Power-up Your Policymaking

How to turn your passion into action from boosting your local engagement or running for office

“This woman’s place is in the House-the House of Representatives”-Bella Abzug

It’s no new news that although we comprise a little over half the human population, women are severely underrepresented in both politics and business. Although great strides have been made and new fissures and cracks appear every day in that storied glass ceiling, for the busy everyday woman, moving from awareness to engagement can seem daunting. Continue reading

Beyond Abuse: Finding Our Voice on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

It started with a phone call from Capital One Financial Corporation on January 14th, 2016. “Ms. Patno, are you the sole owner of Desiree Patno Enterprises, Inc.?”

That simple call was how I found out that my husband’s accountant had been dispersing my unsigned business checks illegally, with some going into her personal accounts and several others paying her bills directly.

I was (and still am) angry that not only my trust was betrayed, but after years of hard work and developing a reputation as a successful businesswoman in the housing and real estate sector, I was, to put it quite simply, duped.

How could this happen to me? And if this could happen to me, in my mid-fifties, plugged into and engaged fully in my businesses, what happens to women older than me, with fewer resources at their fingertips and perhaps cognitive issues?

Continue reading

Goodbye Sweet Spade: Remembering the Influential Style of Kate Spade

Today we are saddened to find out that the influential designer Kate Spade was found dead. For someone known for an elegance associated with brightness and a certain smart yet playful style- it’s painful to think of such a voice being extinguished.

Kansas City, Missouri native Spade, who recently legally changed her name to Kate Valentine was an answer to an unspoken sartorial prayer: smart, put-together clothing with a quirky flair. Distinguished while not shying away from femininity, Kate helped women in the 1990s and early 2000s realize that to be taken seriously in the workplace doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have massive shoulder pads, dress like a man, or wear uncomfortable heels.

It really started with a handbag. The quest for an attractive yet practical tote, often a woman’s rolling office, medicine cabinet, and make-up bag, was the driving force behind the start of her eponymous brand.

She grew Kate Spade into what we would call today a fully fledged lifestyle brand: including a home and jewellery line.  In the process she became much more than a designer: she became a woman to admire for her unique blend of tastemaking and business acumen. Not unlike a Diane von Furstenberg, Tory Burch or Donna Karan.

As recently as 2015 she was named amongst Creative People in Business by Fast Company and inducted into the University of Missouri-Kansas City Hall of Entrepreneur Hall of Fame this past year.

She was someone to look up to and will be dearly missed. Our condolences go out to her family and everyone whose lives she touched.

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU)s Could Help Women Meet Housing Goals

California has the highest poverty rate in the nation and we have an extreme shortage of affordable hosing. Single mothers are at a disadvantage of chosing to work an additional job to be able to afford housing for her family and still provide adequate supervision.

ADUs are small dwelling units on an existing residential property. Recent state policies, passed in 2016, have made it easier for homeowners in L.A. County to construct these additional dwelling units whether they are detached from the home or attached with a separate entrance, or even a garage conversion.

The advantages to having an ADU on your property are numerous: whether for extra rental income, a home office, or as a guest house. If done properly (up to code, enhancing rather than detracting from the aesthetic of your property), ADUs can add value to not only your residence but your life: turning unused space into a value generator.

However, the impact of building an ADU can have for an existing woman homeowner or single mother renter could be even more profound.

For a Home-Based Business

As highlighted in our 2018 Women in the Housing Ecosystem Report, Volume I that focuses on The State of Women’s Homeownership, aside from viewing a home as a secure sanctuary, women seek homeownership as a stable location to build a home-based business. An ADU provides extra space to grow that business, a safe-space to meet clients without having them directly enter into your living space and a location close enough to be super-convenient but separate enough to provide a distraction-free workspace.

An Additional Revenue Stream

There are more working mothers heading up families with children, or single-working mothers as well as women taking care of aging parents. An ADU can provide an additional revenue stream, allowing a woman to better care for children and aging adults without relying on a second income. On a side note, the homeowner could play it forward to help provide a more homebased living arrangement to single mothers. Who knows, maybe their kids would be a perfect playdate or their mother create some mommy time! There is social impact that also offsets financial impact.

Converting a Property to Rent-Controlled Status  

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors just approved their own new rules and several cities are in the process or already have their own specifc rules for dwellings. Adding an ADU might trigger rent stabilization because it is no longer considered a single-family residence, even if you are living in the same residence.

