Celebrating the Women of Extra Space Storage

International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate the achievements and contributions of women around the world. It’s a time to celebrate the women who have broken barriers and shaped our world thanks to their strength, perseverance, and vision. To celebrate women everywhere, we’re spotlighting 12 women of Extra Space Storage who are leading the way.

Irena Edwards, Vice President Bridge Loan Program

How do you empower other women?

I like to mentor women entering our industry—encourage and show them they are not alone in their ambition. It’s important for me to create a positive environment, set the standards, and then go above and beyond. I also champion women in the real estate industry through my involvement in numerous industry organizations. I make it a priority to work with and learn from other women. Finding inspirational role models is very important and easily done through networking.

Who inspired you to be a leader and why?

Honestly, my inspiration comes from my children. I want my daughter to know that there are no glass ceilings. That with hard work and ambition, she can accomplish any professional goal. I want my son to see that the traditional gender roles no longer apply. It’s okay for women to hold leadership positions and be raising children at the same time.

Angelica Rojas-Brito, Store Manager

Who inspired you to be a leader and why?

My grandmother inspired me to be a leader in many ways. She grew up in a mud shack in El Zapote, Guerrero, Mexico, with no running water. She had very little education and barely knew how to read and write, but she was determined to do better for herself and push forward. She is fearless and the matriarch of our family. She was determined to have both my mother and my aunt be successful women in whatever they chose to do. She has raised four generations of women who have master’s degrees, successful careers, and businesses while taking care of their families. She has always encouraged the women in my family to pursue higher education, be independent, and be confident in our abilities to help other women do the same.

What advice would you give women just starting at Extra Space Storage?

The advice I would give women starting with Extra Space is to live by the company compass. Our company’s core values represent what we already do, and who we already are as women—it allows us to focus on those attributes taking us to the next level in our careers here at Extra Space. If you want to succeed, keep living those values and find your tribe. Find those people within our company that live with them too. We now have so many resources to connect with other women in the company from different backgrounds and levels of experience willing to be mentors. We should utilize these resources to connect with them and seek their help in our journey.

Brittany Rodriguez, District Manager in Training

How do you empower other women?

Empowering women is a daily investment, and I work hard to make sure that my cup is never full. I always try to make room to listen, learn, and grow. Every woman’s experience is unique and making space to hear and understand their platform is the best way I can understand, amplify, and empower someone else.

What advice would you give women just starting at Extra Space Storage?

This job can change your entire life. Extra Space is a step up for our managers, our customers, and our communities, and their commitment to invest in their employees is unmatched. I came to this company for a change, not knowing that I would be a part of the change I wanted to see in the working world.

What motivated you to step up and become a leader at Extra Space Storage?

Early on, I’m not sure I saw myself as a leader. But over time I continued to be included in meetings with leaders of the company. At first, I was careful not to over-contribute or go too far out on a limb with an opinion. I remember offering a contrary opinion and being told after that I was brought into leadership because the team needed diverse opinions and that me staying silent wouldn’t do anyone any good. At that point, I finally realized that my viewpoint doesn’t always have to be the same as the existing leadership and that because I think differently, I can add value to the leadership team.

What advice would you give women just starting at Extra Space Storage?

Remember that careers are long and will outlast different stages of your life. You may be feeling like you are overwhelmed by taking care of others (children, aging parents, a new puppy) and unable to dedicate enough to work. But hang in there, give yourself the grace to know that you are doing your best and that there may be a time when you can dedicate more to your career. Make sure you give yourself the space to focus on the right things at the right time.

Jainet Young, District Manager

What does Women’s History Month mean to you?

It’s a time to celebrate, recognize, and acknowledge the progress and achievements of past and present incredible women who have paved the way, especially those within our own families. Woman’s history month reminds us that women are capable of great things, and we should be proud of our accomplishments.

What advice would you give women just starting at Extra Space Storage?

Don’t leave your career to chance—take control and seize every opportunity that comes your way. Aim high and have confidence in yourself. Make maintaining relationships a priority. Find a female mentor or a role model and tap into the experience of someone you can ask for insightful, reliable, relevant advice and feedback. Give back by mentoring someone else and, most importantly, live and breathe our company values of Integrity, Passion, Teamwork, Innovation, and Excellence.

Chantaye Painter, Claims Manager

What does Women’s History Month mean to you?

It’s important to reflect and remember the extraordinary accomplishments of women throughout history. History teaches us that all things are possible through hard work and perseverance.

How do you encourage women not to give up?

Show up every day, produce quality work, and take advantage of opportunities to do new and challenging assignments. You will grow personally, and your work will be noticed.

Rosario Bibiano, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Specialist

What does Women’s History Month mean to you?

Women’s History Month is a time to honor and celebrate women that came before you but also embrace the women in the present day who are doing amazing things. Even if you do not identify as a woman, you can celebrate the women in your life and learn something new about women’s contributions to our country.

Who inspired you to be a leader and why?

My family inspires me to be a leader. I grew up in a family of mostly women. My grandma had seven children, five of them identify as a woman. My mom had three daughters. Growing up, I was told there was no limit to what I could accomplish. A common phrase in my household was “Las mujeres tambien pueden,” which translates to “women can do it too.” My upbringing has helped me disarm stories of bias against women. Once I entered the corporate world, I was inspired by all the female leaders around me. I have been lucky to work in organizations where women are valued, celebrated, and promoted.

