ULI Colorado is thrilled to highlight the incredible people and sponsors who are paving the way for the advancement of women in the industry and within ULI. In this feature of Norris Design, we’ve asked Bonnie Niziolek to share with us why she is passionate about the mission of ULI Colorado and our Women’s Leadership Initiative.
About Norris Design:
Established in 1985, Norris Design’s strategic partnership in planning, landscape architecture and branding encompasses local, regional, national and international projects. With offices in Austin, Dallas, Denver, Flagstaff, Fort Collins, Frisco, Phoenix and Tucson, we combine responsive service with creative solutions that are grounded in realism to deliver a design that thrives, both today and in the future. Our knowledge and implementation of green building strategies is key to our design process and the success of our projects. Our designs always reflect our clients’ vision, goals and resources.
Norris Design invests deeply in leadership development, both inside and outside of the company. The firm supports leadership training for its staff with several organizations including ULI, Downtown Denver Partnership, the ACE Mentor program and ASLA.
Bonnie’s role at Norris Design:
Since joining Norris Design in 2004, Bonnie focuses on land planning, project management and entitlements for master planned communities, multi-family residential communities and commercial/office properties. She has gained extensive experience in managing large multi-disciplinary project teams through complex entitlement approvals within a variety of jurisdictions across the Denver Metro area. Her experience ranges from due diligence, site analysis and feasibility to drafting and reviewing large-scale zoning documents and entitling neighborhood-level site plans.
She is the face of development projects in front of City Staff and elected officials, a trusted advisor to the influential people who help shape our cities every day, provide housing for our residents and great spaces for people to work. Bonnie leads teams through complex entitlement efforts across the Denver Metro, building strong relationships with city staff and elected officials to create a collaborative environment to help meet opposing goals.
Bonnie is one of the “go-to” people at Norris Design. Both Principals and staff at all levels depend on her for her expertise, knowledge of the market, relationships, and most of all, her willingness to help. Mentoring, managing, and serving as the face of a number of projects in the community, Bonnie is a leader among her peers – and among seasoned staff who rely on her judgement.
I believe it [ULI Colorado’s Women’s Leadership Initiative] is critically important. 50% of the people who use the spaces we create are women; they need to be at the table helping to design and develop them. While we may not represent 50% of the membership numbers, the women leaders we have in Colorado are truly spectacular – WLI provides seats at the table for these women to shine – in mentoring positions with Partnership Forum, on the ULI Colorado Executive Committee and most importantly in speaking events open to ULI Colorado members and non-members.
I believe people want to see people that look like themselves in leadership positions doing incredible things – every time this happens you have the potential to impact a young person in the audience to go after her goals and aspirations. I appreciate that WLI is not just a women’s organization – that you encourage men to attend these events. We all have our own stories and our own ways to impact change and it will take all of us working together to make that happen.
Tell us about your involvement with ULI Colorado:
I joined ULI Colorado early in my career as a way to learn more about development and build my Colorado network after moving here from Wisconsin. One of my favorite parts about the organization is the wide variety of professions involved – real estate touches so many different companies in different ways there’s always so much you can learn from everyone you meet.
I Have built so many relationships – both professional and personal – it’s so rewarding to walk into ULI events, development meetings, city meetings, etc. and see a friendly face. I believe one of the most beneficial things you can do for your career is meet a lot of people and treat them well. Every meeting and phone call is a little more fun when you’re talking to a friend. Sometimes this profession is hard and the deadlines are tough and there’s a lot at stake…these challenging days are a little easier when you have someone you can laugh with on the other end of the phone. People want to work with and help people who are kind and treat them well.
I co-chaired the formation of ULI Colorado Next, creating the program in 2016, leading in 2017 and 2018. Its mission: To provide an avenue for mid-career professionals to foster leadership skills, develop professional relationships, and promote shared knowledge through education and networking. She achieves the goals of the group (high-level sharing of best practices, seeding future collaboration, supporting each other in mid-career challenges and sharing best practices for effective leadership skills and professional growth, developing meaningful relationships with peers from cross-sectors of the field, providing a collegial and non-competitive atmosphere) and inspires others to do the same.
I am also a regular attendee of ULI National Fall Meetings to better understand best practices in development to help ensure the Denver Metro is keeping up with innovative practices, see how other regions have worked through issues (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018).
Involvement with ULI Colorado:
ULI Colorado Young Leaders Group Executive Committee 2009-2014 (Membership co-chair 2009-2013), then Young Leaders Group co-chair (2013-2014)
ULI Colorado Executive Committee 2013-present
ULI Colorado Young Leaders Group Executive Committee 2009-2014