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ICSC honored its 2023 Trustees’ Distinguished Service Award winners on Sunday during a brunch at the Wynn. The awards recognize volunteers who have gone above and beyond in their service to ICSC and the Marketplaces Industry. Each of this year’s recipients has spent decades in the industry, and all found personal and career growth while volunteering with ICSC to bring those same benefits to others via education, ICSC+CENTERBUILD and local ICSC organizing. Below, this year’s winners share details about their career paths and ICSC journeys.
Unsurprisingly, career-long volunteer and mentor Amy Hall’s all-time favorite saying is: “Lean in and give back.”
That the altruistic Hall, COO of Chicago-based brokerage and property management firm Caton Commercial, has been named recipient of a 2023 ICSC Trustees’ Distinguished Service Award will come as no surprise to the multitude of industry pros she tirelessly has mentored, taught and supported, all while holding down demanding jobs in the Marketplaces Industry.
Hall got her career start in real estate development with Del Webb master-planned communities in South Carolina, but life returned her to her native Midwest. Using the skills and passion from her photography hobby, Hall took a transitional part-time post at the Columbia Mall in Columbia, Missouri, taking photos of kids with Santa. She also served as set manager, and the increased sales volumes there, combined with her apparent rapport-building skills, impressed the assistant general manager.
Hall later segued into an assistant general manager role for what was then General Growth Properties. There, she gained operations and common area leasing experience before transitioning into business development. It was then that she began work on the first of many ICSC certifications, work she felt would deepen her industry knowledge and cultivate her ability to pass that knowledge along to colleagues, peers and organizations in the industry. “ICSC’s certifications were a way to add to my overall knowledge of the business, create peer credibility and build a lifetime of professional relationships,” Hall recalled. “Over time, they allowed me to do things like facilitate courses, moderate panels and develop curricula.” Hall, who joined Caton in 2018 and oversees the firm’s operations and strategic growth, is one of ICSC’s most active volunteers.
“Through ICSC, I have built the relationship capital that has yielded career-long mentorships and friendships.”
Along the way, she has earned ICSC’s Certified Retail Property Executive designation, its Certified Leasing Specialist designation, its Certified Retail Real Estate Professional certification, its Specialty Leasing Designation and the National Association of Realtors’ Certified International Property Specialist designation. She also sits on the ICSC Foundation’s board of directors. Her even longer list of active professional affiliations has included seats on the CCIM Illinois chapter board of directors and the Chicago Association of Realtors board of directors, serving as chair of its Commercial-Forum and work with Lambda Alpha International and NICAR Commercial Global Business Network. She also serves on the board of directors and as a mentor with The Goldie Initiative, which prepares women for senior leadership roles in commercial real estate.
Hall’s tenacity clearly has brought success, but she also credits ICSC for her career trajectory. “There was nothing like the networking and educational platforms that ICSC provided throughout my leadership journey,” she said. “Through ICSC, I have built the relationship capital that has yielded career-long mentorships and friendships.” In her 25 years in the business, Hall has been active in ground-up development and leasing of malls, free-standing quick-service restaurants and mixed-use projects and has worked in third-party brokerage, property management and ancillary revenue, among other areas.
Hall, who holds a Bachelor of Professional Studies in psychology and a Master of Arts in professional development, has a natural inclination to motivate professionals by providing the support systems they need to thrive, she said. That’s one motivation that helped her work with others to craft the case study curriculum for the Launch Academy. Created by the ICSC Foundation’s Talent Incubator Project in 2020 to recruit and prepare people of color in college for commercial real estate careers, the Launch Academy has ushered through more than 100 students. It’s work that is important, and there’s plenty of runway. Racially diverse professionals currently constitute just 2% of the industry, Hall said.
Her work with the Launch Academy and other equality programs didn’t stem from early-life experience. She grew up in the rural Midwest, exposed to little diversity, but when she moved away, Hall noticed the conspicuous opportunity gaps faced by minorities and women. She then began working diligently to close them. “Gender inclusiveness was an issue, but I also saw that having open conversations about the truth of our racial history was also vitally important, especially to overcome and eliminate all the confirmation biases people hang on to.”
