Cynthia Gonzalez has a deep and storied background in covering news, with stints at KGTV-Channel 10, Univision radio and Televisa Channel 12.
Recently, Gonzalez has made some news of her own as senior marketing director for NewMark Merrill Companies, Inc. by bringing back two awards from the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) Conference in Las Vegas.
Gonzales is charged with overseeing 30 shopping centers in San Diego County for NewMark Merrill Companies, which owns or manages a portfolio of nearly 100 shopping centers valued at more than $2.7 billion. Since 1987, the company of shopping centers has been representing more than 2,000 tenants and 12 million square feet in California, Colorado and Illinois. The company has founded and invested heavily in BrightStreet Ventures, its technology company, which is working on leading-edge solutions for landlords and tenants.
Last month, Gonzalez, 46, was honored for the two original events she organized and championed that were held last year at shopping centers in San Diego County — one in South County the other in North County — and both taking a pair of Global MAXI Marketing Awards at the ICSC event.
The New York City-based ICSC, founded in 1957, promotes and elevates the marketplaces and spaces where people shop, dine, work, play and gather. A global industry trade organization, it features more than 70,000 members in more than 100 countries — including shopping center owners, developers, managers, marketing specialists, investors, retailers and brokers as well as those in academia and public officials.
“One of the best things about working with NewMark Merrill is they have always allowed me the creative freedom to bring my ideas to life,” Gonzalez said. “Not all shopping centers get that. But they told me from the beginning, ‘We’re not going to tell you how to do it.’ They showed me kind of how they market their shopping centers and then said, ‘Have at it.’ We’ve been able to do a lot of amazing things.
“Our company is unique in the shopping center industry for its creativity implementing local elements that our neighborhoods can enjoy and are happy to support. The NewMark Merrill vision inspires us to develop programs which build strong community relationships and sales for our tenants.”
Competing against thousands of U.S. and international entries all being considered for honors as having the best retail and marketplace industry programs, Gonzalez won the ICSC’s GOLD MAXI Award for a Día de los Muertos event at Terra Nova Plaza on East H Street in Chula Vista, and the ICSC’s SILVER MAXI Award for the Jingle Bell Jump event at Mission Marketplace on College Boulevard in Oceanside.
The Terra Nova shopping center showed what Gonzalez calls its “caring community brand,” by holding the event that honors the San Diego region’s Hispanic residents and educating the public about the holiday.
The event drew thousands of attendees and extended media coverage of the festival’s unique altar contest displays, mariachi band and Ballet Folklorico, sugar skull face painting and other activities that included free Mexican pastries and hot chocolate.
At Mission Marketplace, Gonzalez redesigned the shopping center’s annual “Jingle Bell Jump” into an inclusive, transformative event where both able-bodied and physically challenged children enjoyed holiday fun together.
Ten children who use wheelchairs morphed into Santa Claus’s “Official Elves,” to welcome the Santa at his precise parachute landing in the shopping center parking lot. The kids also joined Santa in the first Jingle Bell Jump Parade led by the El Camino High School band.
Also at the free event, “Holiday Hoops” gave able-bodied children a new experience that offered great insight, opportunity for empathy and significant challenges — playing basketball while sitting in a wheelchair.
The ICSC event’s winning programs overseen by Gonzalez “are examples of NewMark Merrill’s corporate mission to enhance the neighborhoods where our shopping centers are located,” said John Hickman, managing director of NewMark Merrill Companies San Diego Division.
Hickman said that the ISCC awards showcase Gonzalez’s efforts “working to build authentic relationships with the local communities through hands-on engagement with our retailers and shoppers.”
NewMark Merrill Companies
CEO: Sanford Sigal
BUSINESS: Real estate
ASSETS UNDER MANAGEMENT: NewMark Merrill owns or manages nearly 100 shopping centers valued at more than $2.7 billion
SOCIAL IMPACT: Active supporter of community organizations including Operation Game On which supports combat-injured veterans
NOTABLE: NewMark Merrill’s San Diego Division has more than $1 billion in shopping centers under management in San Diego, Riverside and Orange counties