Heidi Rickerd-Rizzo of Napa’s Terra Firma Global Partners wins Women in Business award

Heidi Rickerd-Rizzo, principal and founder, Terra Firma Global Partners, Sebastopol


Heidi Rickerd-Rizzo owned a property management and investment firm in Marin, one she started with a partner at the age of 21, and oversaw its growth for more than 20 years until she sold it in 2002.

Soon though, she and a partner seized a new opportunity — launching a real estate brokerage firm.

It was “in the worst recession and real estate landscape ever experienced,” she said.

The firm now has 55 employees and 10 offices. So it is no wonder that “entrepreneur” is a label that fits her work life quite nicely.


PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: I have over 38 years of real estate experience specializing in residential, multi-family investment, property management and exchanges. I owned one of Marin County’s leading property management/investment brokerage business for over 20 years (Bayside Management, with up to 3,000 units under management) and prior to co-founding Terra Firma Global Partners in 2010, I was senior vice president and regional manager for Pacific Union Real Estate and responsible for the firm’s expansion and growth in the Napa/Sonoma Valley Offices during the height of the recession, managing over 60 associates and staff.

I also has extensive tax, landlord-tenant and construction/staging experience, which brings a strong expanded skill set to the marketing and transactional components for real estate.

I received both Realtor of the Year and Distinguished Service Awards from the Marin Association of Realtors, and hold the title “Honorary Director for Life” for the California Association of Realtors. This designation is only given to a handful of the over 1,200-member directors for service and leadership to the organization.

I served as director of the Ecumenical Association for Housing in Marin County. I was a member of the Board of Supervisors special “blue ribbon” task force to address child discrimination and helped draft a local ordinance. I served on Marin County’s Traffic Systems Management and 101 Corridor Action Committee. I was a former member of the Marin Housing Authority’s Rental Deposit Guarantee Program Advisory Committee, the Willow Creek Charter School Board of Directors and the St. Hilary Parent Guide and School Advisory Board. For more than 30 years I have participated in chambers of commerce and Rotary clubs in Mill Valley, Sausalito, Napa and St. Helena.

EDUCATION: Studied English, psychology, anthropology and film studies at the College of Marin in Kentfield and Rocklin Junior College in Rocklin. Earned a teaching certificate in the CEC program at Rocklin Junior College in 1978.

I also attended Sacramento State College, completing the two-year program for real estate studies. I achieved a real estate associate license in 1978 and the broker license in 1984 from the California Department of Real Estate.


Founded in 2010 by real estate veterans Bill Facendini and Heidi Rickerd-Rizzo, Terra Firma Global Partners is one of the preeminent residential brokerages in the North Bay serving Marin, Sonoma and Napa counties.

Our emphasis is on small, local offices that reflect the communities we serve with 10 offices throughout the Region to serve our clients. Through collaboration rather than competition and quality not quantity, our associates are focused on achieving the greatest success for their clients.

Terra Firma Global Partners extends far beyond what a conventional brokerage firm offers. We envision ourselves as both a lifestyle company committed to informing and connecting global communities, and as well as a creative company offering design, marketing and sales solutions for buyers, sellers, developers and investors alike.

We are a hyper local company where community and relationships are key to our success. We believe in giving time, talent and treasure back in each community we serve. Our company vision is to provide each client with a personal experience that keeps them a client for life, giving them the trust and confidence to refer friends and family to Terra Firma for all their real estate needs.


Giving back to community is very important to the company culture and is one of its core company tenets. Heidi was the primary driver of the firm’s recent commitment in a three-year, highly innovative agreement of financial support with Prestwood Elementary School in the city of Sonoma. Terra Firma is sponsoring “Prestwood Direct,” which is the funding mechanism that generates funds to enable a host of school programs that Prestwood Elementary would otherwise be unable to afford.

The funding supports: classroom aides, classroom technology, library books, teacher supplies, playground equipment plus ongoing enrichment programs in studies such as art, computer coding, food education, math, foreign language, music and sports.

