Women, leadership and higher education: An interview Dr. Beverly Tatum

TatumFiresideOn December 4, CREW Atlanta hosted a fireside chat with Spelman College President Beverly Tatum at the Atlanta History Center. Dr. Tatum is an accomplished writer, clinical psychologist, and nationally recognized expert on racial identity development and the role of race in the classroom.

Before taking the stage for a conversation with CREW Atlanta President, Christine Gorham, we asked Dr. Tatum to share her thoughts on women in leadership, the development of young female leaders, and how colleges and universities are working to create safe and inclusive environments.

Q: Only 26% of college presidents in the U.S. are women while more than 57% of the students in colleges and universities are women. Do women in higher education face unique leadership development challenges compared to their peers in corporate America?

A: Given that the percentage of women CEOs in corporate America is less than 10%, it would seem that the opportunity for women to lead at the top is greater in the world of higher education.  That said, the growth in the percentage of female college presidents has been slow.  The average age of college presidents today is 61 years of age, which means that we can anticipate a wave of retirements and new presidential appointments in the next few years.  It is a significant opportunity to see a change in the face of college and university leadership.  College presidents are selected by boards of trustees, and most boards are still dominated by men.  If those men are proactive in seeking out diverse candidates, we could see significant growth in the number of women in leadership over the next few years.  Now is a great time for women interested in academic leadership to prepare themselves by seeking out developmental opportunities and for those of us currently in leadership roles to actively mentor and sponsor the next generation of institutional leaders.

Q: What role should colleges and universities play in preparing young women not only for successful careers, but also to become the next generation of leaders in their chosen professions?

A: Exposing young women to role models whose career paths can serve as a source of inspiration is very important.  At Spelman we are intentional in our efforts to do so.  In particular, we work to connect our students with our alumnae in career fields that are of interest to them.  It is hard to become something you have never seen, so it is important to make the success of women leaders very visible to them.  It is also important to provide the kinds of experiences that will serve as a foundation for leadership.  Learning how to think critically, solve problems, communicate effectively, and connect effectively with others across lines of difference – these tools are the hallmark of a strong liberal arts education and the tools all great leaders have.

Q: Many colleges and universities are struggling to address racial tensions, sexual violence and cheating among student athletes. Are these challenges indicative of a culture breakdown in higher education, or are campuses merely a microcosm of the nation? What changes would you like to see happening on college campuses?

A: College campuses are not islands.  The students we educate bring the influences of their families and their home communities to campus with them.  Regrettably the fact that most young people are still growing up in segregated neighborhoods means that they have limited experience engaging with other people across racial lines, and their attitudes are still being shaped to a large extent by media stereotypes and parental attitudes.  Exposure to images of sexual exploitation and violence in the media is a daily occurrence and the disrespectful treatment of women that is still rampant in our society seeps onto college campuses as well.  The same might be said about cheating.  Too often we celebrate those who “win” without questioning the means they used to achieve the “win.”  As parents and educators, we have to model the behavior we want to see in our children and our students.  Educational institutions need to provide opportunities for students to examine their assumptions, and to learn to think critically about the messages they receive daily, and the way those messages are reflected in their own language and behavior.  As we raise consciousness about that, we often see behaviors change.  But that kind of critical thinking requires focused attention to develop.

Committee Chair Spotlight- Cathleen M. Clayton

Cathleen Headshot

Company: Colliers International

1. What motivated you to enter your career and do what you do?

It was all an accident, thanks to Lindsay Thompson. Lindsay was a Tenant Services Coordinator at the time and told me about a position that was open so I applied and the rest is history!

2. How long have you been in your field?

I’ve been in Commercial Real Estate for 7 years. I most recently was in Property Management, but just recently switched over to Project Management.

3. What was your first job? Craziest job?

My first job was helping my dad in his sporting goods store either answering the phone, inventory, cash register or adding names/numbers to uniforms.

