CREW-OKC, Inc. started as the vision of Julie Kriegel, commercial broker with Wiggin Properties and CREW Network at large member. In March 2015, Kriegel contacted Sally Hasenfratz, member at large of CREW Network, to gather interest about starting an Oklahoma City Chapter. This led to Kriegel and Hasenfratz beginning the pathway to create the local chapter. Instead of diving right in, Kriegel and Hasenfratz elected to pursue a strategic approach, by first hand picking and recruiting an initial board of directors, each one representing a different field of commercial real estate. Kriegel and Hasenfratz believed this approach would not only provide a great base of leaders for the organization, but also lead to a diversified membership.
During this start-up period, Kriegel and Hasenfratz recruited board members, consulted with CREW Network leadership and participated in a number of new chapter development conference calls. After about a year of this process and countless lunches, the initial board was established and was comprised of:
Michelle Anderson-property manager with CBRE;
Betsy Guthrie-Brunsteter-architect with ADG, Inc.;
Marva Ellard-local developer (Seiber Hotel);
Sally Hasenfratz-attorney with Phillips Murrah P.C.;
Jane Jenkins-President of Downtown Oklahoma City, Inc.;
Kristin Killgore-engineer with ZFI Engineering;
Julie Kriegel-commercial real estate broker with Wiggin Properties;
Morgan Morrissey-banker with MidFirst Bank;
Cathy O’Connor-President of Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City;
Mary Paltani-Oklahoma leader with contractor, Hines;
Monica Wittrock-Vice President with First American Title Insurance Company;
Carla Sharpe-then in-house counsel with Devon Energy
(collectively, the "Founding Board").
Once the vision was shared and the Founding Board was established, it was off to the races, with the organizational activities, including filing of Articles of Incorporation; adopting ByLaws; completing the IRS Form 1024, after which the company was recognized as a 501(c)(6) organization; electing officers and establishing committees. The initial Membership Drive was held at Marva Ellard’s Seiber Hotel, showcasing her historic development and including a talk from Vicky Gunning Member of CREW-Dallas and Board Member of CREW Network, to acquaint the invitees with CREW Network as well as remarks from Kriegel and Hasenfratz, sharing the vision for the local organization. All in all, it was a big success, with about 70 people attending and 50 joining CREW-OKC.
Following the organizational activities, the committees were established. Initially, the committees were comprised of Programs, Membership and Finance. The focus was having monthly meetings with key speakers and site tours of local developments, emphasizing those in which the members participated, such as the Zoo event, a hard-hat tour led by Kristin Killgore, engineer on the Zoo’s Asia exhibit, with the help of Dawn Byron as contractor representative of Timberlake Construction. Another exciting tour was conducted by Judy Hatfield who showed the group her historic renovation of the Carnegie library into a mixed use residential development. Initial meetings also highlighted the expertise of the membership, including talks by engineers and tax professionals on the new tax act, just to name a few.
In the second full year of the existence of CREW-OKC, the Founding Board and committee leaders focused on strategic planning, to further fine-tune the vision of the organization. Gene Hopper with Mettise, led a full day planning session and the resulting 3 year strategic plan was approved. However, the session was not an isolated event, with the resulting plan to be placed to rest in a drawer. Instead, it allowed us to shape our mission and develop our shared values. From this, we have used quarterly sprints to maintain our focus on the goals and work toward measurable outcomes. One of these early outcomes includes the development of a community outreach committee, which is creating a program for high school girls to participate in a development project and introducing the young students to opportunities in commercial real estate. We are also developing scholarship opportunities for our membership to attend CREW Network conventions and working to stream-line administrative functions.
To date, we have achieved in each of our two full years, the trifecta goal of the CREW Foundation in which: our chapter has given $1,000, each board member has made a contribution and at least 50% of our membership have made donations to CREW Foundation…thereby being the first chapter of CREW Network to achieve this goal in each of its initial 2 years.
In sum, our history to date, is short, but full and strategic….we believe we are an organization that has a heart and a passion for empowering, advancing and transforming women in the commercial real estate industry through networking, mentoring and education.