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Women leaders of Howard Hughes


Around a virtual table at The Howard Hughes Corporation, women leaders reflected on their jobs in commercial real estate, the challenges they face, and what they tell other women who want to break into the industry.

Tonja Potter, senior manager of Design and Construction Management, feels fortunate to have worked where her professional growth was supported.

Potter said it was a challenge to gain the experience and confidence to excel.

Tonja Potter (left), Carol Dooney and Karen Cherry. Photo by Stephen Cherry.

“I would feel like my work was not good enough and dwell on my mistakes and decisions,” she said. “II learned to be prepared, ask questions, admit what I didn’t know, pursue the answers and treat others and myself with respect.”

Commercial real estate, which previously had the reputation of being a “boy’s club,” has increasingly become a sector of choice for women.

By 2019, women held 43 percent of commercial real estate jobs worldwide, though there are still significant gender gaps in executive positions and salaries.

Organizations for women in the industry, like CREW Network, hold an important role in helping the next generation of women become future leaders in commercial real estate, particularly in architecture and construction.

“Breaking through in the architecture and engineering side was the traditional path for women who were interested in the industry. Women being leaders on the construction side has only recently started to move forward,” said Carol Dooney, director of Design and Construction Management. “Even still it harkens to a very ‘patriarchal’ system.”

Karen Cherry, vice president of Office Leasing, refers to Potter and Dooney as “rock stars.”

When Cherry entered the commercial real estate brokerage world more than 20 years ago, there were not a lot of women in the industry.

“I had to navigate this new business without a lot of female mentors who I could look up to,” she said. “However, I was fortunate to have found some really great mentors and partners – both male and female – along the way.”

She now believes it’s all in how you look at the challenges.

“Being one of the few women in the business immediately set me apart from the majority of other commercial real estate brokers,” she said.

It’s still not an equal work world by any means, added Dooney, naming the challenges she still faces every day including “being a voice in the room. Being compensated at the same levels as men in the equivalent position.”

Cherry chimed in that inequalities are immediately apparent.

“Once I began working for a commercial real estate developer, I realized that it’s not just a problem in the brokerage community. There is still room for improvement when it comes to diversity and equal representation at the highest levels of the commercial real estate industry,” she said.

All three serve as mentors for other women in the industry, a role they see as vital for the future.

Potter advises young women to get involved with a related organization that interests them.

“The industry seems to be more unstable now, and the more people you know the easier it is to find opportunities, plus it’s a great way to learn,” she said.

Dooney advises planning, journaling and setting short- and long-term goals.

“Think on paper,” she said. “The desire to do everything electronically doesn’t support those moments of ‘think time’ in goal setting.”

She suggests writing two, five, ten and even 20-year goals. “It’s even more challenging today for young women who will work their whole lives,” she said. “Many women working today will never be full-time homemakers at any point in their lives.”

All three women at Howard Hughes said women need to support each other as they grow their careers.

“As senior women in the commercial real estate field, we also must understand the challenges faced by the next generation of women so that we can support their development into the future leaders of our industry,” said Dooney.

Cherry, who clearly loves her job, said she’s still learning every day.

“My advice would be to always be open to learning from your experiences no matter how junior or senior you might be in your position,” she said. “And don’t take yourself too seriously – life is fun, and your career should be enjoyable, too!

Susan Kim | Staff Writer | The Business Monthly | July 2020 Issue

Howard County to kick off Restaurant & Craft Beverages Weeks


Visit Howard County announced the return of Restaurant & Craft Beverages Weeks for July 13-26. Curbside and delivery options are available for the first time ever.

Over 20 restaurants throughout Howard County will feature specialty menu items and beverages as well as bundled meal packages.

Participating businesses are required to follow all CDC guidelines. Contact the business of choice to learn more about their current operating procedures.

Howard County’s first distillery, Lost Ark Distilling Company, is the sponsor and will provide its locally made hand and surface sanitizing spray to participating restaurants.

“Our restaurants have been significantly impacted during this pandemic, and this is an ideal opportunity for us to give back and support our favorite or new local spots,” said County Executive Calvin Ball. “For the first time, residents can participate in restaurant weeks and craft beverages with curbside pickup and delivery, providing an alternative to indoor dining. Together, we can support a strong and prosperous business community while remaining safe and healthy.”

“Summer Restaurant Weeks is always a busy time for restaurants in Howard County”, added Joe Barbera, proprietor for Aida Bistro & Wine Bar, “As a founding member of HoCo Restaurant Weeks, we believe it is even more important than ever to demonstrate to new and existing customers that restaurants are open and able to offer fresh new menu ideas, in a safe environment.”

Added Amanda Hof, executive director for Visit Howard County, “Visit Howard County is proud to be the first destination in Maryland to announce the return of a restaurant week program. Despite challenges of the coronavirus pandemic restaurants are still in demand and a much-welcomed amenity for residents and visitors alike”.

