Women in Leadership.
March 1st 2019 marked 20 years for Lightengale Group (LGG). What a celebratory time for the entire company. President, CEO Virginia Pace sat down one-on-one with LGG’s Marketing Assistant, Amy Sanford, to share with us the successes LGG has accomplished and navigating her way through the business world over the last two decades. We hope you all enjoy these highlights from the Interview, as much as we did.
Q: What is your proudest accomplishment at Lightengale Group?
A: Over these 20 years, LGG has been and done a lot of different things. For the first years, we focused on creating software for affordable housing development underwriting. Then we focused for many years on building the consulting business, which really took off when Larry Pusateri and I merged our companies in 2008. Several years ago we became involved in participating in the ownership of developments – Rosenwald Courts and the Concord at Sheridan. Along the way, I have gotten to work with many many fine people, including my other partner Maggy Jares. So I am proud of how we have remained flexible, grown where we could, and continued to use our skills to make the biggest impact at the individual and community levels.
Q: Why did you decide to start your own firm?
A: I was so fortunate to work for several years at Holsten Development where I was able to work hard, be actively mentored by Peter Holsten and Matthew Roddy, and get to work on some very exciting deals. The first deal I got to work on had ten layers of financing and was the first time the City of Chicago used tax-exempt bonds and TIF in a housing deal. I liked working with all of the financing folks at the City, syndicator, FHLB and doing the numbers so much, I decided to go on my own to do more deals and focus on the financing side more.
Q: Is there advice that you could give other women about how to feel confident in the business world?
A: I read a few books and took some business classes when I started out because I needed to know the nuts and bolts of running a business (not just about affordable housing financing). University of Chicago at that time had a graduate student at large program where you could take business school classes for a fraction of the cost – you just didn’t get a grade. I took marketing, accounting, and entrepreneurship classes. Those were all very helpful. I also took seminars held by the Women Business Development Center and followed up asking their advice on an assortment of items. They referred me to an accountant who I still use today and I’ve gone back to them a few times over the years asking their advice on specific matters.
Q: As a mother, is there advice you would offer other moms who are balancing work, school and home life?
A: I should not be giving advice on this. Balancing home and work is an ongoing challenge and is the hardest thing for me to figure out and I am lucky – my husband is the primary caregiver and an excellent cook! There is no easy solution. No one has figured out how to manufacture more time, which is what I would like. When I am home, I try to be there 100% for my husband and children. I no longer work on the weekends, which has helped. And I sometimes bring my children to work events, which makes them more fun for me, too!
Q: What are your goals for Lightengale Group going forward?
A: We named Lightengale in partial tribute to Florence Nightingale, who tirelessly fought for what made sense and helped people live better lives (in her case for health care). While the establishment ignored Florence and her methodologies for many years, she persevered because she knew that what she was doing would make the world a better place. In the end, she was proven right and her methods saved many many lives. I want to see Lightengale continue to work with our many clients who fight for what is right to provide better opportunities for all Americans. Sometimes this fight ends in defeat as potential neighbors vote down zoning or there just isn’t sufficient money to get good deals done. If we persevere, perhaps we can make our own small dent in the affordable housing crisis affecting millions.
Special thanks to the entire LGG Team, Clients and Partners. A company’s character is build from all the amazing individuals, their unique talents, and qualified skills. Which helps support the process of growth and success of the entire business. Here is to the next 20 years and continuing to positively impact the communities around us.
# # # #
About Lightengale Group
Lightengale Group (LGG) is an affordable housing real estate financial advisory firm offering services to experienced and non-experienced developers nationally. LGG provides strategic & financial planning for developers by tracking evolving government regulations and funding requirements. With over 100 years combined experience and more than 4,000 units completed, LGG is the industry’s preferred advisory leader.