For International Women’s Day, we are spotlighting leading women in the real estate and development industry across the GTA. More and more women are being seen in the industry – on construction sites, leading development projects, etc. People are taking notice of the great contributions women bring to the industry. Our own senior project manager at Minto Communities GTA, Jenn Blue, was featured in the Toronto Star for her skill and expertise. This representation matters. Female leadership in the industry inspires other women to go after their dreams and lets them know there is space for them.
Today we want to celebrate these leading women in our industry, from interior designers to architects. These women have made their mark despite being underrepresented. They have built successful careers for themselves and paved the way for others who may have felt they didn’t have a place in this male-dominated industry. Leading women in home development, building, and design not only show other females that they’re welcome here, but that their ideas and knowledge enrich the industry and can change the industry for the better.
Read below to learn about five leading women, female-owned firms and organizations making waves in the GTA’s real estate and development industry!
Cecconi Simone is a multi-disciplinary interior design practice based in Toronto that is privately owned and operated by Elaine Cecconi and Anna Simone. Established in 1982, the practice has racked in years of success creating award-winning interiors for the retail, corporate, hotel-hospitality and residential sectors not just in Canada, but also the United States, Anguilla, Italy, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, India and China. Their projects range from large-scale, multi-unit condominiums to spa-resorts and boutique hotels to private residences for distinguished luminaries. Cecconi Simone holds a “whole design” philosophy, building a deeper understanding of how people live their lives and what design needs must be considered from those lifestyles. Both Elaine and Anna have been guest lecturers and keynote speakers at a number of acclaimed institutions, including The Interior Design Show, Toronto. Anna is the co-founder of The Pug Awards, The People’s Choice for Architecture in Toronto. The Pug Awards also encompasses Pug Talks, a speakers’ series of leading architecture, design and planning practitioners, and Pug Ed, an educational initiative engaging senior elementary school students in architecture, design and urban development. Elaine has served as a Nominating Committee Chair and juror for the annual Association of Registered Interior Designers of Ontario (ARIDO) Awards, among many other renowned titles.
Shim-Sutcliffe Architects is an architectural practice founded in 1994 by architect and professor Brigitte Shim and her partner. Brigette Shim graduated from the University of Waterloo with degrees in Environmental Studies and Architecture, and has worked as a Professor at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto since 1988. She stays heavily involved in the industry, serving on numerous international, national, and local design juries as an advocate for design excellence, including the 2007 Aga Khan Architecture Award Master jury. She also plays a role in various institutions, including being a member of Waterfront Toronto’s Design Review Committee and a Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (FRAIC). Shim-Sutcliffe Architects works with non-profit, public, and private clients. Their design practice integrates and plays with the connection between architecture, landscape, and interior and industrial design. To date, Shim and Sutcliffe have received fifteen Governor General’s Medals and Awards for architecture, among many other professional accolades.
BEAT Toronto is an independent organization dedicated to supporting equality and diversity in the architecture industry and empowering women in the design community. The organization is volunteer-run and made up of a team of powerful women, including architects, designers, leaders, and entrepreneurs. BEAT Toronto’s purpose is to advance the achievements and visibility of women, minorities, and other underrepresented groups. They create opportunities for community-building, advocacy, networking, and mentorship through events, seminars, and more.
Reema Masri, the principal architect and CEO of Masri O Architects, is dedicated to delivering projects through a holistic lens of creating social, economic and environmental well-being. Reema Masri takes a multi-disciplinary approach in her work, drawing on engineering, psychology, economics, management, and various other disciplines. She sees every building as something that will shape the future of communities by interacting as an environment within an environment. Masri O Architects are leaders in providing complex, thought based architectural solutions.
Q4 Architects is a mid-size architectural practice specializing in residential design, community planning, and institutional and community buildings throughout Ontario. Founded by Frances Martin-DiGiuseppe, Q4 Architects is made up of a knowledgeable and creative team with years of experience. The Q4 Team does everything from land acquisition to design development. Frances Martin-DiGiuseppe is one of the only female presidents of an architecture firm in Toronto. She is passionate about creating safe spaces for people who are marginalized or going through traumatic experiences. Q4 Architects believes that great architecture should aim at improving everyday life through design.