The full list of participating restaurants can be found at visithowardcounty.com/howard-county-restaurant-weeks. To date, the participating restaurants are:

  • AIDA Bistro & Wine Bar
  • Beef Brothers
  • Cured 18th & 21st
  • Great Sage
  • Houlihan’s Columbia
  • Hudson Coastal
  • The Iron Bridge Wine Co
  • Kelsey’s Restaurant
  • Kloby’s Smokehouse
  • Lib’s Grill Maple Lawn
  • Ranazul
  • Rathskeller
  • Seasons 52
  • The Elkridge Furnace Inn
  • The Kings Contrivance
  • The White Oak Tavern
  • The White House Caterers
  • Tino’s Italian Bistro & Wine Bar
  • Mutiny Bar & Restaurant – Elkridge
  • Mutiny Pirate Bar & Island Grille – Pasadena
  • Xenia
  • The Walrus Oyster House & Ale


Howard Chamber and SC Health SPV provide free masks


The Howard County Chamber received a donation of more than 10,000 protective masks from SC Health SPV, which were distributed for free to local businesses on July 2.

The donation from South Carolina based SC Health SPV was planned to support businesses that are reopening and are challenged with the new procedures.

Cole Yungmann, vice president of marketing for SC Health SPV, was on hand to present the free masks “to support hardworking and dedicated merchants so they can protect their employees and customers.”

Alex Szkaradek, president of SC Health SPV said, “God has blessed me, so I can bless others. During these unprecedented and challenging times, neighbors should help neighbors, even if we are in different states. We are very grateful that the Howard County Chamber arranged this mask giveaway to help local business.”

Leonardo McClarty, president of the Howard County Chamber, said, “COVID-19 has devastated our economy and significantly impacted our small businesses. In addition to being closed for an extended period or operating on limited hours, businesses now face increased cost as they must purchase PPE. The Chamber is appreciative of SC Health and commends them for wanting to assist Howard County businesses.

GP Strategies named ‘Supplier of the Year’


GP Strategies Corp., of Elkridge, was named a General Motors Supplier of the Year.

During a recent event, GM recognized 116 of its best suppliers from 15 countries that have consistently exceeded the corporation’s expectations, created value or introduced innovations to the company. This is the 3rd time GP Strategies has received the award.

The Supplier of the Year award winners were chosen by a global team of GM purchasing, engineering, quality, manufacturing and logistics executives. Winners were selected based on performance criteria in product purchasing, global purchasing and manufacturing services, customer care and aftersales, and logistics.

Hopkins APL rank among ‘Best Places to Work’


The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, has retained its place among Insider Pro and Computerworld’s “Best Places to Work in IT.”

Making the list for the third consecutive year, APL held its No. 11 ranking among large organizations and is ranked second overall for both training and career development.

The Best Places to Work in Information Technology (IT) list is an annual ranking of the top 100 work environments for technology professionals created by IDG’s Computerworld. The publication compiles the list based on a comprehensive questionnaire regarding company offerings in categories such as benefits, career development, training and retention. In addition, Computerworld conducts extensive surveys of IT workers, and their responses factor heavily in determining the rankings.

“We’ve worked together to shape a challenging and rewarding environment at APL that promotes diversity, encourages collaboration and affords every staff member an opportunity to grow while serving the Lab and the nation,” said Michael Misumi, head of APL’s Information Technology Services Department and its chief information officer. “We embrace the idea that we’re ‘One ITSD’ at APL, and that Computerworld has again named us a best place to work in IT shows our staff members recognize and appreciate these opportunities.”

In addition to APL’s Information Technology Services Department’s $1.4 million training budget, Computerworld singled out APL’s commitment to career development by recognizing the opportunity to take and teach classes at The Johns Hopkins University that is available to staff.

Columbia wins greenest cities award


Columbia has won Insurify’s 2020 Greenest Cities Award for Maryland.

The community in each state with the most eco-conscious driving practices, green vehicle features, healthy air quality and renewable electricity programs was selected as one of America’s Greenest Cities.

Across the United States, there are cities that already have begun working towards reducing their carbon footprint. Some cities are home to a high share of eco-conscious drivers who choose their vehicles based on their environmental impact, while other cities are headed by leaders who invest in green endeavors; some cities do neither. For more information, visit https://insurify.com/insights/2020-greenest-cities-awards.

Hannon Armstrong, ENGIE invest in 2.3 GW portfolio


Hannon Armstrong Sustainable Infrastructure Capital, an Annapolis-based investor in climate change solutions, announced a newly-formed partnership with a subsidiary of ENGIE S.A., the largest independent power producer (IPP) and energy efficiency services provider in the world, which will own a 2.3 gigawatt (GW) portfolio of wind and utility-scale solar assets.

