by Steve Adams Reesa Fischer Position: Chief operating officer, NAIOP-Massachusetts Age: 54 Industry experience: 34 years Even as commercial real estate embraces new technology, there’s no substitute for that face-to-face connection. In eight years at NAIOP-Massachusetts, Chief Operating Officer Reesa Fischer has expanded the commercial development trade group’s professional development and networking programs. As the Needham-based organization’s membership has grown from 1,200 to a record 1,700, NAIOP has tailored programs to different age groups and career stages. The chapter, NAIOP’s largest in the U.S., recently partnered with office furniture vendor Allsteel on a new drop-in workspace and event center at 200 State St. in Boston. Fischer and Tamara Small are taking over a co-leadership role at the organization as longtime CEO David Begelfer prepares to retire at the end of the year. Fischer will serve as executive director of the organization. Small, currently NAIOP’s senior vice president of government affairs, will become CEO. Q: Why was it important to provide a downtown Boston landing spot for the membership? A: It’s sort of been a dream of mine for the last couple of years, trying to get something that’s basically a networking lounge for commercial real estate folks. A member of our developing leader committee suggested it would be a good location for our events. I walked in here and I said, “I have a better idea.” It’s a great opportunity and an awesome space for us. It’s really a place where we’re trying to connect our members and get excited about running into somebody they might want to speak to. What’s nice for Allsteel is we’re bringing their target market here all the time, and every once in a while they’ll throw some new samples out there. Q: How has NAIOP’s focus on member services changed since you joined the organization in 2010? A: When I started we were just sliding out of the recession. Membership was 1,200. When I started, it was basic programming: 12 breakfast programs, a bus tour and an awards gala. What we found out was people didn’t have the discretionary income to join every organization. We realized we had to be much more diverse and competitive. We also found breakfast programs don’t work for everybody. When I came in, one of the goals was to increase our women membership. That was 12 percent in 2010 and now it’s close to 25 percent. Our developing leaders’ group is 33 percent, which means the pipeline that’s coming up is more women as well. We started offering lunchtime programs and cocktail things, and in the last three years we’ve seen much more demand for educational and professional development. We’ve added a leadership institute which has been wildly successful. Developers and owners are sending their folks who are in line for moving up and succession planning. In 2019, we’re offering a developing leader intensive for young leaders with five years or fewer in the industry. Q: What’s new on the networking opportunities front? A: We’ve added a boat cruise which has sold out every single year. One of the things that I put together with our then-President Sarah Abrams was a “Women of Influence” luncheon and that sells out every year, almost 200 women every year. Our developing leaders run our networking events. Our “Space Spotlight” program is a huge benefit to developers. We bring 75 to 100 members to a brand-new location. They hear from the developer and get a tour. It’s a great way for people to network and see retail. Q: What was your reaction to being offered a co-leadership role? A: Tamara and I have been working together for eight years, and I have one side of the shop and she has the other. I won’t say I know nothing about government affairs, but I don’t need to know anything because she’s got that covered. My background is marketing and operations anyway, so that’s all I’ve been focused on. It was natural. David has been great providing us with more opportunities to take on more responsibility. Q: How is NAIOP-Massachusetts connecting with members through new channels? A: This site (200 State St.) has an app, it’s called Optix, and if you’re a member you sign up to come here and can connect with anybody on the app. We’re very focused on data-driven decision making. We’re finding that keeping your members engaged is what keeps them a member. We’re doing a lot of data analysis and making sure we’re providing the right services to the right people. We’re looking at podcasts, and live webinars when it comes to government affairs efforts. People have to do everything on the fly. Everybody’s multitasking. We want to make sure there’s an advantage and a value to showing up in person for the events. We’re looking at everything we do from a multigenerational lens. We’ve got 1,700 members and they are diverse ages, diverse career stages and they are in diverse sectors of the industry. So that is something that’s a challenge, but it’s easier because we’re offering things in smaller spaces now, which people also have been asking for. We’re able to do a developing leader intensive for people who are under 35 and have five or fewer years’ experience at work. And our senior leadership institute is for people with 10-plus years’ experience. It’s providing networking and the ability to be highly targeted to the audience. We have 50 events a year, and David recently said, “I feel like I don’t know anybody.” It’s all new faces. I can go to five events a month and not see the same person, which to me is successful. You want to make sure you’re attracting a variety of people. It’s what makes NAIOP so unique. Fischer’s Five Favorite Cities: Vancouver Miami Barcelona Chicago Charleston Read profile on B&T site.