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2024 Chapter Leadership Retreat

How to spend three perfect days in Chicago? At the Chapter Leadership Retreat!

By Journal of Property Management

From left to right: Ryan M. Huffman, CPM®; Mindy Gronbeck, CPM®, CCIM, CSM, CRX; Dawn Carpenter, CPM®; Kim Collins, CPM®; Libby Ekre, CPM®; Dee Headley, CPM®, CCIM; and Renee Savage, CPM®, CCIM, enjoy a boat tour on Lake Michigan at the Chapter Leadership Retreat.

Nearly 300 IREM® chapter leaders came to Chicago to enjoy three days of collaboration and learning to refresh their skills, knowledge, and connections. From early Monday morning, April 15, through Wednesday afternoon, April 17, these real estate management professionals dedicated themselves to making the most of the opportunity to enhance leadership skills and optimize chapter performance. The programming was dynamic, relevant, and crafted based on input from this audience.


Linda Caradine-Poinsett, Ph.D., IREM CEO and EVP, on right, with Jacqualine Price Osafo, executive director of the Society of American Archivists (SAA) and speaker at the Chapter Leadership Retreat.

With a full agenda, many events made a strong impression on the audience. At the opening session on Monday, Dr. Linda Caradine-Poinsett, IREM CEO and EVP, joined 2024 IREM President Libby Ekre, CPM®, and 2024 IREM Foundation President Dee Headley, CPM®, CCIM, to share IREM’s plans for 2024—from overall membership growth and resource expansion to the specific efforts underway to build a sustainable future for our chapter network. Headley also had the honor of presenting an IREM Foundation raffle supporting Elaina’s Sustainability Grants—with a prize of a week’s stay in Barbados at the home of 2020 IREM President Cheryl Gray, CPM®. The lucky winner was Stephanie Caulfield, CPM®, ACoM®, senior regional director at Kimco Realty Corporation.

Three speakers also shared inspirational messages.

Liz Nead on active leadership

Liz Nead, speaker, author, and adventurer, gave us the eight rules of Sherpa leadership, lessons she learned climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. Her journey began as an idea and bloomed as her imagination became reality. It started with rule #1: Setting a stretch goal—something outside her comfort zone that was a little scary, unexpected, and unknown. Rule #2: Everyone can win, came together with rule #3: Buy the ticket. Once she bought the literal and metaphorical ticket, the wheels were set into motion with no turning back.

There were challenges, from the reduced oxygen levels to pacing herself, but emerging from her tent in the morning to see the clouds below her, to summiting the mountain at midnight under a sky full of stars, she wondered what she would have missed had she not followed through.

The team of 40 Sherpa guides assured every climber they would finish, that everyone could finish. And they did. Nead concluded, “What would you miss if you didn’t take your own journey, when all you have is now?”

Caylen Bufalino on using your voice for IREM

A breakout session at the Chapter Leadership Retreat.

In her presentation, Caylen Bufalino, owner of Goudie Media Services, which provides strategic communications coaching and media training, noted, “Communication is another word for connection. Connection is what creates relationships. Relationships create unforgettable experiences. These are the three ingredients to framing your message to be shared and remembered.” Bufalino explored strategies that evolve communication into authentic, memorable experiences.

Her best practices include:

  • Be a teacher.
  • Always begin your conversation with a significant sentence, your anchor.
  • Use words the audience respects and avoid jargon.
  • Be visual and concise.
  • Personalize, and help all people feel engaged in the process.

Maybe the most important advice Bufalino shared was to ask the question, “Why should your audience listen to you?” By making our content relatable, we create meaningful moments. She concluded, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Kim Becking on how to Ignite Unstoppable Momentum™

Kim Becking, J.D., ended the conference with a presentation on how to “Ignite Unstoppable Momentum™” and harness the power of adaptability, resilience, and mindset. She talked about turning obstacles into opportunities, fear into fuel, and resistance into buy-in. With a mindset of motivation, and tools to bounce forward, using every change, challenge, and uncertainty to propel you, you and your chapter can be made stronger and better.

Becking revealed a proven framework for reframing change, redefining resilience, and reimagining what’s possible to break the constant cycle of overload in a world that never slows down. She applied research-backed tools for harnessing the power of adaptability and a “grit up, don’t give up Momentum Mindset™.” Our guests left the program with the tools to transform their perspectives, think differently about change and challenges, and create everyday resilience.

Even with three full days of programming, there definitely was still time to have fun. On the evening of the first day, members were treated to the Chicago Architectural Boat Tour, leaving from Navy Pier aboard The Odyssey. It was a beautiful night to learn the backstory of Chicago’s architectural landmarks like Marina City, the Lyric Opera House, and the spectacular St. Regis Chicago. On the second night, attendees explored pizza, a ball game, and networking—the more, the better.

Wrapping up with a renewed sense of purpose, a new attitude, new connections, and a refreshed view of chapter management, our IREM chapter leaders have returned to their regions with a rejuvenated sense of purpose.

New IREM offerings for 2025
IREM is launching two new education and meeting events in 2025.

PropertyCon: An IREM Education Experience, will be a two-day education-focused event offering instructional sessions, networking activities, and celebrations to help you elevate your career—and enjoy your colleagues. At PropertyCon, you’ll find solutions you didn’t know existed, along with the latest insights, actionable strategies, and opportunities to connect with peers.

There will be no IREM governance activities during PropertyCon; it’s completely focused on property management education and networking. This event is suitable whether you’re just starting or a seasoned professional. It will be held in Boston, April 23–24, 2025. Registration opens summer 2024.

The IREM Leadership Forum combines IREM chapter and leadership training with governance activities. Most volunteer meetings and activities will be held virtually, making it more convenient than ever before for busy property management professionals to participate.

The IREM Leadership Forum will be held in Chicago in Fall 2025. Registration opens summer 2025.

For more information on either event, check here.

We’re accepting applications for future IREM volunteer positions now through July 15. Consider applying to engage in IREM governance and help create meaningful change.

Journal of Property Management

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