dining Hall. In its new location, the dining hall is centrally located between all of the dorms – all students walk past it during the day. The hope is for the dining hall to become a hub of activity and interaction on campus.

Studies were also done prior to designing the new First Year Village. Using the results of behavioral science, architects Ayers Saint Gross designed the rooms to be smaller, and the lounges to have faster Wi-Fi, to encourage students to leave their rooms and mingle in the centrally located lounges on each floor. The laundry facilities are located on the first floor, with all glass walls, to encourage student interaction there as well.

Goucher College is also dedicated to sustainability. That’s why instead of building three new dormitories (Froelicher Hall) on a new quad across campus, they decided to move the 1,200-ton buildings over 500 feet to their new location. This was one of the largest and fastest building relocations to ever take place on a college campus. Goucher’s approach to preserve and re-use the existing student housing was recognized by Maryland’s The Daily Record and was again named “Innovator of the Year.”

In addition to these larger construction projects on campus, the equestrian facilities and field will be upgraded (new tennis center, turf field, and fitness/pilates center), the existing interfaith center will be relocated next to the existing chapel on campus to host a multi-faith prayer room, and a 35,000 sf addition will be added to the Hoffberger Science Building to create a lab and learning spaces.

To see more photos from the event, please visit our gallery here. To read more about the ongoing construction, you can follow Goucher’s blog:

Member Spotlight: Katherine Pinkard

Name: Katherine Pinkard

Company, Position and brief job description: Pinkard Properties, President, I run our woman-owned commercial real estate services firm.

How long have you been a CREW Member? Since 2012

What was the experience or motivating factor that compelled you to join CREW Baltimore? Was there someone who influenced you to join? As soon as I transitioned from the finance world to the commercial real estate industry I immediately sought out a women-in-business group, and CREW is the top of that list in our industry! My father and male business partner actually strongly encouraged me to join to grow my network and connections with other women in the business.

List any CREWBaltimore positions held or committees you have been a part of. I’ve spoken on a CREW panel before.

What do you think makes a good mentor and have you established any mentoring relationships through CREW? I think people think a mentor has to be older than you and fit into a certain box, but I disagree with that. I think women may miss out on mentor opportunities that come from unexpected places. I’m lucky to have both mentors internally and externally. My father, for one, and I’ve got a wonderful female mentor outside of my industry who has been a guiding force and been an advocate for me in my career. I also have a very strong group of female peers and colleagues in the field, who I consider to be my mentors as well. We all get together to support and mentor each other. I think I have developed a great peer-to-peer mentoring network of women through CREW.

What do you do in your spare time? Tell us a fun fact about yourself. I love to horseback ride. I grew up on a farm with horses in my backyard and have ridden since I was a little girl. I’m an equestrian for life!

What 3 business tips can you share with others? (1) Just show up. You’re never going to know everything, be perfect, or get a home run every time, but if you don’t show up in the first place you won’t get anywhere. You never know what might come of an opportunity or relationship.  (2) Take advantage of technology – there are so many apps and programs (many of them free!) to make you more efficient and smarter. Evernote is a favorite of mine. (3) Don’t be intimidated. There are a lot of big egos in this business. You’re good at what you do and work hard, so go take your seat at the table!

What is your favorite app or social media outlet? Instagram – I love seeing how people use a snapshot to tell a story. I could get lost for hours exploring hashtags – especially relating to historic architecture and old buildings.

If you could spend the day with one celebrity, who would it be and why? Definitely author Ayn Rand (you didn’t say he/she had to be living!) because her Objectivist philosophy is a big guiding factor in my life. Her Atlas Shrugged character Dagny Taggart is my spirit animal.

What is your dream vacation spot? Kiawah Island, South Carolina – it’s quiet and peaceful. It’s a great place to go to disconnect from everyday life and enjoy the beach.

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