By Marshall Burton, president and CEO of Confluent Development
The benefits of diversity within the workplace are undeniable, and the workforce continues to see a rise in women who hold executive positions across industries. This progress is owed to both the female leaders who have forged this trail as well as those who have extended opportunities and encouraged their success. Confluent Development’s Chief Development Officer, Celeste Tanner, has proven an influential leader in expanding opportunities for women in commercial real estate. As a female executive in a male-dominated industry, she is keenly aware of the challenges women face within business and has actively worked to combat these challenges in her professional pursuits.
Tanner began making a name for herself within the industry long before cofounding Confluent Development — now one of Denver’s leading development firms — with Marshall Burton in 2014. She previously served as director of real estate for one of the largest real estate companies in Denver, The Opus Group, and has been a key player in the ground-up development of nearly 5 million square feet of commercial and multifamily space. Tanner has left her mark on many projects that have shaped Denver’s current landscape including Wheat Ridge’s Kipling Ridge, the EPA Region 8 Headquarters, Verve apartments, The LAB at 17th & Platte Streets and Highfield Business Park. Yet Tanner’s impact extends well beyond Colorado, leading Confluent Development to officially expand its footprint outside of the state in four property types – office, retail, industrial and senior living.
The industry has taken notice of Tanner’s unshakable talent. She earned the NAIOP Colorado Trailblazer Award in 2015, was named a finalist for the 2016 Denver Business Journal’s Outstanding Women in Business Awards, earned Commercial Real Estate Women Denver’s Top Achiever in Real Estate Development Award in 2017 and was recognized as one of Denver’s
Power Women by Bisnow in 2018.
Tanner’s rapid rise through the industry is especially impressive when considering her path toward advancement. She grew up on a rural farm in Louisiana and was an English literature major at the University of Colorado, experiences far removed from the real estate world. Relying solely on her tenacity, drive and acumen for real estate, she began at The Opus Group as an administrative assistant with no background or education in the industry and successfully grew through seven roles in two organizations in the following 10 years.
Despite the challenges she faced early in her career while advancing from an entry-level position into more senior roles — an experience many female professionals face as they work to enter and excel within an industry — her genuine interest in real estate drove her to seek out leaders in the company who encouraged and valued her growth. Tanner learned quickly that one of the
keys to professional success was to surround herself with the right team. Their support, along with her work ethic and ability to deliver results, have since established her as a respected leader in the industry.
She now works to support others in a similar way. Through her experiences both in the office and in the community, Tanner sees first hand the benefits stemming from diverse leadership teams. She believes that bringing together varying backgrounds, perspectives and experiences fosters new ideas and creates innovative solutions that further the teams’ goals and helps set up a framework for success. Seeing the value of this approach, Tanner has been an influential leader with NAIOP Colorado, where she now acts as president and as a national board member of NAIOP Corporate, giving both Colorado and women within the industry a voice at the national table.
Tanner’s commitment to improving the station of women extends beyond business. She has been involved in organizations that support women’s leadership and development including the Empowerment Council for The Women’s Foundation of Colorado, a nonprofit that aims to provide women and girls in Colorado with the resources to achieve their full potential. During her tenure with the nonprofit, she supported the organization’s important mission through financially contributing and participating in program discussions around immanent issues that impact professional advancement for women.
From the start of her career, Tanner has recognized what she and other women have to offer the commercial real estate industry. In doing so, she has not only achieved a noteworthy career but also has helped shape how women can participate in the industry. Celeste Tanner has made her name a known commodity in Denver’s real estate community, providing an example and a hand up to all females in the profession.