Hall said she can’t encourage businesses enough to put inclusiveness at the tops of their priority lists. It’s not enough to have a check-the-box diversity, equity and inclusion performative mission if a company doesn’t do the actual work of bringing equity and inclusion to the table, she said. “We all have to be willing to sit down and talk about the elephant in the room and make sure that all voices are represented at the table.”
Among Hall’s highly successful mentees is Rappaport director of leasing and brokerage Thomas Bolen III, an ICSC 4 Under 40 honoree. “We met at [ICSC’s] John T. Riordan School and stayed in touch over the years,” she said. “It’s been wonderful to see Thomas grow and flourish. I am incredibly proud of him.”
Hall is also an avid supporter of philanthropy, serving as an officer and past president of P.E.O. Sisterhood state chapter of Illinois, fundraiser for the O’Brien School for the Maasai, and volunteer and supporter of Metropolitan Family Services, Bridge Communities, The Chicago Help Initiative and Feed My Starving Children, among others. Hall vows in the coming years to remain active with the organizations that have benefitted from her guidance. “Volunteerism and mentoring are passions that allow me to give back to the industry and to walk the journey with people who want to self-actualize into their best selves,” she stated. “I love to help cultivate excellence in organizations and, most importantly, in people.”
David Steinberg’s first Connecticut ICSC State Meeting, in early 1998, was both an eye-opener and a springboard. While captivated by the camaraderie of members there, he wasn’t impressed by the meeting’s speaker. He voiced his displeasure to Alan Smith, a longtime ICSC volunteer and vice president at Steinberg’s company, Konover Development Corp. Smith countered: “David, if you don’t like it, do something about it.” It was as if a light came on for Steinberg, who immediately was inspired to get involved as an ICSC volunteer.
Smith introduced Steinberg to then ICSC Connecticut State Director Susan Hays, and she appointed him to his first committee, working to secure a speaker for the next meeting. Fellow volunteers found e-commerce, only just emerging at the time, to be an edgy topic. Steinberg called an instructor at the General Growth Properties leasing institute and was told a man named John might be interested but the instructor first would need a formal letter from the Connecticut State Director. When Steinberg told Hays about the request and the speaker he’d lined up, she laughed uproariously and said: “David, you don’t even know who you got! That’s John Bucksbaum, chairman of General Growth Properties.”
Steinberg was off to an auspicious start in his ICSC volunteer journey. “I learned that volunteers could come up with great ideas and great programs,” Steinberg said. “It was a big eye-opener about what ICSC members can accomplish just by a simple networking phone call.”
Steinberg is receiving an ICSC Trustees’ Distinguished Service Award at ICSC LAS VEGAS. His quarter-century-plus of ICSC committee service has included stints as Connecticut Retail Chair, three years as Connecticut Operations Chair, a term as Rhode Island Next Generation chair, one as New England Next Gen chair, and three years as Eastern Division Retail Chair, all preceding his current five-year role as New England Marketplace Council Director. One highlight of Steinberg’s service was chairing the New England Idea Exchange event in Boston in 2017, with what he called “an incredible planning committee,” including co-chair Chris McMahon of Summit Realty Partners.
Steinberg, director of leasing at retailer and shopping center owner Ocean State Job Lot in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, has worked in all aspects of shopping center leasing and development. Before settling in with Ocean State Job Lot in 2011, he worked for 12 years with Konover as vice president and four years with Herlis Realty as leasing director. Steinberg credits late Herlis founder Herman Lischkoff for teaching him business ethics and the integrity of a handshake deal. Steinberg was pleased to find the same ethic at Konover and at his current company, he said. Ocean State Job Lot, named by Deloitte as a U.S. Best Managed Company in 2021 and 2022, owns 152 retail stores and more than 7 million square feet in the Northeast.
