Laura Walda, a shareholder at Lowndes and a member of the firm’s commercial real estate group, currently serves as president-elect of CREW Orlando, the premier business network for women in commercial real estate. During the month of October, CREW Orlando is taking on a special initiative, encouraging Central Florida businesses and organizations to increase breast cancer awareness by dressing the “City in Pink.”
When did you get involved with CREW?
My first introduction to CREW Orlando was more than 10 years ago as a first-year associate lawyer. Lowndes Shareholder Jackie Bozzuto, who is a past president of CREW Orlando and still very involved in the organization, invited me to a number of events. Not long after, I became a member and have been involved ever since. Next year, I’ll be proud to serve as president.
What attracted you to this organization in particular?
CREW Orlando is absolutely dedicated to promoting and advancing women in the commercial real estate industry, which has long been seen as a male-dominated industry. The organization has a multitude of high-powered, brilliant women who have mentored me throughout my career. Joining CREW Orlando was the right step for learning and growing as a commercial real estate attorney because it surrounded me with the best and brightest in the industry.
How have you benefited from your involvement?
Being involved with CREW Orlando has truly enhanced my practice and my career in so many ways. The numerous education programs offered throughout the year keep me informed of the latest real estate trends and happenings throughout the Central Florida area, and my involvement on the board of directors has helped me to develop as a leader. Above all, CREW has connected me with a network of dedicated members and mentors who provided me with guidance and support as a young professional and with whom I now currently do business. As members, we always strive to do business with one another and to help advance women in the commercial real estate industry.
What are some of the most important activities/work that CREW does?
That’s a hard question to answer because the local chapter, CREW Orlando, and the international organization, CREW Network, do so much! Both organizations are amazing networks of professionals who try to do business with one another as much as possible and support each other’s careers. The many networking opportunities, educational opportunities and scholarships for women interested in working in commercial real estate are helping to further advance women in the industry. Sponsor support, such as the longtime top-level sponsorship by Lowndes, is instrumental to our success, so providing sponsors with worthwhile benefits is always top of mind.
What do you hope CREW will achieve in the near future?
Over the last six months, CREW has not backed down from its mission of providing meaningful programming and networking opportunities for members and sponsors. In fact, we’ve amped it up! With the pandemic and its effects expected to linger for quite a while longer, I look forward to us finding even more innovative ways to strengthen member connections and promote member-to-member business during these uncertain times within our economy and our industry. CREW members have a long tradition of supporting other CREW members, and we will continue to do just that.
Can you tell us more about CREW Orlando's City in Pink?
As an organization that works to advance and support women, joining the fight against breast cancer by bringing attention to Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a natural fit. There are a number of survivors within our organization, within our businesses and within our families. CREW is working with local businesses and other commercial real estate organizations to make Orlando a source of hope for those affected by this disease and a reminder for others that breast cancer screening is essential, even during the pandemic. Owners, managers and tenants in Orlando properties are encouraged to show their commitment to bringing awareness to the campaign by dressing their buildings in pink (Lowndes is proud to be participating!) during the month of October—whether that’s lighting the building with pink lights, dyeing a fountain pink, using pink flowers in landscaping, displaying pink ribbons or coming up with some other creative way to show support.
What other organizations are you involved in?
In addition to serving as president-elect of CREW Orlando, I also serve as president-elect of the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens and as a member of the board of directors of the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce. I am also a founding member of WP Voter, a group of individuals dedicated to bringing more people under the age of 50 into the voting body of the City of Winter Park and promoting creative ideas for future generations of residents.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I am so proud to be a shareholder at Lowndes, where community involvement and service are an integral part of our business. Members of the firm are involved in every type of civic, religious, philanthropic and community organization within the Central Florida area. This commitment to service was one of the main reasons that I was drawn to the firm, and it remains one of the many reasons why we have such remarkable attorneys and staff—we truly care about our clients and our community.