Stephanie Laughlin, Jacob & Hefner Associates
2022 ALC Class Chair

Having been a member of the Associate Leadership Council (ALC) Class of 2014, how does it feel to return to the program to chair the Class of 2022? 

When I completed ALC in 2014, my only question was, how can I do this again? It was such a great experience, but it left me thirsty for more: more information, more relationships, more community. My goal as chair is to make sure everyone in this class comes away wanting more and has a clear path to their next step with TREC. This class is unique from other classes, as we have a lot of members that are not from Dallas and in some cases, have only moved here recently. I hope that we can inspire them to love Dallas and want to leave their footprint in the community.

What was the most important thing you learned or the best piece of advice you received as an ALC participant?

I always recall ALC being noted as a stepping stone to being a future leader in the City of Dallas. If you participated in ALC, it gave you a “peek behind the curtain” into understanding all the components that make our city great. It also gave you great exposure to people you would otherwise not meet. ALC not only highlighted the strengths of our city; it also exposed weaknesses. It was through understanding those issues and challenges that we could identify where we, as individuals, might fit into a potential solution to make our city better.

Since your ALC experience, you’ve continued to be a part of TREC’s leadership development programs as a member of the Executive Leadership Program, a mentor in our Mentorship Program, and a member of the ALC Steering Committee. What has kept you coming back?

They say that those that cannot teach, mentor. My father was a teacher and while I could never imagine teaching in a classroom, teaching is in my blood. I enjoy helping others by sharing my story, sharing what I think I’ve done right, wrong, and navigating problems together. TREC has provided so many resources to me, it is only appropriate that I give back. There is no better way to give back than to help mentor those coming behind you and continuing to pursue excellence. What people don’t understand is that mentoring is a two-way street. It is not always the mentor providing perspective, but the mentee providing a different perspective!

As a former member of both of TREC’s leadership development programs (ALC and the Executive Leadership Program, or ELP), how would you describe the impact that your participation has had on your career?

ALC was about gathering 30 commercial real estate people together to learn about the community and what components make a city successful. ELP was more about you, as a person, navigating the next steps in becoming an organizational leader. ELP was about putting “tools in the toolbox” that will help you build your brand and build a business. These two programs were inspiring and helped build the confidence I needed to venture out on my own to build a civil engineering practice.

TREC’s guiding principle and challenge to its members is to Build the City You’ve Imagined. What does that phrase mean to you? 

It’s hard to “imagine” anything when I have already built things beyond my wildest dreams! As a little girl from the east coast of Canada, I never imagined I would be transforming the skyline of a major metropolitan city like Dallas. I am SO proud of the projects that I have been a part of that have been instrumental in changing the Dallas Skyline from when I arrived in 1999.

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