AS I LOOK BACK AT 2015, I see ULI continuing to evolve, responding to the rapid changes taking place throughout the industry and in our communities, and innovating to meet the needs of members around the globe. We are staying ahead of the times while staying true to our mission. Our success is because of you. ULI is about members, for members, and by members. What each of you gives back to the Institute is what makes ULI the world’s leading authority on land use and urban development. We are grateful for your support.
I’m happy to report that 2015 was a busy, productive year, marked by successful meetings, rich content, key steps toward a new global governance structure, progress on a major new information technology initiative, and plans for moving into a new workplace in Washington, D.C.
Highlighting the year were our signature global meetings—starting with the ULI Europe Conference in Paris, followed by the Spring Meeting in Houston, our ULI Asia Pacific Summit in Tokyo, and the blockbuster Fall Meeting in San Francisco (a record breaker for sponsorship and one of our best-ever events for attendance). Each of these was highly successful, providing excellent networking and great content, raising ULI’s visibility among new audiences, and of course, attracting new members.
As important as these major events were in building our momentum, our 2015 Midwinter Meeting of the Board of Directors, our Trustees, and other ULI leaders, held in Paris on the heels of the ULI Europe Conference, proved to be of equal significance. The topic, “Building for Change,” covered transformational issues shaping every aspect of our industry and the economy in general, such as urbanization, demographics, technology advancements, climate change, health and wellness, and new job drivers. What was different at the Midwinter Meeting was that the talk was not so much about the changes themselves, but about how ULI can effectively respond to the changes. Participants identified several specific areas of focus in which ULI can have a strong impact and bolster its already considerable influence.
What we took away from the Midwinter Meeting has guided our program of work this year and will continue to shape it going forward. It sparked the development of an action agenda centered on adaptation in an era of rapid change—an agenda informed by your insights, expertise, and experiences. Through this agenda, we are aiming to encourage a dialogue that gets us out of our comfort zone, advocates new approaches to design and development, and delivers practical, actionable, and replicable solutions.
This type of forward thinking is reflected in the content we produced this year, such as:
- The Building Healthy Places Toolkit, which provides strategies for health-oriented design and development;
- America in 2015, which looks at consumer preferences in housing and communities;
- Returns on Resilience: The Business Case, which examines best practices in building for resilience from both an environmental and economic standpoint;
- Technology, Real Estate, and the Innovation Economy, which emphasizes the need for greater adaptation by the industry to the complex needs of companies at the forefront of tech innovations;
- Preserving Multifamily Workforce and Affordable Housing, which looks at innovative financing programs aimed at saving the existing stock of affordable housing in the United States;
- Women in Leadership in the Real Estate and Land Use Industry, which recommends strategies to help women advance;
- The Europe, Asia Pacific, and Americas editions of Emerging Trends in Real Estate®, each of which focuses on the implications of outside forces of change for the industry;
- Millennials Inside the Beltway: Optimistic Urbanists, published by ULI Washington, which measures the satisfaction of gen Yers living in the District of Columbia and close-in suburbs;
- Keeping New York on Track, from ULI New York, which raises awareness of the need for investments in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Capital Program; and
- An abundance of thought-provoking District and National Council programs, including a ULI Sydney competition to reinvent the city’s main thoroughfare; a ULI Manila program to improve the city’s resilience to natural disaster; and a ULI Arizona initiative catalyzing investment in transit-oriented development.
Through all our work, we are seeking to position ULI to do what it does best—help our members understand how to adapt and excel in times that promise great upheaval, but also great opportunities. We are committed to providing what you want and need from your Institute, and we are designing our programs, services, and products to ensure that your expectations are exceeded.
We also made great progress this year with our global governance restructuring initiative, which we are implementing under the guidance of ULI Global Chairman Randall Rowe to better serve members as ULI continues to grow worldwide. A major step in this regard was the selection of Patricia R. “Trish” Healy, founding principal of Hyde Street Holdings LLC in Raleigh, North Carolina, as chairman of the Americas. This new member leadership position was added to the structure that already includes a ULI Europe chairman position and ULI Asia Pacific chairmanships for North Asia, South Asia, and Japan.
The ULI Americas chairmanship is a key part of a new regional governance structure that will create more opportunities for leadership and engagement by members in diverse markets around the world. We are thrilled to have Trish in this post. She brings an invaluable perspective on creating a structure that will help ULI be more responsive to members with different needs and interests but who are united in creating thriving, sustainable communities.
In addition to the ULI Americas chairman position, the global governance plan includes an Advisory Board and an Executive Committee for each of the three ULI regions: the Americas, EMEA, and Asia Pacific/Japan, as well as a new staff position, chief executive, Americas, who will join our regional executives for EMEA and Asia Pacific, Lisette van Doorn and John Fitzgerald, respectively. The structure builds on the success of the District Council network in balancing local responsiveness with global alignment.
In addition, we are continuing to move forward with our IT initiative, which will vastly improve how you can communicate with other members and your ability to transact business with us. As part of this process, we are making technology and communication advancements to raise the visibility of the many activities—from the Hines Student Competition for graduate students to our Advisory Services panels to our education programs—that strengthen ULI’s global impact. Stay tuned for more information early next year on how you can take full advantage of the new system.
Another project we are tackling is a move of ULI’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. We’re moving about a mile east, from the Georgetown area to a more centrally located and transit-accessible building in the downtown core. The design of our new space will be much more open and flexible than our current layout, providing plenty of workplace options and space that fosters more interaction and collaboration. The design reflects 21st-century workplace trends, with all workspaces and features accessible to all staff. The new design also invites members into the space, whether for formal meetings or informal visits. With great anticipation, we are looking forward to the move in May 2016, and to welcoming all our members to their global headquarters.
All of this is helping ULI be a more efficient, effective organization whose work makes a real, lasting difference in people’s lives every day. And this extraordinary impact is made possible with contributions to the ULI Foundation.
Being part of ULI is about giving back. During this season of giving, please consider a gift to the ULI Foundation. Join your fellow ULI members and the ULI staff in supporting the Foundation as it helps stretch ULI’s reach and influence. Every gift helps expand and enrich our knowledge base with new experiences, new perspectives, and new lessons learned and shared. Your contribution can help us create a brighter future for the Institute and our communities.
Thank you for making ULI the world’s most trusted organization on the responsible use of land and the creation of thriving, sustainable communities. In this time of great change for the industry and the Institute, I believe 2016 will be one of the most exciting, pivotal years in ULI’s 80-year history.
On behalf of the entire ULI staff, I wish you happy holidays and a successful, productive new year.
Patrick L. Phillips
Global Chief Executive Officer
Urban Land Institute