Sponsor Spotlight: Allsafe Elevator Inspections


How long have you been a CREWBaltimore member or member company?

Theresa Tsamoutalis and Allsafe Elevator Inspections joined in 2011.

In 2-3 sentences, what do you want CREWBaltimore members to know about your company?

I am very proud of Allsafe. In 2009 when I was 27, I started the company in the very small basement of a home in Canton that I rented with 3 other roommates. Now in 2020 along with a much larger management team, we have 5 offices and we perform inspections and consulting work across the country.  

What the benefits of women supporting women in the CRE industry?

The benefits are momentous. If we help each other along the way, the journey is easier for us together and then easier for those also along the path. Breaking through the “glass” ceiling alone does not have the long-term impact if you are not leading others behind you. Ultimately, it also makes work more fun and rewarding.

Best book or article you’ve read that had you fired up to take on the day/week/year at work?

A Daily Devotional by Father Barnabas Powell:

(https://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/faithencourageddaily)- and you do not need to be a Greek Orthodox Christian to enjoy it!

Every morning, I read this reflection and it helps set the tone for my day or helps me reset nervous energy or anxiousness.

Which CREWBaltimore event are you most excited about this year?

CREWMates!!!! I think this program will be a game changer. It is so many things, yet so simple. It’s a mastermind alliance, a small group network, a think tank, and professional & personal support group within CREWBaltimore. What will come of these small groups is professional development no matter where you are in your career. Per the White Paper, those later in their career need this support the most. We will do this while having fun too because ultimately life is too short not to have fun and have a few laughs.

Bridging the Housing Gap Overview

CREWBaltimore hosted more than 85 attendees at the Bridging the Housing Gap Luncheon on September 10, 2019. Guest speakers included Kelly Cantley of Bozzuto Construction Company, Liz Henderson of Greystar, Christine Madigan of Enterprise Homes and Scott Zimmerly of Woods Partners. The panel was moderated by CREWBaltimore member, Christine Espenshade.

The Baltimore multifamily market has seen significant growth in the past 6-7 years with nearly 2 million square feet of antiquated office buildings converted to apartments during that time. There are currently 7,000 new units coming online in the next 35 months. Nearly 3,600 units have absorbed in the past 12 months, and rents have grown 2.6% in the same time period. Investors and developers believe strongly that supply will match demand in this cycle, unlike how 2015 saw negative absorption due to a large influx of units to the market.

Liberty in Harbor East is one of the newest developments by The Bozzuto Group and H&S Properties which features 282 units for rent and 35 condominiums. Condominiums have traditionally not sold as quickly in Baltimore, which is very much a “Rowhome” city, but investors believe that trend is turning. Condo owners enjoy the same amenities as their renter neighbors, which include shared office space, dog parks, Peloton bikes, fire pits, swimming pools, and more. Other notable projects include the 267-unit Alta Federal Hill project planned on S. Hanover Street by Woods Partners. The Wheelhouse project developed by 28 Walker recently opened in Federal Hill and is Baltimore’s first co-living apartment building consisting of 2 – 4 bedroom units that are available for rent by the bedroom. The concept has been successful in other markets like San Francisco and Philadelphia, with the hope that it is equally well received in the Baltimore Market.

Affordable housing in Baltimore has traditionally been viewed in a negative light due to often dilapidated conditions. However, organizations like Enterprise Homes seeks to reinvent what affordable housing looks like. Metro Heights at Mondawmin is a 70-unit building, 63 of which are Affordable. The building boasts amenities such as a club room, business center, fitness room, yoga studio, below-grade parking and is LEED Gold. With the assistance of tax credits and City and State funding, the result is an apartment building that has the same sleek design as other new apartment developments, and is a place residents are proud to call home.

CREW Convention Recap 2019

Over the past quarter, members of our Board had the opportunity to attend the 2019 CREW Network Convention and CREW Network Leadership Summit. Events provided a wealth of knowledge, incredible speakers and amazing networking opportunities.

