AS 2014 COMES TO A CLOSE, I want to extend my thanks for your support of the Urban Land Institute. Your investments in ULI—your contributions of time, talent, and treasure—are ensuring that the Institute remains the preeminent authority on issues affecting how cities around the world are growing, changing, and adapting to the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.
I’m pleased to tell you that over the past year, ULI has continued to evolve into an organization that is more energized, more innovative, and most important, more member-focused—a course we will continue through 2015 and the years beyond. 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.
ULI’s productive year was highlighted by our four annual global convenings—the Spring and Fall Meetings, the ULI Europe Annual Conference, and the ULI Asia Pacific Summit—all of which were highly successful in terms of attendance and engagement. These events serve as an excellent platform not only for optimizing educational and networking opportunities, but also for attracting the best and brightest to the Institute. For instance, our recent Fall Meeting in New York City drew nearly 900 new members who attended the meeting, and who raised our overall membership numbers above 33,000 for the first time in five years. With this boost, we are well on our way to reaching our goal of 35,000 by June 30, 2015 (the end of the current fiscal year). This increase in our membership is reflected across the board—in the Americas, in Europe, and in Asia. Working with our leaders in all these regions, we look forward to keeping the momentum going.
However, while our membership increase is one signal of strength, I firmly believe that the true test lies not just in the number of members, but also in member engagement. ULI’s vast human capital, in terms of volunteerism and knowledge sharing, combined with members’ financial resources, is what truly sets the Institute apart. In this regard, we are stepping up our efforts to engage members at all phases of their careers—particularly those in the 35-to-45 age range, a group served neither by the nurturing programs targeted to our youngest members nor the V.I.P. programs reserved for our most experienced. This member-driven initiative, called the NEXT Leadership Initiative, is an evolving leadership cultivation initiative that includes placing these mid-career members on the advisory boards of some our centers and taking other actions to inject their ideas and expertise into the organization.
The NEXT Leadership Initiative is just one example of several initiatives we are implementing to improve the member experience as well as the Institute’s knowledge-sharing process, which is a key priority for ULI Chairman Lynn Thurber. Knowledge sharing is what connects our members to each other; it’s what forges bonds between the most experienced and the rising stars. It’s what ensures a strong future for our organization. With guidance from Lynn and ULI’s board of directors, we are putting in place more ways to shape the Institute’s knowledge-sharing capability into a year-round, 24/7 benefit.
To determine the most effective way to do this, ULI earlier this year assembled a knowledge-sharing team of members and staff, and engaged the services of IDEO, an award-winning design firm that helps organizations in the public and private sectors innovate and grow.
The resulting central recommendation was to create an organizational mind-set that places an even greater priority on facilitating member contributions and connections.
We listened. We learned. And I’m pleased to tell you that ULI is offering more opportunities for member expertise to be easily shared.
We started early this year with a new addition to ULI’s education program—the Real Estate Entrepreneur Program. These sessions match the Institute’s senior leaders with younger members for panel discussions followed by more informal interactions over dinner. So far, more than 100 people have participated to learn from and talk with the experts on topics such as the steps to a successful value-added real estate development.
Further advancements in knowledge sharing came this past summer with the launch of ULI Access. It’s a mobile app that provides instant updates on all of the Institute’s events and activities, all at your fingertips. You can tailor it to get only the information you need or want—whether it’s from your District or National Council, any of ULI’s centers and initiatives, or Urban Land online. We also improved our ULI Events app by adding a new tool designed to bring people together—both virtually and in person. This app has a social media feature to allow you to share and interact more directly with each other at each of our major convenings. The enhanced Events App debuted at the Fall Meeting with great success, and we look forward to even more use during our meetings in 2015.
All of this is aimed at building on the tradition of knowledge sharing that began when ULI was founded 78 years ago. We’re progressing with many technology and communication advancements that ULI will be making to engage you and to make the Institute more responsive to your needs and preferences. We are making these knowledge-sharing improvements to raise the visibility and enhance the value of the many, many activities—ranging from the highly popular Urban Innovation Grant program to the Building Healthy Places Initiative and Urban Resilience Program—that are strengthening ULI’s global impact. From Advisory Services panels to UrbanPlan, from local government chambers to high school classrooms, the Institute is making a positive difference around the world. And this extraordinary impact is because of work made possible with contributions to the ULI Foundation.
Being part of ULI is about giving back. During this season of giving, please consider making a gift to the ULI Foundation. Join your fellow ULI members and the ULI staff in supporting the Foundation as it helps to stretch the Institute’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 gift—made with a quick click on the Foundation’s website—can help us create a brighter future for the Institute and our communities.
Thank you for making ULI the world’s leading organization for responsible land use. We are entering 2015 optimistic and enthused about new opportunities to advance the Institute’s mission. On behalf of the entire ULI staff, I offer our best wishes for a successful and happy new year.
Patrick L. Phillips
Global Chief Executive Officer
Urban Land Institute