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Finding value through professional organizations

Updated: Feb 1



Many professionals understand the importance of finding and joining the right organization. There are so many to choose from, ranging in focus from industry and occupation-focused to ethnic or religious affiliations. For me, it was important to find the right professional organization that suited my personality, aligned with my personal goals, and helped bring added value to Framework’s mission. That’s why I chose to join the Urban Land Institute (ULI).

 

This group is the oldest and largest network of cross-disciplinary real estate and land use experts in the world. The chapter’s main goal is to provide information on Austin’s local economy, trends, and issues, while also tying that into the broader view of the national landscape. They provide statistics, guest speakers, relevant literature, and interaction with other leaders in the area. The list of professionals includes but is certainly not limited to, bankers, developers, city officials, engineers, land planners, architects, and nonprofit spokesmen/women.


The information ULI sponsors and promotes is highly beneficial to its members and beyond. A recent example is the ULI co-sponsored 2024 Emerging Trends in Commercial Real Estate: A Strategic Partner's Perspective, a report offering solid takeaways on evolving trends in the industry.   


I’m currently serving on a committee where we are investigating an issue facing our projects—potable water and stormwater. Water in central Texas is limited and we must learn to be good stewards of it. As we continue to develop projects, we are encountering sites that have restrictions from Living Unit Equivalents (LUEs), water detention, and erosion control. LUEs represent the typical flow a single-family residence would produce in a typical subdivision (representing 3.5 people).

Our committee is working with local city officials to understand where our potable water comes from, establishing how much we need, where it goes once discarded, or how it is recycled). For stormwater, we are talking with engineers to have a better understanding of different strategies for water detention and how to minimize erosion. We’re looking at how to better serve rural sites as they typically have water restrictions but often have no water available and must truck in public water weekly.


While we are still in the early stages of our investigation, our committee leads are doing a good job of putting together a group of speakers and even a field trip to a local water treatment plant to continue the discussion.


I consider ULI a type of “think tank” where the best and brightest minds in the community come together to solve the important issues of the day. It’s amazing, and something I’m humbled to be involved in.  ULI’s mission is to, “Shape the future of the built environment for transformative impact in communities worldwide.” The key words for me are “transformative impact in communities”.  This is in absolute alignment with the Framework Architects' vision:

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MAKE A VISIBLE DIFFERENCE TO OUR COMMUNITY THROUGH DESIGN, PROCESS, AND A COMMITMENT TO SERVICE

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ULI offers us a platform to engage with other professionals and obtain information that helps us make better, more informed decisions on projects to better serve our clients and communities. My involvement has also helped shape our business decisions.  ULI is where we learn a lot about construction trends, economic forecasting, and development insights.  This information comes from a variety of viewpoints (public/private, engineers/designers, city officials/developers) which gives Framework a broader look at what is going on around us, and how it will impact the work we do.


If you are looking to join an organization, I’d encourage you to ask yourself these questions:

  • What are my personal goals? Professional goals?

  • Does this organization align with my values?

  • How can I give back (and to whom) if I join this group?

The final question is probably the most important to me. Last year, through ULI, I joined others to volunteer at Foundation Communities. This organization is a local, homegrown nonprofit that offers attractive, affordable apartments and duplexes with on-site support services in the areas of educationfinancial stability, and health. We visited the campus and served the residents dinner. We weren’t doing anything monumental to change the world we were simply giving back and listening to people’s stories—such an inspirational experience.


As I continue to progress in my career journey, I’ll be looking into other organizations that interest me, for a variety of reasons; Habitat for Humanity, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Todos Juntos Learning Center, a nonprofit “two-generation” education center that helps non-native English speakers learn the language.


Although new work can be a result of joining these organizations and committees, that is not my main goal. I want to continue to be a good citizen and, to accomplish that, it means getting involved, listening, and owning a personal commitment to serve (to quote our Framework values) my fellow Austinites! - Marvin

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