CREW SV Celebrates 40 Years!

November 29, 2021

When CREW Silicon Valley got its start, Ronald Reagan was ascending to the presidency, the IBM PC had just launched, and you could buy a new Ford Escort for about $5,000. 

That was 40 years ago.  

CREW Network recently honored CREW Silicon Valley on its 40th birthday, issuing an anniversary proclamation at the CREW Network Convention in Las Vegas. CREW SV 2022 Chapter President Sarah Mancuso accepted the honor from Network President Tiffany English on-stage. 

Here is the history of CREW Network and CREW SV compiled back in 2006. 

The history of CREW National and CREW Silicon Valley

It is amazing the parallel histories of the CREW Network and CREW Silicon Valley and how both organizations were started; one on the national level and one locally. Here is the story of CREW Network, as recalled by Linda Hollemon, one of the organization's Chief Executive Officers and first president:

"Starting in 1979 and throughout the 1980's, groups formed in major markets around the country for the purpose of providing a support and networking vehicle for women professionals involved in the various aspects of commercial real estate. In the eastern half of the country, they were usually called "CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women). In other parts of the country, they typically used the “WICRE” (Women In Commercial Real Estate) or "AWCRE" (Association of Women in Commercial Real Estate) acronym. 

From about 1985 to 1987, current and former members of CREW Washington, DC worked together to start new CREW groups in cities like Baltimore, Philadelphia and Detroit, as well as groups in the Northern Virginia and Suburban Maryland segments of the Greater Washington, DC area. During 1987, these groups formed a "steering committee" to explore the concept of creating a "CREW National" organization that would more formally connect them as a "federation". Their goal was to publish a joint membership directory and newsletter and to hold an annual meeting where members from all of the groups could network and attend programs related to the commercial real estate industry. 

CREW National was well on its way to formation when Linda Hollemon, a member of CREW Washington, DC and part of the CREW National formation steering committee, received a call from a member of a group located in San Francisco. From that conversation she learned that several groups located in the western portion of the country were in the process of forming a national federation as well. Three members of the CREW National steering committee flew to Los Angeles a few weeks later to meet with the steering committee of the West Coast group. 

There were remarkable similarities in structure and philosophy between the two groups and it was agreed that they would each proceed with their own organizational plans and stay in touch, with the idea of eventually combining to form a truly "national" group. In the fall of 1988, CREW National held its first convention in Washington, DC and invited members from all of the other similar groups around the country to attend. The West Coast Federation, now formed and called WICRE-NN (Women In Commercial Real Estate - National Network) agreed to hold their board meeting in conjunction with the convention so that their leadership had reason to attend as well. 

By that time, we had become aware of "unaffiliated" groups in cities like Dallas, Atlanta, Miami, Denver, etc. Representatives of most of those other groups came to Washington, DC and told CREW National and WICRE-NN that they wanted the two groups to form one national organization and that they would consider joining. The two groups immediately formed a 6-person "merger committee” and mapped out a one-year plan. 

The merger committee met during that year, and in the Fall of 1988, at a joint delegate meeting the day before the convention in Los Angeles organized by WICRE-NN, the Bylaws of the National Network of Commercial Real Estate Women were ratified. NNCREW began operations on January 1, 1989, with 11 chapters representing 1,100 individual members. Within a year the group had almost doubled in size and has been growing ever since. As we enter our 17th year, CREW Network (founded as NNCREW) will have 54 chapters representing more than 6,000 members in the United States and Canada. [Editor’s Note: CREW now has more than 75 chapters and 12,000-plus members.] 

CREW - Silicon Valley's Story:

Unfortunately, there are no archives available regarding the history of CREW - Silicon Valley and it appears the records were not necessarily passed on from president to president. This recount of the Chapter's history has been pieced together through interviews of former presidents and board members who were involved in the early stages of the organization. 

Sometime in late 1981, five women, all property managers at the time, came together: Maureen Bowers with South Bay Development Company, Phyllis Osaki with Bedford Properties, Sheri Dunn of The Koll Company, Betty Eiler with Orchard Properties, and Jill Heglund with Ritchie Commercial. These women got together for a networking lunch and decided there was a greater need within the commercial real estate community for a women's organization with a focus on networking. It was through that brainstorming effort that the South Bay Property Managers Association was formed. The name later changed, primarily because the organization had grown into members of other real estate disciplines, to the acronym SBAWCRE, South Bay Association of Women in Commercial Real Estate. That was later shortened to AWCRE, which begot San Jose, which begot CREW - Silicon Valley. 

What started out as a handful of women with the goal of networking turned into an organization that eventually grew, at the height of the organization, to 147 members (as remembered by Maureen Bowers, one of the early presidents). The organization joined CREW National, now CREW Network, in 1994 with 43 members. CREW San Jose was inducted into the organization at the spring council meeting in Cleveland, Ohio, that year. 

If you have memories of “the early days” of CREW SV, send us an email and we’ll compile the memories for an upcoming eNews.