4. What is furthest place you have ever visited?

    Hong Kong & Macau

    5. What is your favorite Hobby?

      I love to read when I have the time. Being active and trying new things is what I’ve been spending a lot of my time doing at the moment.

      6. What is your business philosophy? Favorite quote?

        “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” – Eleanor Roosevelt. I love this quote because it reminds you that anything is possible and you’re never too old to dream!

        7. What types of companies/individuals would be good leads for you?

          Any office user that needs new or expansion space.

          Board of Directors Spotlight- Kristy Rachal

          Kristy Rachal- pic (200x200)

          Company: Georgia Power Company

          1. What motivated you to enter your career and do what you do?

          My path to commercial real estate wasn’t a straightforward one.  I practiced law for 10 years, most recently in-house at Georgia Power Company, supporting the Land Department, GPC’s real estate group.  I moved over to the business side in 2007 to manage real estate sales and leasing.  The move to real estate sales was a no- brainer- I was already supporting the group and was excited about the constantly changing environment, the variety of projects, and the opportunity to think of creative solution- figure out how to get past a wide array of hurdles while crafting the deals.  I still negotiate deals, which is the fun part of lawyering, in my opinion, so it really is the best of both worlds.

          2. How long have you been in your field?

          I’ve been in real estate since 2004, serving as an attorney until 2007, when I moved into my current role.

          3. What other professional organizations are you involved in?

          Georgia Bar Association (Real Property Section, Eminent Domain Section, Corporate Counsel Section), ULI Atlanta, Atlanta Bar Association.

          4. Tell us something that not many people may know about you?

          I’m a writer.  I hope to write children’s books when I grow up.

          5. What was your first job? Craziest job?

          My first job many years ago was as a waitress. That’s one of the hardest jobs in existence.  Always tip generously.  A bad server is just a good server having a bad day.

          6. What is furthest place you have ever visited?

          South Africa.  My husband and I spent New Year’s Eve in Cape Town several years ago.  Robben Island, Stellenbosch, Franshoek,  Table Mountain, Cape Point- all breathtaking for very different reasons.  It’s a beautiful country, and the people, food and culture are truly unforgettable. I’d go back in a heartbeat.

          7. What is your favorite Hobby?

          Traveling.  We haven’t travelled as much as we used to before my daughter (age 3) was born, but we’ll ramp up again pretty soon, now that she’s a bit older.  I hope to set foot on every continent.  3 continents to go.

          8. What is your business philosophy? Favorite quote?

          I have so many favorite quotes.  Some that immediately come to mind: “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”- Milton Berle and “Progress always involves risks. You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.”- Frederick B Wilcox

          9.  Have you read any good books or seen any good movies lately?

          What did you like about it? I just re-read the “Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime” by Mark Haddon for my book club, and it’s remarkable, particularly the conflicted and richly complex character portrayals. I’m reading “Gone Girl” by Gilliam Flynn and I’m determined to finish before I see the movie (which means it will probably be on cable before I see it).

          10.  What CREW committees have you participated on and what was your role (chair, vice-chair, etc)?

          I served on the Programs Committee as Co-Chair.

          11.  Describe your role as Director on CREW’s board.

          I serve as the Programs Committee Liaison.  More broadly speaking, my role as Director is to promote the CREW Atlanta brand and mission, doing my part to  advance and promote women to powers of position and influence in the CRE industry.   We have such phenomenal, accomplished women in our chapter, and we want the world to not only know it, but value it and reward it in a very meaningful way.

          New Member Spotlight- Melissa Varnadoe

          Melissa Varnadoe headshot (460x640)

          1.  What motivated you to enter your career and do what you do?

          While trying to figure out just what it was I wanted to do after graduating, I took an administrative position with a local real estate developer/owner.  Almost immediately, I knew this was the field I wanted to be in.  I had fallen in love with commercial real estate and the idea of being a part of creating places that served and helped shape communities.

