Meet a Governor: Colleen Wevodau
Partner, Baker Tilly US, LLP
What was your path to joining the Research Foundation Governors?
I have been active in the NAIOP Northern Virginia chapter and was on the Developing Leaders II National Forum when my colleague and mentor Barbara McDuffie helped the Foundation establish the Visionaries program. Right away, Barbara encouraged me to get involved because she knew I’d gain the same experience and exposure that she had as a Governor. I applied to the first class of Visionaries and really enjoyed the experience, so the choice to transition to a Governor was an easy one. I’ve encouraged many of my chapter and professional colleagues to get involved as well.
How has the work of the Foundation been meaningful to you?
I look at the Research Foundation as an essential resource that keeps me informed about all that’s happening in the commercial real estate industry. As an accountant, I work with various clients in this space and the knowledge I gain from Governor events and reading the research prepares me to discuss industry trends and understand what’s happening in the CRE markets.
A few years ago, the Foundation’s board of trustees considered funding a report on how to establish a private equity fund. Some of the more experienced Governors were skeptical, but the Visionaries unanimously voiced our support for it because we were all eager to know more about the topic and felt our peers would too. Creating a Private Equity Fund: A Guide for Real Estate Professionals has been one of the Foundation’s most downloaded reports and has recently been expanded into an on-demand course.
What is the biggest value you’ve found in the Foundation?
The relationships I’ve strengthened with the Governors and particularly the Visionaries have been invaluable. They’ve developed into a great sounding board of confidential advisors who are there to help answer questions and share their own experiences.
What excites you about the CRE industry and the Foundation’s role in it?
Our industry is always changing – there are ups and downs, of course, but there’s innovation and outward pressures that reshape the spaces NAIOP members create and how people use them. All these shifts and changes impact how I approach my clients. When the economy is struggling, I have to consider our clients’ debt and the value of the properties, among other things. The Foundation helps all of us stay on the cutting edge, and lately has been expanding into topics not traditionally discussed, like cultivating talent and diversity, equity and inclusion. I’m looking forward to seeing how we can continue to expand the Foundation’s work and help our members continue to find it a vital resource.