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Monica Cost

Real estate broker Monica Diane Cost was born on January 18, 1971 in Atmore, Alabama to Veronica Mason Hairston and Chalmers Hairston, III. Growing up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Cost attended Samson Freedman Pre-School, Anna Blankston (A.B.) Day School, Abington Friends School and Baldie Middle School. Studying and working at Seafood America, Cost graduated fifth in her class from Lankenau College Preparatory School in 1988. At Hampton University, where she attended college for three years, Cost studied accounting and held internships at Mellon Bank and Prudential Insurance. Cost graduated in 1994, from Temple University with her B.S. degree in accounting and finance.

Hired by Prudential Insurance first as a healthcare benefits analyst then as an auditor, Cost traveled the country studying and correcting Prudential’s systems and controls. In 1996, Cost moved to Boston, Massachusetts, and joined TJX Companies as an auditor. Cost, while serving as TJX’s associate human relations officer, started diversity groups for women and people of color in 1998. In 1999, Cost was appointed finance analyst and in 2000, accounting supervisor. Accepting a job with Reebok in 2000, Cost was mentored by Jimmy Jones in human relations, and served as financial analyst, senior financial analyst and compensation analyst; she also participated in The Partnership, a leadership program to support aspiring people of color in the corporate world. In 2004, Cost joined Cushman and Wakefield and became the first African American and one of the youngest individuals to hold the operations manager position within that organization. Cost also became the first African American broker in the New England area for Cushman & Wakefield and the first African American female broker in a major real estate firm in Massachusetts.

Cost served on the boards of The Partnership and the Crittendon Women’s Union; she also was a participant on the advisory board of the Epiphany School and the planning committee for the Paul and Phyllis Fireman One Family Campaign, mentoring one of their scholars. Cost served as president of The Partnership Alumni organization and chaired the Girl Scouts’ Leading Women Awards. In 2006, Cost was a Leading Woman herself; in 2000 she was a YMCA Black Achiever; and in 2004 the Chamber of Commerce Future Leader. "The Boston Herald" named Cost one of The Hub’s Future Leaders. Cost counsels young professionals on how to succeed in business through her consulting firm, Evidently Assured ( She has also been featured as a motivational speaker at Northeastern University, Boston University and the University of Suffolk.

Cost is the author of the blog "Out of Living in the Land of Make Believe."

A longtime resident of the Boston area, Cost is married to Donald M. Cost with two sons, Christopher and Cameron.

Monica Diane Cost was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 10, 2007.

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Temple University

Hampton University

Lankenau High School

Abington Friends School

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Speakers Bureau Availability


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Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Adults, college students, young professionals, minorities, women

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $1,000 - $5,000

Favorite Season


Speaker Bureau Notes

Honorarium Specifics: $500-$2,000
Preferred Audience: Adults, college students, young professionals, minorities, women



Favorite Vacation Destination


Favorite Quote

Failure is Not an Indication of Your Ability but Just a Need to Adjust Your Strategy.

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Favorite Food

Salmon, Mashed Potatoes

Short Description

Real estate broker Monica Cost (1971 - ) was the first African American female real estate broker for a major real estate firm in Massachusetts.


Cushman & Wakefield of Massachusetts

Reebok International Ltd.

TJX Companies

Favorite Color


Timing Pairs

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Monica Cost's interview, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Slating of Monica Cost's interview, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Monica Cost lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Monica Cost describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Monica Cost describes her mother's upbringing and education

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Monica Cost describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Monica Cost recounts her father's disappearance

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Monica Cost describes her parents and who she takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Monica Cost describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Monica Cost describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's Mount Airy neighborhood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Monica Cost describes the roles of music and church in her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Monica Cost describes her personality as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Monica Cost recalls the schools she attended in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Monica Cost describes her extracurricular activities at Lankenau High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Monica Cost recalls her early aspirations of becoming a businesswoman

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Monica Cost recounts how she became a real estate broker

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Monica Cost recalls influential teachers and mentors

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Monica Cost describes Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia and Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Monica Cost recalls her African American studies professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Monica Cost recounts her time at the Prudential Insurance Company

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Monica Cost recalls moving to Boston, Massachusetts in 1995 and race relations there

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Monica Cost describes working at TJX Companies in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Monica Cost describes working in finance and human resources for Reebok

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Monica Cost talks about HistoryMaker Benaree P. Wiley, The Partnership, Inc. and joining Cushman & Wakefield