Terra Firm Global Partners has pledged to contribute/donate 10% of every commission earned from a sale/closing in The Prestwood School “Sphere of Influence,” comprised of the Eastside, Carneros and Four Corners neighborhoods in Sonoma. In the first 9 months (September of 2015) of the program, Terra Firma has donated a total of 23,055.00


Having succeeded as an entrepreneur for the majority of my life/career. I have owned a very successful Property Management and Investment firm for over 20 years in Marin County that I started at 21 years of age and built from the ground up with my partner ultimately selling it in 2002 for new opportunities and challenges. Having the opportunity again in 2010 to launch an innovative real estate brokerage (in the worst recession and real estate landscape ever experienced) founded on an entirely unique model/business culture seeing it thrive and show extensive growth year over year is extremely rewarding and exciting.


Time, and creating a balanced life. We are all so busy. Technology pulling at us at every turn. The expectations of the consumer wanting everything “immediately”. These are challenges for our culture/society in general, but in real estate the sense of urgency, the emotions that drive the consumer and/or the transaction and all the technology around information have caused our industry to be on hyper alert/work mode like no other industry I am aware of.

It is hard for me to set boundaries around my personal/professional life. A work in progress!

WORDS TO DESCRIBE YOU: Hardworking, passionate, compassionate, driven, optimistic, caring, honest, leader, creative and vulnerable.


I know other industries have been very challenging for women. I have been blessed to have participated in an industry primarily driven by women on many fronts and for which, while certainly there have been some challenges, is an industry for which I continue to call “the last bastion of entrepreneurship”, where no matter gender, if you are good at what you do, work hard, I have found the sky is the limit and I am responsible for my own destiny/success.

This industry embraced me personally, and has celebrated me being a young, energetic and bright woman who wanted to learn and grow. There will always be certain discriminations on either gender side in all professions and life. I think it is our own mindset and how deal with/approach those that is the key to personal success.


I think we will continue to see technology/information play a key factor in the consumer’s ability to be more educated and participatory in the process of buying and selling real estate. I do however, continue to believe the value real estate professionals bring to the process only gets more codified/important to the client/consumer given the complexities and plethora of information being thrown their way. I also believe that there will continue to be a re-tooling of the industry as a backlash to “big box” multi-corporate firms and much more opportunity for independent, boutique firms enter the marketplace.

Consumers what a great experience, local knowledge, and a much more personal relationship. There will continue to be all kinds of “disrupters” in the marketplace, but my belief is that at the end of the day all this “stuff” are just tools, but that the core of the business remains unchanged since I got into it 38 years ago. It is all about your relationships and the art of the deal…


I have been so lucky/blessed to have had many, many mentors throughout my career. Far too many to call out here and write about without wanting to leave anyone out. Individually, and collectively over the years whether in organized real estate, my first broker, my peers, those who have crossed my life personally have all contributed to who I am today, my ability to excel in my professional life and who gave me confidence and support to keep following a path I never really expected to find myself on, and still here almost 40 years later.

BEST PLACE TO WORK OUTSIDE MY OFFICE: I like to “cop a squat” at a few of my favorite coffee/cafes around town and work/plug in while I have an opportunity to also people watch, feel the energy of life around me and drink/eat some killer coffee/food.

CURRENT READING: We recently created a Napa Women’s Book Club. “It’s not about the book, club.” That was been really fun. It has forced me to take time to read fiction I might not otherwise ever consider.

That said, my “go to” book of choice right now is “You Can Be Happy No Matter What” by Richard Carlson. It is my bible, and I read it over and over.

MOST WANT TO MEET: I would like to go back and have a chance to know my father. He died when I was 12, but I had not seen him since I was around 6–7 for a short visit so my memories of him are not with me. To not have had the opportunity to know/remember him is a missing piece in the puzzle of my life.

SOCIAL MEDIA I USE MOST: I don’t do a lot of social media, but it would definitely be Facebook.

STRESS-RELIEVERS: Being outdoors. Walking, hiking, riding bikes. Picnics with wine and book. Time with friends.

HOBBIES: Design and anything creative around real estate. Travel and exploring new opportunities/adventures. Zumba, hiking and trying to learn new things.