Outstanding Women of Commercial Real Estate 2023 Announced, Will be Honored on March 10


WALTHAM, MA—Boston Real Estate Times, the region’s largest print, online and video real estate magazine, today announced its list of Outstanding Women of Commercial Real Estate 2023. All the winners will be honored on March 10, 2023 during a breakfast award ceremony at the Westin Hotel in Waltham, MA.

“They are being recognized for their outstanding contribution to the commercial real estate industry in New England,” said Upendra Mishra, publisher of the Boston Real Estate Times and its sister publication Life Sciences Times. “We’re also very thankful to our readers who took their time and nominated these pioneering women. We’re looking forward to honoring them on behalf of our readers and the commercial real estate community on March 10, 2023.)

Boston Real Estate Times will also publish a special glossy print edition that will highlight the contribution and achievements of this group.

The breakfast award ceremony will be held on March 10, 2023 from 7:00 am to 10:30 am at Westin Hotel in Waltham, MA.

To purchase a ticket, please click here. For sponsorship opportunities, please email [email protected] .

Here are the Boston Real Estate Times’ Outstanding Women of 2022 in alphabetical order:

Amy Apfelbaum

Amy Apfelbaum
McPhail Associates, LLC

In the primarily male-dominated industry of geotechnical engineering, Amy is a literal quasar.  For over 20 years, employees of McPhail Associates have had the distinct pleasure of working with Amy and watching her rapid career trajectory.  Initially, Amy obtained a Master of Science degree in Geotechnical Engineering from UMASS Amherst.  She is the complete package:  a natural leader, technically strong, a consensus builder, a determined problem-solver, a marketing opportunist, and an astute businesswoman.  Her energy and good-natured sense of humor are contagious.

During the recent ownership transfer of McPhail Associates, it was an obvious choice to include Amy as one of the four Managing Principals to lead the company into the future. As part of her day-to-day work efforts, Amy works extensively with many of the Boston area’s real estate giants.  She works tirelessly to provide these Clients with economical and practical foundation engineering solutions for support of complex multi-story buildings and deep below grade garages through contaminated soil and groundwater.  Amy has spearheaded teams of employees from McPhail on numerous projects including the recent Kendall Square Initiative Project, the Landmark Center Project and other Fenway area developments.

Amy is always on the forefront of many of the latest industry wide issues and concerns.  Amy is leading efforts to update McPhail’s accounting system to better serve its employees and clients in the future. She also recently shepherded the Company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion training program.

Natalie Breen

Natalie Breen
Director of Business Development
Cummings Properties

Natalie oversees the entire team at the Cummings Executive Suites, with both centers hitting 100% occupancy for the first time since opening in 2009 under her management.

As the point person for nearly 300 commercial clients, Natalie is instrumental in building client relationships and solving for her clients’ commercial real estate needs overseeing extension, expansions and new business. Generating over $22 million of new revenue, Natalie’s clients remark on her ability to listen and put together action plans to support clients’ growth.

Outside of work, she sits on the Board of the Friends of Chevalier Theatre and Gene Mack Gymansium which works closely with Bill Blumenreich Presents and the City of Medford to bring arts and culture to a historic downtown theatre. She sits on the Board of the Medford Public Library Foundation which was instrumental in funding the City’s first fully accessible library in 60 years. Natalie also sits on the Committee for Membership for the Medford Chamber of Commerce and has served on the Grant Review Committee for the Cummings Foundation, which has awarded over $450 million to local nonprofits.

Kristin Brown

Kirstin Brown
Northstar Project & Real Estate Services

Kirstin is a seasoned professional with over 30 years of experience in the real estate industry. As a development project manager her specific expertise spans all phases of the development process.

Working on complex real estate projects and advisory assignments with a combined value of over $2 billion, Kirstin is responsible for two of Northstar’s most visible projects: MIT’s 10-story, 675 bed, graduate student housing and BioMed Realty’s Assembly Innovation Park in Somerville, a multi-phase development including three 500,000 RSF ground-up core shell office/lab buildings, above and below-grade parking, adjacent infrastructure improvements, and a one-acre public park.

