Founder and CEO, JRT Realty Group
Bernard H. Mendik Lifetime Leadership in Real Estate Award
Jodi Pulice has always been a pioneer in the commercial real estate industry. After graduating from Wagner College with a bachelor’s degree in bacteriology and public health, the Staten Island native decided she wanted to travel. She ended up spending three years working as an airline reservation specialist for Northwest Airlines, which gave her the opportunity to go anywhere in the world for about five dollars a ticket. When Pulice realized that she was one of the top sales specialists at the airline, one of her friends recommended that she interview for commercial leasing jobs.
“It was really tough because my father was a New York City police officer, and my mother was a teacher,” Pulice said. “At that time I didn’t have the connections to get into the commercial real estate world.”
Nevertheless, a broker named Mary Solano hired Pulice at Berley & Company, a now-defunct commercial real estate firm. Pulice entered the office leasing business in the 1980s as one of only a few women in a male-dominated arena, doing stints at Huberth & Peters, Insignia/ESG and the Sylvan Lawrence Company. While working at Berley, she met her now-husband Greg Smith, and then moved to launch JRT Realty in 1996. The 12-person company does strategic planning, corporate real estate portfolio management, leasing, financing, tenant representation and investment sales.
Pulice oversees a leasing and management portfolio of 10 million square feet of office and industrial space, including Madison Realty Capital’s Union Crossing in the South Bronx and a 100,000-square-foot addition to Kaufman Astoria Studios at 34-11 36th Street in Astoria. JRT also handles large lease deals for city agencies on behalf of the city’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services. And the firm manages 30 million square feet of commercial space through its partnership with Cushman & Wakefield.
In her spare time, the Turtle Bay resident serves on the boards of the Long Island YMCA, the UNFCU Foundation for Women, the Jeffrey Modell Foundation, and REBNY’s Commercial Board of Directors. Pulice believes that women need to serve on more boards because they provide important networking opportunities and help set policies for the organizations they govern.
“I believe that if women don’t get on boards of any kind we’re not going to accomplish what we need to accomplish,” she said. “If you make the board cognizant and aware of the fact that MWBEs [minority- and women-owned business enterprises] have to be part of their program in order for their program to be successful,” then companies will be more likely to hire women and people of color, she explained.
Thirty years into her career, Pulice still feels that the commercial real estate industry has been slow to embrace diverse recruitment, hiring and promotion processes.
“There seems to be a new awareness, but then there’s putting that into action,” she noted. “It’s being brought to the forefront by Bill Rudin and Jim Whelan at REBNY. It’s being highlighted that it has to be diverse and it has to have more minorities and women in order for commercial real estate to be successful in the future.”—Rebecca Baird-Remba