Steinberg started his retail career in Philadelphia, managing an apparel store at Deptford Mall, where he met his future wife, Staci, while on a lunch break. He earned his real estate license in Philadelphia and worked in residential investment before moving to Atlanta, where Staci had been offered a job at CNN. There, Steinberg joined a real estate firm specializing in airport office/industrial space before joining Herlis, working on shopping centers in need of redeveloping. Steinberg later moved to West Hartford, Connecticut, for the Konover post.
“[ICSC] volunteers share passion, knowledge and creativity while helping each other succeed. People who don’t know you but see you on an ICSC volunteer list may just call you, and there are multiple deals I’ve made as a result of those connections. It all comes back to relationships and building value with people with high integrity. What I’ve given to the industry has come back to me in ways I never imagined.”
His tireless work with ICSC committees not only has fostered rewarding friendships but also has increased his visibility among brokers, developers, expanding retailers and other ICSC volunteers. “Those volunteers share passion, knowledge and creativity while helping each other succeed,” he said. “People who don’t know you but see you on an ICSC volunteer list may just call you, and there are multiple deals I’ve made as a result of those connections. It all comes back to relationships and building value with people with high integrity. What I’ve given to the industry has come back to me in ways I never imagined.”
It’s hard to say no when ICSC comes calling, Steinberg admitted. Not long before joining Ocean State Job Lot, he answered the call from industry colleagues Jackie Chamberlain, then of Hallmark, and Tom Phillips of Brown Rudnick asking if he’d start a much-needed Rhode Island Next Gen chapter with Deb Di Meo of Wilder. Steinberg immediately said yes, expecting maybe 25 people for that initial Next Gen program. He was floored when 125 members showed. Steinberg came to view Next Generation volunteerism “as a good way to give back to my younger peers and learn from a new generation.” He often guided rising stars into other ICSC volunteer roles, recognizing them as key to the industry’s future.
Steinberg lives in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. He’s a six-day-a-week exerciser; loves music, theater and football Sundays with the family; and is particularly passionate about the Ocean State Job Lot Charitable Foundation, which supports children, veterans, active military members, animal rescue organizations, homeless shelters and those struggling with food insecurity.
David and his wife have been married for 34 years and have two sons, one working at a private equity firm and the other in college. Asked in a job interview for Konover what motivates him, Steinberg replied: “my wife Staci.” When the interviewer asked if he was serious, he replied: “Yes, my goal is to fall in love with her more each day, and that’s motivated me to succeed.”
Steinberg was stunned to learn of his Distinguished Service Award. “I am humbled and honored,” he said. “It was really unexpected. I’ve always considered myself fortunate to serve ICSC and our members as a volunteer over the years.” ICSC, he said, was “founded by fierce competitors to share and exchange ideas, and this still holds true today.” He encourages others in the Marketplaces Industry to join ICSC committees to “discover the power of volunteering and the ability to help shape our industry.”
Once a Milton Cooper devotee, always one. Mark Trommsdorff spent 33 years under the iconic Kimco Realty co-founder, and the work ethic and passions for networking and giving back that Cooper instilled in him continue to serve as beacons for the venerable volunteer and team builder, who is a 2023 ICSC Trustees’ Distinguished Service Award recipient.
Soon after his late-2020 retirement as Kimco senior director of Southeast construction and development, Trommsdorff was coaxed out of it to lead business development at frequent Kimco contractor MCG Architecture’s new Southeast office in Orlando. Ironically, Trommsdorff had badgered MCG to open a Southeast office for years as its Kimco work there increased. “I came out of retirement only because I knew they had that Milton Cooper work and team ethic.” The well-connected Trommsdorff has helped the MCG office quickly take flight. “We’re off to a phenomenal start and already looking for a bigger space,” he said.
“I always tell young people they have no idea just how far ICSC opportunities and contacts will carry them, be it locally, statewide, nationally or even internationally.”
