CHRISTIANA FOGLIO-PALMER EXPANDS COMMUNITY INVESTMENT STRATEGIES WITH DIVERSITY AT THE FOREFRONT
Real Estate Development Company Creates Career Paths for Women and Minorities in Business
LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J., March 5, 2012 – Empowering women and minorities, through physical space and career development, is what motivated – and continues to inspire – Christiana Foglio-Palmer, founder and chief executive officer of Community Investment Strategies, Inc. (CIS). A 25+-year real estate development veteran, she is not just a savvy businesswoman who has doubled the WBE-certified real estate development company’s volume in the past several years. Foglio-Palmer is a wife, mother and mentor committed to creating an organization for employees and homes for tenants that support and promote a work/life balance.
“There is a new level of awareness that people, regardless of income level, are defined by where they live and where they work,” said Foglio-Palmer, whose company boasts a multi-family portfolio of 2,000+ units valued in excess of $350 million.
Guided by Foglio-Palmer’s public service, professional planning and private development expertise, CIS specializes in affordable, market-rate and senior housing initiatives. “We build for the long-term and are guided by a ‘with you for life’ philosophy that goes beyond just bricks and mortar,” she said.
As a for-profit, boutique real estate company, CIS expects to double its size in the next five years. “Affordable housing is now being implemented in urban and suburban markets to serve as a catalyst for local economic development,” said Foglio-Palmer. “These types of projects no longer have the stigma once attached to them. New benchmarks for planning, design, construction and management have propelled affordable housing into a new era, and we have been very successful at establishing ourselves as a trailblazer in this niche.”
The company distinguishes itself from its competitive set by providing in-house finance, development, construction and on-site property management services. These services are an extension of the company’s commitment to build value-added communities for area residents, children, municipalities and local businesses by repositioning unproductive properties and land parcels. “We build and maintain communities where we would live ourselves, serving a demographic of mostly women and minorities that reflects our own company,” added Foglio-Palmer.
Creating Communities and A Career Path
Since a majority of CIS’ tenants are female minorities, the CIS team feels it is not only important, but imperative to promote gender and ethnic diversity on a company-wide and community-wide basis. Led by Foglio-Palmer, the senior-level management team includes vice presidents Theresa Reed and Barbara Schoor; and Elsie Velez, chief financial officer. “We have a team of professionals and support staff that have the ability to make a difference. We are doing just that, each and every day. That feels good,” said Reed.
“Since day one, CIS has been attracting, hiring, retaining and promoting the most talented and ethnically diverse professionals, many of whom are tomorrow’s leaders,” said Foglio-Palmer. “We support them on a professional level, by encouraging them to take risks and pursue senior-level positions, and we support them in their roles as mothers, daughters and caregivers by offering them flexibility.”
The company also hires locally based female- and minority-owned subcontracting firms for each development project as standard practice to support economic and business growth. This philosophy also extends to the people of all ages who call a CIS community their home. From intergenerational mentoring programs at affordable senior housing communities, to after-school care, resume-writing programs and computer training at communities designed for low-to-moderate income households, CIS’ diversity inspires others.
“We not only talk the talk; we walk the walk,” said Foglio-Palmer.