Agent, Keegan & Coppin Co., Inc./ONCOR International, 1355 N. Dutton Ave., Santa Rosa 95401, 707-528-1400, keegancoppin.com

Co-owner, Odyssey Development Company, LLC, P.O. Box 1316, Sonoma 95476, 707-310-2291

Residence: Sonoma

[caption id="attachment_94211" align="alignright" width="241"] Rhonda Deringer[/caption]

Professional background: I have been a real estate assistant for a multifamily real estate investment company, an office manager at Keegan & Coppin and then a real estate agent with that brokerage from 1996 to the present. I have been an owner of Odyssey Development Company since 1997.

Education: A.A., Santa Rosa Junior College

Tell us about yourself and your company: I started in 1994 with Keegan & Coppin as an office manager. Then I received a real estate license in 1996 and worked my way up to a senior real estate agent there. I wanted to start my career in the largest and most prestigious and reputable commercial real estate companies in the North Bay, learning from the leaders in this industry. These include individuals such as Vice President Jim Keegan, President Al Coppin and managing partner Shawn Johnson who have mentored me to a point that I am a top producer for the company.

I am proud to be an independent and focused "woman" in the male-dominated business of commercial real estate. I find that the leaders at Keegan & Coppin have worked hard, teaching me the tools needed for success. They also have guided me on a path to accomplish my goals of future executive undertakings. The five to seven days a week, 10-plus-hours-a-day pace is well worth the success I am achieving in this industry.

I formed Odyssey Development Company in 1997 to specialize in the development of urban mixed-use projects throughout the North Bay area. Odyssey has produced substantial downtown housing in various North Bay communities. Odyssey has been involved in creating mixed-use and commercial development with its showcase commercial and residential projects, such as the award-winning Carneros Lofts in Sonoma (30 live-work units and 12 commercial condominiums) and reuse of the historic 1872 DeTurk Winery as a mixed-use development in the Railroad Square and West End area of Santa Rosa.

What is a major accomplishment in the past year or so?: At Keegan & Coppin, I won the 2013 "Top Retail Power Broker" award from CoStar for the North Bay, after having received the same award in 2008. I also was among the top two producers at the brokerage last year.

With Odyssey, one of my favorite accomplishments is being on the board, as a founder, of the nonprofit West End Fitness and Sports Center. Based at the DeTurk Winery building, the center is designed to channel profits to the local West End Neighborhood Association. One of the first benefits to the area was to build a new restroom and storage area for the West End Farmers Market.

What is the achievement you are most proud of?: Being a strong, independent, successful "woman" real estate agent for Keegan & Coppin.

Also being a woman owner of an urban smart growth real estate development company in the North Bay, especially in an era of "smart growth and walkability" as a prime movement in creating "downtown rejuvenation."

What is your biggest challenge today?: In these volatile economic times, learning from the very best in my field, my mentors, has been inspirational to me. I have had the benefit of being mentored by the partners of Keegan & Coppin. I also have been involved in learning from many successful real estate professionals and developers in the area, who have aided my journey to be one of the very best in my field.

One of my mentors has been my husband, Richard Deringer, who has been a real estate developer for about 40 years. He has been very helpful in directing me through the very complicated field of commercial real estate brokerage and development.

As a successful female professional, what were the biggest obstacles you faced?: Commercial real estate, especially real estate development, has traditionally been a male-dominated industry, unlike residential real estate brokerage. My passion for what I do and my unwavering goal of being relevant in this industry have pushed me down a very successful path.

My objective in business is to create a network of strong and independent like-minded professionals for me to work with and to service my client’s needs. Having a real estate development background has been extremely helpful in understanding how my clients think and act, to view both sides of a transaction. This allows for out-of-the-box thinking that makes leasing and selling properties even more achievable.

How has the involvement of women in commercial real estate brokerage and development changed since you've been in the business?: It will only get better as more women are recognized in commercial real estate brokerage and development.

Why did you decide to get into commercial real estate and focus on the types of properties you do?: Early on, I had worked in real estate investment  and enjoyed the "numbers" aspect of the industry. I also take pleasure in the ability to work with professionals in many types of businesses, whether it be retail, office or industrial.

It is always very interesting to learn about a new industry and contributing to the economic development of the community. Also, I respect the approach of being a team player in the real estate industry.

Since I had a strong sales background prior to coming into this industry, I am at ease in accomplishing my goals and meeting the needs of my clients.

How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?: I feel that a younger group of successful real estate agents, brokers and developers will have a significant part in structuring and providing support to technology for the future growth of this industry. These younger individuals will be the right arm to the seasoned and successful owners or partners of brokerage and development companies.

What advice would you give to a young woman entering your profession or the work world today?: Believe in yourself, work hard, and be confident. You will become a strong leader in your industry.

Think career over job. Be relevant and expose yourself to learning from the very best mentors in your industry.

Remember, as a "woman," the fight may be harder and more challenging, but the end result will be the acknowledgement of your efforts and the success that makes this accolade so important to your goal of being relevant and economically successful.

Most admired businessperson outside your organization: Jay Ryder of Ryder Homes of California developed many successful projects in the community. Also, my brother, Brett Moret, owner of Kreamy Soap Company, was an early mentor to me. He is a pioneer in his industry and has the tenacity for success.

Words that best describe you: Focused, relevant, dedicated, inspiring, loyal and trustworthy. I want to be the best representative to my clients, since I hold their success to be critical to my goal of serving with competence and honesty.

Current reading: My reading comes from spending many hours researching informational, inventive and practical ideas that help benefit me in my field. I am also a social media reader, especially the sites that exhibit stories of the success of others and how they accomplished their goals. It's inspiring.

Most want to meet: I am a great believer everyone has a story. They have dreams and journeys that have made them who and what they are. So I believe everyone is a part of my learning curve. So the ability to meet more people, through business, through travel or just talking to someone who I work with or clients, all adds to my growth and inspiration.

Stress-relievers: I enjoy working on my property, planting and harvesting the fruits and vegetables from about 200 fruit and olive trees and my garden. I have a wide variety of fruits that I enjoy baking, cooking, freezing and, of course, juicing. This has been a great method to take my mind away from the daily work schedule. Also, shopping, biking, hiking and, of course, watching TV.

Favorite hobbies: Mountain Biking, hiking, cooking and gardening.

Anything to add?: I want to thank the North Bay Business Journal for having these award events. Recognizing individual accomplishments  helps me and other grow and be recognized for our efforts.