Next Gen Leadership

3 min read

I find it inspiring that many of the communities developed by the first generation of NH&RA members in the 1960s are still prospering 50 years later. Indeed, many of these firms, and even a few of the founders, are still actively developing new or preserving existing affordable housing around the country today. The longevity of participation through political change, economic ups and downs, and evolving programs is one of the reasons affordable housing as an industry has flourished. This institutional knowledge has also served NH&RA well, creating a place where owners and professionals can convene, share experiences and conduct business.

I write this month’s column as a young-ish leader (I’ll be 34 next month), fortunate to have been mentored and tutored by many experienced professionals across the industry and also having benefited from an association that has had remarkable continuity in its membership and executive leadership. But the barriers to entry in our field are high, so the continued success of our firms, our association and indeed our industry depends on the continued personal and professional growth of the next generation of affordable housing leaders.

Last summer, NH&RA’s Board of Directors began exploring in earnest how our association can help develop a new generation of leaders. We have already convened meetings in Boston in December and in Key Largo in February to solicit ideas on how to focus opportunities for this group. Future topics for exploration include a diversity of subjects ranging from succession and strategic planning to critical skills training like negotiations and advocacy.  The enthusiasm from both the “next gen” leaders and senior leadership from NH&RA members has been incredibly encouraging to date and we are excited to convene more sessions and roll out an expanded program in 2015, including a stand-alone event in DC this spring as well as programming at the Summer Institute later this July. By investing in this “Next Generation Leadership Initiative,” we hope to create new opportunities for our members to develop key executive talent, provide new professional development opportunities and expand business relationships amongst deal makers and professionals who might not meet otherwise.

I have had the opportunity to interview many of our members over the past few months and it has been exciting to learn how they are developing their internal bench strength and just as importantly how our association can create a forum to help support and grow these efforts. Whether you are a developer, attorney, consultant or government executive, this is a challenge we all face currently or will face in the future. I believe there is also an opportunity in this challenge to create new but lasting bonds that will bring fresh ideas and business relationships to our members and sustain NH&RA in the future. Here is my challenge to you, dear reader: If this sounds interesting, please share with me, your next generation leaders and colleagues so we can incorporate your voice in this important effort.