For those unfamiliar with product councils, ULI Americas has 68 Product councils focused on 33 areas of activity in development products and processes such as affordable housing, small-scale development, and urban revitalization, among others. Councils typically have about 55 members and meet twice a year—for a full day during the ULI Fall and Spring Meetings—although some councils will hold additional virtual meetings in between or take property tours for a half day in advance of the official full fall and spring Council Day at the meetings.
During council meetings, members share best practices, discuss topics relevant to their product type or market, and hear from thought leaders in the industry. Many ULI members consider product councils the most valuable part of their ULI involvement! Given the many benefits of being part of a product council, it is clear why questions about the membership selection process come up often.
After an interview with Andrea Schell, director of the ULI Product Councils program, the Americas NEXT communications and marketing subcommittee identified the following tips for joining a product council.
- First, review the full list of councils and consider which are most in line with your interests and professional role. A mission statement, focus summary, and roster for each council is available here.
- Complete the Navigator form for the council or councils that most interest you. The list of interested members is then shared with the relevant product council leadership teams for review. An application remains active for 18 months and is provided to council leadership monthly for consideration for appointments or guest spots as vacancies occur. After 18 months, the application will expire if you have not been appointed to a council, but you are welcome to resubmit your interest through Navigator at that time.
- With an average of 55 members, the membership of councils is often in flux. In addition to names that come in through the Navigator form, many councils rely on their existing members to recommend and invite guests to Council Day. Then, as openings arise, those guests are considered for those positions. Therefore, networking with council members and being a guest at gatherings are top ways to be selected to join a council. The member rosters for all councils are located on the Member Directory advanced search tab: scroll down to Product Councils, select Show Options, and select all the flights for the councils that interest you.
- Existing councils can add new flights. The Multifamily Council is quite popular and has six flights that are denoted by colors—Blue, Bronze, Gold, Green, Platinum, and Silver. Perhaps in the future, it will add a seventh flight—might we suggest chartreuse as a color?
- New councils can be created according to the need for expansion or when new topics are presented and approved by ULI. When a new council is formed, a search begins for 55 new members.
- New councils are formed in response to ULI member interests. Two recent councils were started in spring 2022—the Single-Family Rental Council and the Data Center Council. Both, new councils are actively seeking new members. A council now under development is the Self-Storage Council. These new councils as well as councils under development are looking for new members who want to get involved.
- Council recruitment programs. If a member is finding it difficult to become a guest on a council, two ULI programs offer the opportunity to apply to be a council guest.
- WLI Prologis Achievement Award. Prologis—through the Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI)—offers 10 scholarships to selected ULI women who have seven years or more of real estate experience. In addition to having meeting registration fees covered, recipients are assigned a mentor who brings the scholarship winner to her product council. More information can be found here.
- Emerging Leaders Product Council Program. By application, the Emerging Leaders Product Council Program offers a one-time opportunity for emerging leader members (both NEXT and the Young Leaders Group) who have sufficient professional experience and are active in the district council system to be a guest on a product council via a thorough vetting and pairing process. Details of this new program will be announced at the 2022 ULI Fall Meeting in Dallas. For answers to questions about this program, email Victoria Comer.
Reach out to ULI staff. Although council membership is determined 100 percent by council leadership teams and ULI staff cannot influence member selection, ULI staff is an excellent resource for product council placement. Andrea Schell, as director of the ULI Product Councils program, is a resource for ULI NEXT members.