Before building an ADU, make sure to check any guidelines or restrictions put out by your city and county. Know your options, do your homework and this includes not only detached and attached additions, but pre-fab units as well.

Has the Role of Women in Business Made Progress?

During 2017, there was a noticeable increase of women’s leadership conferences held across the country and the world. At these conferences, women participated in dialogues regarding business strategies and discussed mutual professional challenges. Thus, while 2017 was a year in which women made strides, what was the path leading up to this movement toward professional growth? Specifically, are women in the industries of real estate and technology ready for change?

History
Women first became involved in the real estate industry as brokers and agents in the late 1800s and became well accepted as real estate professionals due to, if nothing else, the sheer number of women involved in the industry. Today women hold the majority of residential real estate positions, but men still maintain most executive positions. In the commercial real estate market, men dominate the profession.

A 2016 Current Population Survey conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that women working in the real estate industry earn only 64 percent of a man’s annual average salary. While women have advanced in the residential real estate industry, they can still make strides by bridging the pay gap, gaining equal leadership positions and increasing sales in commercial real estate.

Compare this to women in technology. In the past thirty years, relatively few women have developed careers in technology fields, let alone high tech fields. In fact, according to the National Center for Women and Information Technology’s (NCWIT) 2016 Women in Tech Report, the peak of women’s involvement in technology occupations, such as computing industry careers, was in 1991 when women held 36 percent of computing jobs. Women’s involvement has never since reached this percentage, but as the world becomes increasingly reliant on technology, more women will likely enter the field.

Continue reading

Life of a Female Veteran: U.S. Army Combat Veteran Erica Courtney (part 2 of 6)

Towards the end of my tour I had set out to earn my spurs, an old cavalry tradition which signifies you are a cut above. This consisted of three days of physical hazing, meeting with a board of senior leaders to answer anything and everything about Cavalry tradition, and employing skills needed to meet the mission. For example, it could be a scenario where I would use my land navigation skills and find certain points. Upon arrival, the scene was some kind of chaos and you had to act under pressure. Or, it could simply be finding the right terrain to watch convoys and their movement to report back to headquarters. This involved carrying heavy equipment such as packs, radios, water cans and more. Prior to the spur ride they broke us into teams. No one wanted me, the female, on their team. Most of the teams were tankers stationed about 20 minutes away from the airfield. We did not know each other. There were a few aviators in the mix. I was assigned and the sighs were heard from my group as if they were expecting to have to tote me around. In contrast, at the end of the three-day event, the rater who was with our group from the start was absolutely flabbergasted at my performance. I steered the guys in the right direction when they became lost (a skill I learned well as an enlisted soldier thanks to a former commander), carried the biggest guy’s rucksack on top of mine because he hurt his ankle and was always the first to get up when needed. The guys were slow to move and tired. It was, after all, 3 a.m. and they had been through days of physical and mental tests. Upon our return to the endpoint, the chain of command had been made aware of my efforts and I had it a bit easier from there. My team stopped looking at me as a female and began seeing me as a teammate, exactly as it should be.

I was awarded my spurs and wore them with pride! One slight issue, women were not allowed to wear pants with their dress uniform, they only had skirts. It was the year 2000 and spurs looked absolutely ridiculous on heels with a skirt. I broke the rules and had a Korean tailor make my uniform pants like the guys wear. This is a big no-no in the service. Uniforms are important and you must stick to the regulation. When I showed up to the ceremony in pants, no one cared. “Looking good lieutenant,” is all I got from my senior leaders. That was liberating. The symbolism here was powerful. Integration is never easy, but it gets easier for those who come after us. We were blazing the trail. I learned early on that if baseless hatred gets to you, they win. I learned to overcome discrimination by working hard, being physically and mentally tough, and setting the example. Eventually, the same guys who did not want me there were the same guys not wanting me to leave. Earned spurs in hand, I left having made it easier for the women behind me and left the unit a better place.

Congratulations, you are going to the 82nd Airborne Division. Wow, okay. I needed a tad of R&R as I was on alert the entire time in South Korea; for a year I was woken at all hours of the night and had five minutes to get dressed, throw on my gear, make it to the airfield and get my helicopter up and ready. No stress there. I went to Australia for a few weeks and became engaged to Chris, a fellow aviator I’d met years prior in flight school. It took nearly the whole two weeks to unwind. At the end of my stay, I became privy to the story of how he got the ring to present. Chris had ordered the ring to be delivered to Korea. Picture this, the FedEx truck pulls up to the gate, in the middle of nowhere, as the unit was on alert with an M1 Abrams tank pointed right at the entrance. Chris had told his First Sergeant (1SG) that if he ever saw a FedEx truck to do whatever he needed to do to get the ring. The 1SG saw the FedEx truck imminently leave and he began running down the road screaming at him to stop. The 1SG accomplished the mission, retrieving the ring and handing it safely off to Chris.

