Cycely McMillan is so well known, six people from different industries nominated her for the Rising Stars award.

Rita Short has known McMillan more than 15 years, having supervised her work at a small business in Texas, McMillan’s home state.

“She really does give 100 percent,” Short said. “She’s very outgoing, empathetic, sympathetic, loving and caring and one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen. She’s just a very well-rounded young lady. She’s got the whole package.”

McMillan began managing properties at age 18, after being introduced to the idea one day while paying her rent.

“The manager ended up being my leasing agent. She said, ‘You’re cute as a button and outgoing. You would be a great fit. Would you ever consider leasing?’” McMillan said. “My first weekend, I leased 16 apartments.”

When she arrived for work Monday morning, her manager double checked the numbers, saying no one had ever leased that many apartments in one weekend.

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“I said, ‘Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do?’” McMillan said. “I knew then that property management would be my career.”

McMillan loves turning around beleaguered apartment properties.

Three years ago when she began managing the 288-unit Village at Lionstone for Griffis Blessing, the apartments made a return of 87-cents per square foot. Now it stands at $1.10, “a huge growth,” she said. Also, three years ago, the apartments had a higher vacancy rate and were not highly thought of, she said.

Now, “people want to be there. It’s been used as an example,” of successful management, she said.

McMillan described herself as “very outgoing and very determined and very competitive. I like taking on challenges.”

McMillan is also active in the community as a den leader with the Boy Scouts of America and is a board member of the Parent-Teacher Organization at her son’s school. Professionally, she is active with the Apartment Association of Southern Colorado and helped develop its Leadership Lyceum Program. A certified apartment manager, McMillan also volunteers as chairwoman of programs for the Institute of Real Estate Management.

— Marija B. Vader