IREM’s REME Awards honor the real estate professionals and companies that manage to make a difference—and what a difference they make. This year’s winners are defined by a common thread: their passion for being the best in their field and making a difference in the communities they serve.
Being the best isn’t about personal ambition or corporate revenue. It’s about communication, building relationships, and above all, being there for residents and tenants when they need you most. These individuals and companies have taken their commitment as property managers a step further with increased community engagement, a re-energized focus on building diverse and inclusive workplaces, and by mentoring the next generation of real estate management professionals. The judges chose seven winners in six categories. And because this year’s pool of nominees was so exceptional, we have chosen two CPMs of the Year.
Announcing the IREM REME Award class of 2021:
CPMs of the Year
The depth of IREM’s membership is reflected in this category and the tough decisions made by our REME Award judges in selecting a winner. Because there were so many exceptional nominees this year, two CPMs of the Year were chosen as 2021 REME Award winners.
Julia Paluka, CPM, The RMR Group
Julia Paluka has been advancing the real estate management profession by encouraging greater participation in IREM. She’s made it her mission to break down the barriers to outreach and replace them with “through-reach,” the concept of connecting with IREM members to increase their engagement in chapter events. Paluka found an impressive group of professionals willing to share their expertise with students and highlight the rewards and dynamics of real estate management careers.
She’s extended her successful networking strategies to The RMR Group with an initiative she calls “up-reach,” bringing co-workers to IREM events and including IREM information on her company’s website. Her efforts have resulted in 21 new CPM candidates over the past year.
Lucinda Lilley, CPM, FBS Property Management, AMO
Lucinda Lilley dreams of evolving the real estate management profession to become equal parts human-centric and profit-centric. To get there, she’s been leading her organization with people-driven management concepts that bring out the best in her teams, resulting in more significant revenue generation. She’s proving the theory that happy employees make better employees, which results in greater business success.
Lilley’s long list of leadership roles outside of FBS Property Management, AMO, is also constantly evolving. Her contributions to our profession are too many to mention here, but collectively they add up to fulfilling her dream of developing real estate management into a people-focused field.
ARM of the Year: Doris Granger, ARM, JMG Realty
In real estate management, residential management is where the rubber meets the road. Accredited Residential Managers are often the first people residents meet when searching for a place to call home, executing the lease, and making arrangements for move-in. Good first impressions are crucial to excelling in this role.
Meet Doris Granger, a real estate management professional with 20 years of experience taking care of the properties she manages and those who call those properties home. Her philosophy is to always do the right thing, even if no one is looking. Her ethical business practices have secured her residents’ and vendors’ trust, which has helped her build strong teams that can mentor the next generation of professionals.
AMO of the Year: Physicians Realty Trust, AMO
2021 was an exceptional year of adaptation, innovation, and success for Physicians Realty Trust, which manages a portfolio of healthcare-related real estate. Being in the healthcare business, this company understands what it means to be on the front lines of a global pandemic. After the first reported case of COVID-19 in their markets last year, they implemented strategies to protect their staff and tenants and to build strong and supportive relationships with their healthcare partners.
As an organization committed to health and well-being, Physicians Realty Trust extends its community engagement from pandemic support to food drives and volunteer activities. And they offer employees paid time off to participate in these philanthropic activities. The company is also deeply engaged in sustainability efforts, diversity and leadership training, funding for medical research, and ensuring ethical business practices at their properties.
IREM Excellence Award—Corporate: The RMR Group
The RMR Group manages $32 billion in assets, making this U.S. alternative asset management company a leader among its peers. It also positions the company to make a meaningful impact on the communities where its assets are held. The company’s team believes true philanthropy results from both good citizenship and good business. And they’re not wrong about that. In fact, RMR Group employees are so passionate about giving back that the company officially designated an annual day of service for its teams across the country to engage in volunteer work.
When the challenges of the pandemic prevented in-person volunteer time, the company donated $50,000 to help 10 deserving organizations provide pandemic-related assistance. Inspired by the company’s generosity, employees collected food, clothing, and blankets for more than 300 people in need.
The RMR Group’s other ethical practices include bringing CPM education in-house, fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion, and expanding the conversation on social issues. They’re bringing in new talent by reaching out to historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and accelerating their women in leadership program. The company’s continued investment in employee education underscores their commitment to making real change as they welcome the next generations to their ranks.
IREM Excellence Award—Individual: Jonathan Tucker, CPM, Cortland, AMO
Jonathan Tucker brings 25 years of experience to his role as executive vice president of operations and facilities for Cortland. Working in a relationship-driven business, Tucker understands the impact that real estate managers have on so many lives. That’s the reason he tells students that if they want to make a difference in our world, they should consider a career in real estate. We agree.
In his role at Cortland, he’s helped others discover and develop their professional careers. He’s also had the opportunity to lead by example with Project Destined, which offers local youth real-world training and exposure to the real estate industry. Tucker also engaged with academics from several prestigious universities to lead 60 high school and college students through monthly training sessions that address all aspects of real estate and property management.
His efforts have paid off—the Cortland operations team has added nine ARM designees and 15 CPM candidates this past year—validating his firm belief that the real estate workforce of tomorrow starts with educating the next generations today.
IREM Innovator Award: CRC Companies
CRC Companies is a collection of award-winning real estate, construction, and asset management firms. Grounded in a 100-year heritage of assured performance, they’re the operations experts with deep experience in originating, managing, and sustaining large assets for the long term. CRC is well known for superior execution, making them a perfect candidate for the IREM Innovator Award.
In 2019, the company launched CRC[X], an initiative to put customer experience at the forefront of every product, business strategy, and person-to-person interaction. With the program now in its third year, the group has reaped the rewards of this customer-focused culture. CRC has always taken pride in its human-centered approach to property development and management. However, as the portfolio of projects grew, geographic distances expanded, and the breadth of customers diversified, CRC realized the need for a more formalized approach to customer experience (CX). Accordingly, rather than leaving CX problem-solving to site staff to tackle individually, CRC united all team members—regardless of location, seniority, or role—under a single ethos, complete with a CX framework, vision, standards, strategies, and tools.
With that, CRC[X] was born. Today, the program is a resounding success at every level and location of implementation. From corporate teams to on-site specialists, CRC employees and partners understand the value of providing an unrivaled customer experience, as they see its benefits come to life in tangible ways every day.
Take a bow
And there they are—2021’s best. IREM is thrilled to honor the incredible achievements and dedication of this year’s group of winners. They make it happen! They embrace our profession’s daily, unforeseen challenges, leaning on their IREM education and network to find solutions to implement and continue to delight their tenants, owners, and investors. Let’s give them a round of applause!