Distressed CRE Women's Spotlight

Distressed CRE Women's Spotlight

Distressed CRE Women's Spotlight


IMN is pleased to welcome Sara Doelger; (Argosy); Debra Morgan; (CohnReznick); Lea Overby; (Barclays); Belinda Schwartz; (Herrick); Natalie Sosnina; (Terra Strategies) and Sondra Wenger, (CBRE Global Investors) as speakers for The Distressed CRE Forum on September 26, 2023 in New York City. Get a glimpse into some of our featured women speakers who are building the future of the Distressed CRE community together.

Sara Doelger is a Principal with Argosy Real Estate Partners. Argosy Real Estate Partners invests joint venture equity in commercial real estate across a variety of asset types throughout the United States. Argosy’s investment strategies include opportunistic, core plus, and Opportunity Zone investments. Sara is responsible for transactions, asset management, portfolio management and ESG initiatives. Prior to joining Argosy, Sara held development positions at retail and multifamily real estate firms. Sara holds an MBA with a concentration in Real Estate from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a Masters of City Design and Social Science from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in Urban Studies and Classical Studies.

Memberships & Associations: Urban Land Institute (former Product Council Chair)

Fun Facts: Summited Mt. Kilimanjaro

Why did you get into real estate? I majored in Urban Studies and became interested in the impact of the build environment on cities and society.

What do you think the future holds for women working in real estate? I think that there are many opportunities for women in all areas of real estate. I would like to see ore female entrepreneurs and developers enter the business.

Debra Morgan is a Managing Director with CohnReznick’s Restructuring and Dispute Resolution Practice. She has 25+ years of experience in commercial real estate portfolio management and servicing, acquisitions/dispositions, and the restructuring of distressed real estate. Areas of expertise include structured finance, bank and non-bank financing, bridge and mezzanine financing, bankruptcy and litigation management, and multifamily and commercial real estate.

Prior to joining CohnReznick, Debra founded BlackEagle Real Estate Partners where she sponsored and acquired 350+ multifamily units in Florida and Texas using agency or bridge financing and equity from high net-worth investors. Earlier in her career, she served as Managing Director at C-III Asset Management (k/n/a/ Greystone) and as Vice President at CLMG, a Beal Bank affiliate. Debra has also served as co-chair of the CREFC High Yield Forum, often speaks on industry panels and publishes articles related to real estate and real estate debt.

Memberships & Associations: Turnaround Management Association (TMA); Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) - both very valuable organizations influencing financing, banking and restructuring, as well as policy.

Fun Facts: I can cut a deck of cards with one hand; I have dined with many political leaders and celebrity personalities (all related to commercial real estate); and a half marathon is what I consider the perfect race.

Why did you get into real estate? When I started my career, I realized I easily captured and retained numbers and text (unit count, debt/door, locations, interest rates, term, yields, income and exp ratios, as well as legal processes and loan documents). That information and talent turned into deals; deals turned into portfolios; portfolios turned into funds. I realized I loved real estate and that I’m constantly thinking about it as I navigate through a day – driving neighborhoods, urban centers, downtowns, shopping or attending sporting events. It is truly a love what you do career for me, plus the people are great!

What do you think the future holds for women working in real estate? The future of real estate for women is a vibrant canvas painted with bold hues, resounding voices, and shared narratives of transcending the conventional to envision a new tomorrow. While a singular roadmap doesn't exist to define the path ahead for women in real estate, one thing is clear – the path will not be marked by the status quo. We occupy a space brimming with potential, amplifying our voices, harnessing our experiences, and leveraging our expertise to not only benefit ourselves but also reshape the industry itself. Our collective history of breaking down barriers and shattering glass ceilings is not just a personal triumph; it's a transformative force that will propel an industry, which has often adhered to the ordinary, into the realm of extraordinary change.

Lea Overby is Head of US CMBS Research and ABS Research at Barclays. Her team covers agency and nonagency CMBS, as well as US ABS. Throughout her twenty-year career, Lea has focused on various aspects of the securitized products market, including senior roles on the sell side, buy side and at a rating agency. Prior to joining Barclays in 2021, Lea

headed CMBS Research at Wells Fargo. Between 2016 and 2018, she oversaw CMBS

Analytics and Research at Morningstar Credit Ratings, after heading CMBS and ABS

research at Nomura Securities. Lea holds a master’s degree in mathematics and completed coursework towards a Ph. D. in mathematics at Vanderbilt University. She earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Memberships & Associations: Yes, I am an active member in CREFC.