If managing several multi-million-dollar projects wasn’t enough, Kirstin is the only woman in the partnership of seven that owns and manages Northstar. Everyone is an equal contributor, and all decisions are made through consensus. Northstar has grown every year since its inception in 2010. She has spent the last 12 years driving and managing the firm’s marketing. As a service provider, Northstar’s brand is only as good as its employees. Kirstin plays a critical role in mentoring employees to develop their brands in the industry with a focus on authenticity, ethical behavior, strong communication skills, and constantly providing exceptional service. She leads Northstar’s charitable committee which supports Boston Children’s Hospital, Home for Little Wanderers and Heading Home. Prior to Northstar Kirstin worked at Spaulding & Slye, Colliers and JLL. Kirstin has a BS in Business Administration from Boston University and an MS in Real Estate Development from the MIT Center for Real Estate. Kirstin is a member of CoreNet Global New England, where she is on the Board of Directors and previously served as the Vice Chair of the Executive Committee of the Real Estate & Building Industry Breakfast for the United Way. In 2015, CREW Boston named Kirstin Entrepreneur of the Year.

Carolyn Desmond

Carolyn Desmond
Vice President of Development
Skanska USA Commercial Development

Carolyn is a dynamic and creative leader who’s made her mark in her community and in Boston’s real estate industry. Throughout her career, Carolyn has delivered over two million square feet of development in Boston, D.C., and Poland, most recently with Skanska.

She takes a holistic approach to development by artfully considering the way creative deal structures, design, sustainability, and engagement shape communities. Currently, she is leading the planning, design and PDA approval of Longwood Place, a transformational development in the LMA including 1.7M square feet of office, lab, and residential space, and is a critical phase of Simmons University’s ‘One Simmons’ initiative to consolidate and ensure the long-term viability of the institution. Carolyn led her team to be responsive to community needs, a true partner to Simmons, and deliver on housing, transportation, and sustainability goals set by the City and BPDA. Just before the COVID-19 pandemic, she spearheaded the development, lease-up, and sale of Two Drydock, a 13-story, 235,000 SF, Class A office building in the Seaport, and successfully attracted an investor to purchase the property for $234.5M, despite an uncertain economy. She was also the driver of 121 Seaport, Skanska’s second office building delivered in the Seaport.

Carolyn is also leading much of the design evolution on 380 Stuart Street, a 625,000 SF Class A office development in the Back Bay, to implement cutting-edge sustainability goals and un-matched tenant amenities to adapt to a changing workforce. She also represents Skanska and real estate industry on the NAIOP government affairs committee.

Whitney Gallivan

Whitney Gallivan
Managing Director & Partner
Boston Realty Advisor

As Head of Retail Leasing and Capital Markets, Whitney brings vast experience and in-depth knowledge of global, national and local retailers — and Boston’s greatest properties. After spending ten years with WS Development, she has been a leading consultant in the city working on A-list projects, including Shops at Prudential Center, Newbury Collection, Mandarin Oriental Boston, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston South Station, The Castle at Park Plaza, High Street Place Food Hall and Boynton Yards. Her corporate clients have included Rockpoint Group, Boston Properties and Regency Centers.

Prior to joining Boston Realty Advisors, Whitney worked in the Capital Markets group at HFF and spent the bulk of her career as one of the top producers for WS Development. Gallivan’s experience leasing the nation’s premier open-air shopping centers at WS Development led to expansive relationships with local, regional and national retail tenants. Her strong tenant relationships have been developed over the course of two decades.

Gallivan is an active member of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), NEWIRE/CREW, NAIOP, REFA and ULI. She graduated with honors from Wellesley College, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations. She currently resides in Concord, MA with her wife and 2 daughters. Interests include traveling, golfing, fly fishing, and snowboarding. Gallivan focuses her charitable efforts on land preservation and human rights. She is also involved in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America.

Jessica Haley

Jessica Haley
Principal & Director of Interior Design
RODE Architects

Jessica is RODE Architects Principal and Director of Interior Design. Jessica heads the firm’s interiors team, which is responsible for many of Greater Boston’s most loved spaces, including Bar Volpe, Cambria Hotel South Boston, The Lexington and James Beard nominated SRV. In addition to hospitality, Jessica has worked within a variety of other sectors including multi-family, corporate and institutional, with her work featured in NBC’s Restaurants Reinvented, Restaurant Development + Design Magazine and other national publications.