The partnership combines Hannon Armstrong’s extensive experience in providing long-term investment for climate solutions with the best-in-class development and operations experience of ENGIE, a global energy and services leader dedicated to accelerating the deployment of clean, affordable, innovative and resilient energy solutions.

On commissioning, the 2.3 GW portfolio will be comprised of 1.8 GW of onshore wind and 0.5 GW of utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) projects (13 projects in total) located in five states. Hannon Armstrong will participate in the cash flows from the operations of this diversified portfolio of renewable energy projects, while ENGIE will retain a controlling share in the portfolio and continue to manage the assets.

“We have a common mission to accelerate the rapid adoption of climate change solutions, and we are pleased to partner with ENGIE once again with this new investment that adds significant scale and diversity to our portfolio,” said Hannon Armstrong Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Eckel. “Continuing to build a programmatic investment platform allows both firms to make the investment process more aerodynamic and cost-effective for ENGIE’s ultimate customers.”

Brinker to chair Leadership Howard County board


Anne Brinker has been named chair of the board of directors of Leadership Howard County.

Brinker is chief operating officer for the Horizon Foundation, Howard County’s community health foundation, where she oversees all finance, technology, human resources, facility and day-to-day business operations.

Previously, she was vice president and director of operations for the Community Action Council of Howard County, director of strategic organizational planning for Columbia Association and village manager for the King’s Contrivance Community Association, which, named Anne Brinker chair of the organization’s board of directors.

Serving with Brinker on Leadership Howard County’s executive committee will be Vice Chair Wynne Hayes of Pfizer, Treasurer Joe Garrison of StratWealth, Secretary Judy Smith of On Point Consulting, General Membership Chair Shaun Eddy of Oxford Planning Group, Past Chair Alex Adler of Fisher Investments and General Counsel Paul Skalny of Davis, Agnor, Rapaport & Skalny.

Trevor Garner of Idea Crew, Judy Smith of On Point Consulting and Karen Trendler of Sandy Spring Bank and Suzi Padgett of Long & Foster were elected for additional three-year terms.

Leadership Howard County seeks to empower leaders to strengthen and transform the community. Drawn from private businesses, nonprofits and the public sector, Leadership Howard County participants share a common interest in learning more about their community and a commitment to making a positive impact. (www.leadershiphc.org)

Casinos reopen with social distancing


Maryland’s six casinos began welcoming back guests in late June after being closed for three months due to COVID-19. The casinos have implemented social distancing and sanitation guidelines that include 50 percent capacity limits, reduced numbers of slot machines in operation, reduced seating at table games, temperature screenings and a requirement that all employees and patrons wear facemasks.

“The casinos worked intensely with us and with each other to share best practices from across the gaming industry as they developed their reopening plans,” said Maryland Lottery & Gaming Director Gordon Medenica. “There was great cooperation on all sides, and a true focus on ensuring that the casinos are safe for both employees and customers.”

Total gaming revenues in June 2020 were $34,944,868, while casino contributions to the state were $14,572,027. In June of 2019, with all casinos operating for the full month, gaming revenues were $142,890,570, and contributions to the state were $60,075,138.

In fiscal 2020 (July 2019 through June 2020), Maryland’s casinos generated $1,279,974,107 in gaming revenue. The total is $480,434,471 (-27.3 percent) less than the $1,760,408,578 generated during fiscal 2019.

Casino contributions to the state for fiscal 2020 were $529,121,317, a decrease of $194,321,316 (-26.9 percent) compared to the $723,442,633 in contributions during fiscal 2019.

Casino contributions to the Education Trust Fund for fiscal 2020 were $396,821,709, a decrease of $145,878,995 (-26.9 percent) compared to the $542,700,704 in ETF contributions during fiscal 2019. Casino gaming revenues also support communities and jurisdictions where the casinos are located, as well as Maryland’s horse racing industry.

Maryland is home to six privately-owned casinos that offer slot machines and table games, including three in Central Maryland. Here are each of the area casino’s gaming revenue totals for June 2020:

MGM National Harbor, $8,025,752 in combined revenue from slots and tables

Live! Casino & Hotel $15,854,110 in combined revenue from slots and tables

Horseshoe Casino $2,597,467 in combined revenue from slots and tables.

TEDCO invests in Builder Fund


Columbia-based TEDCO, Maryland’s economic engine for technology companies, announced its Pre-Seed Builder Fund invests $450,000 in eight companies, including Emergency Medical Innovation, of Howard County, which is developing a patented nosebleed treatment device.

These companies represent various industry sectors from medical devices to B2B SaaS providers.

“The Builder Fund investments demonstrates our focus on investing in companies where our support can have a consequential impact on a companies ability to grow in industry sectors that are critical to Maryland’s economic development,” said Linda Singh, interim executive director/CEO of TEDCO.

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