With Quantum Leap Winery’s large wooden barrels and candle-lit tasting room as a backdrop, our quarterly Women’s Leadership Initiative event took place last night with moderator Brooke Myers, President at Emerge Real Estate Ventures, LLC, and guests Cecelia Bonifay and Becky Wilson.
Cecelia Bonifay is the Chair of Land Use & Sustainable Development Practice at Akerman and the Chair of the Urban Land Institute –Central Florida. As a lawyer with a planning background, Bonifay has experience on both sides of the land use process. A Partner at Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed, P.A., Becky Wilson also manages our innovative programming as the Program Chair at the Urban Land Institute–Central Florida.
Bonifay and Wilson shared their insights into what makes land use law different from standard litigation practices. First and foremost: “I don’t get a pre-trial,” says Bonifay. “You better be ready that night.” However, Wilson sees the required interdisciplinary teamwork as a benefit: “We all get to take a shot at seeing the issue from a different perspective.”
The panelists answered questions from the audience and gave advice to those already in or interested in joining the land use sector. One strategy Wilson originally used to become more involved locally is that she “shrunk her pond.” By focusing on a specific area of practice or a manageable geographic location, professionals have the opportunity to have a greater impact.
Bonifay listed four important things to becoming successful: work hard, see opportunity, have support from a mentor, and have a collegial group of partners who allow you to excel.
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