Jessica has cultivated a rigorous design approach within the firm that defines a foundational concept for every project, then crafts a cohesive and inspired space around it. This has led to the creation of memorable, unique designs that combine tried and true design with an innovative approach. Since joining RODE, which is proud to be 53% female in an often male-dominated industry, Jessica has worked on more than three dozen projects in the region – which showcases her impact on design in the city. Boston provides a richly layered historic context for designers, and Jessica has exhibited an adept skill and deep experience in making contemporary spaces that complement that existing fabric, while imbuing projects with humanistic vitality.

Jessica has been pivotal in growing the interiors team at RODE, which now accounts for 15% of the total employees. Jessica has been instrumental as a mentor to many at the firm as they progress their careers in the industry. Jessica also serves as an adjunct faculty member at the Boston Architectural College (BAC), where she was recently awarded the 2022 Distinguished Alumni in Interior Architecture Award for her exemplary accomplishments, service and commitment to the field of interior design.

Elizabeth Holmes

Elizabeth Holmes
Director of Corporate Services
R. W. Holmes

Elizabeth is the third generation of the Holmes family to work at R.W. Holmes Realty.  As Director of Corporate Services, she is a trusted advisor for key accounts to establish creative and strategic/analytic solutions. Her work focuses on aligning clients’ real estate with their business strategy by providing comprehensive advisory services, including transaction management, demographic and location analysis, workplace strategy, and more. As a licensed broker, Elizabeth’s skill set provides significant value to tenants and landlords. She has assisted Greater Boston companies, from startups to established Fortune 500 companies, in professional services, technology, life science, and other industries. Her landlord work specializes in value-add building repositioning to bring underperforming properties to stabilization.

Previously, Elizabeth worked as a consultant at Ernst & Young in their advisory practice.  Her work surrounded process improvement and finance implementations for global leaders in pharmaceuticals, consumer retail, and technology.  She also worked internally on a white paper about the Internet of Things and its impact on commercial real estate/facilities management. Elizabeth is a Corporator for Middlesex Savings Bank, a member of the Young Professionals Board at the Foundation for MetroWest, a member of the Real Estate Committee for the Charles River Chamber of Commerce, a board member of the Babson Alumni Board, and a member of CREW Boston.  She is an SIOR member associate and recipient of the New England Chapter SIOR scholarship, an award given to rising leaders in the real estate industry.

Elizabeth graduated Summa Cum Laude from Babson College with a BS in Business Management and a concentration in Finance.  She was an All-American field hockey player and the recipient of the Female Student-Athlete award for her class.  She lives in Natick.

Dara Kovel

Dara Kovel
Beacon Communities

Dara was named CEO of Beacon Communities in 2019. At the time, the company was already an industry leader in affordable, market, and mixed-income property development. Over the last four years, she led the company to exponential pipeline growth driven by innovative methods of leveraging private financing in complex deals. Beacon’s development pipeline shot up 280 percent under her leadership; in 2022, the company had $1.6B worth of work under development. Beacon has become known for leveraging private capital decisively in complex, mission-driven, public-private partnership across a footprint that Dara has expanded, ranging from the Northeast to the Midwest. She has also become a go-to source for elected officials and was instrumental in advocating for expanding affordable housing in Massachusetts in the 2021 economic development bill.

Beacon’s dramatic portfolio growth comes with a sustained commitment to residents’ wellness and quality of life. This creative and holistic approach draws on Dara’s longtime passion and experience linking innovative housing to social justice. A remarkable example is under construction in Boston’s Back Bay at 140 Clarendon, the historic home of the nation’s oldest YWCA building. When complete, this community will house 210 apartments, half of them occupied by people moving directly from homelessness, with Pine Street Inn providing in-house counseling, case management and other services. An active theater and a public school will remain on the property, flanked by high-end condos. This services-driven approach echoes the framework Beacon has long provided at its affordable senior properties, supplying wellness amenities, programming, and services. Housing affordability and quality is a pressing concern in Massachusetts, New England, and beyond. Under her guidance, Beacon has rapidly expanded its affordable housing pipeline in response while strengthening Beacon’s leadership in health and housing models, ensuring that residents can thrive.

Carlye Murphy

Carlye Murphy
Senior Vice President, Legal
BioMed Realty

Carlye has worked for BioMed Realty since 2014 and now serves as Senior Vice President of Legal, leading BioMed Realty’s legal efforts of its nearly 16 million-square-foot portfolio of high-quality real estate for the life sciences and technology industries. Informed by her 17 years of experience as outside and in-house counsel working on complex real estate transactions, Carlye’s efforts guide the acquisition, leasing, and development transactions for BioMed Realty, supporting the Company’s commitment to providing the world’s most innovative thinkers with spaces that serve them today and well into the future.