          2.  How long have you been in your field?

          13 years

          3.  What other professional organizations are you involved in?

          ICSC

          4.  Tell us something that not many people may know about you?

          I’m half Cuban and first generation American on my father’s side.

          5.  What was your first job?  What was your craziest job?

          I was 10 years old and planted flowers for my dad’s landscaping company on Saturday mornings.  He paid me $10 a day and I thought I was rich! My craziest job was writing travel articles for magazines while traveling with my spouse’s job for 3 years.  I was completely out of my element, but loved getting to experience a field so different from my chosen profession.

          6.  What is furthest place you have ever visited?

          Australia

          7.  What is your favorite Hobby?

          Travel

          8.  What is your business philosophy?

          I believe in a healthy balance of idealism and pragmatism in business.  Being pragmatic can afford you the opportunity to be a visionary.

          9.  What is your favorite quote?

          “As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” – Nelson Mandela

          10.  What types of companies/individuals would be good leads for you?

          Commercial brokers, developers, vendors.

          11.  Have you read any good books or seen any good movies lately?  What did you like about it?

          Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese –It was a beautifully written, epic story of a family and their ties to two countries- India, a country I became fascinated with after living there for 2 months, and Ethiopia, a country at the top of my travel wish list.

          12.  If you could describe yourself in one word, what would it be?

          Tenacious

          New Member Spotlight- Rachel E. Williams

          RachelWilliams 2014-09 (print) (457x640)

          Company: Columbia Property Trust

          1.  What motivated you to enter your career and do what you do?

          I love motivating and inspiring others through written and visual communications, and over the past 15+ years, that initial love of writing and design has grown into where I am today, helping to lead the messaging and communications for one of the largest publicly-listed office REITs.

          2.  How long have you been in your field?

          Most of my 17-year career has been spent in marketing and communications in general, but I’ve spent the past nine years in real estate-related corporate communications specifically.

          3.  What other professional organizations are you involved in?

          I am also planning to get involved with NAREIM and NIRI, but none others that I’m actively involved with at present – my family (husband and 3.5-year-old son) get my free time!

          4.  Tell us something that not many people may know about you?

          I loved horses as a girl and not only owned and showed my own Tennessee Walking Horse for several years in my teens, but also drew and painted horses all the time, even completing several paintings, both commissioned and as gifts, of several other people’s horses. I don’t paint much any more these days but wish I had more time for it!

          5.  What was your first job?  What was your craziest job?

          I started my career in PR in the music industry in Nashville, Tennessee. I’d have to give the title of craziest to my present one last year, as we internalized our management team, changed our name and office location, and then listed on the NYSE – all of which required massive communications and branding efforts!

          6.  What is furthest place you have ever visited?

          The furthest in culture was El Salvador for an outreach trip in college, but per Google, Seattle, WA, which I’ve visited numerous times, is technically farther away.

          7.  What is your favorite Hobby?

          Reading and Pilates.

          8.  What is your business philosophy?

          I believe that companies with a healthy culture – those that embrace trust and insist on clarity and integrity from the leadership level down – have a competitive advantage over those that are not healthy, even companies that have extensive intelligence and expertise resources, because the culture of healthy companies enables them to learn from one another, identify critical issues, recover from mistakes, rally around solutions, and ultimately, adapt and respond to challenges more nimbly and effectively than companies that lack a healthy culture. Therefore, as a communications director, my chief objective is to inspire health in my organization.

          9.  What is your favorite quote?

          “I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.”

          — Helen Keller

          10.  What types of companies/individuals would be good leads for you?

          I’m mostly interested in developing relationships with others in my field (marketing, communications, and investor relations for real estate companies) so that I can learn from them, gain new ideas, and create mutually beneficial connections.

          11.  Have you read any good books or seen any good movies lately?  What did you like about it?

          The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business by Pat Lencioni

          This book helped to shape my philosophy and beliefs about business and my purpose in my job. I would recommend it for any company that is seeking to differentiate itself and create sustainable success, and I would recommend it to any individual who wants to be a leader in inspiring that kind of culture at her company!

