2019 Tucson Woman of the Year
By Romi Carrell Wittman
It was a day like any other at Cushman & Wakefield|PICOR, so Barbi Reuter thought it odd that she was pulled away and told by the company’s founder to meet in the conference room.
She realized something was up when she saw some familiar faces – like that of Kasey Hill, Greater Tucson Leadership’s executive director, who, unbeknownst to Reuter, was there to announce that Reuter had been named the 2019 GTL Woman of the Year.
“I was completely shocked,” she said. “I didn’t know I was nominated.”
The honor recognizes people who demonstrate extraordinary leadership – using their time and skills to positively impact the community and improve quality of life.
Amber Smith, president of the Tucson Metro Chamber, wrote in her letter of support for Reuter, “When you think of female leaders in Southern Arizona who are striving to make a positive impact, Barbi Reuter rises to the top. It’s evident that Barbi is utilizing her skills and expertise to bring forth change in our community.”
Reuter has lived in Tucson for 42 years. Growing up in a single-parent home, times were sometimes tough, yet the experience instilled in her a deep commitment to better not only herself, but the world around her.
“I grew up in a power single-mom household with sisters,” Reuter said. “We didn’t have a lot, so it’s tremendous to create opportunities for people who might not always have them.”
Reuter, who was named president of the commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield|PICOR in 2017, got her start at the Tucson-based company in 1985 as a receptionist while attending college. Supported by a thriving, entrepreneurial environment, she had a meteoric rise and in just seven years – at 26 years old – she was named a partner.
That’s a remarkable achievement in an industry dominated by men. Reuter continues to rise to the top. As of Jan. 1, 2020, she is the CEO of the firm, which employs 51 people.
“She leads by example with the highest level of integrity – embodying the strength, expertise and knowledge necessary to rise to the ranks typically held by men,” wrote Jennifer Chenault, friend and sales executive at Lovitt & Touche, when nominating Reuter for the award. ”Moving into this position while retaining an extremely high level of respect by both her employees, peers and other industry leaders is what makes her stand apart.”
Reuter is dedicated to creating opportunities for others – particularly young women looking to forge a career in commercial real estate. She has channeled her tremendous leadership and mentoring strengths in her work with Commercial Real Estate Women (known as CREW) and the Building Owners and Managers Association.
She has served on the board of Tucson Metro Chamber and just ended her term as chair. ”Barbi has led the organization to innovate and evolve into a broader community-focused entity,” said Smith. “Her guidance has enriched the board of directors and has strengthened the Chamber’s partnerships with others in Southern Arizona.”
Reuter makes time to mentor young professionals in the Chamber’s Emerging Leaders Council. Smith said, “Barbi consistently looks for opportunities to build up young leaders – and young women especially. She’s always available to offer advice, guidance and feedback to build individuals up and grow relationships.”
Reuter has made significant contributions to the community – including board service for many local nonprofits and work with PICOR’s Charitable Foundation, which has raised more than $967,000 for disadvantaged youth in Southern Arizona. The YMCA of Southern Arizona is also near and dear to Reuter’s heart. She currently sits on its board of directors.
One of her passions is her work with the Tucson Girls Chorus, where she served as both board president and board member. “Barbi became immediately involved in the executive committee,” said Marcela Molina, chorus director. “She supported TGC through a difficult transition and unknown future to a solid institution with a clear vision that serves thousands of youth throughout Tucson.”
Reuter is among the honorees at the February GTL awards gala. “I know every one of the honorees,” she said. “They’re all people I respect and admire. I’m so honored to be in the mix and to receive this award.”