Carlye was an integral part of BioMed Realty’s landmark agreement with Takeda when the company leased the entirety of the Company’s leading-edge research and development project, 585 Kendall, in Kendall Square. This building will total approximately 600,000 square feet of advanced, efficient lab and office space incorporating industry-leading sustainability features. Carlye spearheaded the legal negotiations for the Takeda lease, overseeing and advising the drafting process for the lease and all ancillary documents.

In addition to the leasing component, Carlye has been instrumental in the development plans for this project since the site was acquired in 2018. Not only was this a historic lease signing for both BioMed Realty and Takeda, but it is also a pivotal project for the greater Cambridge community. Carlye’s legal expertise and leadership made this landmark deal and site plan possible and seamless.

Jeanne Nutt

Jeanne Nutt
Principal, Co-Managing Director

Jeanne has served as Co-Managing Director of Gensler’s Boston office for more than 20 years. Through her accomplishments and thought leadership in the corporate real estate industry and civic realms, she  has helped Gensler and numerous business clients, charitable organizations, and industry associations move forward in profound ways.

Under Jeanne’s leadership, the Boston office expanded from thirty-five to over 200 professionals, today providing architectural and interior design services in the finance, law, professional services, real estate, technology, sciences, academic, healthcare and retail sectors. Notable projects include corporate headquarters for Verizon at The Hub on Causeway, The Boston Globe, Putnam Investments, and PUMA North America, as well as the celebrated downtown food hall, High Street Place.

Jeanne is actively involved with CoreNet Global New England as Co-Chair of the Real Advantage Program and previously as a member of the Board and Co-Chair of the Programs Committee. She has spoken at a range of industry events for Colliers, CoreNet, Boston Society of Architects, Society for Marketing Professionals Services and more.

As a long-time member of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), Jeanne has mentored the next generation of designers within the office and the industry in Boston and beyond. Her commitment to providing opportunities for others extends well outside her professional role. At her initiative, Gensler Boston has engaged in notable philanthropic activities with organizations including City Year, Boston Green Academy, Boston Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects, Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston, The BASE, Design Museum Boston, Canstruction and We Care Boston. In addition, Jeanne is a member of the Boston Ballet’s Board of Advisors and served as design principal for the Ballet’s Newton School, an award-winning, universally inclusive dance studio.

Lauren O’Neil (Photo: Linkedin)

Lauren O’Neil
Chief Operating Officer
AEW Capital Management

Lauren is a powerhouse in Boston’s real estate community, a key player in some of the region’s most important transactions and influential professional organizations. Presently Chief Operating Officer of the private equity group of AEW Capital Management focusing on strategic operations and deal origination, she previously was Senior Managing Director at JLL, overseeing operations of the capital markets business and originating deals leading to over $10 billion in transactions.  For the Real Estate Finance Association (REFA), Lauren is a 10-year Board member and served as President in 2022 with her leadership contributing to a record year for programming and membership. Her volunteer work extends to the greater community with her active membership on the Board of Trustees and the development committee of Heading Home, an organization that helps homeless families become self-sufficient.

Prior to joining AEW, Lauren was a Senior Managing Director and Boston office Co-Head at JLL (and formerly HFF) since 2018, where her primary responsibilities included managing the day-to-day operations of the capital markets business, in addition to deal origination, which led to the completion of over $10 billion in sales, debt and equity transactions across all product types, geographies and client profiles. She was a member of the Capital Markets Leadership Team, involved in strategic initiatives of the organization, and served on the Capital Markets DEI Committee focused on increasing diversity and female talent within the firm. Previously, she spent seven years as a Senior Director and Director at the firm, with responsibilities that included deal origination and execution. She began her real estate career at HFF as an analyst.

Lauren is a Board Member of the Real Estate Finance Association (REFA); National Board Member, National Forum Member, MA Chapter Board and Gavel Member of the National Association of Office and Industrial Properties (NAIOP); and a Member of IOPC Green Product Council for the Urban Land Institute (ULI). She is actively involved in community initiatives, including currently serving on the Board of Trustees for Heading Home, Hill House and The Advent School. Lauren earned a BA from Boston College.

Liane Phillips

Liane Phillips
Wise Construction Corp.

