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An Interview with Denise Hamet

Originally published on inspirery.com

Denise Hamet has 25 years of experience in the public and private sectors and within the community. She specializes in economic development, real estate, banking, city planning, and defense. She is known for identifying solutions and moving barriers through hard work and devotion. She has an instinct for connecting the right people and the right resources to achieve results.

Ms. Hamet graduated with Honors, earning her Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Arizona, and her Master of Business Administration from Arizona State University. She is passionate about promoting female leadership through the Commercial Real Estate Women and serves on the CREW Past President’s Advisory Committee. As past President of CREW, she expanded outreach, directed a comprehensive update of the strategic plan, organized the first Midwest Regional Conference, led the creation of a new website and expanded media publicity. She is also a board member of the Sorg Opera House Revitalization Group and volunteers with Habitat for Humanity.

How did you get started in this career?

I started as a financial analyst running numbers and managing contracts for aerospace. One significant benefit I got from that position was three days of professional training as a Group Facilitator. I facilitated our Employee Involvement team to develop a Parts Inventory Tracking System. We called it the PITS! I have used the group facilitator skills, financial analysis, and contract management skills throughout my career.

When you were starting out, was there ever a time that you doubted this career path? If so, how did you handle it?

I would not say I doubted my career path, but that it has evolved. I moved from running numbers for aerospace to financial analysis in real estate, and from there connected the dots to work in banking and community and economic development. It is really all related – everyone needs a loan, and everyone needs a space to operate from!

How did you get your first job?

I did odd jobs ever since I was a child, including newspaper delivery, babysitting, assisting with elder care, fast food. I got my first professional job after finishing my graduate program in business when the economy was still not stellar. I had put my resume in the interview book (pre-internet!) and had done interviews with several companies. Since we wanted to try living in California, we just drove out there and showed up at the door of the companies who had expressed interest. I was hired! I remember donning the requisite navy-blue suit and bringing my new briefcase, only to catch my heel going into the door on the first day, and the briefcase falls open, revealing the only contents- my lunch!

What keeps you up at night?

My biggest concern is how will we meet the growing need for affordable housing.

Other key topics are: engaging younger folks in leadership roles, reducing or ending homelessness, engaging returning citizens, improving community health, connecting residents experiencing poverty to workforce opportunities, transit, and to education, appreciating the impact of the arts on community revitalization, and making sure that Opportunity Zone developments are tied to the benefit of the community.  Inclusiveness and diversity of thought are important. Connecting is key – like connecting our senior citizens to school-age children to assist in tutoring, mentoring, etc., and building green whenever the opportunity is important.

I am excited that we are having a growing number of organizations, both for-profit and nonprofit, engaged in providing affordable housing but we will need more support and a lot of creativity to make this happen.  I am also excited about the First Step Act, and especially the potential to engage returning citizens in the workforce.

What do you think it is that makes you successful?

My catchphrase is “follow up and follow through.” I grew up in a sports-minded household and realized early on that getting to third base doesn’t win the game. You have to cross home plate. I also believe that everyone has a story. We might not all be of the same political nature, but we all can find something in common.

What has been the most satisfying moment in your career?

Most recently was the 2018 Ohio advocacy win achieving the Fairness in Lending Act. This legislation will protect Ohioans across the state against unscrupulous lending practices.  Overall, I get satisfaction from seeing projects move forward that I have worked on. When I see a company growing its jobs that I helped attract or a local neighborhood CDC who I worked with moving forward with new affordable housing, it is very satisfying.  Inspiring others to achieve also is very satisfying, whether it is a young associate achieving a new job that I connected them to, or another starting a local chapter of a professional organization after I encouraged them.

What does the future hold for you? What are you most excited about?

I would like to combine my background in banking, real estate, community, and economic development to help drive a community forward or to assist with advocacy and community engagement work.

What books have inspired you?

I am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai, Read my Pins, by Madeline Albright, and Becoming, by Michelle Obama.

What is the best $100 you’ve spent recently?

My most recent best $100 was funding toward our trip out to Arizona to have a beautiful, sunny vacation and to visit one of our daughters in graduate school.  A prior “best $100” was my 2017 trip with my other daughter to join the worldwide protest of women marching on Washington DC. The synergy from hearing all the different conversations on the train, including many international dialogues, and the peacefulness of the march, made it an amazing and unforgettable experience.

Leave us with one point that few individuals know about you.

I have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. I started the program to encourage one of my daughters to participate and ended up going all the way through the program.  During the multi-year program, I was working full-time and helping raise 2 kids, so making the time each week for the program was quite challenging. Few Mamas (as Master Kim called us) were able to make it through because of the outside commitments. The hardest thing was overcoming fear – of getting punched, of having both feet off the ground doing flying kicks, and, for the final test, of breaking a cement block with my bare hands.

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