CCIM Feature

CCIM Spotlight: Stellar Guidance

One CCIM shines in her support of real estate education.

"It’s like a great family,” says Mary Dee Karp, CCIM, CRB, GRI, about the Education Foundation of the CCIM Institute. “Our leadership committee is top notch,” she adds. But Karp, who serves as a foundation adviser, board director, and patron, stands as a leader among leaders. For more than two decades, she has been a guiding light for the foundation, its predecessor — the CCIM Scholarship Committee — and the aspiring designees who have benefited from their assistance.

Before embarking on a commercial real estate career, Karp was a physical education instructor and college counselor at Richmond High School in Richmond, Calif.

Working directly with the students, she saw the qualitative results of her tutelage. “I always wanted kids to do well,” she says. “Education is key.” After founding Mary Dee Karp & Associates in 1969 and receiving the CCIM designation in 1972, Karp decided to teach a Graduate Realtor Institute course. This position finally united her enthusiasm for education and commercial real estate expertise.

Increasingly, Karp shifted her efforts toward securing financial assistance to give students the means to reach the classroom. She joined the CCIM Scholarship Committee in November 1988, bringing an arsenal of scholarship program planning experience from prior work with the California Association of Realtors and University of California, Berkeley, her alma mater. From the start, Karp and the other committee leaders embraced a single maxim: “We want people to join CCIM and stay.”

To achieve that desired retention, Karp pushed for a more local focus. “She was always an advocate for keeping [CCIM] chapters involved — even with the university scholarship program,” says Susan J. Groeneveld, CCIM, executive director of the institute’s Education Foundation. Karp and her partners also proposed extending scholarships to students attending graduate-level programs. “Her experience with the [University of California] program provided us with a guide for working with the universities,” Groeneveld adds. The increased chapter participation allowed the institute to strengthen its relationship with these schools while growing chapter membership.

In addition to being generous with her time and expertise, Karp is the only foundation patron to have multiple named endowed scholarships, which are funded by her client and friend Dolorous Knight. Three $1,000 gifts are available each year through the Northern California CCIM Chapter to anyone pursuing the CCIM designation and other real estate-related coursework. Contributions in her name now total $75,000.

But Karp’s penchant for philanthropy predates her real estate career. In 1953, her brother Dink, a promising University of California halfback, was diagnosed with leukemia and soon passed away. To honor his memory, Karp and Dink’s high school classmates created the Dink Artal Scholarship, which is awarded annually to the football player who best exemplifies the “Cal spirit.”

After so many years of generous giving, it was only fitting that Karp received something in return from CCIM. In April, the foundation’s board of directors recognized Karp for her latest endowed scholarship, presenting her with a Waterford crystal star. “Mary Dee has been the one constant in the foundation for all these years,” said Douglas A. Sawyer, CCIM, the 2009 Education Foundation president. “All of the programs have her signature on them in one way or another. She’s always been — and will remain — our No. 1 superstar.”

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