Marilee Utter

Date: 04.07.2020 | admin | Denver, SHOWCASE

Denver, Colorado, USA

MARILEE UTTER President, Citiventure Associates

Former Executive Vice President, Global Councils, Urban Land Institute


I was introduced to Marilee Utter while undertaking a leadership fellowship through the International Women’s Forum in late 2011. We had been matched as part of the mentorship program.  One needs to understand the rigour of the IWF mentorship program, the detailed questionnaire, the extensive interview, the angst and soul searching each fellow goes through want to find the “perfect” mentor. For those of you who have ever filled out an on-line dating questionnaire you can appreciate how much energy goes into wanting to put your best foot forward. Thank goodness the staff at IWF understand what we need more than we do ourselves, because I said that I did not think it was necessary to be matched with someone in my field of business – transportation + land development = urban city building. I was looking for a fresh perspective – maybe someone like the CEO of a large global corporate conglomerate – you know – a private sector perspective for a public policy geek.

I could not have been more wrong. As I always say now – “you don’t know, what you don’t know” and I clearly did not know that a fresh perspective could come from a tired male dominated industry in the form of Marilee Utter.  Marilee is a west coast, sun-kissed wonder, living in Denver and whose office is the globe. With a background in banking, municipal real estate, land development, public-private partnerships and now the creative force behind the expansion of the 51 Councils worldwide of Urban Land Institute, Marilee’s smarts can only be outweighed by her warmth. Here is someone who has really been a city builder from all sides of the board table.

What has been your most important lesson as a city builder?

“Never draw a picture without a proforma. So many times the public sector wants to do planning, which quickly leads to images and diagrams, Usually “just conceptual” with virtually no concept of what the costs will be to the challenges the private sector will face in doing the development. By forcing even a basic financial model to accompany the drawing, it reminds everyone that the public and private sector will need to work together to realize a transformation. It also keeps projects from starting with an unrealistic but appealing ” Disneyland” development plan that raises expectations, undermines trust and creates bad feelings down the line when it has to be scaled back in line with the market.”


Stress at work

Date: October 12, 2014 | Reply

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Date: October 12, 2014 | Reply

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