At the CREW Network Convention, Carey Lohrenz, the first female F-14 Tomcat Fighter Pilot in the U.S. Navy and author of “Fearless Leadership”, spoke about topics of preparation, teamwork, and opportunities.  Fundamentally, relentless preparation will allow you and your team to face new challenges.  Great teams are based on belief and trust.  You may be nervous, but you will always default to your lowest denominator: your training.  If you are too afraid of failure, you may pass up great opportunities.  In the end, it is your ability to recover from failure that matters the most.

At the CREW Network Leadership Summit, Debra Fine, author of “The Fine Art of Small Talk” discussed better ways to connect with people.  She encouraged the audience to dig deeper, ask more specific questions, and be good listeners.  Specific to CREW Network, she related this message to making our new members feel welcome and included.

Other sessions focused further on successful networking.  Changing up the format and location of our networking sessions to include lunch and learns, board-hosted calls, webinars, deliberate discussions about member-to-member business opportunities and getting people involved in even a single event could enhance our networking success.

Commercial real estate discussions highlighted emerging trends.  In leasing, tenants and employees are looking for “the experience”.  The amenities that come along with the job, building, and location are key.  Natural light, personal climate control, on-site coffee bars, and nearby shopping and food options all contribute to a positive perception.  Considerations for E-commerce and deliveries, and mobility issues including parking are also at the forefront of these conversations.

Our CREWBaltimore Board of Directors encourages each of you look for opportunities to participate in local, regional, and national CREW events to broaden your knowledge base, leadership skills and connections.  While your business may be local, your network can be global!

Member Spotlight: Rebecca Reeves

Name, Job Title, Company: Rebecca Reeves, National Quality Manager at The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company

Brief Job Description: Rebecca Reeves is a National Quality Manager at The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company – a multi-billion-dollar construction organization with a reputation for excellence since 1909. With over 19 years in the construction industry, Rebecca’s current role includes developing policy and resources related to quality on a national level. Beyond the tangible resources, Rebecca especially enjoys providing training and fostering connections and alignment that lead to the success of others and enhance a culture of proactive quality.  Rebecca has completed various types of construction projects throughout the Mid-Atlantic region with a special focus in healthcare construction and interior fit-outs. Her extensive experience includes close to 2,000,000 SF in completed projects.  Personally, Rebecca is a full-time wife and sports mom.

How long have you been a CREW member?  7 years.

What was the experience or motivating factor that compelled you to join CREW Baltimore?  Was there someone who influenced you to join?  In an effort to expand my professional network, I visited several Baltimore organizations.  I felt so welcomed at the first CREW Baltimore luncheon I attended.  It was the friendly atmosphere, along with an immediate connection made with Tara Herbert (who became my membership sponsor) that encouraged me to become active in CREW Baltimore.

List any CREW Baltimore positions you have held or committees you have been a part of. 

Beacons Committee 2014 – present

Board of Directors, Director at Large 2018 – present

PR Committee 2019 – present

In your experience, what makes CREW unique from other organizations?

In addition to the open, friendly atmosphere at CREW, the variety of events, including the topics, locations, times, and formats is unique to CREW Baltimore.  There is always an event with a relevant topic or convenient location and time to choose from.  With formats ranging from panel discussions to training/educational opportunities to social networking events and more, everyone can choose the events that are most applicable and beneficial to them.

What advice do you have for women pursuing careers in CRE?

Ask questions.  You don’t know what you don’t know, and the only way to become proficient and respected is to ask questions, listen and learn.  In my experience, people – particularly trades people – take great pride in their work and want to share what they know with somebody who is interested.  Carry yourself with confidence, and approach conflicts directly.  Ignoring a problem will rarely result in the desired resolution.  Don’t strive to be the best woman in your field, strive to be the best.  Period.

What do you think makes a good mentor?

To me, a good mentor is anybody that can provide advice and guidance on a particular topic or area of expertise.  A mentor does not necessarily have to be older or more experienced overall, and a shared experience or background helps to cement the connection. 

