Catching up with 2018 CREW KC President Debbie Swearingen

Debbie Swearingen is approaching the midway point of her tenure as 2018 president of CREW KC, an organization that works to advance the success of women in commercial real estate. The VP of commercial banking for Community America Credit Union updated MetroWire Media on key initiatives and the year so far.

MWM: What kind of changes are taking place at CREW KC on your watch?

Swearingen: This year we did a true strategic plan. In our first meeting, we talked about vision and where we wanted the organization to go. We are focusing on four main areas of programming, membership, communications, and community connections. 

MWM: How are you changing CREW KC programming?

Swearingen: We want to resonate in the industry with great programs that bring value to our members but also support our community. In April, our quarterly luncheon covered development and history around the Troost corridor, so we are holding programs that elevate what our community is about by looking at our history, present day and future.

MWM: CREW KC is typically viewed as a networking organization for women. How do you see that changing?

Swearingen: Another goal for this year is to build and retain a diverse membership with an emphasis on key decision makers. We are working to increase diversity by gender, age and race while growing our presence throughout the community. A lot of people don't know what we are all about so we are working to improve our branding and become more well known in the community.

MWM: How do you measure success?

Swearingen: One of our strategic goals for this year is to build meaningful and purposeful relationships, both personal and professional. Being a member of CREW KC isn't necessarily about the business you get but also about personal growth and building relationships. That's important for achieving balance.

MWM: What do you hope people remember about your year as CREW KC president?

Swearingen: I wanted to put the fun back into CREW so we also remember what we are here for. When you do that, business comes. We've added lot of new activities for members and prospective members, including taking a party bus to FunkyTown, networking at Chicken N Pickle and a casino night hosted by BHC Rhodes for recruiting new members. We're doing things a bit differently to get to know people on a more personal level.

Lenexa Civic Center is main dish at October CREW KC luncheon

Construction and project updates for Lenexa’s landmark $75 million, 200,000-square foot Civic Center development were on the menu at CREW KC’s quarterly luncheon, with project managers from the City of Lenexa, PGAV Architects, JE Dunn Construction and CBC Real Estate Group offering insight into everything from design challenges to project timelines.

Beccy Yocham, City of Lenexa director of community development, provided an overview of the multi-use project at 87th Street and Renner Blvd. In July, the new City Hall and Recreation Center opened, followed by the Lenexa Public Market in September. By the end of the year, construction will begin on a new branch of the Johnson County Library, as well as a $22 million Shawnee Mission School District aquatic facility and parking garage just north of the civic campus.

Jennifer Goeke, project manager for PGAV Architects, and Susan Schaefer, senior project manager for JE Dunn Construction, provided insight into the meticulous care and challenges involved in the design and construction process.

“Our goal was to create a unique sense of place for the City of Lenexa with pedestrian connectivity and really ‘activating the streets.' " Goeke said. “There was a lot of intent involved with the selection of materials and overall design to express the different components of the City Hall, Public Market and Recreation Center. One of the challenges was incorporating building services such as transformers, trash, utilities and loading docks because the buildings in this project don’t have a back side. They are all 360 degrees facing either public plazas or neighboring developments.”

Constructibility challenges included the 5-story, 500-space parking garage with a slight bend along 88th Street to maximize space within the project site. “This slight kink in the garage design added a month to the engineering process and at least a week to the erection process,” Schaefer said. "This was a 100 percent collaborative effort from beginning to end."

The collaborative spirit helped create friendships that made for a bittersweet conclusion to the massive three-year project, according to Michelle Kaiser, senior project manager for owner’s representative CBC Real Estate Group.

“The team spent a lot of time together over a two or three-year period, working all day and then bonding at Happy Hour ‘work sessions.' " Kaiser said. “It’s sad when you end such a great project after working with such a great team. There’s a bit of a let-down.”

Lenexa Civic Center is part of Lenexa City Center, a 200-acre, mixed-use development spanning all four corners of 87th Street Parkway and Renner Boulevard. For more information, click here.

Lenexa Director of Dommunity Development Beccy Yocham teed up discussion of the Lenexa Civic Center project at  CREW KC 's quarterly luncheon at  Grand Street Cafe .

Lenexa Director of Dommunity Development Beccy Yocham teed up discussion of the Lenexa Civic Center project at CREW KC's quarterly luncheon at Grand Street Cafe.