Korinis, outgoing CREW NJ president, reflects on chapter’s push to expand philanthropy, member benefits

Krista Korinis, president of Global Installation Resources LLC in Clifton, is set to step down as president of CREW NJ, or Commercial Real Estate Women Inc.’s New Jersey chapter, after a one-year term that has focused on philanthropy, creating new value for members and expanding networking opportunities. —Photo by Aaron Houston for Real Estate NJ

By Joshua Burd

For an association with its own robust calendar of networking events, it was notable that a key moment for CREW NJ came during a program hosted by another organization.

Krista Korinis points to the United Way of Northern New Jersey’s annual Legacy Event in early June — which drew a crowd of nearly 500 — where the chapter was honored with the Spirit of Philanthropy Award for its history of giving and supporting a host of charitable causes.

“I’d like to believe that the event had great exposure,” said Korinis, the New Jersey chapter president for Commercial Real Estate Women Inc., the global networking organization. “And although many people know us and many of them have come to our events, I think that just gave us a lot of street cred and leverage to say that we’re still here, we’re a hundred women strong and we’re still doing great things for our community.”

It was especially gratifying for someone who has spearheaded much of CREW NJ’s philanthropic efforts during her 15 years with the chapter. That focus has only grown since Korinis took over as president late last year, in a tenure that’s also sought to create new value for members and expand networking opportunities.

CREW NJ members joined United Way of Northern New Jersey CEO Kiran Handa Gaudioso (in red) and United Way Senior Vice President of Resource Development George Xuereb at the organization’s 23rd annual Commercial Real Estate Network Legacy Event on June 2. CREW NJ received the United Way Spirit of Philanthropy Award, which honors an individual or group from the commercial real estate industry whose actions reflect the values of United Way. — Photo by Karen Fucito/ Courtesy: United Way of Northern New Jersey

With her one-year term now coming to an end, she feels the chapter is well-positioned to continue growing on all fronts under her successor, Ware & Malcomb’s Erica Godun. Membership has grown to nearly 120, an uptick of nearly 10 percent since 2020, while the group hosts multiple events each month, putting it in rare company among networking organizations. That includes not only traditional, larger meetings, but also more intimate and sometimes informal gatherings for its professionals.

“It’s a very warm and friendly environment,” said Korinis, president of Global Installation Resources LLC in Clifton, which she founded in 2009 alongside Marge McCabe. “And I think that these smaller groups of people really take that to the next level and make CREW unique, because it’s people getting to know each other on a more casual level. And when you get to really know someone, I think you’re more apt to try to do business with them.”

Korinis — whose firm specializes in office furniture, casework, mountable walls and signage — says the environment was equally welcoming when she attended her first CREW meeting in 2005, helping to calm the nerves she felt as a recent college graduate. Naturally, she found it “exciting and inspiring” to see how many women were in the room representing the real estate and construction industries.

She became a member in 2008, reaping the benefits of the personal and professional connections she made, before joining the special events and golf outing committee. That allowed her to channel one of her own personal passions, she said, noting that the golf event benefits a local cause or the national CREW Network Foundation. Korinis was then exposed to an even broader swath of the industry in 2014 when she joined the chapter’s board as membership director, allowing her to engage both existing members and new recruits over the next four years.

Her next role, as director of community outreach, meant continued opportunities for philanthropy. That came with some difficulty as it coincided with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, she said, noting that the committee chair at each CREW NJ event would typically promote and collect donations for a charitable or nonprofit organization.

“By the time things got rolling, we weren’t having in-person meetings,” Korinis said, so the chapter pivoted. For each virtual meeting, a member would share a charity of personal importance and provide a URL where others could donate or learn more. And while it made for an “unconventional journey” in that role, it carried her through much of the next two years and into the start of her term as president-elect in 2022, serving under Cecilia Lassiter of Sills Cummis & Gross PC.

As president, Korinis said her goal was “to reinvest in our members.” She pointed, for instance, to an event in which attendees could have a professional headshot taken for free, recognizing that some entrepreneurs and small businesses may not have access to such a service. It has also meant maintaining an events calendar that includes both programs that are open to the public and smaller, members-only offerings, such as a virtual book club and its monthly Coffee + Conversation and Walk + Talk in the Park series.

“That’s been a way that a lot of our members are really connecting on a deeper level,” Korinis said of the monthly meetups, which often take place in a casual, outdoor setting. She noted that the gatherings started during the pandemic as a means of allowing members them to stay connected, but are now a fixture on the chapter’s calendar.

CREW NJ’s second annual Summer Beach Party in late July drew dozens to the Edgewater Beach & Cabana Club in Sea Bright and featured guest speaker Barbi Reuter of PICOR Commercial Real Estate Services, CREW Network’s immediate past president. — Courtesy: CREW NJ

It all dovetails with the perpetual push to grow membership, she said. CREW NJ has helped drum up interest in recent months with its second annual Summer Beach Party, which drew dozens to the Edgewater Beach & Cabana Club in Sea Bright and featured guest speaker Barbi Reuter of PICOR Commercial Real Estate Services, CREW Network’s immediate past president. The chapter has also hosted joint events with the Building Owners & Managers Association of New Jersey and the Industrial and Office Real Estate Brokers Association, while it enjoyed the high-profile recognition at this year’s United Way luncheon.

“That was very near and dear to me,” Korinis said of the United Way Spirit of Philanthropy Award, adding: “That was exceptionally exciting and meaningful and a lot of our members all came. And it was midyear, but for me it was a great way to kick off the momentum of some of these more exciting things coming up.”

Erica Godun

She’s now set to step down in December and make way for Godun, an architect with Ware Malcomb who recently was named the firm’s first-ever director for sustainability. Korinis expects that expertise to resonate with current and future CREW members, noting that Godun “has her pulse on what’s new and vibrant in commercial real estate.”

The outgoing president also expects a seamless transition after a year in Godun was “an amazing partner,” Korinis said. She added that her successor’s role as a board member “has always been something membership-related,” further positioning CREW NJ to expand its reach.

“I really feel that she’s going to take our hard work together this year and just bring it all to the next level,” Korinis said. “And I think she’s really going be able to grow our membership because that’s where she’s been amazing over the last couple of years.”

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Author: Joshua Burd