What is your dream vacation spot and why? My dream vacation spot is anywhere we can find a new adventure.  My family and I are on a quest to see the 50 states and have visited 23 of the 50 in the last 5 years.  You won’t find us lounging on the beach.  Finding the best hiking spot, touring a local attraction, attending a sporting event, or testing out a local restaurant is more our speed.  We are working on tentative plans to visit New Zealand in 2021.

What do you do in your spare time?  The majority of our spare time is spent shuttling our kids, Zach and Addie, to and from their activities.  Their activities include ice hockey, cross country, lacrosse, cheer, dance, basketball, softball and Girl Scouts, and on any given day it is not unusual for us to have 3 or more commitments (yes, we only have 2 kids…)!  Personally, my hobbies include antique trucks and beekeeping.  Ask me next summer if my bees have survived the winter and if we have any honey!

What is your favorite app or social media outlet and why?

Facebook is my favorite social media outlet because I can easily share our photos with family and friends with minimal effort!

CREWBaltimore State of Retail Luncheon

CREWBaltimore hosted another successful luncheon on the State of Retail at McCormick & Schmick’s on July 16, 2019. CREWBaltimore member Dawn Sangley of Spry Design moderated the panel, whose members consisted of Arsh Mirmiran of Caves Valley Partners, Judy Neff of Checkerspot Brewing Company, Alex Smith of Atlas Restaurant Group, and Claudia Towles of aMuse Toys, all companies local to the Baltimore area.

Sangley started off the conversation by talking about how urban design and commercial real estate need retail. While offices energize the city during the day and housing strengthens the city at night, retail helps sustain both and activates the streetscape. While some retail is struggling, there are brick and mortar retail locations that are thriving. These businesses are keystones in our communities, creating a sense of place and generating interest. So how are our panelist’s companies attracting consumers given the competition from e-commerce? For all these companies, it’s about providing something that customers can’t get online. For Neff, they must have events, like live music, that draw people in. Being dog-friendly also helps draw a crowd. Smith concurred, saying that “people are going out for more than just food, they are going for an experience.” For Towles, the challenge came with how her retail toy store could compete against the convenience of online retailers for busy parents, as 39% of online shoppers say speed is the largest factor for choosing to purchase online over at a brick and mortar location. She said that since they have a lot of STEM toys, they have learning workshops for either just the child or the parent and the child to learn together, something not available online.

As far as development, Mirmiran has had success with “taking stable areas and pushing their edges.” This helps stabilize the city and promote future growth. There is a movement toward more urban development with “many people [who] still prefer living in the urban environment,” he said. In fact, Sangley mentioned that 56% of online shoppers still appreciate the in-person experience over digital retailers. Which might be why e-commerce, like Bonobos, Warby Parker, and Amazon have all opened brick and mortar locations. To address security concerns with some of those “urban edge” locations, Smith recommends hiring a private security company and having a presence on the ground. Valet service is usually a good way to ensure your customers feel safe and provides for a more leisurely experience.

How do each of these companies reduce their impact on the environment and give back to the community? For the local brewery, Checkerspot Brewing Company recycles containers and their spent grain goes to local cattle farmers. Additionally, they also use local fruit in some of their beer and host dog-focused events for BARCS. Smith said Atlas Restaurant Group also works with local farmers, donates to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and takes employees to do a yearly cleanup event.

Each of these companies also utilizes technology to enhance the shopping experience. For aMuse Toys, they have a rewards program that tracks purchases and gives recommendations to the consumer based on those purchases. Similarly, Atlas Restaurant Group uses analytics that tracks guest visits and orders. These analytics help the wait staff to give better recommendations and adds a special experience for the guest that they might not have with a food delivery service. Smith said they have also found that the personal outreach, like a card or a call back, ensures that the guest has a positive interaction with the restaurant. Neff agreed, saying that the staff at Checkerspot make concerted efforts to interact with guests. And some of that interaction is online, as they are very active on social media and use that as their promotional platform. Studies show that 40% of business owners are using social media to generate sales, and that 23% of consumers say that recommendations on social media influence their buying decisions.

