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shattering ceilings

Shattering Ceilings - Leading with Innovation and Industriousness

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The CCIM Institute is undergoing significant changes as part of its brand modernization strategy that will better position it for growth in 2024 and beyond. Leading the charge on that continued transformation will be the 2024 Global President D’Etta Casto-DeLeon, CCIM

Casto-DeLeon is a Director at CBRE Loan Services in Houston and has more than 25 years of commercial real estate loan servicing and mortgage banking experience. She earned her CCIM Designation in 2007 and has been an active member of The CCIM Institute over the years. We sat down with Casto-DeLeon recently to discuss her vision as Global President, along with the objectives and goals of the 2024 Management Team in the coming year.

As the 2024 Global President, can you share a little bit about what being a member of The CCIM Institute means to you?

For me, an important element of membership in The CCIM Institute has really been the education that I’ve received. Some people go into this knowing that they're going to get a Designation. I needed the education. The reason why I headed down the CCIM Designation path was because I went to one of the partners in the company I was working with and asked what I needed to do to get to the next level. He told me to go get my CCIM Designation. That’s exactly what I did, and two and a half years later, I had my Pin. It was purely because I was missing the essential knowledge I needed, and The CCIM Institute was the premier provider to offer it.

Starting in the industry, I didn't have a college degree. I got my hands-on training from a variety of jobs and experiences, which served as building blocks for various positions during my career. For fourteen years, I worked for an insurance company, and after that, I went to work for a mortgage banking firm in loan servicing, where I was the one now requesting insurance on the commercial side. My next career move took me to loan setup, where I had the opportunity to read loan documents, although I needed help understanding what I was reading at the time. Later, that led into all the various elements of loan servicing, including reviewing inspections, financial analysis, lease reviews, and finally, understanding what I was reading in the loan documents. Ultimately, learning all of my skills over my career has paved the way for me to know many sides of commercial real estate. Based on my background, I like to stress that people who are not in a transactional brokerage type of position can and should earn the Designation to enhance their career. While 47% of The CCIM Institute’s members are brokers, the majority are like me.

The CCIM Institute is moving forward with its brand transformation and strategic initiative. Can you talk about your vision as President for 2024?

One of the goals I want to focus on is having corporations look to The CCIM Institute to be their strategic education provider. I’m not talking about only large service firms, but companies out there that have their own real estate departments. These companies are doing site selection, acquisitions, development, financing, and leasing, which are some of the skills taught as part of The CCIM Institute's education curriculum.. I want those companies to understand the benefits of The CCIM Institute as their education for their corporate real estate departments. We need to ensure that when people are seeking commercial real estate education, The CCIM Institute is top of mind. We should be their first stop.

Are there any specific plans in the works to increase that awareness with corporations?

Yes! We are finalizing some contracts now, and we have a marketing plan to announce our partnerships when we are ready to share. We have a staff person at The CCIM Institute who is focused on creating some of these pathways where she can start approaching different corporations in our pipeline. We also have a large marketing plan where we are going to highlight CCIMs and the value partnering with a CCIM Designee in a transaction. It is our goal to have all of these resources working together to help corporations see the value of CCIM Designees, as well as the knowledge and prestige behind The CCIM Institute.

The 2024 Management Team and other CCIM Designees are going to be pivotal in building up our network with additional corporate partnerships. CCIM Designees at the local level can help us get a foot in the door and connect with people in corporations they already have relationships with.


What other priorities do you have for 2024?

As President, my most significant push is building corporate relationships. Another area of focus is continuing to advance the inner workings of The CCIM Institute and optimizing our resources so we are spending in areas poised for growth. I’ve already started working with the Management Team and have collaborated with staff team members on these initiatives. I'm hopeful that members will begin to notice how collaboration and cohesiveness can make positive change at The CCIM Institute. I also want to build stronger relationships with our chapters. Inclusion and collaboration between chapters and The CCIM Institute is vital as we look to grow. Having open lines of communication, an improved exchange of information, and engagement are all action items I have on my list.

Sometimes, it is difficult to change that mindset and get that message across. Is there anything that you think is going to help create that collaboration?

There are many different components that go into our current transformation. The marketing and communications coming out of The CCIM Institute this year will be instrumental in helping us get our messages across about how we are evolving to meet the needs of everyone in the commercial real estate industry. I want to start with members. In some cases, it may be showing up at the local chapter event or having the opportunity to communicate one-on-one with members to point them in the right direction. Our members should know all of the positive changes that are happening at The CCIM Institute and that their leaders are working hard to enhance their membership experience.

I am focused on transparency and am open to hearing new ideas. If a member comes to us with an idea, I’d like to bring it to the collective group and do an assessment to vet it properly. I want to see the idea from all sides and figure out if there are opportunities to implement it or build upon it. No idea is a bad one, it just needs to fit within our business model. I hope that members know coming to us with their thoughts is how we continue to be relevant and progress.

What do you think is going to require the most heavy lifting in this strategic plan, and any thoughts on how you might approach those challenges?

One of the things that we did differently in strategic planning is we changed it from a one-year plan to a three-year plan and set some measurable goals for all those items. We also created a work plan, which is a seven or eight-page written plan for how the staff team members are going to accomplish our strategic goals. The positive side of this type of strategic planning is that it gives staff team members something to work on for three years and creates longevity to help us reach our goals.

The Strategic Planning Committee met this January to discuss the strategic goals for 2024 and 2025. These goals will build on some of the goals we accomplished in 2023 and will continue to work and build upon in 2024. This strategy keeps The CCIM Institute’s vision for the future close enough to where it is more attainable. Still, it provides enough allowance for greater flexibility when it comes to change. We all agreed that having everybody work towards plans and visions with three solid years versus flipping every year when there is a new President who may want to focus on other initiatives.

Transparency is significant to me and will play a big role for the 2024 Management Team. That means that my First Vice President, Adam Palmer, CCIM, and the President-Elect, Steve Rich, CCIM, will know everything that I'm working on so that we can properly execute a successful succession plan. It's all about collaboration so that we can be dynamic, and what I bring to the table with my goals doesn't go away after I leave but are carried through. We are all a team so everyone in the leadership succession has an ownership in the future of The CCIM Institute. We’re setting up some new standards so that we can fix some of the gaps that have existed in the past as well as empower The CCIM Institute's staff team members to effectively do their jobs and be successful.

What’s the overall takeaway in how these changes will benefit CCIMs and The CCIM Institute?

It’s about creating a more robust, reliable brand. We are taking on these initiates to showcase The CCIM Institute as the gold standard of education in the commercial real estate industry. We want to continue to build on the momentum started with the brand modernization in 2023 and carry that through today as we enhance member experiences and demonstrate how the power of the CCIM Designation represents proven expertise in the commercial real estate industry.

Was there anything else that you would like to add about your goals and objectives?

I’m proud to be the fourth woman President in 57 years at The CCIM Institute. Historically, there haven’t been many females leading The CCIM Institute, for one reason or another, but I want to change that. I am motivated to encourage diversity, equity, and inclusion in our organization. We have a Cultural Diversity Education Program that is a good example of how we are concentrated on a diverse commercial real estate industry.

As the 2024 Global President of The CCIM Institute, I am proud to be leading such a prestigious organization and am focused on growing our membership opportunities, providing first-class member experiences, and promoting to the world the significance of who we are, an extraordinary collective of experts who have earned the distinguished CCIM Pin.


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