Getting to Know Who's NEXT vol. 4
Featuring Jamie Weinbaum, new co-chair of the Americas NEXT Leadership Steering Committee.
Americas NEXT communications co-chair, Tammy Fate, sat down with ULI Virginia NEXT chair, Borden Edgerton, on launching a new NEXT group.
A new ULI NEXT group is up and running in Virginia. ULI Virginia’s NEXT group started operations in April with 71 members. ULI Virginia has 380 members and continues to grow. The district council has such an active YLG network that it was eager to continue collaborating and connecting with midcareer professionals. Borden Edgerton, leader for ULI Virginia NEXT, suggested starting a VA-NEXT group to create a successful and impactful organization for members entering their midcareer professional and personal life. “This period is especially time-intensive on members, but the level of involvement and excitement demonstrated the need to build a strong NEXT program for our district council members,” Edgerton said.
This Q&A highlights NEXT Virginia and its benefits, challenges, and future plans.
Q1. What have been the benefits to your district council and the cohort members of having a local NEXT group?
Borden Edgerton (BE): It’s still early to understand all the benefits: We are planning out the January 2024 launch of our first program flight. We are defining the difference between events and programs—where events are one-off engagements discussing a particular topic; programs are a deeper dive into a particular topic, spread out over a series of consecutive sessions, and require several months of planning before launch. These programs are the primary way NEXT will benefit midcareer individuals and begin to make a long-term impact on our industry and the built environment.
The January 2024 program being planned intends to highlight the different trades in different stages of a development project. Attending NEXT members will be placed into smaller group cohorts of eight to 12 people representing those different trade professions. By the end, NEXT participants will understand their peers’ obstacles and their business’s inner workings. Overall, the program will build deep relationships between attendees—a necessary bond that will be needed to tackle future programs that are more complex.
There are two key difficulties we are facing:
Q2. How have you been able to schedule events, as NEXT members often have more intense travel and personal calendars?
BE: We take care to promote our events a minimum of one month in advance and provide ample time for members to plan for child care or for work schedule approvals. This decision was based on member feedback, where we heard sentiments like “If the event is beneficial and planned, then I am used to planning around it.” Member feedback also showed us that the time of day—morning coffee, noon lunch, late afternoon happy hour—had an equal split where members couldn’t attend. Therefore, we try to cycle our event times so different members can attend throughout the year. Our two regional representatives each plan one event annually for their local area, which helps reach non––central state members.
Q3. Can you briefly describe a great NEXT program that you’ve hosted—your signature event or an event that has led to meaningful connections?
BE: The ULI Virginia NEXT launch event was a big hit and the perfect launch to VA-NEXT, with 45 people in attendance. As we introduced the mission, goals, and leadership committee, we shifted to seeking feedback from the audience by posing questions. With a little humor, we were able to loosen everyone up enough to spark individual input, which snowballed into full-blown conversations about NEXT. Eureka! This might seem small, but midcareer professionals tend to be guarded when engaging in public forums. This was a sign that we could build up a community of engaged professionals who are comfortable around one another and excited to be part of a larger effort.