The brick and mortar retail experience is not disappearing. As long as companies are adaptable and willing to put in the extra effort and innovation to draw in customers, they will likely see a return on their investment.

To see more event photos, click here.

Chapter Challenge Vs. Annual Golf Tournament….and why the Outreach Committee needs YOUR help

First and foremost, our Chapter is strategically made up of the cream of the crop women (and the men that support them) in the Baltimore commercial real estate industry. We have proven over the years to have some extremely generous donors within our network; not only financially but with time, knowledge, intellectual capital and other resources. This is such a vital aspect for the success of our organization.

The mission of the CREWBaltimore Outreach Committee is to make a lasting positive impact on the local community with an emphasis on the commercial real estate industry AND professional women –we do this through scholarship, mentoring workshops, career fairs, endowments and tangible donations. Throughout the year, the Outreach committee engages the membership for participation in a few initiatives. You may wonder, “What is the difference between the donations being asked for?”.

Network Foundation & the Chapter Challenge:

The CREW Network Foundation raises funds to support programs that attract women and girls to the CRE industry, building a talent pipeline. It is also the only Foundation solely dedicated towards advancing women in CRE globally. Thousands of dollars are used each year towards scholarships, industry research and career outreach efforts as outlined here.

This fund is held at the national level but each individual Chapter within CREW Network is challenged annually with three goals to help support the overall fund.

  1. Get 100% of your chapter’s board to give an individual donation
  2. Get 50% of your chapter’s membership to give an individual donation
  3. Chapter gives an organizational donation of $1,000 or more

Our Chapter has achieved this Trifecta for the past four consecutive years and been nationally recognized at the CREW Network Annual Convention. In 2019, we have donated $5,281 towards making a difference for generations to come of women in CRE!!

Annual Golf Tournament (10/3/19 at Diamond Ridge Golf Course):

The Outreach committee works diligently each year to identify 1) philanthropy efforts that support our mission and 2) partnerships with local schools and organizations which allow us the opportunity to help students become future leaders & raise awareness about careers in CRE.

The golf tournament is a fun filled day with raffles, Chinese auction, contests and of course a round of golf followed by a catered lunch. You do NOT need to be a CREW member to participate, so sign up your whole office, your best friends, your vendors and guys in CRE who are shy about attending other CREW events for a golf foursome (or multiple) at our October tournament!

The funds generated by this tournament are the sole funding for our upcoming year Outreach budget and determines how much we will be able to give back in 2020. So please, sign up today, sponsor, donate quality items for the auction and help promote the event to make it our most successful yet!! (René Carter is currently collecting Chinese auction items and she will pick-up items you wish to donate. You may reach her at rcarter@urinow.com; 443-610-2200.)

How your donations were deployed in 2019….

