National organization picks Bay City to lead grassroots group for women

On Friday, March 15th, the Urban Land Institute hosted its second Women's Leadership Initiative's BUILD UP Breakfast event - an event held at seven different locations across the State of Michigan designed to encourage women who work in different land use professions to convene, network, and discuss industry challenges regionally. 
 
Bay City, one of the seven different host locations across the State, had a group of approximately 16 women attend its second meeting at City Office in downtown. The topic of the meeting was negotiation - how to improve at the art of negotiation & how to learn from one another's experiences with negotiation within the industry. Women in attendance ranged in age, number of years of industry experience, and job title; however, the common thread was the desire to help other women grow within their shared industry.
 
Within the land use and real estate profession, there are several women serving in critical roles across Bay County. The women below are not only dedicated to improving their community, but are also focused on building up and supporting other women looking to learn more about land use and real estate development.

Sara Dimitroff, Economic Development Project Manager at The City of Bay City
 
Sara Dimitroff, Economic Development Project Manager at The City of Bay City
 
Sara works for the City of Bay City as the Economic Development Project Manager. Through her role at the City, Sara has assisted with several development projects in downtown Bay City including Uptown Bay City and many others.
 
When asked about how she became involved in the economic development industry, Sara said, "Most people don't set out to be in economic development. Most people just fall into it. That's exactly what happened to me. I actually interviewed at another job at the City. They called me back and asked me to come in and interview for a different position - which is the role I'm in now."
 
When asked specifically about why she has attended the ULI Build-Up Breakfasts, Sara said, "I see the breakfast as an opportunity - not only to network with women in the industry but to be a support system for other women in the industry." 

For Sara there is also a personal connection when discussing the importance of supporting other women in the work force. "For me, I think of my daughters. I want them to know that it doesn't matter if you're male or female. If you want something go and get it. It doesn't matter. I love that my girls are surrounded by strong women and that they're learning to be confident and to stand up for themselves." 
 
Megan Manning, Economic Development Manager at Bay Future
Megan Manning, Economic Development Manager at Bay Future
 
Megan Manning is the Economic Development Manager at Bay Future, Bay County's economic development organization. As an organization, Bay Future is focused on "helping connect the dots for small businesses focusing on growth, retention, or expansion by bringing the appropriate resources and contacts to the table."
 
Megan applied for the Economic Development Manager position in 2017 because she wanted to get involved in the growth and success of Bay City. "I was feeling drawn to my home community. I wanted to work directly in a role that allowed me to create opportunities for my children to live in a thriving community."
 
When asked about the importance of networking with other women in the industry and encouraging other women to get involved in economic development, Megan added, "It is crucial to get women together in our industry. There are many meetings that I've been in that have been just men. Women bring a different perspective. We are able to ask questions differently. We notice different challenges that men might not always see. As society changes, we have to reiterate that our seat at the table is available."

Moira Branigan, Director of Internal Operations at the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance. 
Moira Branigan, Director of Internal Operations at the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance. 
 
Moira Branigan is the Director of Internal Operations at the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance - where she manages the behind-the-scenes tasks that keeps the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance running day-to-day. The Alliance was formed "as a way to get Bay County, Midland County, Saginaw County, and Isabella County working together. The Alliance is focused on working to collaborate on initiatives that will increase economic prosperity and quality of life in the region. The goal is to push initiatives that benefit the four county region and bring in jobs and new employment into the region."
 
Similar to Megan, Moira joined the industry because of her desire to serve her community. "I wanted to work in a role that would help improve my community and make our region better."
 
When asked about the importance of the BUILD UP breakfasts, Moira said, "This kind of collaboration and support system is revolutionary. We are all coming into the room wanting to work together. The natural state of affairs in life is to think of things as being competitive - who is accelerating or who is getting a promotion. With these meetings, we all want to work together, build each other up, and figure out how we can make our community and region better."
 
For women who are interested in attending the next Urban Land Institute's Women Leadership Initiative's BUILD UP breakfast, more information can be found on their website here. 

 
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