From time to time it has been our pleasure to use this newsletter, “Points of Fact,” as a platform for introducing some of the newest leaders in the SobelCo Forensic and Valuation Services Practice, sharing news about the team or keeping you informed about our activities.

This month we would like you to meet Allyson Lynch O’Malley, a member of Sobel Valuations and a valued member of our SobelCo team.

Today Allyson is a Certified General Appraiser (CGA) specializing in commercial and industrial real estate. Attaining the CGA designation requires vigorous education and training, including a bachelor’s degree, 300 additional classroom hours and 3,000 hours working as an apprentice under a licensed appraiser. Earning this certification was a challenge, but it proved to be the perfect complement to her BS degree in Business and Technology and her previous background in real estate.

But this is not where Allyson’s story starts nor where it ends. In fact, for many years prior to 2013 she could never have imagined that she would be pursuing such an exciting and demanding career.

Sharing your past can be tough 

For too many years before 2013 Allyson’s situation had been very different. Having been a wild kid who behaved like a “know it all,” Allyson dropped out of high school, putting herself on a downward spiral.

This is a hard story for her to share, even though it took place so long ago.  Despite all the setbacks, all the poor decisions, and all the mistakes, she found a way to pull herself up and out of the abyss.

Allyson’s first step was to gather her courage and return to high school. She understood she needed a degree to find a job. She managed to complete her high school classes and for the next three years she worked at stressful, low paying jobs that included waitressing, housekeeping, factory and grocery store work. But she persisted.

Her second step was to earn an Associate Degree in Legal Administration. It was a big move and, as she had hoped, it took her career to another level. As a result, she spent the next several years as a paralegal for a corporate/real estate attorney.

Eventually Allyson knew she needed to find a more challenging opportunity. She left the law firm and became the office manager at a marketing company in search of something more interesting. But losing her job in 2010 gave her the impetus to return to school and enroll in college.

Step three came about when she took control and changed her life again.  With the support of her husband and children, she managed to juggle part-time and freelance jobs while attending Pennsylvania College of Technology.  After graduating, armed with a college degree, she was about to start a law school search (her goal since working in the real estate attorney’s office) when her uncle suggested a six month trial role at his firm.

Becoming an appraisal professional isn’t easy 

Her uncle, Frank Merenda, had purchased an appraisal firm offering valuations across a range of industries for companies of all sizes. She accepted his six month offer and when she discovered she loved the work, Allyson was probably the most surprised of all.

It is not necessary to skip the painful years – to avoid the high school dropout label – because overcoming those challenges is what has made her a success today. 

Allyson went from being a free spirit to a grocery store clerk to a professional appraiser. She found the experience as an appraiser to be fascinating as it took her from vacant land parcels in Chester County to Yosemite National Park, and from mushroom farms to a historic tavern, and from textile mills to a cheese factory! With each engagement she grew more confident, more experienced, and more proficient.  

Along the way to where she is today, Allyson learned many lessons – some of them in the field – some of them in school – but most of them at the college of hard knocks. In doing so she outgrew her youth, became an adult, a valued employee, a mother and a grandmother. She has demonstrated the highest levels of courage, perseverance, energy and positivity, and in doing so she has shown herself to be a role model for us all.

There’s even time for fun!

And believe it or not, Allyson still has time at the end of a very busy day to care for two yellow Labrador retrievers, bask on the Jersey Shore in the summer reading Nelson DeMille and JD Robb, and even make time for gourmet cooking and baking – to her family’s delight! 

We are thrilled to have Allyson on our team, and glad to share her story with you.