A Prominent Female Role Model, Alumna Ann Bruce '02

Thursday, October 1, 2020TOPICS: AlumniSpotlights

USD School of Business alumna Ann Bruce '02
begin quote"Ann embodies all of the qualities of a coachable, passionate and dedicated member of any program or project she is associated with, so it is of no surprise the success that Ann has achieved in her professional career." - Coach Petrie

A role model—someone who makes a difference, whether it is in the little things they do in everyday life or someone who makes a lasting impression through their integrity, values, kindness, or someone who exemplifies the person we all seek to emulate. 

When Ann Bruce '02 graduated from the University of San Diego (USD) magna cum laude, she was ready to launch her professional career working in real estate in San Diego. What she didn’t know was that she would become a role model for many young women who were following in her footsteps and starting their own careers in real estate.

When Ann was a little girl, she was infatuated with hotels. She dreamt of owning Aman’s Hotel Bora Bora, however, it wasn’t until college that she figured out how to combine real estate—a tangible asset that you could touch and experience—with finance, one of her many strengths.

In 2001, Ann was introduced to Dennis Cruzan, founding partner of Cruzan, who at the time was working for JMI Realty, a lodging and development company. Through that introduction to Dennis, Ann gained insights and a better understanding of how these two concepts (finance and real estate) come together and, along with guidance from Mark Riedy, PhD, and other members of the Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate, she decided to pursue a career in real estate.  

Dennis hired Ann as an analyst in April 2005 and 15 years later, Ann is now a partner at Cruzan, where she oversees the firm’s finance and operations. Her primary day-to-day responsibilities include implementing, managing and controlling all financial-related aspects of the company. She also oversees the operations of Cruzan to ensure quality and efficiency.

Being a team player, Ann knows all about the importance of building an environment of camaraderie and she practices it. She is responsible for various mentorship opportunities and events for the young women working at Cruzan, to encourage growth both personally and professionally. The spirit of these efforts is to nurture relationship-building within Cruzan and to empower the young females at the company.

Ann also feels strongly about staying connected with her fellow USD alumnae and maintains close relationships with them. “I have some dear friends from USD with whom I stay in touch,” says Ann. “Some are personal friends and some started off as professional relationships and then grew over the years as I was able to get to know them personally…Kelly Souza '04 and Lauren Suazo '04 being among them.”

As a partner at Cruzan, Ann spends much of her time teaching young women how to write their own script for success in the real estate industry. She believes wholeheartedly in the exceptional education and values that USD real estate students offer and has recruited many USD students to work alongside her at Cruzan. “We have hired more than 15 USD students ranging from interns to full-time employees and many of those have been young women,” says Ann. “I have been incredibly blessed with the quality of women that have worked with Cruzan over my more than 15 years here and if I had to pinpoint what makes them special and valuable Cruzan team members, it is the caliber of the individual that comes out of USD.”

Ann’s sentiments about the USD alumnae she has hired are equally shared by the women who work alongside Ann at Cruzan. 

“She wants me to be successful, and knowing that makes me work twice as hard,” says Kara White ’17 MSRE, who works in finance and operations at Cruzan. Kara completed the Master of Science in Real Estate (MSRE) program at USD and now works with Cruzan’s asset management, leasing and accounting teams. “Ann has continually invested her time and energy into my career. I’ve always been a perfectionist and I strive to be the best I can be every day because I want to make sure that Ann knows that all of the time she has invested in me and my career is worthwhile. I am so fortunate that Cruzan has so many successful women working for the company, all thanks to Ann.”

Like many other USD alumnae, Brooke Hickerson ’12 also holds Ann in high esteem. “I have to thank Ann for where I am today, both professionally and personally,” says Brooke, who has spent the past eight years at Cruzan providing property operations and amenity-related services. “Ann has been my mentor for the past eight years in every aspect of my life and she has truly been an incredible role model. Ann’s energy is magnetic and contagious—we both shared a collegiate athletic background and we have drawn upon that experience often during our careers.”

Ann’s time at USD was not all academic. She was also a member of the University of San Diego women’s volleyball team, an NCAA Division I team that was ranked within the top 25 nationally all four years that she played. She walked onto the team her freshman year, ultimately earning a full ride between volleyball and academics. She was honored with the Players Award in 1998, the Coaches Award in 1999 and was Team Captain in 2001.

“Ann has always carried herself with supreme confidence and from the very beginning, she earned the respect of her teammates, which is the crux of any good leader,” says Jennifer Petrie, head volleyball coach at the University of San Diego since 1999. “As a young coach, Ann taught me how to balance my position of leadership with a more personal touch, caring for each individual athlete as a player and a person. She set the standard for work ethic, commitment and teamwork. Ann embodies all of the qualities of a coachable, passionate and dedicated member of any program or project she is associated with, so it is of no surprise the success that Ann has achieved in her professional career. She excelled on the court, in the classroom and in the community.” 

Ann graduated with a bachelor’s in business administration with concentrations in finance and real estate within the USD School of Business and spent three years as a financial analyst for Red Capital Markets, the investment banking arm of Red Capital Group.

Besides being a superstar role model at work, Ann is an incredible role model and mom to a set of twin girls, Grace and Mila, and is married to Steve Bruce, senior managing director at Newmark Knight Frank. Their daughters recently started kindergarten at St. James in Solana Beach.

Ann is excited for what lies ahead at Cruzan. “We have some exciting opportunities on the horizon, and given the current environment, are incredibly blessed to be nimble and entrepreneurial allowing us to shift as/where opportunities exist.”

- Kimberly Malasky and Joe Bertocchini '01


Kimberly Malasky
(619) 260-4786