written by
 Pam McElroy

The 2019 SFAA Trophy Award winners represent
a variety of positions and properties, but they all love what
they do and know the value in making residents feel at home.


New Development of the Year
The Rise, Hayes Valley, Greystar

The Rise in Hayes Valley took home this coveted Trophy award for its next-level apartment and community amenities, prime location and modern technology, but perhaps most notably, for the unparalleled services residents receive. According to Samantha Lynn, community manager at The Rise, what sets the property’s staff apart is their “willingness to do whatever it takes to ensure residents are happy.” And the key to doing this is in the details, like remembering to wish each resident a happy birthday or to ask how an exam or job interview went. “The day-to-day interactions with great people is what I love most about my job.”

Other guests services include pet-friendly living (pet spa, dog run, and panoramic roof deck….oh my!), internet lounges and co-working spaces, a game room and outdoor movie theater, and a chef’s kitchen with private dining room. The Rise strives to make resident living as convenient as possible with a DIY bike repair room, secured storage and onsite car sharing. Residents are within walking distance to a plethora of the city’s best restaurants, grocery stores, and Muni and Bart stations. 

Property Management Company of the Year
Mosser Companies

Mosser Companies has been in operation in San Francisco since 1955. One of the reasons Mosser, a family company, has been so successful over the years is because they “strive to make sure residents feel like family as well.” The company succeeds in doing this in a number of ways. Mosser Companies is also serious about doing what they can to help the statewide housing crisis. Over the past two years, they have been focused on creating accessory dwelling units in their existing properties. “We want to keep the charm of these historical buildings on par with our great city, but provide modern amenities within the apartment homes that will make our residents’ lives effortless.”

The company purchases historical assets and brings them up-to-date, so residents have modern living arrangements that are rich in local charm. Many of their buildings—including the entire side of Mosser Towers—are adorned with murals painted by local artists to “capture the spirit and essence of San Francisco during a time when existing murals and artwork are being torn down.” The very pet-friendly Mosser Companies is also proud to work with local animal nonprofits like the San Francisco SPCA and Muttville to help sheltered pets find homes within their portfolio. They allocate work days when staff is encouraged to volunteer at local animal shelters. “We want to lead by example in our philanthropic efforts, to give back to our communities and neighborhoods, to have an ‘all hands on deck’ mentality to help San Francisco thrive and prosper.”

The people at Mosser Companies are “grateful, humbled, and proud” to have been recognized in this category.

Green Building of the Year
The Ashton San Francisco Greystar

The Ashton San Francisco provides residents with luxurious “resort-style” units, a host of modern amenities, and comfortable and convenient living—all
in a green, environmentally friendly LEED certified building.

The Ashton has taken steps big and small to decrease their overall carbon footprint. They’ve eliminated most paper-use by providing residents with ceramic tumblers to use instead of disposable coffee cups, and all communication with residents is 100% web based through Active Building, which supports direct email, e-blasts, and electronic lobby message displays instead of paper notices and reminders. To encourage resident participation in their green efforts, the Ashton SF has updated EV charging stations onsite and they provide all households with compost bins.

Amenities of the Year
150 Van Ness, Emerald Fund

Touting the “broadest selection of amenities in the Bay Area,” it’s no wonder 150 Van Ness took the Trophy in this category. Among the most notable amenities are the two roof decks with panoramic city views and bocce ball (and a pizza oven!); the 75-foot long, heated lap pool; movie theater and outdoor screening room; a pet spa; and even hotel rooms for visiting out-of-town guests.

According to Tonia Trapani, the property manager who received the award on behalf of Emerald Fund, “The amenities are extemporary. It takes a true team effort to ensure these spaces are maintained and operated to the highest standards.” And while this isn’t the first time they were nominated for a Trophy Award (100 Van Ness won Maintenance Manager of the year in 2018), the staff at 150 Van Ness are “excited and honored” to have been recognized in this category.

Other amenities residents enjoy on a day-to-day basis are the yoga studio and fitness facilities; gold simulator; sun bathing lawn; maker’s workshop; refrigerated grocery delivery; and a 24-hour front attendant.