  • UCREW event w JHU Carey Business School-live panel discussion for graduate level students—most pursuing MBAs or Master’s degrees in real estate, finance, risk management, or marketing. The panel discussion gave the students a glimpse into four major sectors of the commercial real estate industry: finance, consulting, development, and property & asset management. Panelists (made up of CREW members) discussed their career paths and respective sectors, provided insight about their experiences as women in CRE, and discussed major trends and challenges in real estate today.
  • Sponsorship and Participation in Junior Achievement of Central MD: 1) Leading Ladies event connects businesswomen and outstanding female high school students in the Baltimore area to celebrate successes, develop talents, capture new opportunities and inspire the next generation of women leaders. The event celebrates the power of women at various ages and stages of life, and inspires participants with increased knowledge and confidence to further their career goals and network building. Through presentations, table discussions and interactive student/mentor activities, the event stays true to the hands-on JA philosophy of providing real-world experiences that help youth create an aspiration and plan for their futures.,  2) Her Path to Promise event– summer program at Towson University that creates pathways for young women by providing exposure to female mentors, college campuses, career opportunities, hands-on activities, and other experiences to begin the process of preparing for a successful life after graduation from high school. Through networking, one-on-one mentoring, mock interviews, resume building, and personal branding guidance from female professionals, the young women apply these skills to secure a job or internship on the final day during the career fair expo, which features local employers from a variety of industries., and 3) BizTown- is a very unique experience that offers 4th – 6th grade students the experience of running BizTown, a simulated city of businesses. Volunteers assist in a coaching capacity to encourage students to collaborate and use critical thinking skills to run a business.
  • Sponsorship of University of Baltimore Real Estate & Economic Development “Lessons from Legends” event –Students of the UB Merrick School of Business, alumni and friends had an opportunity to learn from Baltimore’s most influential and successful business leaders about their experiences, career paths, successes and challenges.
  • My Sisters Place: a center that provides three meals a day and access to services such as case management, education and job training for women in Baltimore City. 1) Provided purses stuffed w/necessities to graduates of the “Learn to Earn” internship program, 2)Delivered 100+ bags filled w/toiletries and supplies for the women of the center 3) will participate in a “Day of Service” in October- a group will serve lunch at the facility
  • Student Membership Scholarship to Cheryl Williams, a grad student at JHU
  • Sponsored Camp NAWIC– a week long construction camp for girls grades 7-12 introducing to a variety of areas within the construction field
  • Endowment provided to JHU towards a student scholarship

Your participation is greatly appreciated to allow our Chapter to continue to make an impact in the areas we have deemed in line with our strategic mission. If you would like to learn more, suggest a cause,  or are interested in joining the Outreach committee, please contact Co-Chairs Tammy Baczynskyj  at TBaczynskyj@vscfire.com or Amanda Hill at ahill@clny.com . There are many opportunities throughout the year for members to participate in single day events as well. Keep an eye out in the newsletters and the Outreach page of the blog.  Thanks again for your continued support!

Learn to Earn at My Sisters’ Place

On April 30th, CREWBaltimore Outreach Committee members Polly Houck, Absolute Service Industries & Tammy Baczynskj, VSC Fire & Security Inc. coordinated and delivered purses filled with necessities to the seven women graduating from the 2018/2019 session of Learn to Earn at My Sisters’ Place.

Learn to Earn is a six-month internship program that prepares women for careers in various fields through direct training. Following completion of the curriculum, job placement assistance is provided for graduates.

“It was very inspiring to see these wonderful ladies graduate and go on with their new adventures in life,” said Tammy. “Family members being there to support the ladies in addition to the support that My Sisters’ Place has given them to achieve this, is extremely instrumental to them.”

My Sisters’ Place has been a philanthropic partner of CREWBaltimore since 2017. The Center, sponsored by Catholic Charities of Baltimore, provides three meals a day and access to services such as case management, education and job training for women in Baltimore City.

CREWBaltimore continues to support My Sisters’ Place through ongoing donations of travel-sized toiletries and personal care items. The Outreach committee plans to provide a “Christmas in July” next month for the organization, so please considering making a donation today. Donations are being collected at the registration table at all CREWBaltimore events throughout the year. Members can also participate in the drive by making a direct contribution of items through the Amazon Wishlist HERE.

Member Spotlight: Kelli Rivera

Name, Job Title, Company: Kelli Rivera, Senior General Manager at JLL, guru of all (most) things property management.

How long have you been a CREWBaltimore Member? 3.5 years

What was the experience or motivating factor that compelled you to join CREWBaltimore?Was there someone who influenced you to join? My supervisor at JLL was the President of the Chapter at the time (Amy Lacock) and encouraged me to attend a lunch and learn. This event was the Women of Influence panel and I was charged and ready to be a part of a great organization after attending.

List any CREWBaltimore positions held or committees you have been a part of.

  • Sponsorship Committee – Director
  • Sponsorship Committee – Co-Chair Person
  • Outreach Committee – Member

Have you done business with another CREW member, locally or nationally? I have done business with MANY CREW members. To name a few, Infinity Restoration, Mona Electric, AllSafe Elevator, Arris Design, and Sentral Services. It is the connections that are made at CREW events that allow every member an opportunity to be successful. I can make that statement for both my personal life and professional life.

