President's Pen 2020 Issue 5

Posted By: Kelli Lea the ApartMentor,

Can you believe we made it through the longest year there ever was?  While on one hand it feels like I was just sitting in a room with 400 of you being sworn in as President; on the other hand, it feels like that was a lifetime ago. 

We could talk about how much we miss each other and missed the awesome in person courses and networking events, but I will not let 2020 hold a negative rain cloud over us.  I’d like to focus on the tremendous successes and accomplishments we’ve seen this year at TAA. 

When I was being charged as President, my goal for the year was to increase our core volunteer pool by 20%, as well as our committee membership attendance by 20%.  While things certainly look a bit different and are harder to quantify, I am especially proud of our committees for boosting attendance!  It seemed scary to shift to virtual and that we would lose the connection with our peers, however I believe the flexibility has allowed for MORE folks to attend that might not have been able to in the past.  How many of you have multiple people in one office that all have an interest in the same committee? Does it often come down to picking and choosing, or perhaps even seniority?  The logging in from home or the office has been a tremendous success for the TAA and I don’t believe we will see that fade out any time soon. 

Our committees remained busy and focused on initiatives provided by the Board of Director’s Strategic Plan. I don’t have nearly enough space to celebrate ALL the successes, so please allow me to highlight a few.

Membership consistently proved how being a member is invaluable.  New additions such as “Java with Jennifer” allowed new members or members with questions to chat informally with our staff.  They also continued hosting the FREE Tour of Cities events.  The 2020 Goal set by the committee was 1204 Member Firms and 150,864 Total Units.  While we are just shy of our Member Firms, we surpassed the units goal and are currently at 151,631.

Government Affairs spent a significant amount of time advocating on behalf of our legal interests. Key focuses included the Affordable Housing Bond, keeping us abreast of eviction moratoriums and everchanging practices, and fundraising, in the year of the pandemic, of over $26,600 for our Political Action Committee (PAC).  These funds are used to engage and support our local leadership that has the best interest of our industry and Association.   Notably, Dustin Engelken, our Director of Government Affairs was spotlighted in the news several times for our efforts with the WakePrevent! Program and Resident Relief Foundation – overall shouting the need for rental assistance for our tenants here in NC.

Products and Services hosted three Town Hall meetings that gave suppliers exclusive access to our industry’s top leaders to collaboratively discuss problems and issues suppliers face – ultimately how can suppliers better serve owner operators?  Additionally, many of these committee members helped with Trade Show Tips and Tricks and further supported by participating in our TAA Plugged In event.

Independent Rental Owner (IRO) educated its members on the everchanging laws regarding landlord and tenants and kept the committee, as well as changes to any use of the AANC lease.

XCEL highlighted many of its members’ talents with blog articles with engaging and relevant content!  They also began the Rise and Grind series.  This committee particularly set lofty goals to define their mission and purpose and I couldn’t be prouder to see how far this group has come, and how far they continue to go!

Education Committee pivoted to virtual offerings included speedy sessions, Mental Health awareness, Property Financials for Assistant Managers and Managers, NAAEI Designations, Fair Housing, Legal Issues, CPO and more!  The committee also redesigned the Education Scholarship collateral to be debuted next year and successfully completed a virtual battle of the baskets raising over $3,700 – all of which goes directly towards scholarships for credentials such as CAM, CAPS, CAMT, and NALP! Thank you so much for those that donated.

PR and Community Outreach continued with virtual happy hours and networking events, Crayons2Calculators school supply drive and a virtual weekend of giving with #TAAServiceDay!  Engaging videos were shown during RPM Careers Month and membership increased on the TAA Community Event Sharing Facebook Page (Please join if you have not!). The New Lease on Life 5k was held and allowed for over 50 members to participate at their leisure while still raising funds and awareness to end homelessness. 

Special Events may have shifted and pivoted to the point of being dizzy this year, but still saw tremendous success!  My favorite event was Featured Film.  Food Trucks.  Fun which welcomed over 165 people, while socially distant.  (Stay tuned for similar events early 2021!)  A HUGE thank you and appreciation to the committee and staff for hosting our Trade Show – TAA Plugged In.  Many other associations simply cancelled, but that’s not how the TAA does things.  The Virtual Marketplace platform was a success allowing over 730 attendees (confirm final?).  Not only did we visit with our supplier partners, but we showcased multiple educational offerings and networking sessions. 

Successes by the TAA that are not committee specific include a 9-month partnership with NAA Grads of Life to further our goal to infuse new service employees into our workforce.  The need is great and is a huge focus of our Board of Directors.  We have defined a curriculum in which an internship style program will deliver CPO and CFC certified technicians to our member companies right here in the Triangle.  I’m incredibly proud of each person that gave invaluable input to shape the backbone of this program and am excited to continue our efforts in 2021!

Additionally, multiple Regional Round Tables were conducted where our area’s leaders came together to navigate and discuss COVID operations including rent collections, office openings, employee engagement and more.  Lastly, the website was completely reshaped to offer COVID resources, local jurisdiction guidelines, AANC and NAA lease merger information, Rental Assistance pages, and most notable a Diversity and Inclusion Resource Page.  I look forward to further developing our platform and resources in this sector specifically for 2021.

I could not shout and tout the successes of the Association without personally thanking every single staff member.  These people are genuinely some of the best humans on the planet and never let the Association or our members miss a beat.  The surveys and constant communication are what set us apart and I’m forever grateful for our team!

Finally, I would love to personally thank our Supplier Partners for the continued support during the crazy year.  Your support allowed us to continue to engage and serve our members and deliver when other Associations and organizations could not.

Dare I use the official word of 2020?  Ok, I will!  It is essential that we all work collaboratively to ensure the TAA continues to be the incredible success it is today.  I encourage you to join a committee meeting from the comfort of your home or office and see what we’re all about!  Be a part of our 2021 success story.

Most importantly, stay safe and have a Happy Holiday!

 Kelli Lea, CAM, NAAEI Faculty
 TAA President

This article was originally published in 2020 Issue 5 of the ApartMentor magazine.