USGBC Carolinas Present: Resilience Leadership in the Carolinas
Resilience leaders illustrate how green building achieves resilience goals to create safer, more equitable places to call home.
On Wednesday, May 5, ULI Charlotte’s Women’s Leadership Initiative hosted “Champions in Real Estate,” a virtual ULI Charlotte event that celebrated the leadership of the chapter’s 2021 champions in real estate development, land use, and city-building. WLI Charlotte welcomed Lisa Gordon, President, and CEO of Atlanta Habitat for Humanity and ULI Atlanta Board Chair, to provide her leadership insights.
Gordon opened by sharing parts of “The Year of Yes” by Shonda Rhimes, which encourages women to become pioneers and break glass ceilings, to overcome fears, and say yes to opportunities. “How many women had to hit that glass before the first crack appeared?” Gordon encouraged women to recognize how they benefit from the women who came before them.
“My vision for my life is around what I want to be, what I want to become, what I want to be known for – making a difference, loving my family and friends, building people and places that matter,” Gordon said. “I may hit the ceiling, but I’ve made the journey easier for someone else like someone else did before me.”
During her junior year at Georgetown University where she was studying to be a lawyer, Gordon was talking about how she impacted her community when someone suggested public administration as a career. Gordon went on to work in the public sector for Broward County, FL, Austin, and Atlanta, including the Atlanta Beltline. The threads of her career involve helping people, building infrastructure, placemaking, and innovative projects.
Now with two adult children, Gordon said that the years when her children were young were tough and she struggled to balance her career with the demands of home. “That was the first time I realized my life was out of balance,” Gordon said. “I needed to be intentional about making sure I didn’t miss the milestones of my kids’ lives.”
She emphasized supporting other women in leadership roles, which can sometimes feel competitive. “Instead of challenging or questioning a woman’s worth or value, amplify and support women in the room,” she said. Even if you don’t agree with her position, adopt a policy of “no help, no harm.”
As women typically make less compared to men, Gordon encouraged them to ask for a higher salary. “What do you think you’re worth? Add 10, 15, 25 percent to that.” She recalled a time early in her career when she was offered the minimum salary for a position and asked for more money. “Unless you value yourself, others won’t value you.”
Gordon stressed that women need to be strategic and plan their careers but also be open to surprises and opportunities. “If you get a seat at the table, you need to use your voice,” Gordon said. “Be unapologetic.”
Following Gordon’s presentation, ULI Charlotte recognized the nine 2021 Champions in Real Estate who reflect the region’s real estate development industry through the responsible use of land to create thriving communities worldwide. This year’s champions and their individual bios can be found here. Congratulations to our 2021 Champions in Real Estate!
Thank you to Lisa Gordon for presenting and to WLI Assistant Chair Krista Hunter for moderating.
Notes provided by Angela Vogel Daley, Director of Strategy for Yellow Duck Marketing.