MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIR
Yolanda Cole, FAIA
Sr. Principal, Hickok Cole Architects
Members of ULI:
I’ve been a member of ULI for a large part of my career, and I am truly pleased and honored to have been chosen to lead the ULI District Council for the next two years as its Chair. As my first step, I’ve been conducting a “summer walkabout” of ULI Washington’s Committees, Programs and Initiative Councils to observe first-hand what our members are doing and how they are contributing to, and advancing ULI. I am also listening to what they care about and how they would like to see ULI Washington move forward to become a leader in our region. I have been particularly struck by a few things:
Our members are enthusiastically engaged and they have a high regard for the organization. They value what they learn from ULI and they enjoy the relationships they have built with their peers, colleagues, mentors and role models. They are active in creating programs that touch on new ideas, as well as tried-and-true formulas for successful real estate development. Our members also seek connections to the greater community through good works and by tackling the hard problems such as how to provide more affordable housing and fix our ailing Metro system. I can feel the pent-up energy bursting at the seams! My goal as Chair will be to harness this energy and tap the amazing talent we have in our midst – and channel it towards greater impact in our communities and in the region.
The ULI Washington 2016 Strategic Plan outlines three primary objectives: Impact, Membership Engagement and Organizational Strength. I thank our past Chair, Bob Youngentob, for his passion for member engagement and for focusing on strategic, measurable goals for strengthening the organization. I will continue this agenda, while focusing on my passion project: Impact.
Under Impact, we have identified three themes: Housing Affordability, Economic Competitiveness and Disruptive Technologies, as they apply to ULI’s mission “To provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide.” We will start with our own back yard. How can we keep our Millennials in the city as they age and start to form families? What steps can we take to make the region more attractive to job creators? What technologies are on the horizon that could upset our traditional, real estate apple carts? We should not shy away from asking, and working within and outside our industry, to answer these and equally important questions.
During my term, I hope to create a template for bringing our individual Committees, Programs and Initiative Councils together in a more integrated way to work toward common goals, while also providing variety and wiggle room to go off on interesting tangents that peak our members’ fancy. As I make my rounds, I am hearing that people are ready for the challenge, and while we can’t solve all of our region’s problems, we can start by identifying a few key issues to study and accomplish, through healthy debate, education, partnerships and greater public outreach. I ask that all of you give this some thought, and together, we will work toward a thriving future!