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[fund]Raising the roof

Jonathan Tucker, CPM®, goes to new heights to raise awareness of diversity in real estate management

By Deborah Westphal, CPM®, ARM®, IAE
Jonathan Tucker, CPM®, ready to camp on 
a rooftop balcony in February. Image by Anna Gronholm.
Jonathan Tucker, CPM®, ready to camp on a rooftop balcony in February. Image by Anna Gronholm.

Jonathan Tucker, CPM®, Cortland, AMO®

Those who know 2023 IREM Georgia Chapter president Jonathan Tucker, CPM®, would describe him as a generous leader, motivated difference maker, and passionate innovator. Tucker is the executive vice president of facilities and operations for Cortland, AMO®, one of the U.S.’s largest investment, development, and management firms in the multifamily sector. Cortland is a two-time REME Award winner as Innovator of the Year and AMO® of the Year and recipient of the Georgia Chapter’s IREM Difference Maker Award.

Tucker served on the IREM Foundation Board of Directors from 2019 to 2022. During his term, he started working on an idea. Tucker wanted to use IREM’s 90th anniversary year to raise funds and awareness for increasing diversity in the real estate management profession. And he wanted this to be big.

In December 2022, Tucker announced his plan, and the [fund]Raising the Roof campaign took shape. In February 2023, he would camp out on a rooftop balcony, in 30-degree weather, until he raised $90,000 to support scholarships and diversity initiatives through the IREM Foundation. $90,000 for IREM’s 90 years.

Hitting the big time

The story was picked up by Atlanta News First with a segment on the evening news. “Simply put, there aren’t enough minorities and women working in commercial real estate,” said reporter Zac Summers in the segment. “That’s why [Tucker] was planning to live on this balcony until he raised $100,000 … money meant to further promote diversity in the commercial real estate industry and offer scholarships to underrepresented groups.”

Between his team’s devotion to the cause, friends throughout the industry, co-workers, IREM Foundation Board members, and local vendors near the event site, as well as chapter membership and partnership support, Tucker raised $100,000 just 90 minutes after arriving on the rooftop. And he didn’t stop there.

With interest from the community and media, Tucker decided to keep the campaign open until the end of February. “The city of Atlanta is one of the most diverse cities in all of America, so to appeal to everybody we serve, we must be diverse,” Tucker told reporters. The donations kept coming, and he raised $125,001.47.

The excitement builds

Tucker is hoping to inspire others to think big, particularly other IREM chapters. The [fund]Raising the Roof initiative made an impact by raising funds and awareness for careers in real estate management. The campaign also generated tremendous excitement within the Georgia chapter—members and industry partners rallied together to support their chapter president.

Emily Serebrenick, RooterPLUS!

Emily Serebrenick with RooterPLUS!, an IREM Georgia industry partner, is fired up. “How can we expand the [fund]Raising the Roof Chapter Challenge? Next year can we make it a chapter-wide mission? Have one person from each company stay on a balcony? We all ask everyone we know to donate?”

Tucker agrees: “Who knows, maybe we can get multiple chapters to follow suit and compete against each other.”

Congratulations, Jonathan, on another successful venture! We hope this campaign inspires other leaders to support the real estate management profession through the IREM Foundation.

Tips for a [fund]Raising the Roof campaign

If you, your chapter, or your company is interested in accepting Tucker’s challenge and launching your own [fund]Raising the Roof initiative, the IREM Foundation and IREM Georgia Chapter can help. Following is a checklist that Tucker’s task force created. Additional tools and support are available through the IREM Foundation HQ team.

Identify support

  • Set up a task force or utilize an existing committee.
  • Include people passionate about promoting IREM.

Specify your “why” and set a goal

  • What about the IREM Foundation’s mission inspires your team? What will inspire your community? Who in your community has benefitted from a Foundation program?
  • Set a financial goal based on what your task force believes they can raise. Make it a stretch, but doable.

Reach out to the IREM Foundation

  • Share your ideas and ask for support. The IREM Foundation can provide a dedicated fundraising page, donor tracking, donor thank-you notes and tax receipts, plus promotional materials like flyers, QR codes, and social media promotion.

Determine a location

  • A secure location in a high-traffic, mixed-use area is ideal for gaining exposure.

Reach out to donors in advance

  • Ask your team to contact vendors, personal business connections, friends, and family, and personally reach out to them through email and phone calls.

View the full checklist here.

Why support the IREM Foundation?
At the IREM Foundation, we’re driven by our belief that well-managed real estate leads to thriving communities, so we provide access to education and resources that assist those in the real estate management profession. In 2022, the IREM Foundation awarded more than 500 scholarships to support real estate management professionals, 30% of whom identify as belonging to an underrepresented population. The IREM Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity and was established in 1977. You can learn more about our work in education, research, diversity, and sustainability at iremfoundation.org.

Special recognition to the 2023 IREM Georgia [fund]Raising the Roof task force:

  • David Sayers, CPM® Candidate, Cortland, AMO®
  • Anna Gronholm, Cortland, AMO®
  • Stacey Evans, Cortland, AMO®
  • Jonathan Kirn, CPM®, ARM®, Cortland, AMO®
  • Shannon Stephens, Cortland, AMO®
  • Joseph Lehmuth, CPM® Candidate, Greystar, AMO®
  • Holly How, Real Floors
  • Garrett Stephenson, Real Floors
  • Deborah Westphal, CPM®, ARM®, IAE, IREM Georgia Executive Director

Journal of Property Management

Deborah Westphal, CPM®, ARM®, IAE, is the executive and school director for the IREM Georgia Chapter. Westphal brings more than 30 years of knowledge and experience in the real estate industry to IREM. An IREM member since 1996, she has served on numerous national committees and won several awards for her work and dedication to the Institute.

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