Howell, who is a senior portfolio manager with Meissner Jacquet, started her first management job at 16 when her stepfather put her to work at a hot dog outlet in a shopping center in the Humboldt County town of Arcata.
The owner of the property noticed her efficiency, hired her to manage the entire shopping center that same year, and Howell was introduced to her future career.
Howell was later a property manager for what was then Burnham Real Estate Services and a portfolio manager for John Collins Co. before she joined Meissner Jacquet in September 2000.
Fast forward to January, when Howell was installed as president of BOMA San Diego.
Howell immediately got busy. In February, she traveled with other executive committee members to Washington, D.C., to attend the association's winter business meeting and National Issues Conference.
Howell, who has been on the BOMA board for the past six years, said she didn't enjoy networking until she forced herself to do it on a regular basis.
"I enjoyed meeting people more and more as I plugged in more, and I got a lot out of the membership," Howell said.
A high-profile local issue has been the battle against the levels of a proposed linkage fee on commercial development to bankroll affordable housing in the city of San Diego.
BOMA San Diego fought hard to defeat the proposal now undergoing proposed revisions by the Building Industry Association and others before it comes back to the city at the end of July.
At the state level, Howell is helping lead the battle against the proposed split-roll property tax that would assess commercial property at a higher rate than residential.
"We're about protecting Proposition 13. Some legislators are trying to implement this to collect fees, but these costs would just be passed onto tenants," Howell said. "We're talking about an 800 percent increase. The linkage fee and split roll are the two big things right now."
As the 2014 president of BOMA San Diego, Howell said she would like to increase the size of the 300-member chapter, as well as get more people onto the 15 committees.
In April, the local BOMA chapter expanded its advisory board to include Scott Kuklish, PM Realty Group senior vice president; Ann Chevalier, a CBRE managing director; and Kevin Rude, a Colliers International managing director.
The additions join executives with such firms as Kilroy Realty, LBA Realty, BioMed Realty Trust, Cushman & Wakefield and Sentre Partners.
For those just getting started in the industry, Howell said BOMA has a scholarship program for prospective members who are "testing the waters."
"The goal is getting people more involved," Howell said.
Howell's BOMA Chapter reported in April that its entry in the Pacific Southwest Division TOBY (the building of the year) awards, Kilroy Centre Del Mar, won its category.
The five-building, 536,000-square-foot complex will be judged in the low-rise category at BOMA International's annual TOBY Awards on Tuesday in Orlando.
Plenty is happening closer to home.
"We're planning a walking tour of Little Italy in July," Howell said.
BOMA has sometimes worked in concert with NAIOP, formally known as the National Association of Industrial & Office Properties, but Howell said she would like to have more events with other organizations in the community, such as the Jobs Coalition.
The Jobs Coalition was instrumental in convincing a majority of San Diego voters to kill the Barrio Community Plan.
Howell noted that BOMA San Diego is also involved in charity events such as the Fight for Air Climbs sponsored by the American Lung Association. These fundraisers take place in prominent stadiums, skyscrapers or arenas in a "vertical road race" format involving hundreds of steps.
To stay relevant, the local BOMA chapter must keep up with changing technology, such as 3-D mapping.
"These changes are giving us a much more rich perspective of our industry," Howell said.