CREW-St. Louis Honors Members at Annual Awards Ceremony


Airport Director receives Woman of Influence honors

The St. Louis chapter of CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) honored members at its 12th Annual Networking Awards held on March 9 at The Saint Louis Woman’s Club. Besides members, CREW-St. Louis presented its second annual Woman of Influence Award. The award recognizes a female leader who has impacted the commercial real estate industry through her leadership, accomplishments and service to the St. Louis region.

The awards revolve around CREW-St. Louis’ mission to advance, educate and support women to influence the commercial real estate industry. Those honored in 2017 were:

Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge

Woman of Influence: Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge, Director of Airports, St. Louis Lambert International Airport

After a successful 25-plus years in airline aviation, Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge accepted the challenge to oversee the region’s airport. She took the helm on Jan. 3, 2010, just days after leaving her position as managing director of American Airlines’ St. Louis operations.

American’s decision to reduce St. Louis from a hub to a focus airport greatly impacted its flights and passenger traffic. Hamm-Niebruegge went to work to restore the airport’s prominence. Under her leadership, airline passenger volume now stands at nearly 14 million, almost equaling its record set back in 2008. Last year alone, the airport grew passenger volume by 10%, placing St. Louis in the top 10 U.S. airports for passenger growth. Flights have been added, with twelve new nonstop markets in the past 18 months and two more on the way this June.

Additionally, she has overseen the renovation to reopen “C” concourse and the $70 million dollar renovation of the historic T1 terminal. After a tornado struck the airport on Good Friday in 2011, she successfully reopened the airport for operations in 36 hours.

Her tenure has improved the airport’s financial standing, with debt reduced and savings of almost $60 million dollars over the past four years.

The airport also continues to attract new businesses to increase its revenue base and utilize 2,500 acres of land for commercial development. These efforts include a cargo development agreement with a company to develop 60 acres of airport property known as the Northern Tract. And St. Louis is in the final stage of approval to become a USDA port of embarkation to allow live animal charters to depart from St. Louis.

Hamm-Niebruegge’s accomplishments earned her recognition from Airport Revenue News as the 2015 Airport Director of the Year for medium hubs.

New Member of the Year: Erin Valentine, McCarthy Building Companies Inc.

Erin Valentine

Since joining CREW-St. Louis, Valentine has volunteered her time and expertise. She played a big role in the organization’s annual golf outing last year. She now serves as co-chair of the communications committee, overseeing the organization’s website, social media, e-newsletter and other communications vehicles, as well as its marketing efforts.

She was recently included in the St. Louis Business Journal’s class of 40 Under 40. And she was honored as a 2017 Young Top Professional by Engineering News-Record.

Those honors stem from her contributions to McCarthy Building Companies. Since joining one of the nation’s top construction companies in 2001, she has contributed to expanding the company’s specialized expertise and helped drive the firm’s overall success both in the St. Louis region and across America.

CREW Impact Award: Karen Karwoski, Simmons Bank

Karen Karwoski

Karwoski was lauded for her longstanding involvement in CREW-St. Louis. Since joining CREW-St. Louis 13 years ago, she has chaired numerous committees and served on the executive board. She led the chapter as president from July 2014 to the end of 2015. During her tenure as president, Karwoski launched the chapter’s first signature event and played a significant role in its ongoing strategic plan. She was also recognized for mentoring fellow members.

Her comm

itment extends to CREW Network, the international organization. She has been an advocate for the CREW Network Foundation, the only such charitable foundation that dedicates its resources solely to advance the success of women in commercial real estate.

Karwoski was also commended for her impact on the industry. She is a leading expert on the financial needs of commercial real estate companies. In banking for more than 20 years, she now focuses on treasury management.

Economic Impact: Sue Pruchnicki, Bond Architects Inc.; Rebekah Bahn Kingston, Gwen Knight, Wendy Timm and Pam Boelhauf, Colliers St. Louis; Melissa Vighi, Lashly & Baer P.C.; and Julie Drummond, Color-Art Integrated Interiors

(Renovation and New Branches for St. Louis County Library)

Real estate projects often have a lasting, positive impact on the region. Such is the case with the renovation and new branches for the St. Louis County Library System.

The transformation of the county’s library system was made possible when voters approved a tax increase to fund new facilities and upgrades to existing structures, as well as enhanced library programs and services. Several CREW-St. Louis members have played – and continue to play – a role in the multiyear capital improvement campaign called Your Library Renewed.

Bond Architects was selected to provide architectural and interior design services for 13 branch renovations and is supporting Mackey Mitchell on two new branches.

Colliers St. Louis was selected to provide real estate services. This assignment includes assisting the library in site acquisitions, site dispositions and leasing of facilities.

Lashly and Baer has provided legal services to the St. Louis County Library District since the project’s inception.

Color Art collaborated on the project, which included providing shelving installation.

Your Library Renewed will be completed in 2021.

Career Advancement for Women: Angie Earlywine, Forum Studio

Angie Earlywine

CREW-St. Louis members recognized Earlywine for her constant efforts to support and advance the careers of women in commercial real estate. As a mentor to many, colleagues commended her “for her selfless actions to give of her time and talent to others.”

She joined CREW-St. Louis in 2004. She has held numerous positions, serving on the board and as a national delegate to CREW Network. She currently guides the chapter as its 2017 president.

As a principal and director with Forum, she brings 18 years of leadership and expertise in the areas of workplace strategy and design innovation to the built environment.

A noted authority, she has shared her expertise with audiences at national conferences and has published articles and White Papers on the best practices in workplace design.

Her career includes work for the region’s and nation’s top companies: Enterprise Holdings, Cisco Systems, BlueCross BlueShield, Principal Financial, Diageo, JLL, BJC Healthcare, John Deere, T-Rex, Transunion and Spencer Fane.

The St. Louis chapter of CREW Network was started in 1982. Since then, it has grown to become one of the largest of CREW Network’s 76 chapters in North America, with nearly 200 members from all disciplines in commercial real estate.

Photo Above:  Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge received a standing ovation from the audience at the 12th Annual CREW-St. Louis Networking Awards. Hamm-Niebruegge received the Woman of Influence Award for her leadership in turning around St. Louis Lambert International Airport.


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