Tara Hovey, 36
President and COO
Optima Inc.
Glencoe, IL
Literally born into the real estate business, Tara Hovey today heads the company founded by her parents in 1978. Not that she parachuted into a leadership position. She first worked as a construction superintendent for an Optima condominium project in Skokie, IL. When the recession hit, she decided to earn her broker's license and eventually became the firm's sales and marketing manager. Even during the downturn, Hovey was able to increase both the average number of homes sold and leased per month. After receiving her MBA, she went to work in capital markets at Cushman & Wakefield, where she underwrote nearly $1 billion in debt and equity transactions. Hovey joined the family business full time in 2014 as senior vice president, and is working with her father on the leadership succession, and on growing the firm's holdings and investor base. In four years, she has led the capitalization and financing of more than $1 billion in real estate, including construction financing for new developments, recapitalizations, and dispositions.