After my R&R, I was off to jump school. Talk about a sore body after two weeks of chilling. As an officer, you must be airborne qualified to be part of the 82nd Airborne Division. I thought it was strange; an aviator having to jump out of a perfectly good airplane? When was that going to happen? I learned that it happened a lot and it was an honor to be sitting next to colonels and privates alike. The Esprit de Corps at that unit was unlike anything I knew. We all had to go through crazy stuff together and it did not matter what you looked like or what your gender was. We are the all American unit. Welcome to jump school. Now do 10 pull-ups before you step over the line and begin your training.

I had the Cavalry brass insignia on my collar versus aviation and that got the attention of many. As usual, a few of the macho men types tried to break me, make me cry. Not happening. The majority of the men were cool, but I had come to expect a certain level of grief for being a cavalry officer, and a woman to boot. Some of the Navy Seals were the most supportive because they knew I could keep up; that was surprising to me. I thought they would be the hardest to win over. However, they are pretty secure in their own skin and appreciate hard work. It is tradition that the highest rank jumps out the door first. Lead from the front. Turns out, in my group, I was the highest ranking. I was what is called the chalk leader. You are standing by the door circling the drop zone and have to stare at the ground and throw any fear you may have out the window. Green light, go. No hesitation.

Scouts always lead from the front. Airborne! 

Each unit got easier as my reputation preceded me. Senior leaders wanted me in their Cavalry units. However, at a level above them, so did the Brigade Commander as she was a proficient staff officer who managed 2,500 personnel, $75 million in equipment and over $200 million budgets and contracts. This hurt and helped me. I wanted to fly more and was requested, but kept getting pigeon-holed into logistics and contracts. At each location, there is no way the boss would let me out of the logistics position because I kept the aircraft flying, the unit out of trouble and the soldiers ready. In protest for all my hard work, tactfully, I demanded to go to the Advanced Cavalry Course taught by armor officers. Women were not allowed. After six months of hounding, my boss finally gave in. I was signed up and was Cavalry through and through. I was excited to learn so I could be better equipped to lead my men.

Again, being a bit naïve, I walked into the class and was completely ignored. A young officer grabbed me by the collar, threw me up against the wall and said that I didn’t belong there. None of the other men did a thing. No worries. They did not know who they were dealing with. Instead of whining or stating my case, I understood how to fight fire with fire, how men respond. Physically.

Now, women would not do this, but if you impress men physically, you are in. I reached out to him, grabbed him by the collar, and pinned him on the ground in a position from which he was not getting up. Clearly he did not know that I was an MP and was often used as a demonstrator on how to take a man down despite size. Now I was ready. Physical prowess, check. Mental toughness and expertise was still ahead of me. I ended up teaching half my class how aeroscouts integrate with ground forces because I lived it in Korea. I understood Cavalry tactics more so than most thanks to that assignment. I graduated, got my certificate and moved on. Turns out I was the first female to ever graduate from that school. It was never my intent to be the first, but it kept happening.

September 11th, 2001. A day that changed the nation. I was working in my office with a long line outside my door and got a call that a plane hit one of the towers. Why were they calling me about this unfortunate accident? Little did I know, like the rest of the country, the gravity of the situation.

The second call, “You may want to take a look.” Two planes now each targeting the Towers. What? Okay, let’s turn the TV on. The rest is history.

I slept in my office for two nights straight as the base was locked down. No one knew how to handle something like this. Of course the 82nd Airborne Division was the first to get the call, they are America’s 911 force with the ability to deploy anywhere in the world within 18 hours. As the senior logistician for anything aviation, my world became very busy. Nothing moved in Afghanistan without air assets due to the terrain and scarce roads which were mostly controlled by the Taliban.

Then came my next assignment at the 10th Mountain Division where I was pushing guys out to Iraq, bringing them home and co-managing the effort in Afghanistan. While there, the pace was rapid keeping up with troop demands in the far reaching areas of the country. I had to work with locals, contractors and leaders in order to skillfully get supplies through Taliban strongholds. They were not used to taking orders from women but they were respectful.

