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Ellen Klasson of Terra Search Partners Named Americas Chair of ULI’s Women’s Leadership Initiative

Terra Search Partners, a retained, executive search firm exclusive to the real estate industry, is proud to announce that Managing Director Ellen Klasson has been appointed to serve as the America’s Chair for Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) esteemed Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI). ULI is the oldest and largest nonprofit network of cross-disciplinary real estate and land use experts in the world, focused on shaping the future of the built environment through a transformative impact on local communities. Klasson will serve a two-year term, beginning July 2021.

“Women make up half of the population, but our representation within commercial real estate continues to lag,” says Klasson. “We are significant users in every sector, whether it’s as an office worker, shopper, business owner, hotel guest, manufacturer, or restaurateur. Our voice and opinion are vital if the industry expects to consistently create products that satisfy such a diverse pool of end-users. Ultimately, having women in leadership positions isn’t just good for social equality, it’s crucial to a company’s bottom line.”

WLI has four primary objectives to help encourage the role of women in real estate: promote the advancement of women, increase the number of women who serve in leadership positions, heighten the visibility of women leaders, and expand the number of women who are active ULI Full members. Since it was founded in 2011, WLI has made significant strides in improving ULI’s own internal numbers. Just 10 years ago, women comprised only 20% of all members and 18% of the group’s governing body, the Trustees. Today, those numbers have risen to 30% and 25% respectively. While that is a solid improvement, the low overall percentages are indicative of an endemic gender problem within commercial real estate as a whole.

Developing the pipeline of women leaders who enter and grow within the real estate industry starts locally. As such, Klasson will focus her tenure as Chair on designing, supporting, and sharing the innovative initiatives executed at the 53 local District Councils across North America. This local focus, balanced with content-driven programming, mentorship opportunities, meaningful networking, and placements in leadership roles throughout ULI’s platform, will contribute to raising the visibility and stature of women in the industry.

As a Managing Director at Terra Search, Klasson is well-versed in skillfully matching candidates for the most coveted positions in commercial real estate by focusing on how a company’s culture, organizational structure, and market position align with a potential employee. As a result of her new role with WLI, Klasson can leverage her increased connections to female leaders to raise their visibility by including more of them in candidate pools for high-profile roles..

“This is an outstanding opportunity, not just for Terra Search’s clients, but for the industry as a whole,” said Terra Search Founder Matt Slepin. “Ellen has established lasting, trusting relationships with countless difference makers and thought leaders within the industry and typically, the roles they need filled are at the highest level. Ellen’s connections with organizations like ULI put her in direct contact with a highly qualified and diverse pool of women who can fill those roles. Not only will this help secure more leadership positions for women, but it will result in a tangible difference in how women represent the profession.”

Klasson’s own experience with ULI is an additional reason why she is so well suited for her new role with the nonprofit. She became a member of the organization in 2004 and quickly rose to leadership roles within her District Council, ULI Atlanta. After running various initiatives as a volunteer member, focused on the leadership development of young professionals, mid-career talent, and women in the industry, she joined ULI’s staff in 2014 as Senior Director of ULI’s Leadership Network, managing leadership programs targeting diverse constituencies throughout the organization. Her most active program was the Women’s Leadership Initiative.

“There are remarkable women everywhere, ready to take on the next generation of opportunities and challenges,” adds Klasson. “But it is up to organizations like WLI to make sure these brilliant professionals are getting the visibility, notoriety and recognition they deserve.”


About Terra Search Partners

Founded in 2006, Terra Search Partners is a national executive leadership real estate search firm, dedicated to aligning outstanding professionals with the world’s finest built industry companies. With locations in San Francisco, Washington, D.C., New York, and Boston, Terra Search works nationally and is focused on deep client relationships that match candidates with a company’s core culture, while supporting each client as a strategic partner and advisor. This extends to Terra Search’s commitment to transformative societal change through human capital and leveraging real estate’s innate ability to positively impact communities.  Terra Search explores these impacts on the podcast series “Leading Voices in Real Estate” hosted by founder Matt Slepin. For more information visit


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