Fun Facts: I grew up on a farm, and I still love spending time outdoors, hiking and camping. I still have my COVID sourdough bread starter up and running and I just started lifting weights, which I absolutely love.

Why did you get into real estate? I got into CMBS research totally by accident, not too long after I got out of college. I quickly fell in love with it, as I am fascinated with the contrast between our ever-changing society and the permanency of these buildings.

What do you think the future holds for women working in real estate? I feel like the number of women in real estate and in senior roles within real estate has certainly increased over my career. Although there are still obstacles to achieving equality, I think we will continue to see slow and steady progress. I have found so much support from male allies along the way, and I would encourage anyone who is interested in the field to give it a try.

Belinda Schwartz was named Herrick's Executive Chair in March 2023 and has been a member of the firm’s Executive Committee since 2017. With female leaders accounting for approximately 10 percent of Am Law 200 chairs and managing partners, Belinda has become one of the few women in the nation currently leading a major law firm. Additionally, she has led Herrick’s Real Estate Department since 2014 and is a 30+ year veteran of New York City’s commercial real estate market. She is a leader and mentor for 65+ attorneys and urban planners (23 of which are women) and one of the only women in the country to lead a major commercial real estate practice.

Memberships & Associations: American College of Real Estate Lawyers (ACREL, Fellow; Legal Outreach, Advisory Board; Real Women of Real Estate, Founder; Professional Real Estate Forum (PREF), Board Member; Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), Member; TAGLaw®, Member; American Bar Association, Member.

What was your route to where you are in your career? I worked hard throughout my

entire career to put my clients’ best interests first and learned to navigate difficult situations in a respectful way. Throughout, I fostered relationships both internally and externally that enabled me to build trust and real connections with my partners and my clients… And I tried never to lose my sense of humor.

What do you wish you had known when you started out in the legal profession? I am certainly glad I didn’t know how hard it was going to be! My career has been extremely rewarding, but I’m happy I was naïve as to how challenging my career growth would be. A woman in “big law” leadership just wasn’t something I saw on the horizon. Over my career, I made hundreds of small decisions that enabled me to be where I am today. So, I would have liked to know that there was indeed a path where I could both be myself and also grow as an attorney and leader along the way, but a path nonetheless.

Natalia Sosnina is a structured finance expert with a specialty in distressed assets. Currently, Head of Acquisitions at Terra Strategies focusing on the acquisition of distressed debt and securities, Natalia previously held roles at rating agencies, assessing the issuance of new CMBS as well as NPL Acquisitions for PE fund. Natalia started in real estate following the GFC as an analyst representing distressed borrowers in the restructuring of their loans on commercial real estate properties. After immigrating to the United States in with no real estate background, Natalia has attained a professional excellence as well as having amassed a real estate investment portfolio. She holds an undergraduate degree in engineering from Moscow State University of Technology and Masters in Real Estate Investment and Finance from NYU.

Fun Facts: I have been in ballroom dancing for over 20 years. I also love to travel.

Why did you get into real estate? Creative ways to generate large profits

What do you think the future holds for women working in real estate? Expanding, making it more accessible to the women.

Sondra Wenger is Head Commercial Real Estate, Americas for CBRE Investment Management. In this role, Sondra is responsible for the overall leadership, strategic vision, and growth of the firm’s commercial real estate sector, including overseeing acquisitions and asset management. She is a member of the Americas Commercial Direct Real Estate Investment Committee, the CBRE Scientific Advisory Board, and the Portfolio Oversight Committee and she leads the marketplace pillar for Diversity Equity and Exclusion.

Memberships & Associations: Board Member for CA South and American Ventures. A member of the Real Estate Roundtable and the Urban Land Institute, where she serves as Membership Chair on the Executive Board for the Urban Mixed-Use Development Gold Council and a member of the New York ULI Advisory Board.

Fun Facts: I am passionate about natural wonders of the world and try and visit them as often as possible.

Why did you get into real estate? I was a CPA and one of my clients was a real estate company.

What do you think the future holds for women working in real estate? Looks promising, with increasing opportunities, representation, and support systems.

Thank you to all contributors for this spotlight edition.