What 3 business tips can you share with others? The 3 business tips that I can share are: 1. Try, try, try again; 2. A bad failure can turn into a good success; 3. The worst someone can say is “no” – you will never know unless you ask.

What is one trait you wish all female leaders could cultivate? One trait that I wish all female leaders could cultivate is personal assurance. All too often we, females, do not have faith in our own abilities, yet have all the faith in others.

What do you do in your spare time? In my “spare” time I like to do high energy, adrenaline and outdoor activities with my kids. I especially love to go on a hike where cell service is sketchy – the ability to disconnect from outside world is key when involved in such a fast-past working environment.

If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the Title should be? Why did you select this title? She who wears many hats. The title is pretty explanatory: mother, wife, business owner, sister, daughter, boss, friend, co-worker. (Just to name a few)

What is your guilty pleasure? My guilty pleasure is sweets. I love making them. I love eating them. My daughter and I frequently watch baking challenges and try to re-create the items.

CREWBaltimore State of Our State Luncheon

Following a warm welcome by CREWBaltimore President Nikkia Fitch, our annual sponsors were thanked, including the event sponsor Miles & Stockbridge.  Michele Cohen, Principal at Miles & Stockbridge spoke on behalf of her firm.

To kick off the discussion Adrienne Jones, Speaker Pro Tem/Delegate of the Maryland House of Delegates – 10th District, provided highlights of the 2019 session.  She noted that the House and Senate have 61 new members this year and several standing committees.  The 2019 focus has been on education through the Kirwan Commission, and on balancing the budget.  Speaker Pro Tem Jones encouraged CREWBaltimore members to visit the House Floor and participate in dialog with the policy committees.  She stated that “women play a critical role in this assembly this year” and noted that several current committee Chairs and Vice-Chairs are women.

Spencer Levy, Chairman of Americas Research and Senior Economic Advisor at CBRE then led a lively discussion about the economic state of Maryland, and specifically the Baltimore region.  After stating that he believes the three pillars of a region’s success are money, talent, and infrastructure, the discussion focused on these areas.

Economically, Speaker Pro Tem Jones noted a vast divergence in the Baltimore region with drastic highs and lows.  The region boasts strengths in urbanization, revitalization based on historical manufacturing origins, and added suburban revitalization in areas such as Columbia, Annapolis and Towson.  A discussion that began with the struggles surrounding employment and hiring quickly turned the topic from economics to education.

Mary Ann Scully, CEO of Howard Bank, Speaker Pro Tem Jones, and Levy all leaned toward support and services for families as having the greatest impact on education reform.  While college is not for everyone, the Kirwan Commission aims for every student to be college or career ready by 10th grade, and not lacking in fundamental skills such as literacy and math.  Scully noted that Howard Bank is currently putting funds into work-force development, and skills that are not on a resume, such as curiosity, are also important.  Levy suggested that economic integration within our public-school systems is the answer, stating that “we should do everything possible to give every kid a shot”.  This sentiment was backed by both the panelists and the audience.

While infrastructure was a lesser discussed topic, transportation seemed to be the key.  Neither Scully or Speaker Pro Tem Jones backed the idea of a hyperloop between Baltimore and Washington, D.C.  Scully stated that there are too many other mass transit issues that need to be addressed first.  Ultimately, the region needs to prepare for behavioral changes in how and where people want to live and work.

Levy, a consummate moderator, added light-hearted banter to the discussion by encouraging Speaker Pro Tem Jones and Scully to share their music and television preferences (Speaker Pro Tem Jones prefers R&B music and T.V. mysteries, while Scully likes Aretha Franklin and the band Chicago and watches Game of Thrones and Midsomer Murders with her family).  With predictions from both panelists for a recession and a woman in Presidential power in the near future, the discussion came to a close and was opened for a series of questions and answers.