          12.  If you could describe yourself in one word, what would it be?

          Creative

          New Member Spotlight- Joe Clark

          JosephClark4350s

          Company: Mitec

          1.  What motivated you to enter your career and do what you do?

          After many years of successful business to business sales, I was looking for an industry that fit my personality and provided a necessary service to clients.  Life Safety & Security is an opportunity to ensure that Property Managers and Engineers can provide safe, secure environments for their tenants.  I feel good about being part of the team that ensures notification of emergency events, identification of security threats, and compliance with state and local code requirements.

          2.  How long have you been in your field?

          10 years, all-in-all, although I have moved into the non-profit, rainwater catchment, and software fields for brief forays along the way.  This is my third time back in the industry (for the past 3 years) over 15 years, and I’m beginning to see the truth in the old saying, “third times the charm!”

          3.  What other professional organizations are you involved in?

          BOMA, IREM, IFMA, AAFA, NFPA, NICET

          4.  Tell us something that not many people may know about you?

          I like to write songs, short stories, and children’s stories.

          5.  What was your first job?  What was your craziest job?

          My very first paying job was doing landscaping chores with Mrs. Hicks, an elderly lady that lived down the road from us, for $2.00/hr. at age 12.  She taught me the value of hard work, and the importance of keeping your word.  The craziest job was selling encyclopedias door-to-door at age 21-23.  We traveled the nation, usually to military towns with high turnover, until I realized that we were not really doing right by most of our customers.  I met people from every race, creed, religion, socio-economic level and every other demographic you can imagine.  This experience helped me better understand the diversity inherent in our unique American culture, the disparities between diverse groups, and not to judge too harshly because humans are incredibly complex beings.  Trust me, that was a crazy job!

          6.  What is the furthest place you have ever visited?

          Well, I have completely circumnavigated the globe by ship and car (Atlantic, Mediterranean, Suez Canal, Red Sea, Indian, Pacific), lived in Australia (in the outback with no running water, electricity, etc.), and visited Ireland, England, Italy, New Zealand, Hawaii, and Canada before returning to the good old U.S. of A!  Of course, that was all before I was 4 years old, so I’m a little hazy on the details.  In my adult life, I have been throughout the United States (for work, of course, but I also have family in WA, CA, NC, CT, MA, and VT) and on cruises to the Bahamas (twice).

          7.  What is your favorite Hobby?

          I am an avid outdoorsman and love camping (which includes mountain-biking, hiking, canoeing, etc.) and just hanging out by a campfire (although I feel like I haven’t done as much of that as I would like, lately).  My newest hobby is my 10-month-old mutt (a 63lb. Golden Retriever/Black Lab mix), since his training is time-consuming, but rewarding.

          8.  What is your business philosophy?

          It may sound cliché, but I live by the Golden Rule (and I DON’T mean the one that says, “He who has the gold gets to make the rules!).  I believe in a consultative approach to determining specific solutions for client needs, an honest assessment of what I have to offer (if anything), and a candid discussion of the client’s budget and pricing options.

          9.  What is your favorite quote?

          I went to college to be a high-school English teacher, with a focus on classical literature and composition, so I have far too many quotes in mind to choose a favorite (plus, it really depends on the occasion).  But if I have to choose one, I came across this in my reading lately and it really stood out to me: “The highest levels of performance come to people who are centered, intuitive, creative, and reflective – people who know to see a problem as an opportunity.” – Deepak Chopra

          Although, with my 19-year-old in his sophomore year of college, I keep coming back to this one (and hoping he’s coming around): “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” – Mark Twain

          10.  What types of companies/individuals would be good leads for you?

          All Property Management companies can (and most do) use Mitec’s services. Property Managers or Engineers are most-likely the decision-makers when it comes to choosing a Life Safety and Security vendor.

