Kirstin Brown Named ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’

| May 5, 2015 | 0 Comments

Martha Faigen, Susan Gittelman, Judith Nitsch, Rebecca Bachand, and Kirstin Brown / photo courtesy of CREW Boston

Cambridge, MA – Northstar announced that Kirstin V. Brown has been named the “Entrepreneur of the Year” by CREW Boston, formerly known as New England Women in Real Estate (NEWiRE).

Honored at the 2015 Annual Achievement Awards on April 30 at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston, she was among five women, and a separate group of seven, acknowledged for their achievements in the local real estate industry this year.

Brown was recognized for the risk she took in a poor economy and the subsequent success of her current firm. With partners Tom Fanning, Lee Burneson, Dave Girard, and Anthony Warren, she was instrumental in Northstar’s start-up.

Other award winners were Martha Faigen, Riemer & Braunstein LLP: Professional Service Award; Susan Gittelman, B’nai B’rith Housing NE : Suzanne King Public Service Award; Judith Nitsch, Nitsch Engineering, Inc.: Leadership Award; and Rebecca Bachand, UBLA Site Planner & Landscape Architects, LLC: Esprit de Coeur Award.


She initiated the move in order to continue pursuing a career she loved while creating a business that dispensed with non-client-centric corporate behavior, and fosters stability, transparency, principal-involvement in projects, and a working environment conducive to satisfying both work and home objectives.

“You spend more time working at your job than in any other aspect of your life,” Kirstin says. “To feel deep unhappiness and malaise is a waste of time and energy. It’s extremely difficult and scary to take a hard look at your situation and decide things have to change. But in order to realize your true potential and regain passion for what you are meant to do, you have to make those changes to truly be happy again.”

Northstar is a boutique development and project management firm focused on clients with portfolios on the East Coast. Every project account includes a two-person team, one of whom is always a working principal. It was a partner-based strategic decision to sell its services this way, and has proven to be a reliable and successful business model, generating top and bottom line growth for the last four years. While it competes with large global real estate giants, Northstar is a different, more nimble firm with a tight knit, family-orientated culture with partners and employees who all respect and care for each other, and who bring something unique to the table.

“The majority of Northstar’s partners bring an engineering/construction background to their work at the firm. Kirstin’s background in banking, real estate finance, marketing, project planning and permitting is a key differentiator for us,” said Tom Fanning, president of Northstar. “She provides us with diverse and alternative perspectives on issues related to firm management, business development and project management that are invaluable and have contributed immensely to the success of our firm.”

Northstar has grown from four employees in 2010 to 22 full-time and three part-time project managers in 2015, and the firm recently relocated to accommodate this growth. Nine of these employees are women – an impressive statistic in the commercial real estate industry.

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