From housing low-income families in Southern California to closing some of Manhattan's largest office leases, women leaders are using commercial real estate as a platform to reshape communities while they drive investor returns.

Each fall, National Real Estate Investor profiles some of the commercial real estate industry's top executives and trailblazing professionals who also happen to be female. In the pages that follow, we highlight the achievements of six standouts in 2011.

Our cover story on Robin Hughes, president and CEO of Abode Communities, examines the steps Hughes has taken to grow her non-profit company into a multidisciplinary engine, with development and architecture capabilities that generate revenue to pursue new projects.

During her 15 years at the helm, Abode has completed 1,400 units in 25 affordable housing projects, using innovative and environmentally sustainable designs in projects that transform and revitalize Los Angeles neighborhoods.

From her New York City headquarters, hotelier Brooke Denihan Barrett is revitalizing underperforming hotels as co-CEO of Denihan Hospitality. On the financial front, borrower advocacy pioneer Ann Hambly, founder of 1st Service Solutions in Dallas, is assisting investors dealing with distressed securitized loans.

Connie Moore, CEO of San Francisco-based BRE Properties, has used the market slump as an opportunity to acquire multifamily assets that position her company to capture what she believes is a coming wave of renter demand.

Ann Sperling, chief operating officer for the Americas at Jones Lang LaSalle, guides nearly 13,000 real estate professionals to new heights.

And Tara Stacom, vice chair of Cushman & Weakefield, closed two of Manhattan's largest deals this year — one as a tenant representative, and the other as the leasing representative for the new One World Trade Center.

Women In Real Estate