A letter from our Chair, Jeremy Jacobs - Welcoming our next Chair, Lynette Dumalag
Welcoming our next Chair, Lynette Dumalag!
June 3, 2022
June 3, 2022
What can I do?
We have spent two years at ULI Minnesota asking ourselves this. This was the question posed by our previous chair, Jeremy Jacobs, a short time after the killing of George Floyd and the civil unrest that followed. Jeremy has been an extraordinary leader and created opportunities for the Management Committee to be honest and critical of ourselves during this time.
As leaders of ULI MN, we’ve wrestled with a few more questions.
What does racial justice look like? Are there areas where we observe, participate, or drive this work? How do we as members of ULI do our work through the lens of equity?
These past two years have been an uncomfortable time: the Covid-19 pandemic; the racial reckoning following the deaths of our black and brown men and women; and the rise in hate crimes. These economic and societal uncertainties can have one feeling helpless and unsure of what to do next. Let us start with what we know—real estate and land use policies.
Do I belong here?
This question should be thought of in two ways. Do I belong in this industry? Do I belong in this place?
Part of our community and our industry’s story—documented so well locally by Mapping Prejudice—is racially restrictive covenants that excluded communities of color from certain neighborhoods and deprived households of the ability to build intergenerational wealth through homeownership. I serve on the City Council for Saint Louis Park, where several neighborhoods were developed with racial covenants. While most of these covenants excluded black people; some covenants specifically excluded those of Asian ancestry. I am Filipino American. As I canvassed my ward, I reflected on the fact that two generations ago, I would not have been allowed to live in parts of my ward, which meant I would not have been able to be elected to govern.
As the ULI community, we readily acknowledge that past real estate and land use decisions have contributed to community divisiveness, racial inequality, and concentrated wealth. We believe that current and future industry actions can begin to remedy mistakes. This starts by becoming an industry more representative of the communities we serve and by respecting the lived experiences and insights of all our neighbors.
Unique among most member organizations, ULI is intentionally multi-disciplinary and cross-sector. We are also firmly mission-based, and our professional development, peer collaboration, and advisory services are anchored in the commitment to build equitable, thriving, and sustainable communities. To do this, we must continue to confront systems of injustice and do the work to become an inclusive community. A core focus for my time as the Chair of ULI Minnesota will be putting our full effort behind equipping and supporting a diverse cohort of emerging and mid-career professionals who share this mission and bring fresh vision to what it will take to accomplish.
Many of you know of our keystone program, Real Estate Diversity Initiative (REDi), is now offering the sixth annual intensive cohort experience open exclusively to women and BIPOC professionals. Participants put together a complete development concept for a local site curriculum and are supported by robust mentor network. We are also building out career supports for our 150+ alumni network, many of whom are entrepreneurs. Additionally, our DEI Task Force is working to expand our technical assistance offerings for emerging developers and develop a program for established companies in the field to develop action and accountability plans around racial equity.
ULI Minnesota also has a long history of partnering with local leaders and communities. In my role as an elected official, I valuable the spaces ULI holds for peers from different cities to connect and share some of the challenges different communities are facing. The Regional Council of Mayors and Minnesota Mayors Together create non-partisan platforms to build civic trust through relationships, inquiry, partnerships, and action. In the public sector, collaboration across difference is vital.
As your Chair, I am excited for this role at ULI Minnesota. I am grateful for enthusiastic volunteers who say “yes” and actively work to build our skillset as industry experts. Lastly, I am particularly humbled by veteran experts who know how to cut deals and create livable communities who now pause and ask the two questions I posed above. Are we creating a place and an industry where people belong? Is this place planned and built for everyone?
I am also inviting you to join me. Our team will be reaching out with more opportunities to step into a leadership role with ULI, to join our Management Committee or serve in a leadership capacity in one of these critical initiatives. We’ll need your time and talent to make headway in these critical equity and representation goals. We will also need your investment to ensure the financial strength of our organization to keep making a difference for our members, our industry, and the places where we work and call home.
I look forward to building ULI Minnesota, and our future, together.
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