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The Real Estate Finance Forum was founded in 1987 by a group of women looking for networking opportunities with other women in the real estate finance industry.

It all began with 2 women heading out of town for a national real estate conference being held in Las Vegas. As the women boarded a plane at O’Hare, they noticed each other and then noticed that the rest of the plane was filled with men. They began talking about what a shame it was that an organization for women in real estate did not exist in the city of Chicago. Upon their return to the Windy City, both of the women began calling upon their female associates in the business. These women began meeting for happy hours to discuss professional issues.

At the end of 1987, the group totaled 15 women. As a tribute to the organization of the group, the women decided to throw a holiday party.. They rented out the top floor of PJ Clarke’s and invited 75 people to join them. Over 250 people showed up for the party.

Since that time, the REFF organization has grown to overĀ 120 members in all aspects of real estate lending, with the annual Holiday party boasting over 1,000 attendees in 2013! Today, the purpose of REFF, as stated in the By-laws, is as follows:

“To further the professional development of women in all phases of commercial real estate finance; to promote avenues of communication among professional women inter- and intra-industry; and to encourage the recognition and advancement of professional women in the field of commercial real estate finance.”