Trommsdorff, in his new role, will extend his 32 years of ICSC volunteerism, which includes lengthy stints with ICSC+CENTERBUILD and efforts to develop the industry’s next generation of professionals, plus a pivotal role in creating and administering ICSC’s Certified Development, Design & Construction Professional designation.
Trommsdorff cut his retail teeth with Woolworth, working on store-opening teams in college. After graduating from Hofstra University with a Bachelor of Arts in pre-law/business management, he joined the retailer’s Northeast office and started redeveloping stores, including the four-floor Herald Square space in New York and the 130,000-square foot downtown Boston store. “Many of their stores had 60-year or even 100-year leases at $1 per foot, and they were finally expiring,” he recalled. “But Woolworth couldn’t afford new market rents, so they brought in other chains to sublease space — such as Burger King and Woolworth-owned entities like Foot Locker and Susie’s Casuals — to make their numbers work.”
CENTERBUILD was Trommsdorff’s first ICSC volunteer role in his running total of 26 years of committee work. “It’s just an incredibly unique annual conference, with all its development, construction and design people and great sessions and networking,” he said. “Everyone learns.” Among the best nuggets of wisdom he ever got was a gem from mentor, friend and volunteer Skip Greeby Jr. of The Greeby Cos, talking about CENTERBUILD. “Skip told me that: ‘Everybody leaves their stripes at the door.’ That is, nobody there was above or below anyone else.”
“[ICSC+CENTERBUILD] is just an incredibly unique annual conference, with all its development, construction and design people and great sessions and networking. ... [Skip Greeby Jr.] told me that: ‘Everybody leaves their stripes at the door.’ That is, nobody there was above or below anyone else.”
Trommsdorff has a strong attachment to the next generation, reflected in his new role as ICSC Florida Marketplace Council Membership Chair with a focus on Next Generation. “I love talking with young people because I learn as much from them as they do me, maybe more; they’re the future. When I started at Kimco, I would’ve been considered Next Gen.” An ICSC LOCAL ORLANDO event that Trommsdorff recently helped stage saw an unexpectedly large turnout of young and new-to-ICSC members eager to get involved in the organization, including committee work. “I always tell young people they have no idea just how far ICSC opportunities and contacts will carry them, be it locally, statewide, nationally or even internationally,” he said.
ICSC long has appealed to Trommsdorff because he’s a natural team builder, eager to guide disparate project stakeholders like designers, contractors, economic development leaders and city officials toward a collective goal, despite opposing agendas. It’s a “we” approach he attributes to mentor Cooper.
Along with fellow past governing committee members, Trommsdorff created and administered the ICSC Certified Development, Design & Construction Professional designation test for nine years. He cites that among his most rewarding roles. They developed what became an international designation, with people coming from all over the world for accreditation, he said. “It [was] a tough, 100-question test, and all responses [had] to be plausible. To make it truly international, we had to create tests using broad concepts.” Trommsdorff also volunteers with networking group Contractors Closers & Connections.
As he helps grow MCG’s business, he notes that retail architecture has changed dramatically since his seminal Woolworth days. “They were still drawing blueprints with a ruler and pencil then,” he said. “It’s fabulous to see how much faster and creative we are today and to watch how stores evolve as our retailers continue to recover.”
Trommsdorff resides in Mount Dora, north of Orlando. He has two children, including a footstep-following son, Stephen, who’s director of construction at Brixmor and has participated on several ICSC committees. Hobbies? “My two grandsons and my granddaughter,” Mark Trommsdorff was quick to respond. “They are the lights of my life.”
Though Trommsdorf has traveled extensively for ICSC, this year will be his first time at the Las Vegas event. In other ways, it will be a coming-home party. To mark his award, an ICSC video team has filmed and interviewed him walking Kimco’s 1 million-square-foot Dania Pointe, Florida, property, which carries a strong emotional tie. It was Trommsdorff’s final, and perhaps finest, Kimco project. Its designer: none other than his current employer, MCG Architecture. “It’s amazing,” he said, “how this brings together my career and my involvement with ICSC.”
By Steve McLinden
Contributor, Commerce + Communities Today
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