Angela Azmitia is a Latina artist, affordable housing advocate and commercial real estate professional with an interest in high impact placemaking and equitable development. In her current internship position, she supports the affordable acquisitions and development team at Related Midwest. Angela is also a graduate student at the Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate at Roosevelt University, where she is a member of Delta Mu Delta, a business honor society for students in the top 20% of their class. She has earned many industry honors, including being a 2021-22 Harold E. Eisenberg Foundation Real Estate Scholar, a 2021-22 Goldie Scholar, a NAIOP Chicago University Scholar, and the recipient of The Teresa Hipolito Roldan Scholarship for Tomorrow’s Hispanic Leaders in Real Estate.
In addition to balancing a CRE career and graduate studies, Angela creates small, intimate graphite drawings that reflect her upbringing and multicultural Latinx identity. Her artwork can be found at Angela Azmitia. She has exhibited her work in galleries in Chicago, New York and Florida and has published her artwork in a graphic novel series and a digital magazine. Her artwork will soon be featured in a solo exhibition at Grace Jane Studios in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood.
Tell us about your background. Where did you grow up? Where did you go to school?
My childhood was spent between Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and the Tampa Bay area. I have a bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of South Florida and a Master of Fine Arts in print media from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I am currently a second-year graduate student at the Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate at Roosevelt University in Chicago where I am pursing a Master of Science in Real Estate (MSRE).
How did you get your start in the industry?
In 2018 I began working part time for Related Management as an administrative assistant. I obtained my leasing license soon after and become a leasing consultant at Lathrop Homes, one of Related’s revitalized mixed-income communities. Along with leasing market units, I took over their Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) coordination and outreach, where I worked one-on-one with individuals looking to move into subsidized units. It was in this position that I became invested in the social impact and reach of real estate development, specifically affordable and mixed-income housing.
Did you have a mentor who helped you get on your feet, or is there someone you turn to now for support?
There are so many people in my life that have made my successes possible. I started on this journey hesitant and not knowing if and when I would find my footing. Coming from an arts background, I was not fully accustomed to corporate culture. Networking was a foreign concept, and while I knew I was interested in equitable development, I didn’t know where to begin learning.
I’m thankful to Collete English Dixon for the opportunities and connections offered to me through the Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate, and for the team at Related Management whose flexibility allowed me to attend classes full-time while working. I feel fortunate to have commercial real estate mentors from across the country that continue to give me their time, guidance and support.
My experience as a Goldie scholar has been amazing! I feel incredibly supported by the Goldie Initiative. Goldie Wolfe Miller and everyone on the team really make time for all the scholars. I’m only in my first year with the program, and I’ve already met so many extraordinary women who are passionate about what they do. Many of the connections I’ve made through the Goldie Initiative have gone on to become some of my dearest friends. The programming and social events the foundation hosts ensures that all the scholars and mentors get to know each other on a personal basis, which I really appreciate and enjoy.
As an Eisenberg scholar, I loved the in-person mentorships. I was able to meet with individuals from the public service sector, finance, and development and spend an entire day with them learning about what they do and how they do it. I was also able to attend ICSC in Las Vegas through the program – there was so much to do and see that at times it was overwhelming! It’s because of this that I appreciated the programming that went into the trip for us: everything was laid out for us on the hour, which made it less stressful and easy to focus on the actual events and networking.
NAIOP has also been instrumental in getting me acquainted with the industry. As a scholar I’ve been to several of their panels and networking events and can’t say enough good things about their Chicago team.
What does an average day in the life of Angela Azmitia look like?
I am a summer associate with the affordable development team at Related Midwest. My average day begins at 6 a.m. with a light work out and coffee, which is followed by catching up on daily news while riding the Green Line to our downtown office. I am currently working on a portfolio of different projects, so a good portion of my day is focused on closing knowledge gaps via meetings, research, memos, and just asking a lot of questions. My evenings are usually spent watching something with my husband. We’re currently working our way through My Brilliant Friend, Season 2. I would highly recommend it, as well as the books!
What do you like most about your job?
I like having the freedom to make projects my own and being able to listen-in on complex problem solving. Learning from the affordable team that was responsible for the redevelopment of the property I began my career at is a privilege. I am excited to learn and contribute to developments that make a difference in people’s lives.
Looking to the future, what do you hope to achieve/work on that you have not already?
I want to broaden my knowledge of impact strategy best practices and understanding efficiency when it comes to creating models and ways of measuring impact that can be implemented into future site-specific projects/urban development.
What kind of changes do you hope to see in the industry in the near future?
I believe having a variety of perspectives is vital to maintaining a forward-looking community, which is why I want to see underrepresented individuals from varying socioeconomic backgrounds occupy positions of leadership within the industry – especially executive and C-suite positions that hold decision-making power.
How do you spend your time away from the office?
I continue to maintain a studio art practice. I enjoy a good book and I’m currently reading The Culture Map by Erin Meyer, How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti and Quiet by Susan Cain. On the weekends, I enjoy listening to podcasts while baking something complicated. I also started powerlifting about a year ago, and that’s been an excellent stress reliever!
What are you looking forward to most in 2022?
I am looking forward to developing and sharpening my skill sets through my current position and my upcoming semester at the Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate. Additionally, I have an art exhibition in the works (date TBD) that I’m very excited about at Grace Jane Studios in Bridgeport. I’m also just looking forward to spending time outdoors with friends and family. Chicago summers are short, but alive!