When Julia Zhang established JD Development Group in Markham in 2008, she was determined to fill a void in the luxury rental housing market for students.
“It was a new sector that was underserviced and that needed new thinking and hard work. My dream was to build a home for a student who’s away from home,” says Zhang, the company’s president and CEO.
Today, JD Development Group’s student residences provide a home away from home for nearly 3,000 students attending University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo and Conestoga College in Kitchener. That determination is among the reasons why Zhang has been selected as one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women for 2021 by the Women’s Executive Network (WXN).
Launched in 2003, the award recognizes exceptional women leaders who contribute to advancing the societal and professional landscape for future generations. “When I look at this year’s winners, I see a group of radically authentic women who remind us all of what it means to stand up with courage, for ourselves and those around them,” says WXN owner and CEO Sherri Stevens. “By recognizing and celebrating the strength, fearlessness, resilience and heart these women demonstrate, we can inspire more of the same in generations to come.”
Zhang worked with the United Nations in 1990 and helped numerous organizations enter the Chinese marketplace.
After a decade of managing numerous business ventures, she established JD Development Group. In addition to property management services, its portfolio includes developing residential condominiums and townhouses.
Its low-rise building division, Jefferson Homes, was awarded the 2019 London Home Builders’ Association’s Best New Single-Family Home over $1 million for its Wickerson Hills industrial home.
JD Development Group supported the Markham Cares Campaign last year by helping to raise more than 100,000 units of personal protective equipment in support of local health-care workers. Zhang supports numerous organizations, including the Chinese Student and Scholar Association, Engineers for Hope, Walk for Women and KidsAbility.
Photo: Julia Zhang. Photo courtesy of JD Development Group.