Patricia Goldstein, the commercial real estate finance pioneer, veteran workout banker and mentor of many of today's top female executives, died Thursday in Highland Beach, Fla. She was 69.

At the time of her death Goldstein was the vice chairman and head of commercial real estate for Emigrant Bank in New York, where she was in charge of credit decisions for the real estate and other lending businesses.

She was highly respected for her leadership and innovation in structuring sophisticated transactions, financing high-profile properties and managing complex real estate portfolios. During her nearly three decades working at Citicorp (a predecessor of Citigroup), she started a commercial mortgage-backed securities desk and restructured the debt on billions of dollars' worth of assets in the aftermath of the early 1990s property crisis.

"Pat was an iconic, larger than life leader in banking and real estate in New York City and the nation, a true force of nature, a pioneer in her field for women, and a mentor to many," said Howard P. Milstein, the chairman of the $6.3 billion-asset Emigrant Bank and of the developer Milstein Properties, in a prepared statement. "She loved what she did, day-in and day-out, and excelled in her field."

Goldstein's advocacy for gender and racial equality in the real estate industry is said to have helped change corporate culture.

In 1966 Goldstein joined Citibank and in the early 1970s entered its credit training program, in one of the first classes that admitted women. The bank offered her a position as a typist, but she was more interested in becoming the first woman to be trained in its credit program. She rejected the offer and convinced Citi's executives that she was qualified to begin chasing her goal.

Goldstein found her way to leadership positions in commercial real estate throughout the 1980s. In 1983 she joined the international property development firm Olympia & York and later became its senior vice president and treasurer. There, she helped finance the 14 million-square-foot office and development project that is now London's Canary Wharf, one of the U.K.'s main centers for finance and global commerce.

In 1988 she moved to New York-based real estate sales and marketing firm M.J. Raynes Inc., where she became the executive vice president and chief operating officer. Shortly after in 1990, she found herself again at Citi to work through the bad assets in its $22 billion real estate portfolio, just as the commercial real estate industry was starting to wobble.

Goldstein launched her own realty finance firm in 1999, called Citadel, to arrange debt, equity, and mezzanine financing for clients and put together joint ventures, partnerships, and other complex ownership structures. At the time she told American Banker that the company's mission was to do more than place loans – it would help developers and owners navigate the complex world of real estate finance. She joined Milstein Brothers Realty Investors in 2001 and was appointed a senior executive vice president and chief credit officer of Emigrant in 2004.

Goldstein was active in several industry and philanthropic organizations, such as the NY Teachers Common Fund, as a Trustee of the Urban Land Institute, the Real Estate Roundtable, the Women's UJA, the NYU Schack School of Real Estate, the Real Estate Board of New York and the Association of Real Estate Women.

She is survived by her husband Howard Epstein, a son, a daughter and two grandsons.

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