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Monica Cost recounts how she became the first black female real estate broker at a major firm

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Monica Cost describes how she negotiated the predominantly white male field of real estate brokering

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Monica Cost describes her work as a real estate broker

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Monica Cost describes her biggest agency deal and how she connects with clients

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Monica Cost talks about her image consulting company, Evidently Assured

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Monica Cost talks about her desire to write a book and to help individuals and firms network with one another

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Monica Cost provides her advice for aspiring brokers

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Monica Cost describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Monica Cost recalls obstacles she has overcome in her life

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Monica Cost reflects upon her life and what she would do differently

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Monica Cost reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Monica Cost describes her family

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Monica Cost describes her late friend Daynese Jimerson-Forsey

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Monica Cost describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Monica Cost narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Monica Cost narrates her photographs, pt.2







Monica Cost recalls her early aspirations of becoming a businesswoman
Monica Cost describes her work as a real estate broker
Now when you were--when you were in high school [Lankenau High School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania], did you think about business at all as a--as a occupation or did you read books about business or any of those, those, like Og Mandino's books or any of the, the self-improvement kinda, you know, the, those kinds of things--(simultaneous)--$$I didn't read them and I don't think I knew to read them, but I knew that I wanted to be a deal maker, if that makes sense. When my sister [Tiffany Hairston Lindsey] and I--I think maybe when I was twelve, you know how they used to have the carbon copies at the bank? You fill out your deposit form, you keep one and give one to the teller. We would take a stack of those, you know, home, and we'd use our [Coleco] Quiz Wiz as our computer and we'd use those as our paperwork, and our closet in our bedroom was the elevator, and we were business women. And we--you know, we'd type up on the Quiz Wiz and make it beep and do all this stuff, and we'd fill out the paperwork and we'd hand it to each other and say, can you take this to accounting? Can you take this here? Can you take this there? It was--it was the funniest thing. And I always had a--I always had a vision of wearing a suit. I don't know what I was doing. And then there was also on the way to my grand aunt's house, there was a public accounting firm on the East River Parkway [East River Drive, now Kelly Drive, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania], and I don't remember the name of it, but it's a very neat, stuccoed building, and it said something, something, CPA, something else. And every time I rode by that building, because once I saw women and men coming out of that building in suits, and I said, that's what I wanna do. So I thought I wanted to be an accountant because it felt like it was--felt like the business and the paperwork that I--and the suit-wearing that I dreamed of, of having.$Walk us through how, how a deal is made and is (laughter)--okay.$$The amazing thing is that I didn't believe when I heard, a deal can come from anywhere at any time. It could fall out of the sky, meaning, you could go to Starbucks and overhear someone talking about outgrowing space, or you can sit on a board at a nonprofit and--I don't know, just every person you touch has the ability to create a deal. But basically, it could come from a lot of different ways. We represent landlords and we represent tenants, so on the landlord side, for instance, myself and two other team members represent the John Hancock Tower, which is the tallest building in Boston [Massachusetts], and for our landlords, we leased a building. So we go out and we find tenants to lease the building and we negotiate on the best terms for the landlord, helping them to make their underwriting, and to maximize their value on the building so that when they actually sell the building, they can get the most money for it; so that's on the landlord side. On the tenant side, we take every day nonprofits, financial institutions, anybody you can name. Let's say a financial institution, we--if someone came to me--if you were the head of a financial institution and you said, hey listen, I'm starting in--I'm based in Chicago [Illinois], I'm starting a new branch in Boston, we're gonna have about twenty people, I need ten offices, five cubes, dah-dah-dah-dah-dah, ten thousand square feet. You basically take them out on a tour, so--our, our value is really in our knowledge of the market, so being able to help them be strategic about their real estate decisions. What do you need? Do you need public transportation? Do you need amenities? Who do you need to be close to? Where do you wanna be? So you go through this process of understanding who they are and what makes sense for them, take 'em out on a tour. They find a couple buildings they love, you submit a request for proposal. They come back, you evaluate your best option, negotiate the best terms, sign the lease, off they go.$$Okay. But--$$To put it simply.$$Yeah. Now does this match the--your vision of deal-making when you were a kid?$$On every level. My sister [Tiffany Hairston Lindsey] and I laugh about it. From the fundraising events that I go to, to sitting on boards, to talking the market with people in private equity firms, like--it, it absolutely hits on every cylinder. I think I've arrived (laughter) for this phase of my life anyway.$$Okay.$$Yeah.