Gloria Velazquez, Field Operations Manager

Who inspired you to be a leader and why?

My mother was a very humble woman, but she was a force! Her life was not easy by any means, but she was resilient and never gave up. She taught me to not settle and never forget my worth!

What advice would you give women just starting at Extra Space Storage?

The great thing about Extra Space Storage is that we do not have a shortage of strong and inspiring women. If anyone needs guidance for personal or professional reasons, all they have to do is reach out—we have an amazing village!

Maria Avellana, Joint Ventures Director

What motivated you to step up and become a leader at Extra Space Storage?

When I started in the self storage industry in 2011, it was evident that women leaders weren’t prevalent at the time. However, recognizing that I was given an opportunity to be a leader, I wanted to make sure that I brought awareness that women can also do the job and can do it just as good, if not better than our counterparts. The collaboration that the groups can have could make a difference in any environment or situation.

What advice would you give women just starting at Extra Space Storage?

There are lots of opportunities to be heard—use them. It may feel like we’re alone at times, but we can create a sense of community if you are willing to participate. Use your resources—advocating for yourself and others is a great way to be recognized. And finally, it’s okay to reach for the stars!

Grace Kunde, Senior Vice President of Accounting & Finance

How do you encourage women not to give up?

Look at your current position as a growing ground and find the positive and joy in where you are today. Don’t give up on where you want to get to next but have patience while you wait for the opportunity to arise. I believe that perseverance and patience build character. Look for areas to learn and grow where you are right now. That said, I would also encourage women to build a list of proof points that display your skills and strengths when the opportunity arises. Also, don’t be afraid to take risks and ask for what you want. It can be intimidating, but most of the time it will pay off.

What advice would you give women just starting at Extra Space Storage?

For women just starting with Extra Space, my first piece of advice is to pursue excellence in what they do. Second, build relationships. Build them with those on your team but also don’t be afraid to branch out and get to know others outside your team as well. These relationships will help you have advocates as you progress in your career. Finally, and one of the most important things is don’t be afraid to ask for help. Women tend to think they have to master a position before they are ready to move up. If you want to be promoted or move to another department or position, use your relationships and advocates to help you. At Extra Space, we believe in and practice the value of teamwork, and helping each other be successful is just another facet of that value.

Tina Uribe, District Manager

Who inspired you to be a leader and why?

I have many incredible people throughout my career that have inspired me, but none more than my mother-in-law, Helen Uribe. I continue to learn so much about life and leadership from her. She quit school at a very young age to work and take care of her family, she worked her way up to an executive role at her last position, which she retired from after 35 years and faced many obstacles to prove herself and have a seat at the table. She has always encouraged me to be myself, to be confident and to be the fullest version of myself. She taught me to aim high, be

resilient, work hard, be passionate and love what you do. If I do those things, I will be the best version of myself not only in my career, but also at home as a mom and now I’m passing those important lessons down to my own children, Joaquin and Isabella.

What advice would you give women just starting at Extra Space Storage?

Be passionate, embrace our amazing culture, stay engaged with others around you, and be curious and ask questions. Offer ideas and ask for development and then be open to feedback and apply it. Take stock of how you are doing on a regular basis, where are the gaps, what needs attention and where do you need help. Finally, allow your strengths to let you stand out from everyone else, and most importantly have fun and enjoy being part of a company who truly cares about you.

Paty Portilla, Division Vice President

Who inspired you to be a leader and why?

I come from a family of strong women, and I grew up in a very egalitarian household. I’m a first-generation American, English is my second language, and I was raised by parents who believed and taught me women can do anything. My maternal grandmother came to the U.S. on her own—as a single mother of five—she worked hard and brought her children here to have an opportunity at a better life. She worked tirelessly, never gave up, and did it all alone. She didn’t rely on anyone to help her provide for her children. I feel a personal obligation to make her sacrifice worthwhile through hard work and perseverance. I was also lucky enough to grow up with a father who always treated his children equally, who split the household chores with my mom down the middle and played a very active role in caring for us. My dad was progressive and believed in the empowerment of women long before it was “the right thing to do.” My inspiration to be a leader came from these people. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to honor my family by progressing in my career, focusing on instilling good values in my own family, and continuing to make each generation better than the last.

What advice would you give women just starting at Extra Space Storage?

My advice to women who are just starting at Extra Space is simple, and it’s the advice I would give anyone starting at Extra Space. Whatever your job is, learn it well. This is a company where EVERYONE notices when you strive to be the best. It’s your obligation to ask questions and seek clarity when you don’t understand. If your question isn’t answered, ask it again, reframe the question, ask someone else, but seek out the answer. Make suggestions on how to improve processes. Pick the right time to make these suggestions, have solutions, and always do it with the intent to improve things for everyone, not just yourself. Be involved by participating thoughtfully on calls and in meetings, join the Employee Resource Groups, be prepared for your moments, network with peers, and make your points clear and concise. We’ll work hard to develop and nurture talent—we only ask you work as hard as we do to get you where you want to go.

Extra Space Storage is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. Want to join us? Visit our careers page to learn more about company culture and job opportunities.

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