Photography by Danny Fulgencio
Amanda Lake grew up with six siblings in an 800-square-foot house in West Dallas. She became a hairstylist and opened her own salon and a western-wear store in the Bishop Arts District in the late ’80s. She learned to deal with city code and planning cases as a business owner and soon began taking on cases for other people to make extra money. Soon she was handling planning cases full time, and then she bought properties and became a commercial landlord. Now she is married to Jim Lake Jr. and has joined his business, Jim Lake Cos., as vice president of operations and partner. Together they redeveloped the downtown square in Waxahachie, and they are working on redeveloping the site of the Ambassador Hotel in Dallas as well as the downtown square in Ennis. She is a co-founder of Mammogram Poster Girls Inc., a neighborhood nonprofit that funds mammograms for people who otherwise couldn’t afford one. She also supports The Well, an Oak Cliff nonprofit that provides mental-health services. She serves on the Dallas Area Rapid Transit board of directors.

On Accomplishments

Career accomplishments she’s proud of:

“Chairman of the board of the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce and being a property owner of the Bishop Arts District.”

On Misconceptions

Misconceptions about her profession:

“As an urban redeveloper, the misconception is that we tear down buildings, but the truth is we repurpose them.”

On Hiring

What she looks for in employees:

“Honesty, integrity and a good work ethic.”

On Passion

What she’s proud of besides work:

“My family and being able to be active in their lives. My gardens.”

On People

The best advice she’s ever received:

“Don’t underestimate people.”

On Gifts

The best gift she’s received:

“My children and my beautiful granddaughter, Aubrey.”

On Leadership

A strong leader is...

…someone who listens.

On Advice

Advice she would give to her younger self:

“Go to college and get a degree. Focus on yourself and your goals.”

On Real Estate

Advice she would give to someone who wants to go into commercial real estate:

“Surround yourself with positive people with knowledge in that field. Learn from experience.”

On Legacy

How she would like to be remembered:

“As someone who gives back to the community and as someone who was involved on boards and commissions, where impacting decisions are made.”

On Gender Discrimination

“It has been key to my success because others underestimate me.”

On Balance

How she achieves work/life balance:

“Having a great staff is crucial in balancing the work/life load.”

On Relaxation

How she relaxes:

“Cooking, decorating my home, gardening.”

On Societal Issues

The biggest problem our community faces:

“Homelessness.”

On Giving Back

How she would spend $1 million on the community:

“I would help those with mental illness.”