2024 Women’s History Month Series: Breana Brown

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Breana Brown

Director, Investments

“The best advice I got was to be myself. Women see the world differently than men and bring a unique perspective and approach to their work. This is a strength, not a weakness.”

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re showcasing some of the inspiring talent at Freestone. By highlighting the successes of powerful women and asking them to share their wisdom, we hope to empower women to not only enter the financial services industry, but to excel.

Breana Brown has a diverse background in real estate, starting her career in affordable housing development at the Tax Credit Group of Marcus & Millichap (now CBRE Affordable Housing) before moving on to work for various for-profit affordable housing developers in the Seattle area. In these roles, Breana’s primary focus was on asset management and development, specifically on sourcing, acquiring, and developing impact investment opportunities nationwide.

Prior to joining Freestone, she served as a Vice President at Redwood Housing, leading strategic initiatives in training, process management, and policy development. She currently serves as a Director on Freestone’s Investments team where she focuses on real estate investing as part of the firm’s alternative investment platform.

What inspired you to get into the financial services industry?

I’ve always been interested in working in the finance industry and spent most of my career preserving and developing affordable housing, a cause I feel passionate about. I’ve always been drawn to roles where I feel I’m making a difference, whether for the community, clients, or the people I’m working with. I joined Freestone in 2023 because it offered me a great opportunity to combine two things that are important and interesting to me: finance and helping people.

In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge women face in the financial services industry? How have you personally overcome challenges in your career?

Women often struggle with imposter syndrome in the workplace, and the financial services industry is no different. So many of my female friends talk about feeling like they aren’t qualified for roles or projects at work, and they let that hold them back professionally. Studies show that women will only consider a new position if they meet 100% of the requirements, while men are ready to try if they only fulfill 60% of what is asked. Overcoming this feeling is a huge challenge for women working (or even applying for roles) in male-dominated fields. I’ve slowly learned to take the leap into new projects and roles before I feel fully ready to do so and it has been immensely rewarding to grow into opportunities that I once told myself weren’t for me.

What advice did your mentors give you throughout your career?

The best advice I got was to be myself. I started my career trying to emulate those around me and I wasn’t playing to my own strengths. Women often see the world differently than men and bring a unique perspective and approach to their work. This is a strength, not a weakness. Madeline Albright said it well when asked about her approach to work: “I love being a woman and I was not one of these women who rose through professional life by wearing men’s clothes or looking masculine. I love wearing bright colors and being who I am.” I would encourage other women in male dominated fields to be their authentic selves – even if it feels like you’re using more exclamation points than your male counterparts!

What resources have helped you succeed in your career?

The most important resource in my career has been my network, particularly the women in my network. Building a network of people, you genuinely like, connect with, and want to learn from can be your biggest resource. It may not seem like the best use of your time when you’re just starting out building your career, but it pays dividends in the long run when you have sincere connections with smart people in your field that you feel comfortable asking for help or advice down the road. It not only helped me to professionally succeed, but also to get personal enjoyment out of my career because I’ve genuinely enjoyed working with people in my professional circle. I’ve learned that the easiest way to network when you’re feeling nervous is to come with questions that you’re sincerely curious about. It turns out people love to be helpful and share what they know – you just have to ask.

Posted By: Heidi Metzger