General Manager of the Year
Stephani Yurkanin, Greystar

Stephani’s love for her job, appreciation for her team, and overall work ethic earned her this sought-after Trophy award. Her greatest strength though, is her ability to push hard to accomplish goals and meet deadlines, even when faced with adversity. As for what she enjoys most about her career: “I love mentoring my team,” she explains. She finds joy in “watching team members develop and flourish in their own careers.” Stephani felt “honored” to win this Trophy award and has it displayed proudly in her office.

Stephanie is currently at her fourth consecutive renovation property in eight years and has been promoted every few years to larger communities. She’s now managing 1,114 homes and 100,000 square feet of commercial space, and she was recognized at Greystar with the Greystar Core Value Award for Respect in 2019.

Assistant Manager of the Year
Noah Beito, Trinity SF

According to Noah, the most important attributes of an exceptional property manager are “patience” and the ability to “listen.” Noah has only recently started on this career trajectory, and is grateful for this “big achievement.” Of his day-to-day responsibilities, his enjoys “working with residents to make sure the building feels like home for them.” He love to spend time with his co-workers, and hopes he “improves the quality of their work day” just as they do for him. He was surprised and excited to have be recognized in this way by his colleagues.

Leasing Consultant of the Year
Lauren Greenburg, Structure Properties

It’s clear that Lauren’s success stems from her ambition and passion for her work. She loves the fast-pace of the industry, meeting new people every day, exploring different properties, and the “quick, critical thinking and troubleshooting,” which gives her a rush. “I’m always looking for ways to be more efficient and perform better. My ongoing competition with myself is the driving force behind my success.”

Lauren says that so far winning a Trophy Award has “undoubtedly” been her biggest professional achievement. She’s also proud of reaching her 2019 stretch goal of renting 25 apartments in just 30 days, spearheading her company’s relocation program. She keeps her Trophy Award in her home office, affectionately with her plants.

Leasing Manager of the Year
Haley Crawford, Brick & Timber, Inc.

Being happy in your career is the first step to finding success in it, and this is certainly true for Haley. She loves finding clients their “dream apartments” in her “favorite city in the world,” where she feels “truly lucky” to live. She enjoys working with and getting to know all the different personalities she comes in contact with, which Haley says is the “key to leasing.” Her success also comes from her dedication and hard work. She’s always willing to put in long hours when necessary, and more than happy to help others excel in their own careers. “I am proud that I went for a career path that I enjoy, and of having a team that is great at leasing and loves leasing.”

Onsite Leasing Consultant of the Year
Gerlynn Bernados, The Fillmore Center, Greystar

While this is just Gerlynn’s first year in the industry, she’s a natural. She believes her success comes from her believing in her product and her ability to sell that product. To date, she considers her recent promotion after only six months on the job and her SFAA Trophy Award as her biggest accomplishments. After the event, she showcased her Trophy Award next to her Christmas tree, proudly displayed for friends and family.

Her favorite part of the job is getting to know people from all over the world. “San Francisco is so diverse, you get to see everyone from everywhere!” 

Administrative Professional of the Year
Blessie Barcelona, Trinity SF

Blessie’s favorite part about being an administrative professional is that she is able to work with and help everyone in the company. “I’m not limited when it comes to extending my assistance,” she explains. While her colleagues at Trinity SF certainly appreciate her dependability and willingness to collaborate, they also appreciate her genuine personality and honesty. 

Blessie felt “surreal” when her named was called at the Trophy Awards and considers the award her professional achievement that she is most proud of. She plans to display her prized Trophy on her desk.

Accounting Professionals of the Year
Winta Pang, Gaetani Real Estate

Winta’s strong work ethic and passion for his career make him one of the most exceptional accounting professionals in the industry. When asked what part of his job he likes the most, Winta enthusiastically responded “I love them all!” This is Winta’s first Trophy award. He was “surprised” when he found out he won the award, and he keeps it on his desk.

Maintenance Technician of the Year
Edgar Garcia, 2B Living

“It’s been the most rewarding for me to be recognized for all of my hard work,” said Edgar, who added that the SFAA Trophy Award has been his “crowning achievement” so far. He attributes his success to his ability to solve residents’ problems of all sizes, big and small, as well as an eagerness to continue to learn and improve in his role. His positive attitude and work environment surely help. He describes his career as “truly rewarding” and his colleagues as “ecstatic” upon learning of his win. He has his Trophy Award displayed in the 2B Living office.

