ULI is starting the new year with an extraordinary expansion of our reach and influence on a global basis, an accomplishment made possible by your support of the Institute and your belief in our ability to make a positive difference. We have new partners and new members from different places around the world—all of whom share the goal of creating vibrant, livable communities that will be cherished for generations.

As this growth has stretched the depth and breadth of the Institute, it has added to ULI’s comprehensiveness. With a unique mix of products and activities, we’re aiming to broaden and refine our intellectual capital even further, while continuing to provide the “practical and tactical” take-home value that is our organization’s hallmark.

The result is a scope of work that is a lot to absorb, even for our most engaged members. To better grasp how ULI does what it does, it may be helpful to think of a simple matrix with three rows and four columns. Each of the three rows represents a core function of ULI—convening, education, and giving back. We bring people together through convening—in addition to the major fall and spring meetings, we have more than 1,000 events, large and small, that occur every year, all over the world, in settings that are interdisciplinary, nonpartisan, and nonideological.

The second function, education, has been the Institute’s franchise for more than 75 years. Our publications and workshops are but two of many examples of this offering, which, like convening, is grounded in objectivity.

The third is giving back. Of course, our advisory services program exemplifies this, but ULI members give back in many ways, such as through mentoring and community service projects. Convening, education, and giving back: the Institute’s three core functions.

The four columns in the ULI matrix represent the Institute’s four primary networks: the council program, the district council network, centers and initiatives, and the virtual network. ULI’s council program is a key element of the Institute’s brand—distinctive, small-scale, high-level groups focused on particular property sectors or issues. The district council network—a robust, on-the-ground field force of 51 district councils in the United States, 14 in Europe, and seven in Asia—has probably been the most transformative aspect of the Institute’s evolution over the past 20 years. ULI’s centers and initiatives, such as the Terwilliger Center for Housing and the Larson Leadership Initiative, are the components of ULI that represent deep dives into subject areas that reflect the Institute’s priorities. The fourth network is the virtual network—our use of technology to tie these networks together to create one ULI.

The ULI matrix: three rows, four columns, 12 points of intersection and engagement for ULI members. Through this combination of functions and networks, we’re providing an opportunity for you to customize your ULI experience. We are committed to improving the Institute’s value to members during all phases of their careers, from rookies to the industry’s top leaders. Each of you makes a substantial investment in ULI, reflected not just in the cost of membership and meeting registrations, but also in the time you give. It is our imperative to deliver value that exceeds that cost. To accomplish this, we are using a multipronged approach that includes four strategic goals for this year. In 2013, we will: 1) conduct a comprehensive evaluation of our membership program; 2) forge a closer relationship between our content and our constituencies to make sure we are delivering high-quality, relevant industry ­information; 3) better embed philanthropy and service in the organization to reinforce the fact that ULI is mission-driven; and 4) enhance the ability of all our networks to provide better services on a global level.

The programs, products, and services that contribute to ULI’s complexity also contribute to its unique role in city building—making the Institute the one organization whose work fills the gap between macrolevel concepts too abstract for practical use, and microlevel details too specific for broad applicability. Without question, the Institute’s impact is measured by what we accomplish city by city, region by region, around the world. As we begin 2013, I have high expectations for continuing the momentum from last year, with initiatives global and local, to make ULI matter to more people in more places.

ULI’s authority and credibility have never been stronger—thanks to all of you. The Institute’s intellectual heft derives from the practical real-world, results-oriented experience you share. Our voice is nonpartisan, nonideological, objective, and multidisciplinary—and is founded on integrated thinking and based on what works. Your expertise has made ULI respected and trusted around the world, positioning the Institute for great success in the year ahead.