Why ULI? Marie and Kelly Weigh In
With so many great professional organizations to choose from, narrowing down which to get involved in can be tough!
At Coughlin Porter Lundeen, we are fortunate to have two ULI YLG board members under our roof. Structural Associate Marie Ternes has been on the YLG board since 2020 and has been co-chair since 2022. Structural Project Engineer Kelly Lowe has been a member of the board since 2022.
When Marie moved to Seattle, she knew that she wanted to connect with more people in the industry. So, she attended different organizations’ events and took a deep dive into their websites. “ULI’s mission is what really stood out to me,” Marie explained. “I really connected with ULI’s focus on sustainability and responsible land development.” After regularly attending events, she met Martha Cox, an architect with PUBLIC47, who suggested that she join their Partnership Forum Group (PFG). Led by an industry leader, the PFG is a cohort mentoring program that meets monthly. “Between ULI’s mission, the quality of their events, and the PFG, I knew I had found the organization that I wanted to grow with,” says Marie.
Kelly’s interest in ULI came from her desire to understand where she fit into the larger puzzle of development. Like many, she understood her day-to-day job and tasks, but wanted to understand more fully how her discipline fit into the puzzle. ULI affords members this view. “With ULI, there are so many opportunities to connect with others, whether it be at events or within the PFG mentorship group. All those puzzle pieces started to fall in place. Joining ULI has allowed me to better understand how an engineering consultant fits into the big picture,” said Kelly.
The Young Leaders Group (YLG)
One of the hallmark programs that the chapter coordinates is the Young Leaders Group (YLG). Consisting of ULI members under the age of 35, the YLG connects young professionals via curated events, project tours, activities, and mentorship opportunities.
As the board strategizes and sets programming for the upcoming year, there’s no outline or restrictions dictated by ULI. Instead, the YLG board has the autonomy to follow their own interests, and everything that’s planned reflects that. The first project tour of the year featured our very own 5501 Lakeview because a board member wanted to learn more about mass timber. “It’s a very collaborative environment where everyone’s leveraging their different networks to not only make the events happen, but also allow us as board members to grow and explore our interests,” says Kelly.
While the programming may change year to year, the YLG board is consistent in how they begin each term: with a kick-off brainstorming session. Here, collaboration and imagination take center stage. Whether project tours, panel discussions, bi-monthly happy hours, conference planning, or fireside chats that were inspired by “Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis,” every idea is met with acceptance and excitement.
Another important ULI pillar: The Cascadia Regional Conference (CRC). The annual conference rotates between Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver, and is open to the entirety of ULI. The four-day event is full of project tours, panel discussions, breakout groups, (and even a few happy hours!), and is organized entirely by the YLG.
The Partnership Forum Group (PFG)
Another ULI subgroup is the ULI Northwest Young Leaders Partnership Forum whose mission is “to foster an exchange of professional ideas, friendship, and expertise among young real estate professionals and industry veterans that are members of the Urban Land Institute.” The program matches young professionals from the Young Leaders Group with experienced professionals.
We all know how essential mentorship is to a career’s success, and the PFG provides an incredible opportunity to develop skills and grow a network in a safe and supportive setting. It’s a true differentiator of ULI. Marie participated as a mentee for one year and Kelly for two years before applying to be co-captains of the program. As co-captains, they’re responsible for coordinating the mentors’ schedules with their groups. “Becoming a co-captain is an excellent way to dip your toe into program leadership while still benefiting from mentorship,” says Marie. “I would one hundred percent recommend this program to anyone just starting out.”
Kelly summarizes it perfectly, saying, “my experience being on the board has made ULI and the industry in general, much more accessible. The more involved you become, the more connections you make with professionals from all walks of life. It’s an empowering feeling to know my network now includes both my young professional peers and individuals at the top of their careers. While the PFG gave me the skills to succeed, the YLG has shown me that even if I’m not yet a project manager or owner at my firm, I can still develop my own relationships and start networking.”
Images courtesy of PCL Construction