Real Estate & Construction  August 13, 2010

Public service focus of Hopkins’ careers

2010 Women of Distinction - Real Estate and Development

Women see the world differently than men do. Example No. 4,758: Linda Hopkins considers her career in real estate a form of public service.

“It’s providing access to one of the primary needs: shelter,” she explains.

As usual, when Hopkins explains her rationale, she reveals that such statements have been carefully thought out in a much wider context than most of us consider.

Hopkins, who has lived in Fort Collins since she was 13 years old, actually began her career in the public sector in the 1970s. She held 13 different jobs with the city, everything from processing utility bills to working with building inspectors in the planning and engineering department, and eventually on economic development with City Manager John Arnold, who served between 1975 and 1985.

“Back then, the City Manager’s Office was the most creative place in the city to be,” she recalled. “There was a willingness to get out there and try new things.”

Not all of those things worked, and the effort wasn’t always embraced by the community, but Hopkins learned how to put together big deals and bring big projects, such as the Anheuser-Busch brewery, out of the ground.

In 1989, Hopkins took her 15 years of construction and development background to The Group Inc. Real Estate – “the next most creative employer in town.” Group founder Larry Kendall welcomed Hopkins’ ability to toss a shovel in the back of a truck and talk to developers in their own vocabulary. But government service, no matter how creative, had not prepared her for a vital part of her new career.

“I didn’t know how to sell,” she said.

Kendall famously believed that there are no personal limits to what you could or should do, and over time helped Hopkins develop her sales skills.

“It has been my good fortune to work with good people in interesting positions,” Hopkins says of her success.

One of those good people is her husband of 30 years, Donn Hopkins. The couple met at the city when he was a Fort Collins police detective; he eventually retired as head of campus security for Colorado Sate University and is now in charge of security for Agilent Technologies. Their son Todd is a Fort Collins policeman; another son, Mark, lives in Oregon, and Linda’s son John Chance also works at The Group.

Over time she has seen women’s progress as “a force of nature.”

“When I started, there were no women managers in government, and no women working on large development or real estate deals,” Hopkins said. “Now, women are almost universal in both fields. In fact, selling houses is almost considered ‘women’s work.’ But that’s partly because the real time, money and commitment needed for a career in residential real estate has been vastly underestimated.”

No one underestimates Hopkins’ commitment to the Fort Collins community. She generously gives her time and money not only to cover the other primary needs of food – Food Bank of Larimer County – and clothing – Able Women’s Closet – but also to education, working with the Poudre Library District Trust, Educational Life Training Center, Front Range Community College and CSU, among others.

She also remains engaged with the city on the expansion of the Senior Center. Hopkins helped guide the 2005 update of City Plan, and has attended more City Council meetings on her own time than any working reporter in town.

She usually has something more interesting to say about it, too.

Click here for a list of the
2010 Women of Distinction and links to their profiles.

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