• Tritec News

International Women’s Day

Maria Valanzano and Kelley Coughlan Heck

Today marks International Women’s Day, celebrating the successes and strides that women have achieved in the workplace. Real estate is known as a male-dominated industry, but women have broken gender barriers through the influential work that they’ve accomplished in real estate and construction-related industries.

TRITEC’s Executive Vice President and Partner, Kelley Coughlan Heck leads the development team for TRITEC’s $1 billion Station Yards project. The $265 million Phase 2A of Station Yards is under construction and will be completed in 2024. Maria Valanzano, a Vice President at Colliers is part of the team that has been tapped as exclusive leasing agents for the 70,000 square feet of retail space in this phase. Together, Kelley and Maria are committed to delivering an active, transformational hub in central Long Island, revitalizing the blighted area of the LIRR Ronkonkoma Train Station.

In recognizing Kelley and Maria’s perseverance and hard work, we spoke with them to discuss their careers to date, their proudest moments, and where they find inspiration.

Kelley Coughlan Heck

Kelley Coughlan Heck, Executive Vice President, Partner, TRITEC Real Estate Company

Who is the most inspirational woman in your life or industry and why?

My mom. Growing up with three sisters, my mom was a constant source of encouragement and support. She always emphasized the importance of being a strong, independent woman. She instilled confidence and persistence in her daughters, and taught us the significance of supporting other women. She promoted our every endeavor, while standing as a constant alongside my dad through the ups and downs of a growing family business. Mentor, teacher, cheerleader, confidant – Mom.

What is your proudest achievement in your career to date?

I’d have to say that the completion of The Wel in Lindenhurst has been my proudest achievement in my career to date. I was fortunate to be part of the TRITEC team that began working on this project in 2014, and I was involved in every step of the development process, including land acquisition, community engagement, entitlements, design development and financing. It was a tremendous learning experience and a project that I am very proud to have been a part of. But what makes this achievement truly special to me is the impact it has had on the community. Since the completion of The Wel, we have seen incredible growth and revitalization in the downtown area, with the opening of 18 new businesses. Knowing that our work has contributed to the development and betterment of the community is something that I will always be proud of.

Have you experienced a challenge in your career due to being a woman? If so, how did you overcome it?

It is not uncommon for me to be the only woman in a meeting. There’s inherent challenges and perceived misconceptions that come with that. Stand tall. Work hard. Seek a role model and organizations that support and empower women in your industry.

Maria Valanzano, Vice President, Colliers International

Who is the most inspirational woman in your life or industry and why?

I would have to say my mom. I know that is probably your standard answer but as I have gotten older, I really have understood the sacrifice and strength she’s dedicated to myself and our family that has been an inspiration. She always takes on a million tasks, remains strong even in the most challenging of times and always told me that I must be tough and never give up. I’ve always tied the lessons she’s taught me to my work ethic and even when put in a stressful situation, I pushed through to handle the job at task.

What is your proudest achievement in your career to date?

My proudest achievement in my career to date, aside from the transactions I have completed for my clients and projects I have been awarded has been remaining one of the few female brokers in a predominantly male industry. Over the last 12 years, there has been multiple times I was the only woman in our office filled with 15-20 male brokers. I actually enjoy it and felt it challenged me more to demonstrate my place in this industry.

Have you experienced a challenge in your career due to being a woman? If so, how did you overcome it?

Many times. Typically, being the only female in the room, there were many occasions it felt you had to keep quiet and just listen. Plenty of instances where it was assumed because I am a female, I couldn’t provide the same value. That didn’t sit well with me, so it made me want to demonstrate how valuable I could be. Speaking up and showing confidence in what I was communicating gained me respect from clients and colleagues and made those future situations where I was the only female in the room irrelevant. I was just as much an equal.