By Natallie Keiser, Executive Director, HouseATL and Delilah Wynn Brown, Director of Real Estate, HJ Russell and co-chairs of The Leaders selection committee for 2022

As we begin to emerge into these first post-pandemic years, we can finally breathe a sigh of relief that the total unknown is behind us – and our resilience was tested. Now it’s time to reconnect, re-engage, and rebuild. 

Of course, some groups must be more resilient than others even in periods of normalcy but especially during and after global disruptions of this magnitude, because they may have fewer resources, more responsibilities, and less flexibility. Women often constitute one of those groups. 

According to current information only about 2 of the 5 million women who were forced to leave the workforce to attend to family obligations at the onset of the pandemic have returned to the workforce.  

Family and household responsibilities remain a major systemic barrier to career advancement for women. Nonetheless, women have learned to  “super-multitask” workplace and household responsibilities — skills that may enhance their ability to negotiate through the multitudes of workplace challenges.

The Global Gender Gap Report 2020 estimates that achieving equity for women will take nearly a century. Based upon this daunting data, women must maintain huge reserves of resilience to achieve the excellence required leading to senior ranks within the workplace.  This is true, in spite of growing evidence that companies with a significant percentage of women in executive positions have greater profitability and ROI.

The resilience women must develop to balance family and workplace responsibilities may be assets in business in general but particularly are so in the complex world of real estate development.  These fields, although still highly dominated by men who are 65% of the workforce, have a growing number of women in prime leadership roles. Still, much work remains to be done to realize gender equity in the business world, including in fields related to the built environment. 

That’s why, in 2010, the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Atlanta launched its own chapter of the Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI). WLI’s charge is to increase public awareness of systemic barriers facing women and to celebrate the exceptional contributions women make to our community in real estate development. ULI places special emphasis on connecting women – those who are in in the upper echelons of leadership including the C Suite – with women aspiring to such roles.  WLI also places emphasis on being a resource of women in real estate development, so women can see and hear other women in major industry forums, conferences, and in corporate boardrooms.  

In support of these efforts ULI Atlanta created The Leaders to recognize women leaders within the industry who live and work in the Atlanta region.

This year, the program received more than 70 nominations for The Leaders. From this exceptionally accomplished group, 15 were selected as WLI’s third cohort. 

These are resilient women who live leadership.  They are increasingly weighing-in and successfully maneuvering through the many moving pieces required in real estate development, including:  market dynamics, land acquisition, entitlements, legal issues, commercial and residential development, design, construction, capital markets and finance, in both the for profit and non-profit arenas.

These are women who are steering institutional and corporate missions, undergirding financial structures, employing creative strategies in change management and pivoting as needed.  They are adding their voices to the call for social equity in development, tackling the need for fair and affordable housing, overcoming personal issues while steering organizations, and giving back to the community through mentorship and other community service.

In short, these women are remarkable and beyond worthy of being recognized. The Leaders for 2022 constitutes 15 women – a list that has now collectively grown to 70 and will continue to grow as we add cohorts year over year! It is ULI Atlanta and WLI’s hope that this list will be used as a resource and speakers bureau for all living in the Atlanta region – so that they can be better represented at industry conferences.

See all cohorts from 2020, 2021, and 2022 here, and a special congratulations to the women in the 2022 cohort!  

ULI is a global nonprofit focused on shaping the future of the built environment for transformative impact in communities worldwide. The Atlanta District Council (ULI Atlanta) is one of the largest and most active district councils – advancing the mission and priorities of ULI across the state of Georgia and eastern Tennessee. For more information:

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