          11.  Have you read any good books or seen any good movies lately?  What did you like about it?

          Most recently, I have been reading Deepak Chopra – “Seven Spiritual Laws of Success.”  It was a quick read, but I find myself going back to it as a study guide, while I seek to implement the principles in my life.

          12.  If you could describe yourself in one word, what would it be?

          Sincere (although, due to the previously discussed complexity inherent in every human being, I have to say, I think this is a ridiculous question).

          Committee Chair Spotlight- Ellen W. Smith

          Smith7904_8x10

          Company: Holt Ney Zatcoff & Wasserman

          1.What motivated you to enter your career and do what you do?

          I like to argue and am good at it. All kidding aside, I’m not sure what motivated me, but law school was a goal from early high school, if not before. I enjoy people and solving problems; practicing law allows me to interact with all kinds of people and participate in assisting clients with creative solutions.

          2. How long have you been in your field?

          I started practicing at Holt Ney the day after graduation from law school in May of 2000.  Although I initially focused much of my time in litigation and now am primarily involved in zoning or transactional matters, almost my entire career has revolved around real estate and the development and use of it.

          3. What other professional organizations are you involved in?

          Georgia Wireless Association (Co-Chair, Regulatory Committee; Board Member); Council for Quality Growth (Board Member); Georgia Bar Association (Real Property, Eminent Domain Sections).

          4. Tell us something that not many people may know about you?

          I am a sucker for good quality stationery and keep a stash of it always.

          5. What was your first job? Craziest job?

          First W-9 job was working at the Pro Shop at the Augusta National Golf Course during Masters Week. Hardest I’ve ever worked.  Craziest job…I worked for the Kuwait American Foundation (essentially a tax shelter for rich Kuwaitis) in Washington, DC for about a year.  The Foundation had 4 employees, including a full time driver (who was paid more than I was).  We ran an educational program called “Do the Write Thing” for underprivileged middle school aged children.

          6. What is furthest place you have ever visited?

          Kuwait (rode a camel, milked the camel, drank warm camel’s milk… character building and never to be repeated).

          7. What is your favorite Hobby?

          Reading.

          8. What is your business philosophy? Favorite quote?

          Not sure I have a business philosophy – be ethical, be responsive and timely (I struggle with that one), be objective.  Favorite quote:  Tom Hanks from “A League of Their Own”:  “There’s no crying in baseball.”

          9. What types of companies/individuals would be good leads for you?

          Good leads for me include anyone who needs zoning or land use assistance (including zoning analysis or review), any non-residential Landlord or Tenant with lease negotiation or default issues, commercial real estate acquisitions, dispositions, financing or working capital financing (on the borrower’s side).

          10. Have you read any good books or seen any good movies lately? What did you like about it?

          I am a voracious reader.  My latest favorite is “I Am Pilgrim” by Terry Hayes.  But, I’ve also just serial read everything by Liane Moriarty (think “Husband’s Secret”) and Jodi Picoult (think “My Sister’s Keeper”).  “I Am Pilgram” was a spy thriller (Bond, James Bond-ish); Liane Moriarty is great beach reading (even if you’re not lucky enough to be at the beach); Jodi Picoult’s writing reinforces the main lesson from law school:  there’s no such thing as black and white, only shades of gray.   

          New Member Spotlight- Mary Anne Walser

          Mary Anne Walser headshot color

          Company: Keller Williams Realty

          1.  What motivated you to enter your career and do what you do?

          I have a legal background and enjoy negotiating contracts.  I love houses.  I love space.  I love architecture, design, and neighborhoods.  All of my interests combined make real estate the perfect career for me.

          2.  How long have you been in your field?

          14 years in real estate.  17 years prior to that as a lawyer.

