After teaching for Denver Public Schools for more than a decade, alumna builds new career in real estate development
Sloan Macy (MA 2003 & MS 2019) is an all-in sort of person. A dig in your heels, do the job right kind of person. The super-motivated student who gets two master’s degrees from DU in two totally unrelated programs because she wanted to be the very best she could be in both fields. It’s that sort of pluck that, in her first career, made her an effective fifth-grade teacher at one of the poorest schools in Colorado, and which guides her now that she’s joined her family business in real estate development.
“It’s never too late to change your life or to follow a different passion,” Macy said. “When I started the real estate program, I didn’t know anything. I came in with an education background and I was 15-20 years older than the other students—I’m 45. But while this wasn’t my first calling, it was really important for me to join my family’s business.”
Her first calling was teaching at one of the state’s first charter schools, Pioneer Charter School in the Swansea Globeville neighborhood of Denver. It was a challenging environment—99.6% of the kids were on free and reduced school lunch—but Macy thrived, even winning a teacher of the year award.
“I loved every second of it,” she said. “That was my life’s calling, but I got burned out. It’s not a sustainable thing to do for a really long time. To do it well, it takes a lot of energy. Especially teaching, it can be kind of a life sucker. I poured my heart into that for a long time.”
After teaching for more than a decade, Macy traveled the western U.S. doing school reform for a nonprofit, visiting Native American reservations and severely underserved districts. She enjoyed helping improve the education system for those who too often get left behind, but, like teaching, it was a demanding job. It became apparent to her that where she belonged was with her family’s business, helping her brother and father at Longmont-based Macy Development Company, where they cover the full gamut of development, from building to property management to ownership and everything in between. The only problem? She had zero experience in real estate and development.
“I took a leap. I applied to Daniels to the real estate program, and they took a chance on me,” she said.
Because she’s that all-in sort of person, Macy fast tracked herself, completing the program in a year of very intense study. And despite having a job waiting for her, she still pushed herself, but it wasn’t always easy. Starting a new career from scratch and learning about a brand new field was intimidating.
“I think I had to work harder than others because I had no background. I had never taken this stuff before. And technology wise, I was a dinosaur. I hadn’t been in school in 17 years, and we didn’t have this sort of technology back then. I barely had a laptop in 2003.” she said.
Macy persevered, and the classes she took at Daniels’ Burns School of Real Estate and Construction Management helped her tremendously in her new career. “They gave me a foundation for everything we do,” she said. “I’ll often say, ‘Dad, I learned that in class!’”
Now, a year and a half into working in the real estate world, Macy feels good helping her family and carrying on the legacy that started with her grandfather farming land in Longmont, Colorado.
“You find happiness in what you do,” she said. “It’s important for me to be doing this, and I needed the Burns School program to help me do it. The school empowered me to come in and do this work. DU gave me a really good foundation.”