Lynn Thurber, chairman of LaSalle Investment Management in Chicago, has been named the new chairman of the Urban Land Institute (ULI), a global non-profit research and education institute dedicated to leadership in land use and creating thriving communities worldwide. Thurber, a ULI leader and former treasurer of the institute, will serve on a voluntary basis for a two-year term that ends June 30, 2015.
A member of ULI since 2004, Thurber plans to emphasize building on the progress made by the institute in recent years to solidify its reputation as a trusted global authority on issues related to the planning, design and development of communities that foster a high quality of life, and which are economically competitive and environmentally sustainable. “ULI is the leading organization for studying and capturing industry knowledge related to the built environment, and for determining and sharing best practices. No other organization comes close to ULI’s ability to aggregate and share expertise on a global level,” Thurber said.
As ULI chairman, Thurber will focus on three areas: pursuing a new ULI initiative related to building healthy places through a range of ULI programs, activities and products; assessing and strengthening the institute’s global impact; and more tightly integrating all of ULI’s networks for enhanced knowledge-sharing. These networks include the institute’s district and national councils, which serve members at the regional and local level; and its council program, a knowledge-sharing exchange organized by property sector subject areas.
Thurber believes that as ULI continues to expand globally, it can be most effective by sharpening its focus on leadership in community building. “We need to ensure that ULI is striking the appropriate balance between connecting and convening, learning and education, and giving back. In this regard, staying focused is hugely important,” she said.
For instance, ULI’s potential as a proponent of healthy places can best be accomplished by focusing on specific aspects of the topic, and on how the institute’s existing offerings support the topic, rather than becoming too broad in its scope of work, Thurber explained. Applying the increased emphasis on impact and integration to the healthy places initiative will allow ULI to set metrics for success and communicate progress in achieving the goals of the initiative, which will highlight the role of urban design and development in encouraging wellness and fitness.
A focus on healthy places is a logical extension of ULI’s long history of supporting the creation of thriving, successful communities, she noted.
“The way we live is very much affected by the built environment in which we live,” Thurber said. “This is a topic that is applicable globally. It may translate differently in different countries, just as it may be perceived differently in suburbs than in downtowns of cities. But, it is a topic that can be enriched by the insights of our experts around the world.”
She noted that the work produced to support the healthy places initiative, together with tactics to measure impact and improve integration, could serve as a template for future initiatives or topics explored by ULI. For example, ULI will be able to measure visible signs of progress in advancing its mission and program of work; more thoroughly engage and deliver value to members; and maximize the value of its knowledge base by ensuring access to best practices and thought leadership for all members worldwide.
Thurber has a long record of volunteerism with ULI. She is a member of the Board of Directors for ULI and the ULI Foundation, and she serves on ULI’s Global Strategy Committee as well as the advisory boards for the ULI Greenprint Center for Building Performance and the ULI Center for Capital Markets and Real Estate. She has served on the institute’s Climate, Land Use and Energy advisory group and is a participant in the ULI McCoy Symposium, an annual gathering to discuss capital markets and real estate finance issues. In addition, she has served on the ULI Investment Committee, Awards for Excellence Management Committee, and the Urban Development Mixed-Use Council.
Thurber’s expertise in real estate finance and business management will be an invaluable asset as ULI continues to evolve, said ULI Chief Executive Officer Patrick L. Phillips. “We are very excited about the institute’s prospects under Lynn’s thoughtful guidance. Her wisdom, experience and innovative thinking will help drive ULI to new levels of excellence,” Phillips said. “The staff and I have high expectations about this next phase of ULI’s leadership.”
Thurber holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Harvard Business School and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wellesley College.