For over 27 years, Liane Phillips has helped build and diversify Wise Construction as Director of Business Development. Liane has been at the helm to help grow the company from a small general contractor in the 1990s into the mid-size market leader it is today. With 180 employees and over $300 MM in revenue annually, Wise has a strong foothold in each of its three main sectors: science & technology, healthcare, and institutional building. Liane’s tireless dedication has led the company to having a strong and loyal client base, with over 90% of their work committed by repeat clients.

Leaving no rock unturned, Liane’s tenacity and energy has made strong and meaningful relationships with key clientele in the industry for nearly three decades. In an often male-dominated industry, especially in the earlier part of her career, Liane persevered and has earned the respect and admiration of her peers for her wit, strong network, and passion. Liane has also played a pivotal role in the recruitment of Wise employees and building a strong organizational culture at the firm which continues to attract top talent across the industry today.

In addition to her outstanding commitment to Wise Construction, Liane is also an active member of a number of notable industry organizations including CoreNet, CREW, Women in Bio, Professional Women in Construction Boston, ISPE, IFMA, NAIOP, NEHES, and SCUP.

Erin Popa

Erin Popa
Associate Principal, HVAC Engineer
BR+A Consulting Engineers

Erin is a rising star if not already an exemplary leader in the AEC industry. Erin graduated from Penn State University in 2013 with her integrated Masters and Bachelors in Architectural Engineering, Mechanical focus, and an Architectural Studies Minor.

She began as an intern with BR+A and has worked her way up to Associate Principal. As a Project Manager, it is Erin’s role to lead external and internal MEP communication and coordination among trades. She works closely with the architect, owner, contractors and other project consultants to deliver high performing MEP designs that align with schedule, budget, and building performance goals.  In addition to Project Manager, Erin is the leading HVAC engineer for the projects and works with other staff members to develop HVAC system designs that are both environmentally responsible and resilient for the critical operation and function of the buildings.

Erin is passionate about working with team members who have aligned visions for energy efficient designs that are nearing net zero with high hopes, that jurisdictions like Boston are making the new standard. As an Associate Principal, Erin works with her colleagues and senior management at BR+A to improve internal processes including, training of younger and new staff, developing project delivery and design standards, and promoting company moral and comradery. Erin is responsible for pursuing projects, determining project feeds, and then managing the time of BR+A project team members whilst working with the Accounting Department for monthly billing.

Erin is a dedicated member of PWC Boston, ASHRAE Boston, a YouthBuild Boston Advocate, and the Co-Chair for BR+A’s KO Cancer Event.  Erin is a powerhouse in the industry and making an impact on projects, clients, and colleagues alike. At only 33 years old, Erin has already achieved so much, and we are sure she is only just getting started.

Andi Simpson

Andi Simpson
Senior Vice President, Creative and Marketing Strategies
Samuels & Associates

A seasoned real estate professional with a passion for placemaking, community engagement and storytelling, Andi plays a vital role in successfully positioning Samuels & Associates.  As the first Senior Vice President of Marketing at S&A, Andi brings together multiple disciplines to support the firm’s diverse work in development, leasing, management and community building.

Guided by a strong creative vision, Andi and her team reinforce the core S&A brand attributes across marketing materials, digital channels, events, and community activations.  Andi brings communications and marketing strategy to the company’s Executive Committee and quickly seizes opportunities to creatively reinforce S&A’s commitment to community building, place making and fun.  In 2022 alone, Andi led her team in developing, implementing and marketing two groundbreaking endeavors:

  • The Fenway Cohort Program, a first of its kind initiative to provide space, mentorship, promotion, and funding to a diverse range of emerging entrepreneurs who, in turn, provide programming and cultural activities in The Fenway.
  • The Station, a creative reuse of a former gas station to host lively events (wine bar, Fenway Flea, live music) and passive recreation (oversized swings, rotating art collection, seating areas).

Andi is involved in a number of internal initiatives, including S&A’s DEI and ESG committees.  Andi is active in “Women of S&A” (a company resource group) and is a mentor within the firm’s mentorship program.  A graduate of Regis College, Andi has nearly two decades of senior management experience in creative, marketing, crisis and corporate communications, with leadership roles at leading real estate organizations, including Federal Realty, Boston Properties, General Growth and Urban Edge Properties.

A certified mentor outside of the company, Andi works with women entrepreneurs as part of SCORE, the nation’s largest network for free, expert business mentors, helping to expand their mission to foster vibrant communities