CREW Denver Member Engagement Committee Expands DEI Goals

CREW DEI Committee

By Jaime Clark, marketing/business development manager, Small Giants

Jaime Clark

CREW Denver members hold various perspectives and come from a variety of backgrounds. To recognize and honor this, the association set initiatives to deepen shared insights that best serve one another, local businesses, and the community. The chapter’s initial step in achieving its goals commenced with the formation of a DEI-focused committee: CREW Denver Member Engagement’s DEI Committee.

“I’ve jumped on board with the CREW DEI committee to help shake things up in the CRE industry. My goal is to spread the word about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) so that it becomes second nature for everyone in the field,” says Hoshi Brooks, member engagement/DEI committee chair.

In its second year, the DEI committee has set strong foundations for the promotion, advancement, and equity of ALL members in the commercial real estate industry. This compelling purpose is empowered through courageous vulnerability and support from members.

Mary Salas, DEI committee member, shared her experience as a young female in the industry, “I started my career in the commercial real estate industry in the early ‘80s when women comprised an extremely small minority in decision-making roles. Being raised with the I-can-do-anything-I-put-my-mind-to attitude, this lack of female role modeling seemed disheartening at best. However, I claimed the challenge. A male colleague of mine took me aside one day during one particular commercial RE loan negotiation and told me, ‘You represent one of the largest, most well-respected companies in the U.S. Our company is worth a million times what that developer is worth across the table. Now go in there and negotiate like you own it.’ That changed my confidence level and made me realize we are who we represent. We represent women and many other minority groups, whether that’s categorized by skin color or gender orientation or background or religion or status or medical history or disability.”

The intentional creation of a committee built on awareness and inclusivity was meant to open doors and hold a safe space for all members. Committee member Hope Dunleavy joined the CREW Denver DEI Committee with valuable compassion, “I have personally experienced and observed the challenges of exclusion, and I am passionate about creating an environment where everyone feels valued and celebrated for who they are. I hope to inspire and encourage others to utilize the resources and insights that we provide, empowering them to become advocates who champion diversity, equity, and inclusion both in the workplace and their personal lives.”

A sense of belonging isn’t the only initiative of this new committee. Goals include intentional listening, learning, and acting so that all can grow, learning from one another’s experiences–whatever they might be.

In alignment with this mission, the committee has created a space for members’ voices to be heard. Stories can be shared on a blog section of the CREW Denver chapter website. These intimate shares shed light on the multitudes of perspectives and experiences in individuals’ lives. The stories emphasize the unique experiences we all have — the ones that create courage, build strength, and often leave us increasingly compassionate toward others. These are the pieces of people’s life stories that make them human:

“I can hear the constant sound of regular beeps of the machines keeping her alive. There is an air mattress on the floor of the hospital where we’ve been sleeping.  Boxes and boxes of Kleenexes. The doctor saying, ‘She likely won’t wake up.”

Just like that, I was forced into the “dead parents club,” a club no one willingly joins. These are memories from when I was 9 years old and it’s mostly a blur. Until recently, I never thought about losing my mom from a DEI perspective and didn’t realize how often it made me feel left out or that I didn’t belong. I’ve felt alone, misunderstood, and lost, and have gotten great at pretending to be okay and normal.’” – Leah Erickson, director of member engagement – Emerging Leaders & DEI (excerpts from CREW Denver Spotlight, DE&I Story Sharing Series “Missing Mom – Why We Need to Consider Grief and Single Parents in DEI,” 2023). 

The Member Engagement DEI Committee spotlight stories range as drastically as human life experiences do, and that’s the point of it.

Read more spotlight stories at:

The essence of safe space resounds through every aspect, every member of the DEI committee. “I have a huge passion for creating environments that allow all to succeed, feel safe, and provide encouragement for personal growth. I want others to feel confident and to want to strive to take on any challenge regardless of their background. As a female in construction, I found it hard to find others who looked like me and who may have understood the challenges and unconscious biases I felt growing up in the industry. Being on the CREW DEI committee allows me to create change at the industry level and to show other women that there is a place for us.” – Mary Greblunas, DEI committee member

Leah Erickson, director of member engagement for CREW Denver, hopes members will continue to see CREW Denver as an association fully accessible and welcoming for all, “My hope is that all feel included, welcomed, heard, and understood. By fostering an environment of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, we inherently promote not only a healthier environment but one in which community members can thrive and be who they truly are. Through the sharing of personal stories and experiences, educational events, tools and resources, and a general increase in awareness, I believe we can make big strides together.    

Learn more about the DEI Committee

The CREW Denver DEI Committee will be hosting a DEI Signature Event: A Seat at the Table

May 22nd  |  5 p.m. – 7 p.m. MDT  |  Raices Brewing Company

If you are looking for a safe and supportive environment to be vulnerable, deepen your understanding of DEI issues and develop relationships over delicious empanadas, this event is for you!

The evening promises to be an enriching blend of networking and DEI dialogue, providing a space to connect with an inspiring panel of women who will share their personal stories, DEI challenges, and their journey to claiming their rightful seat at the table.


To learn more about the CREW Denver Member Engagement DEI Committee, visit:

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