As we head to Nashville for our 2019 Spring Meeting, I am encouraged and enthused about the progress being made at ULI to improve the member experience. Our initial efforts will be on display at the meeting, with more member-informed, interactive programming designed to foster a broader exchange of ideas and knowledge as well as more member-to-member connections. The event, which follows a highly successful Midwinter Trustees Meeting, Europe Conference, and Asia Pacific Convivium held this winter, will serve as additional confirmation of ULI’s status as the gold standard for real estate organizations.
Clearly, we are moving steadily toward positioning ULI as the leading global real estate organization that constantly attracts and retains top industry leaders; the leading authority on real estate; the go-to place for timely industry information and expertise; and the provider of solutions to the most complex real estate and urban development problems faced by cities around the world. This is the overriding goal of our Global Strategic Plan, which envisions an organization flourishing due to the combination of robust member engagement and capable, professional staff, all resulting in higher impact.
Our achievements can be seen in ULI’s mission-oriented work at the global, regional, and local levels—work that will be supported by philanthropic gifts to the ULI Foundation, as we aim to build a strong Foundation endowment. This includes the thought leadership emanating from our centers, the community assistance provided through our Advisory Services and technical assistance panels, the education and mentoring opportunities offered through UrbanPlan and professional development courses, and the hundreds of creative initiatives and programs offered through our District Council, National Council, and Product Council networks.
As we continue implementing the Strategic Plan, we are seeking to build on our existing accomplishments to stretch ULI’s influence even further, to reach more markets and more members around the world. For example:
- The Center for Capital Markets and Real Estate, a long-trusted resource on global capital market trends, as reflected in the annual regional and international Emerging Trends in Real Estate® publications, is developing a new program targeted to the transaction-focused real estate finance and investment interests of those involved in smaller-scale projects. This is part of a broad effort to better connect “Wall Street” to “Main Street” in terms of raising awareness of and increasing access to capital.
- The Center for Sustainability and Economic Performance is seeking to achieve market transformation by engaging all ULI members in the integration of sustainable development strategies in their business practices. The center will do this through more research, case studies, educational programs, Advisory Services panels, and convenings, all focused on driving change within the industry and in communities globally on issues related to building for health, resilience, and energy efficiency, as well as the assessment and mitigation of risks posed by climate change.
- The Terwilliger Center for Housing is building on its efforts to increase access to affordable and workforce housing by identifying, encouraging, and showcasing best practices in development and effective public policies, and by supporting member and community efforts to preserve and produce more affordable rental and for-sale housing. This will include working with partners such as the National League of Cities to raise awareness of urban housing challenges.
- The Advisory Services team is focused on increasing the overlay of member interests and the capabilities of our centers with municipal priorities such as economic development, infrastructure funding, and housing. The team is seeking to expand participation by more members to provide a richer mix of expertise, and it is seeking greater integration with technical assistance panels to increase the collective impact of both types of advisory program.
- UrbanPlan is being expanded to reach a more diverse group of participants across a broader mix of domestic and international markets. Additional partnerships within the general education and real estate education systems, as well as with companies and foundations, will be sought for the expansion. A comprehensive online UrbanPlan community will be developed to serve as a repository for materials and a place for collaboration.
- The Professional Development program will be broadened to reach more participants through the integration of course material into higher education real estate courses, and through additional online and in-person programming taught by member instructors. New partnerships to expand the program’s reach are also being explored.
I’m pleased that the work taking place is being more closely aligned with that of our member networks, particularly District and National Councils and Product Councils. For example, our research in the areas of capital markets, housing, and resilience is informing Product Council discussions as well as District and National Council programming. Lessons learned from Advisory Services panels are informing technical assistance panels convened by District and National Councils; and the UrbanPlan experiences in District and National Councils are helping shape the curriculum offered in new markets. All of this reflects our efforts to spread the Institute’s wealth of member expertise throughout the organization, creating a “knowledge ecosystem” that ensures a more effective, more powerful ULI.
As we strive to improve ULI and increase ULI Foundation support for mission-focused activities, we need your thoughts on what is working and what is not. Our goal is not just to do more, but to do better—whether it’s convening members, preparing timely research informed by members’ insights, assembling advisory panels to solve urban challenges, or educating the next generation. Your feedback can help us keep ULI at the forefront of community building that withstands the tests of time and change.