Thirty years ago in Dallas, women were just beginning to work their way into commercial real estate, an industry long dominated by men. For these fledgling brokers, it was a lonely time. So several of them got together to create an organization—now known as Commercial Real Estate Women Dallas—where they could share information and support one another.

“CREW meant survival for the few of us who were in the business,” says Kim Butler of Hall Financial Group. “We had to stick together. There was a good old boys network; we weren’t playing basketball at the downtown Y.”

Kathy Wilke, the organization’s first president, says the support CREW members offered one another was critical.  “Back then, a lot of us were pioneering in our own firms. We didn’t necessarily want the other people we worked with—99 percent of whom were men—to know that we didn’t know how to do something. We found it was easier to pick up the phone and call someone in another company.”

CREW’s Dallas chapter, which now boasts more than 300 members, celebrated its 30th anniversary recently at, appropriately enough, The Women’s Museum in Dallas. In an entertaining ceremony moderated by longtime CREW member Lucy Billingsley—whose jokes were funny and who even did some tap-dancing and yoga moves when an a/v glitch arose—the group’s four Outstanding Achievement Award candidates for 2010 were presented: Barb Erhart of Riverstone Residential Group, Kennis Ketchum of Portfolio Development LLC, Tiffini Miller of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, and former Staubach Co. executive Ka Cotter, who was named the big winner.

Realestate-women (left to right) Ka Cotter, Barb Erhart, Kennis Ketchum, Tiffini Miller photography courtesy of Crew Dallas

Ka Cotter
The former vice chairman of The Staubach Co., Cotter now works to support high-growth companies, nonprofit agencies.

Barb Erhart
As CFO of Riverstone Residential Group, and in previous positions, Erhart has executed more than $800 million in financing transactions.

Kennis Ketchum
A 25-year real estate veteran, Ketchum oversees multifamily and mixed-use projects through her company, Portfolio Development LLC.

Tiffini Miller
Manager of commercial development for Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and a CREW “Top 20 Women Under 40” honoree.