Karen Cherry, who was recently elected to the NAIOP-MD Board of Directors, recognized the importance of the organization well before her 20-plus-year commercial real estate career began. Working for a computer consulting firm that engineered smart building systems, Cherry became involved with the chapter with goals to network for prospects, learn more about the commercial real estate industry and understand its nuances. She immediately felt the chapter’s power and influence.
“I was instantly struck by the extreme professionalism of membership and the obvious camaraderie that existed among its membership, the interesting work of commercial real estate and the overall energy of the chapter,” Cherry explained.
It wasn’t long before she segued into the commercial real estate industry, working initially for The Staubach Company in Northern Virginia. Her stint on the brokerage side extended 16 years and included management-level positions with Trammell Crow Company, Cushman & Wakefield, SVN International and Lee & Associates. Cherry now brings a developer/landlord perspective, after spending the past five years as Vice President of Office Leasing for The Howard Hughes Corporation. She currently oversees leasing and marketing activities for the office portfolio in Downtown Columbia, consisting of more than 1.8 million square feet of existing space and approximately 4 million square feet of future development.
“I had many mentors and especially looked for advice from Abby Glassberg and Cathy Ward over the years because I viewed them as groundbreakers and icons in the industry,” Cherry explained. “When I started in the commercial real estate business, there were only a handful of women actively involved. Abby and Cathy were among a few women pioneers, forging amazing careers and paving the way for a lot of the women you see active today. They broke down doors and made things significantly easier for us. It is tremendously important for women to see other women represented in the industry, and I believe Cathy’s Lifetime Achievement Award was especially poignant.”
Cherry views her term on the NAIOP-MD board as an amazing opportunity.
“I intend to apply my different perspectives to this role to positively impact the chapter,” she added. “The Legislative Committee has successfully elevated the profile of NAIOP Maryland and its members both in Annapolis and the overall business community and its efforts are vital to our future. I will do everything I can to support this team and their important work.”
Cherry also has another obvious connection to NAIOP Maryland. Her father, Dick Story, served as the “official” Master of Ceremonies for numerous chapter events for many years and received the chapter’s “Service Provider Award” in 2018.
“In his role working for different economic development groups, my dad interacted constantly with real estate development companies and I heard often of his respect for the professionals and the industry,” Cherry added. “Those feelings seep in and resonate over the years as I share those same experiences. My goal is to look back on my term on the board and believe that I helped make a positive difference for membership.”