While there, I witnessed things most American’s will never have to. The land is littered with landmines left from the Russian invasion in the 1980s. I organized a food and clothing drive for local kids, and while I was distributing the items with a small team, attacks followed. You can’t really trust anyone in a time of conflict. Also, tall mountains made for some hairy flying. Most flight corridors were in between two tall mountains and there were men at eye level (about 7,000 feet) waiving to you with a radio in one hand and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher in the other. It was unnerving to say the least. I was able to determine very quickly that communications were terrible due to terrain and antiquated systems.

Because I worked in contracting, I was able to research state-of-the-art radio systems and pass my request up through the highest levels of leadership in country to get the $20 million in funding to equip all my aircrafts and increase effectiveness. This saved countless lives in the air and on the ground.

While on base, rocket attacks happened frequently. Rest was minimal and when it happened, my wooden shelter was right off the airfield with loud jets and helicopters flying non-stop. If you want to call it lucky, I had to leave earlier than the rest of my unit to bring the other half back from Iraq. It was a fast-moving train of events and you either kept up or got left behind. People forget that every time an aviator straps in their aircraft, things can and do go wrong whether it is training or war. When something catastrophic happens, there are investigations because the Army, manufacturers and family members want answers. I have had to investigate crashes and similar traffic accidents in Germany. It was hard to process, especially if I knew the people. Lest we forget.

What Working Women Give Up to Climb the Executive Ladder

Professional and high-achieving working women have to give up a lot to climb the executive ladder. What does it mean to sacrifice and what are those things that are sacrificed in the pursuit of the executive woman’s life?

According to definition.com, sacrifice is the “forfeiture of something highly valued for the sake of one considered to have a greater value or claim.” From this context, working women are giving up things they highly value for their careers in which they feel are of greater value. What are the things that are given up or forfeited? The biggest one is relationships: relationships with themselves, spouses, children and friends.

There is still great societal expectations, or perceived expectations women place on themselves, to be a great wife, mother and maintain the household. In order to do all of the above and work a demanding career, something is bound to be lost or sacrificed for what is believed to be the greater good to the family or individual.

 

Women and the Second Shift 
When the paid workday ends, the non-paid day begins and this can be taxing on an already jammed-packed day. According to salary.com’s “What’s a Working Mom Worth” 2016 survey, women spend an additional 59 hours per week working on the household. Part of the problem is that the husbands have not picked up a large enough portion of the traditional household responsibilities.

This rings true for even some of the highest-achieving executive women. Statistics from the National Parenting Association show that only 9 percent of their husbands take responsibility for meal preparation, 10 percent for the laundry and 5 percent for cleaning the house. When you throw children in the mix, it does not get better: only 9 percent take off work when the children are sick, 9 percent take the lead in helping with homework and a meager 3 percent help plan activities. With the expectations for women to be able to have it all, the balance can be more than overwhelming, and the fear of failure by asking for help compounds it all.

Continue reading

Happy Mother’s Day from NAWRB!

On Sunday, May 13th, Americans will celebrate Mother’s Day, a national holiday honoring mothers and motherhood. Mother’s Day was first organized by Anna Jarvis in Grafton, WV and Philadelphia, PA on May 10, 1908. As the annual celebration gained popularity, Jarvis requested that Congress officially recognize a day to honor mothers. In 1914 Congress designated the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

Continue reading

DC Finance Family Office & Wealth Management Conference, Art Basel – Florida

Last year, NAWRB had the honor of representing women in the real estate and housing ecosystem at one of the largest events for ultra high net worth individuals and family offices. The events were hosted by one of the world’s leading conference organizers, DC Finance. This organization has built an international network of high net worth individuals, family offices and investors—spanning over 1,000 families that represent $300 billion collectively— that support one another and collaborate towards mutual success.

Continue reading

“We Are the Answer”: Michelle Obama Speaks at the 2018 United State of Women Summit

Last weekend, over 6,000 women, from international leaders and executive women, to celebrities and politicians, gathered at the 2018 United State of Women Summit in Los Angeles, California, to discuss women’s issues and gender equality. Following the inaugural, day-long event in 2016, this year’s multi-industry event was extended to two days chalk full of main stage and breakout sessions, networking opportunities, skills-based trainings and an interactive center with women-owned businesses and organizations.

Continue reading