If a big commercial real estate deal is happening in New York City, Mary Ann Tighe is either involved or knows something about it. The legendary office broker has been chief executive of CBRE’s tri-state region since 2002 and has been breaking down barriers in the industry for decades.
One of the most powerful women in the heavily male-dominated world of New York City commercial real estate, Tighe has been involved in crafting countless local real estate policy efforts, from rezoning Midtown East to regulating retailers and restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tighe and her team handle some of CBRE’s largest clients, including the Catholic Archdiocese of New York, AMC, 21st Century Fox, News Corp. and WPP. She oversees office leasing and investment sales for her clients in New York City, across the country and the world. She has also led leasing efforts at Silverstein Properties’ World Trade Center buildings for many years, together with Silverstein leasing chief Jeremy Moss.
Born in 1948, the South Bronx native also had a significant career before real estate. While working on her master’s in art history at the University of Maryland, she worked at the Smithsonian and joined the White House as an arts adviser to Vice President Walter Mondale. Then she was hired as deputy chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, taught art history at Georgetown University, and authored an art history textbook. When she came back to New York City in 1981, she took a job at ABC, where she helped launch the A&E Channel.
Tighe stumbled into the real estate business when she was in Venice buying programming for A&E and met a commercial broker. Edward S. Gordon Company gave her a start in the brokerage world, and then she moved to Insignia/ESG, where she rose to vice chairman.
During her 18-year run at CBRE, she has served as the first female chair of the Real Estate Board of New York from 2010 to 2013, and on the boards of Howard Hughes Corporation and Columbia University’s real estate development program. As of early 2021, she was also a trustee of the Catholic archdiocese of New York and co-chair of the business committee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.