by Christie Chisholm, New Mexico Business Weekly, February 2010
Director of Development, St. Martin’s Hospitality Center
The first time Tracy Alexis volunteered, she lost her toenails. She was 16 years old, and after raising more than $2,000 for the March of Dimes Foundation, she walked 20 miles for the cause in heavy, cold rain. “My toes were so frostbitten,” she says, “I lost every toenail.”
Alexis was raised to believe in charity. Her parents taught her and her three siblings about relativity—that no matter how hard they thought their lives were, someone else’s was always harder. “I used to hear about the man who complained that he didn’t have any shoes,” she says, quoting a colleague, “until he heard about the man who didn’t have any feet.”
Alexis spent most of her career in project management in the private sector, aside from the nine years she spent in Atlanta working for Habitat for Humanity. These days, she’s the director of development at St. Martin’s Hospitality Center in Albuquerque, an organization devoted to helping the city’s homeless population. Alexis is a one-woman team, in charge of the nonprofit’s grant writing and fundraising, who also acts as its community spokesperson. She’s also one of the reasons the organization is still alive in the recession.
“One reason we’re hanging in there is because she’s been aggressive in finding new sources for funds that go along with our mission,” says Lee Pattison, executive director of St. Martin’s. “She’s been keeping our heads above water with new sources.”
In addition to writing grants that have secured new computers and software for the nonprofit, Alexis has done a lot to boost the visibility of a 25-year-old organization that, as she says, is “one of Albuquerque’s best-kept secrets.” To stay in good standing with the neighborhood St. Martin’s is based in, the nonprofit’s kept a low profile in the area. But that’s also led to a low profile when it comes to donations. Last year, Alexis got the organization to start an annual “Street Retreat,” wherein volunteers live on the streets as though they are homeless for three days and two nights in the middle of January. Alexis, who is 54, participated in both last year’s and this year’s event.
Street Retreats raise awareness about the issue of homelessness and also help potential donors learn about St. Martin’s. Last year, the two volunteers who participated, Alexis and Pattison, raised $7,000 in sponsorships. And the organization’s general donations increased afterward as well. “The money has a profound and lasting impression,” says Alexis. St. Martin’s budget in 2009 was $4.5 million, but those funds have to stretch a long distance in a cause that Alexis calls “heartbreaking.”
Director of Sustainable Design, SMPC Architects
Lisa Logan tolerated years of being called a “tree hugger” by her colleagues before she leveraged her propensity for environmentalism into solid business savvy. Working for an architectural firm in Milwaukee, Wis., Logan’s push for sustainable building design was made even more difficult by the fact that she was a woman in a “good old boy” world. “You had to work harder than your male co-workers to prove yourself,” she says. “You had to go above and beyond. Any my road was a little rougher, because I had the added twist of wanting to go against the grain and make things green.”
In Logan’s new job at SMPC Architects in Albuquerque, where she’s an associate as well as the director of sustainable design, she’s taken her green persuasion and used it to make money for both her firm and her clients. Logan oversees the management of all LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) projects at SMPC, facilitating them from the design phase through the construction process to make sure they meet LEED criteria. She says, on average, getting a building LEED-certified adds about 1 to 2% onto the total cost of a project. But the results save clients money in energy efficiency and productivity (she says studies have shown that students, for example, perform better in LEED-certified buildings). And in an economy that’s been especially rough for architectural firms, her work has helped to balance some of her company’s losses. In 2009, the firm’s gross revenue was $4.6 million, and Logan helped bring in about 4 to 5% of that.
Glenn Fellows, president of SMCP and chair of the firm’s finance committee, says that while the company has always been interested in sustainable design, Logan has helped take it to a higher level. “She’s really very organized and very dedicated,” he says. “Her heart’s in it.”
In addition to getting SMPC to adopt Ed Mazria’s 2030 Challenge (the goal for architectural firms that sign on is to produce zero-emission buildings by the year 2030), Logan is the past chair of the U.S. Green Building Council’s New Mexico chapter and now sits on the council’s Technical Advisory Committee. She also gives presentations and training to people in the construction industry, people in the real-state community, architects and high school students, where she is especially aware of mentoring young women.
At SMPC, she says, there are an equal number of male and female employees, and she’s never felt the inequality she experienced in the Midwest. But she’s aware that world still exists. “In my generation, you don’t have women ahead of you that tell you to go in and demand to get paid more,” she says, or have mentors who tell you it’s OK to ask questions. So Logan tries to show girls (and boys, too, she adds) that not only is it good to ask questions, but it’s also good to push the boundaries of convention.