skip to main content

MaryAnne Gilmartin’s Historic Career in Real Estate Development Continues, Inspiring Students and Professionals Alike

NEW YORK (March 9, 2023) The Fordham Real Estate Institute (REI) hosted the latest event in its ongoing
series, “She Builds,” last week at the Lincoln Center campus, featuring MaryAnne Gilmartin, founder and CEO of MAG Partners and special adviser to REI’s Executive Advisory Council of industry and business leaders. The
conversation was led by Michael Patrick Davidson, a speaker, consultant and coach with more than 30 years of
experience leading global corporate real estate divisions at JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Morgan

“I’ve built my career trying to bump up against what people think of as a developer and identify more with
‘placemaker.’ If I use the word ‘developer,’ I refer to myself as a ‘civic developer’ because what we do is
contribute to civic life and with that comes a great responsibility,” said Gilmartin. “I’d love the word developer
to mean all that I know that it is, which is a person who creates place, changes the skyline and the ground plane
in cities, and builds something of lasting quality that impacts the lives of the community in which it exists.”

The leadership roles Gilmartin achieved throughout her career including leading Forest City Ratner Cos. as
President and CEO, and serving as Interim CEO of MackCali Realty Corp. weren’t necessarily what she aspired to.

“I just never had my eye on the corner office and that’s probably why I landed there. I wasn’t thinking ‘let me
run this place,’ I was thinking ‘I am what I build and I just want the opportunity.’ And the more opportunity that
was given to me I always focused on the quality of the work,” she said.

“I never got that email that said ‘you’re a woman so you should feel really intimidated at the table; be shy and
worry about what you say and how you say it.’ That just never got to my inbox, but I can tell you why. Because
I was part of a meritocracy and it was the best man or woman for the job,” said Gilmartin. “I bet you they were
all thinking ‘who does she think she is, she’s at a table with 25 men,’ but I knew what my job was and I knew my

She spoke about figuring out ‘workfromhome’ long before it was widely accepted. With “a wink and a nod”
she came to an agreement with Bruce Ratner of Forest City Ratner that empowered her to get her job done and
pick up her kids from school. “I just knew that I was always going to work and I really, really loved being a
mother,” said Gilmartin.
“Because of the pandemic, out of all that tragedy the great gift is that we now know, particularly women, that
you can be ‘on work’ and not ‘at work.’ At the end of the day, it’s all about the substance [of your work]and
[your]contribution,” she said. “I am really excited about the workplace of the future because it does have
unbelievable implications for people who want to build families. Because you can have it all, but you shouldn’t
have to sacrifice family and children to have a deeply meaningful career.”

Gilmartin founded her own company in 2020 and the firm’s first New York City building, Ruby, began leasing on
Monday. After working within public companies for 23 years, she had a vision for MAG Partners from the start.

“I wanted to prove that you could build beauty and create lasting value. And that you could deliver that long
term value creation proposition, not just to the partners and the investors, but to the communities in which we
build. And that we would look something like the people we build for. Sounds really simple but it’s not in this

Ruby, located at 243 West 28th Street in Chelsea, offers 480 studio to threebedroom residences amongst two
towers 30 percent of which are reserved for affordable housing in addition to 8,500 square feet of ground
floor retail space. Located across the street from the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), the residential
development demonstrates MAG Partners’ ability to deliver value at the community level. The firm has two
additional mixedincome multifamily projects in development.

“We thought about who we are as a company and said ‘maybe we should name them after historical women
who have contributed to life in the city and create a brand around that.’”

The MAG Partners team did research on women who “made an impact” in the Garment Center District and
discovered the story of Ruby Bailey, a Bermudian immigrant from Harlem who was “a master beader with a
pretty illustrious career.” After getting the green light from the estate of Ruby to name the building, the firm
partnered with The Social Justice Center at FIT a firstofitskind initiative in higher education seeking to
address the systemic problems faced by BIPOC youth, college students, and working professionals in the fields
that drive the creative economy to offer a scholarship for BIPOC FIT students.

“In the spirit of how we ought to be doing things in our business, what if every developer took the time and the
tender care in figuring out the things that matter about the community they build in,” said Gilmartin. “We’re
not just building bricks and mortar, we’re building places.”

A womenowned company made up of 50% women employees, Gilmartin really sees herself as “chief talent
officer” at MAG Partners. The firm was formed as a 21st century national urban development company
dedicated to diversity and inclusivity in the real estate industry.

“Every single person in the company is here because they believe we’re doing important work and we stay
connected to that principle. The culture inside the company is the most important thing that I protect,” she said.
“I’m trying to create multigenerational talent that transform the industry. [Development is] the last frontier to
be disrupted in real estate. My role now is to create a team and a caliber of player that can be on the forefront
of that disruption, and I just hope I’m around to watch it.”

“Looking at the faces of those in the audience, everyone was truly inspired by what MaryAnne shared,” said Dr.
Anthony R. Davidson, Dean, Fordham School of Professional and Continuing Studies. “The Fordham Real Estate Institute is proud to provide the industry’s future workforce with an opportunity like this, to gain insight that they can apply toward their own career growth from such an incredible role model.”
Watch the recording of the event here.


The Fordham Real Estate Institute currently offers Master’s degrees and advanced graduate certificates in the
areas of Real Estate Finance and Investment, Real Estate Development, and Construction Management, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Real Estate, and a comprehensive array of professional certificates at its campuses in Manhattan and West Harrison, N.Y. The programs are developed and taught by leading industry practitioners and are centered on imparting realworld professional skill sets. Flexibility and convenience are program hallmarks as classes can be taken inperson, online, and at various paces. REI is a part of Fordham’s School of Professional and Continuing Studies. For more information about the institute and its executive advisory council, visit
Fordham Real Estate Institute (REI) hosted the latest event in its ongoing series, “She Builds,” on March 2,
2023. From left: Michael Patrick Davidson, speaker, consultant and coach; Dr. Anthony R. Davidson, Dean,
Fordham School of Professional and Continuing Studies; MaryAnne Gilmartin, founder and CEO of MAG
Partners and special adviser to the REI’s Executive Advisory Council of industry and business leaders.
Photo credit: Fordham University.
Students and real estate professionals attended Fordham Real Estate Institute’s (REI) latest “She Builds” event featuring a conversation with MaryAnne Gilmartin, founder and CEO of MAG Partners and special advisor to the REI’s Executive Advisory Council, hosted by Michael Patrick Davidson, speaker, consultant and coach on March 2, 2023.
Photo credit: Fordham University.

Comments are closed.