Positive Luxury Meets… Heidi Marchesotti and Debbi DiMaggio

Heidi Marchesotti and Debbi DiMaggio of Highland Partners, a San Francisco Bay Area based real estate firm, recently connected with Positive Luxury to talk about inspiration for their firm’s ethical core values.

The partners include managing partner Marchesotti, broker Adam Betta, marketing director Debbi DiMaggio, and partner Mindy Sun.

They run a boutique luxury real estate firm in the San Francisco Bay Area. At its core philosophy the firm encourages their staff of nearly 100 employees to donate to or volunteer with organizations that benefit the local and international community.

The partners lead by example and are closely involved with philanthropic work and volunteering with influential programs that benefit the local and international community.

Image2 (2)

Partners Sun, Betta, Marchesotti and DiMaggio.

Tell us about a time when you felt at your most inspired.

When the opportunity arose to open our firm, we didn’t have time to think about how things would work, we just knew that if we focused on the core of our community and making the process more transparent and open for our clients in a very hands-on way, great things would happen.

We four would meet at the park across from the office construction site every morning to exercise and brainstorm. We always encouraged community members to join us. During those jogs around the park our best ideas came to fruition.

From light fixtures to business philosophy, those early workouts helped shape who we are as a business and what we stand for.

Marchesotti observes the impact that volunteering has had on the firm as a whole. “It is an inspiration to see our staff volunteer with local and international organizations that have a positive impact on communities.

“During our most recent Annual Giving Day, we volunteered with Alameda County Community Food Bank to provide support for this award-winning program that provides food to homeless and hungry within the community. We assisted with packing over 11,000 lbs of produce and putting together 9,000 meals.

“Our initial philosophy of giving back to a cause as a team during our Annual Giving Day has evolved into each individual also volunteering with or donating to a cause that is important to them.

“Our staff are extremely dedicated to and involved with the community that we live and work in.”

“Our staff are extremely dedicated to and involved with the community that we live and work in.”

Marchesotti is closely involved with Boys & Girls Clubs of Oakland, whose mission is to develop its community’s youth into positive contributors to society.

Partner Marchesotti at Oakland Boys & Girls Clubs’ (BGCO) Annual Salute to Youth event where she provides philanthropic support to BGCO.

Partner Marchesotti at Oakland Boys & Girls Clubs’ (BGCO) Annual
Salute to Youth event where she provides philanthropic support to BGCO.

Now in its 76th year, the Clubs continue to provide safe places to learn and grow, opportunities for ongoing relationships with caring adult professionals, life-enhancing programs, and other character development experiences each year for over 2,500 boys and girls aged 6 to 17.

“Each year at their Annual Salute to Youth benefit, I am in awe of the young people who speak at the event. I am honoured to be on their board and have the opportunity to contribute to our community’s youth.”

DiMaggio recognizes that: “Philanthropy provides our entire firm with inspiration. Sharing our individual passions about the organizations we are involved with help contribute to the supportive environment and genuine team spirit.”

“Philanthropy provides our entire firm with inspiration.”

One organization that inspires DiMaggio is George Mark Children’s House, a paediatric palliative care home that serves families with children and young adults who have a serious medical illness and who are seeking family-centred medical care in a compassionate atmosphere.

“I am continually inspired by the young people and their families who are a part of George Mark Children’s House.” DiMaggio recently partnered with them to bring a young woman’s dream to fruition for her birthday celebration.

George Mark Children’s House has been a great place of comfort to Tashawna, a young woman who sadly lost her father and older sister to the degenerative genetic disorder (Friedreich’s Ataxia) that she now faces.

“I couldn’t be more pleased to partner with George Mark to bring Tashawna’s dream come true. She is an extraordinary woman with a positive disposition and strong sense of self. What a privilege and an honour to be a part of her life.”

Highland Partners staff walking and fundraising for the Annual American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk.

Highland Partners staff walking and fundraising for the Annual American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk.

Could you explain a little more about how and why you encourage your staff to contribute to the local and international community?

Real estate is a business that requires extreme hours. If you are going to work in this industry, you are going to spend a lot of time with your colleagues.

What they do and how they present themselves to the public is a reflection of the company. We felt we should be working with like-minded individuals, with integrity and a sense of pride in their communities. If you spend this much time with them they in a sense become a second family!

The encouragement starts with the interview process. We explain our passion for making the world a better place by giving back. Of course this comes in monetary donations—every charitable organization needs money to sustain themselves—but more importantly it comes from education and involvement.

We like to say that having ‘boots on the ground’ for the organizations we support is just as important as a monetary donation.

Partners Betta, DiMaggio, and Sun with friends at the George Mark Children's House Gala which they provide philanthropic support to. © Joseph Driste Photography

Partners Betta, DiMaggio, and Sun with friends at the George Mark Children’s House Gala which they provide philanthropic support to. © Joseph Driste Photography

The words ‘sustainable’ and ‘ethical’ are often used as marketing tools, rather than being asserted as essential elements of business. Do you see this attitude changing?

Sustainability and ethics are paramount to any responsible business that wants longevity. Our belief is that consumer demand and a new ‘we’ mentality in all markets is forcing the change in attitude.

Actions will always speak louder than words, and the transparency of the internet leads the way to change. There are so many service providers, and competition in all industries that sometimes the only thing that sets you apart or differentiates you is your reputation.

“It is essential to back up your marketing with real action”

It is essential to back up your marketing with real action, which is what Highland Partners does.

Partners Marchesotti and her husband Robert, and Partners Betta and DiMaggio at a philanthropic event.

Partners Marchesotti and her husband Robert, and Partners Betta and DiMaggio at a philanthropic event.

How do you think sustainability and interior design can influence each other?

Sustainable interior design is a huge burgeoning industry. It is really fun to keep track and be involved in the new trends. The Bay Area is the birthplace of many sustainable design ideas and companies.

As realtors we often become design consultants or become involved in the process of new buildings or remodels.

We work as a team with interior designers, developers and builders and guide the process from start to finish. In the Bay Area, if you are building a new home, there is no way to avoid sustainability and green building in the design process.

It is in huge demand from buyers and we are lucky to live and work in such a creative, progressive part of the country.

Describe your job in three words.

Passionate lifestyle guide or luxury lifestyle Sherpa!

Josie Tutty

Digital Content and Social Media Manager, Positive Luxury