• Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, 1980
• Managing broker and principal, Brown Harris Stevens
• 2018 Torch Award honoree
Q: You have been described as a trailblazer, an innovator and a risk taker. Who and what are your influences?
A: I am flattered by that description. I think of myself as an immigrant who was lucky to land in America, the land of opportunity. I took the necessary risks to grow both personally and professionally, and I am fortunate to have learned from my decisions along the way.
The individuals and the personal experiences that have influenced me the most are uniquely different, yet equally important. The individuals that influenced me most are my mother, my first real estate broker (Kay Byrne) and my husband. The two most influential experiences have been the time I spent working for the FBI and navigating through and surviving the downturn of the real estate market starting in 2007.
Q: What has been the key to your success?
A: Hard work, tenacity and an uncompromising commitment to the highest ethical standards—that, and following my initial gut feeling in all decisions.
Q: Do you have a philosophy by which you live?
A: In the words of the late King Hussein of Jordan, “I believe I must live with courage and live well, serving and abiding by my principles, regardless of any difficulties I may face.”
Q: Giving is a big part of your persona.
A: Kindness and generosity go hand in hand, and I truly enjoy helping others and showing my gratitude with everyone I can—from my staff to personal business contacts and friends. It’s important to treat others as you would like to be treated.
Q: You have contributed to FIU’s Mohsin and Fauzia Jaffer Center for Muslim World Studies. Why?
A: As a Catholic who grew up in Jordan, I experienced first-hand Christians and Muslims working and living together in harmony. At its simplest form, the common thread among different religions is respect, mercy and tolerance. It is in these innate attributes that we can establish peace among all people and nations. I believe that Islam is misunderstood in the West, and it is my duty to help people understand what Islam is all about. By accomplishing that, I would hope to create more peace.
Q: After earning a degree, you were recruited by the FBI to work in foreign counterintelligence. How did that come about?
A: I was recruited by the FBI at an FIU career fair in 1980. I worked with a team of agents who were tasked with the internal security of the United States. The degree I earned at FIU prepared me for the workforce, the rest came from experience. ♦