          3.  What other professional organizations are you involved in?

          GAWL (Georgia Association of Women Lawyers), The Atlanta and Georgia Bar Associations, the Atlanta and Georgia Board of Realtors

          4.  Tell us something that not many people may know about you?

          For seven years, I was a television news anchor in Birmingham, Alabama (the CBS affiliate, 5 and 10pm newscasts)

          5.  What was your first job?  What was your craziest job?

          First job was as a dance teacher’s assistant.  Craziest job was as a dance teacher’s assistant.

          6.  What is furthest place you have ever visited?

          China – ran the Great Wall of China marathon in 2008.

          7.  What is your favorite Hobby?

          Interior design.

          8.  What is your business philosophy?

          Exceed the clients’ positive expectations, no matter what.

          9.  What is your favorite quote?

          “A man is about as happy as he makes up his mind to be” Abraham Lincoln

          10.  What types of companies/individuals would be good leads for you?

          HR Managers in charge of relocation services for any size companies; small businesses looking for office space; any individual who is in the market to buy or sell property.

          11.  Have you read any good books or seen any good movies lately?  What did you like about it?

          The Dovekeepers, by Alice Hoffman. Fascinating historical fiction (my favorite genre) through which I’m learning a lot about Jewish history.

          12.  If you could describe yourself in one word, what would it be?

          Motivated!

          New Member Spotlight- Sarah Borders

          Sarah Borders headshot

          Company: King & Spalding LLP

          1.  What motivated you to enter your career and do what you do?

          I love solving problems (preferably other people’s problems)

          2.  How long have you been in your field?

          26 years

          3.  What other professional organizations are you involved in?

          American Bankruptcy Institute, American College of Bankruptcy, Turnaround Management Association, Urban Land Institute

          4.  Tell us something that not many people may know about you?

          I won a sew with cotton contest in high school.

          5.  What was your first job?  What was your craziest job?

          Teaching swim lessons.   Telephone sales for a business lobby in Louisiana.

          6.  What is your favorite Hobby?

          Photography

          7.  What is your business philosophy?

          Be thoughtful, be prompt, be collegial, but above all else, be sure that you get the answer right.

          8.  What is your favorite quote?

          Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other — JFK

          9.  What types of companies/individuals would be good leads for you?

          Financial institutions and real estate investors

          10.  Have you read any good books or seen any good movies lately?

          What did you like about it?

          11.  If you could describe yourself in one word, what would it be?

          Strategic

          New Member Spotlight- Robin Boyd

          Robin D. Boyd Headshot

          Company: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

          1.  What motivated you to enter your career and do what you do?

          A long time ago, I worked for a private residential builder and decided that I loved the work because every day was different.  I was part bookkeeper, I showed model homes, I coordinated contractor and vendor schedules and had other interaction with the public.   Years later, I became a Senior Property Manager responsible for Class A Office towers for a REIT in Delaware and then a Realtor.  Now I am in real estate at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport, leasing and managing 7.5 million square feet of Airfield assets.

          2.  How long have you been in your field?

          22 years

          3.  What other professional organizations are you involved in?

          AAAE, CCIM

          4.  Tell us something that not many people may know about you?

          I left behind a thriving real estate business to fulfill my dream of moving to Atlanta

          5.  What was your first job?  What was your craziest job?

          Ever?  Enterprise Leasing.  All of my jobs have been crazy busy, but I wouldn’t describe any as “crazy”

          6.  What is furthest place you have ever visited?

          Italy and Alaska

          7.  What is your favorite Hobby?

          Travel

          8.  What is your business philosophy?

          Treat everyone fairly and honestly because there’s enough profit to go around.  My word is gold and integrity is paramount.

          9.  What is your favorite quote?

          Where there’s a will there’s a way

          10.  Have you read any good books or seen any good movies lately?  What did you like about it?

          I recently read “Lincoln, Team of Rivals”.  Loved the history and insight into how difficult decisions were made.   Inspiring to know someone valued honest disagreement over ‘yes-man’ mentality.

          11.  If you could describe yourself in one word, what would it be?

          Sincere