We are continuing our ‘Five Minutes With’ series with Brenda E. Rosen, President and CEO, Breaking Ground. She gives us insight into the person who left a mark in her career, her favorite NY building, which happens to be a museum, and why she is most proud of her ULI NY Awards finalist in the Housing category – Breaking Ground/Boston Road Permanent Supportive Housing.
Who was the most influential person who left a mark on your career and what was the best advice he or she gave you?
As I began to think of the individual(s) that were most influential in my career I realized that I have been impacted by people from many walks of life; professors, mentors, supervisors and others. I have been fortunate in that regard. However, as I went through my mental rolodex, the individual that kept coming to my mind was Gamal Basiouny. He was not my supervisor, he was a member of my team and reported to me, but he was definitely a mentor. He taught me that customer service was ultimately about treating people with respect and dignity and that everyone, regardless of status or stature, was entitled to no less. He also taught me that if you hope to gain people’s loyalty and trust, you must prove that you are worthy of both every day through your actions. These principles continue to guide me almost two decades later. His lessons have made me a better leader and a better person. I am forever indebted to Gamal.
What is your favorite building in New York that isn’t one of yours and why?
The Metropolitan Museum has been my favorite building in New York for many years. As a young girl, my father would take me on the subway from the Bronx to visit the museum on Saturdays. My dad worked at the museum, first as a security guard and later as a library technician, and I was always impressed by how well he could navigate the voluminous halls. I marveled then, as I do now, at the building exterior. The white structure, with its grand columns stretches across three city blocks. Its picturesque stairs serving as a resting/meeting place for thousands of people each day have become an iconic NYC sight. The interior is a maze of vast marble halls and wonderful galleries with high ceilings and natural light. The walls are, of course, adorned with one of the greatest art collections in the world. The thing that brings it all together for me, the architecture, the culture, the grandeur, is the fact that it is available to everyone. The wealthy and the poor, the religious and non-believer, the traveler from Paris and the girl from the Bronx, can all share this glorious building together.
What makes you most proud of your ULI NY Awards finalist?
As a nonprofit developer, Breaking Ground is always – on a shoestring budget – aiming to inspire and empower both the neighborhood we are building in and the residents who will call our buildings home. I am most proud that Boston Road demonstrates to the larger community that supportive housing can be as beautifully designed, sustainably built, and committed to the health and well-being of its residents as any other project.