“Stay Focused, Be Deliberate”: Honoring Commercial Management Executive of the Year Theresa Morzello and REBNY’s 2018 Honorees

Theresa Morzello

New York’s real estate industry is thriving and that means New York City is too. But in order to ensure that today’s success is sustainable over the long-term, our industry must continue to evolve and build a diverse and inclusive membership of real estate professionals. At REBNY’s Commercial Management Leadership Awards Breakfast last week, there were encouraging signs that our industry is doing just that.

For the first time since it was named for our beloved and recently departed “Dean of Property Management” back in 2003, The Edward A. Riguardi Commercial Management Executive of the Year Award was presented to a woman, Theresa Morzello of CBRE’s New York City Asset Services.

Riguardi would have marveled at Theresa’s exceptional career accomplishments, her dedication, and long-term leadership skills.

She manages more than 28 million square feet at over 65 properties, overseeing services ranging from property management and project management to due diligence and accounting. Prior to joining CBRE, Theresa was a portfolio manager at Cushman & Wakefield, a general manager for the dual-campus portfolio of the New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Royal Charter Properties, and a property manager for CBRE’s 650 Fifth Avenue. Beyond her experience in industry companies, she managed assets for MetLife and Emigrant Savings Bank, and is a licensed real estate salesperson.

Theresa’s story is one that should inspire all of us. As she said that she “spent a large part of [her] career trying to ignore that [she] was a female working in a largely male dominated industry.” But this did not deter her. Instead, she used her extraordinary skills and intellect to quickly shine in every role–and that helped propel her to the top and become a true pioneering trailblazer for women across our industry. Her peers and mentors gave her the confidence to “own it and lean in.”

Before her career in real estate, Theresa worked as a maintenance engineer in a nuclear power plant and directed technical services for an energy consulting and metering company. “Luckily and thankfully,” she said at our awards breakfast last week. “There were many smart people in the real estate industry–in decision-making positions–at great companies like Metlife, Cushman & Wakefield, and certainly at CBRE–that realized that I was a good engineer and manager, largely due in part because I was female and not in spite of it. They valued what I could bring to their organizations that didn’t already exist on their teams, and they were not afraid to give me an opportunity.”

In the parting words of her acceptance speech, Theresa delivered an empowering message: “I say to you–especially my female peers in this room–stay focused, have no fear, move quickly, be deliberate and always stay strong because, if you do, you will make your presence known, you will likely make an impression, you can and will add value, and clearly there is a good chance you will be rewarded for the effort.”

Theresa was not alone in receiving accolades last week. In the Grand Ballroom at the New York Hilton Midtown, nine other notable members of our industry were presented with awards – and as a sign of changing times, five of the ten honorees were women. Each of them thanked the mentors who offered opportunities to prove themselves and advice that fostered their successful careers along the way.

Other award highlights include: Hines’ 1585 Broadway took home the Best Engine Room Award; Avi Itzikowitz of ATCO Properties and Management, Inc. received the John M. Griffin Community Service Award; Sandra Hahn of JLL won the On-Site Manager of the Year Award; Diane Fields of Empire State Realty Trust was honored as Portfolio Manager of the Year; Massiel Santana of Cushman & Wakefield was named Rising Star of the Year; Michael Johnson of Forest City Rater Companies was presented with the Small Building Engineer of the Year Award; Ron D’Amato of SL Green Realty Corp. received the Large Building Engineer of the Year Award; Jose De La Cruz of Waterman Properties was honored as Security Professional of the Year; and Maria Dedvukaj of ABM was named Porter of the Year.

These professionals are among the very best and brightest of New York’s real estate industry, and we at REBNY extend our heartfelt congratulations to all the award winners for their accomplishments.