Linda Padilla-Smyth sits behind her desk beaming as she holds a new award in her hand. Chapman University’s director of Real Estate and Property Management explains how she was secretly nominated for a real estate organization’s Philanthropy Award by her coworker. Shocked to receive an email stating that she was chosen, she recently flew to Chicago to accept it in person at the National Association of Women in Real Estate Businesses fifth annual conference.

“It was a total surprise and I had no idea,” Padilla-Smyth said. “I never guessed they would choose me. I figured someone else would have contributed more in this category.”

Marisol Arredondo Samson, Chapman’s director of Institutional Research, nominated her by writing the organization a 500-word essay explaining why she was so deserving. The two women serve together on the LatinX Staff & Faculty Forum. Developed in 2015, the group aims to provide support to LatinX students, staff and faculty by developing connections and building a bridge between students, parents, alumni and community organizations and the Chapman community as a whole. They host events annually, including a diversity orientation for new students.

In her essay, Arredondo Samson described Padilla-Smyth as, “A trailblazer in her chosen profession,” and stated that “her dedication and compassion to serve various underserved populations at Chapman is infectious. We’re extremely lucky to have a passionate activist for Latinos in higher education.”

Padillia-Smyth also mentors two Hispanic students at Chapman through Promising Futures, the University’s program for first-generation students.

Aside from her efforts on campus, she is a board member for CREW-Orange County (Commercial Real Estate Women), where she served as chair for the 2018 SPIRE Awards Ceremony which drew more than 350 attendees and raised $67,000 in corporate sponsorships. As part of the CREW organization, she has donated to and helped raise funds for WISEPlace, a Santa Ana based organization that provides affordable transitional housing, healthy meals and employment assistance to more than 90 women each year.

Padilla-Smyth has worked at Chapman for more than four years, managing staff and faculty housing, and overseeing 70 Chapman properties, including office buildings, apartments, condominiums and ground leases.

“I get to meet all the newcomers,” she said. “Managing the guest houses is my favorite part because I’m able to meet really amazing, interesting people that I never would have otherwise.”

Display photo at top: Linda Padilla-Smyth, left, is shown with National Association of Women in Real Estate Businesses President Desiree Patno after the ceremony.