Customer Service Professional of the Year
Ebe Kiis, Veritas

In fewer than two years, Ebe has received two promotions at Veritas, and she’s been recognized by the SFAA with a Trophy Award. “I’m very proud of my achievements at Veritas, and I’m working hard to keep the streak going.” She says the most effective way to find success in this industry is to truly listen. “The majority of clients simply want to be heard. The most important skills to have in customer service is patience and the ability to listen.” Ebe placed her Trophy on her work desk in her home to “remind herself how hard work can pay off.”

Resident Manager of the Year
Katherine Lara, Greystar

All of us in the industry know that resident managers work hard, but Katherine Lara takes this to the next level. According to Katherine, her success comes from understanding that she is working with people in regards to their home, their safe haven. She explains, “Being able to sympathize and connect with residents is the magic that can turn around most situations.” She also emphasized “trust” as an important factor in the resident–resident manager relationship. “Being 100% present is crucial because it shows care and builds trust. Trust builds a community.”

This was Katherine’s first Trophy Award nomination, and she was thrilled upon finding out she won. She keeps her Trophy at home next to a photo of her daughter as a “reminder of why I strive to do my best. The possibilities are endless!”

Property Manager of the Year
Bianca Stark-Falcone, Trinity SF

2019 was quite a busy year for Bianca, who worked with Recology on their Zero Waste goal, in addition to her day-to-day responsibilities. Bianca considers herself a “teacher at heart,” and takes extra care when training and working with staff. She’s most proud when she sees employees get promoted and realize their own achievements within the company. “I love working with people and creating a better environment for employees and our residents.”

When she received her Trophy Award, Bianca was “stunned.” She described the experience as “an amazing feeling.”

Resident Services Manager of the Year
Jessica Young, Park Merced

Jessica surely knows what it takes to work in this industry as this is her second Trophy Award. She won in 2018 for best assistant manager of the year. “Being recognized by the SFAA is a wonderful feeling,” she described. Jessica says her success comes from her ability to provide and love for excellent customer service, which has always been a “passion” of hers. In addition to customer service, Jessica says that, “giving residents and team members a platform to be heard is crucial.”

She considers this Trophy Award her  biggest professional achievement so far, and she plans to continue growing in her role and career. “I’m lucky to have fantastic leaders and a wonderful team who all share the same mission: make Parkmerced a great place to live and work.

Industry Partner
R & L Plumbing

According to Mark Bush, VP of operations and quality assurance at R&L Plumbing, the key to success in this industry is exceptional and personal customer care. “By far, the number one thing is listening to our customers, supporting them…and always being available, responsive, and fair.” To be even more accessible to customers, R&L Plumbing built its staff with a “combination of diverse and well-rounded backgrounds,” intending to relate to each and every customer, get to know them personally, and to better understand their needs, especially “over lunch!”

Mark started in the business just out of high school in the plumbers union. After learning the business, and branching out to try a few other business ventures, he decided to stick with plumbing, but by opening his own business. “I came back to plumbing because it provided a service I believe in, I was good at it, and I wanted to do it the right way.” He’s now been in business more than 25 years, and after breaking away from the traditional commission-based, flat-rate model, he knows his business is straight-forward and fair, which has attracted the best technicians and loyal customers. His technicians are able to focus on their jobs, not on sales. “My goal is for my staff to be happy in their work, paid well, and able to build happy lives and families.”

Instructor of the Year
Michelle Horneff-Cohen

Michelle Horneff has been working with the SFAA for 20 years. We are grateful for everything she’s done for the organization over the years, especially in her current role as instructor, where she helps local rental property owners navigate complicated local laws and make informed and ethical
decisions. Her collaboration creating the classes and then bringing the material to students is invaluable. “It is so rewarding for me personally to see the ‘lightbulb’ turn on for students, while at the same time, doing what I love,” she says. “Being honored with this award is the icing on the cake.”