As we continue to adapt to new realities, IREM’s leadership team keeps the organization moving forward and responding to the needs of its members. JPM spoke with the 2023 IREM Officers to hear more about what’s ahead in the upcoming year.
Renee M. Savage, CPM®, CCIM
San Diego, CA
Libby Ekre, CPM®
MEB Management Services, AMO®
Dawn Carpenter, CPM®
Dawning Real Estate Inc., AMO®
Staten Island, NY
President Renee Savage, CPM®, CCIM
JPM: What long-term initiatives will you be working on in 2023? How do you plan to build on the work of IREM’s previous leadership?
Renee Savage: In 2023, we’ll continue to focus on the strategic plan in place. There are five pieces of that plan that the leadership team and IREM Board of Directors determined should remain central goals for the Institute. First, there’s raising awareness around the importance and impact of the real estate management profession. Next, we need to make sure that we’re equipping the next generation of property managers with all the tools they need to be successful and that the IREM experience—for members and non-members alike—remains relevant and consistent. It’s important we make sure IREM education is understood as essential to the profession as a whole. And finally, we want to lead DEI initiatives by example. So, those are the five key areas we’ll continue to focus on over the next year.
JPM: What other initiatives will you work on?
RS: We want to continue focusing on the support and expansion of our international efforts. There are quite a few international chapters with amazing members, and we want to make sure that we’re supporting them while also exploring new international areas we can expand into.
We evaluated all the different IREM boards and committees, and the Governing Council ended up approving several new groups that will launch in 2023. I’m focusing on two of them to make sure we launch them in a way that best positions them to succeed. One is the brand-new Leadership Development Advisory Council, to help train our members in leadership best practices and identify leaders within our organization at both the local chapter and international levels. It’ll also provide tools to our members to become better leaders in their businesses and in their communities.
The other new focus area is member experience. We want our members to have a consistent IREM experience. Currently, the member experience varies based on location. We want to ensure that what we deliver to our members is relevant, regardless of where they’re located.
JPM: What strengths does this year’s leadership team bring to the table?
RS: Dawn, Libby, and I all come from different areas of the country. We’ve all had different experiences, so we all come in with our different perspectives and ideas for IREM, and I think that’s super cool because our shared goal is to ensure that, collectively, we’re serving the needs of all our members. The talent of this dynamic team motivates great discussions and generates fresh ideas, since we each look at things differently.
JPM: What are the top membership needs right now, in light of current economic and market conditions?
RS: Those of us who’ve been in the industry a long time have been on many roller coasters. The world changes; the economy changes. But at IREM, we really have to pay close attention to what’s going on with our members to quickly respond to their needs. COVID-19 was one example of how we were able to respond in the moment and provide guidance on best practices throughout the pandemic to support our members. We couldn’t have foreseen that.
We also need to ensure we’re cultivating and educating new team members for our companies and properties. One of the challenges real estate management faces today is a shortage of qualified, skilled individuals to help us run our businesses, manage our properties, serve our clients, and grow into senior roles. IREM plays a crucial role in promoting our profession and educating those interested in becoming professional property managers.
JPM: Many of the emerging trends of the past couple of years, such as the rise of hybrid work and virtual education technology, have changed how real estate managers engage with IREM. What role do you see IREM chapters playing in this new environment?
RS: Our chapters are key to the IREM experience. That’s typically the first place a new or potential member engages with IREM. They’re really the face of the organization. They also need to observe and listen to their members and those entering the profession and ask what they need. If people aren’t coming to in-person events, but they’re coming to virtual events, chapters need to pay attention and quickly shift to engaging members in the way they prefer right now. And I say “right now” because it could change in a year or six months. We want to ensure we deliver the IREM experience our members want.
JPM: Will any areas require more attention in the year ahead?
RS: I have no doubt there will be, but I don’t know what those are right now. One of the reasons I enjoy being engaged with this organization is that we have a strategic plan, which is reviewed annually by the leadership team and the Board of Directors to regularly assess and ensure it’s still relevant. Is there something else we need to pay attention to that we didn’t need to before? If there is, we’ll update the strategic plan and pivot to best serve our members.
President-Elect Libby Ekre, CPM®
JPM: What are the biggest opportunities for IREM in 2023?
Libby Ekre: IREM has advanced its trajectory in the real estate industry through the efforts of an incredibly talented team at IREM HQ. Thanks to their diligence and curious mindset, we’ve been able to adjust our course and make huge technological advancements. This was especially critical over the past few years. From our timely website redesign to updating our educational courses, the work of our HQ team has helped ensure that IREM certifications remain recognized both in the U.S. and internationally as the highest level of property management education. It’s super exciting for us to be able to build on what we already do so well and expand our brand footprint. As more property managers continue along their career journeys, I know that IREM can help keep them prepared for what’s next.
JPM: How will the experiences of your career in real estate management and as a member of IREM inform your role as President-Elect?
LE: Everything that I’ve encountered along my journey with IREM, beginning with my local Greater Phoenix Chapter, has helped me grow. I think it’s also helped me add value to my own company because of the opportunities I’ve had to observe how other leaders and owners were running their businesses. This has been true not only working within the multifamily sector, but also with retail, office, and industrial professionals. Building up our knowledge and strengthening our relationships are both critical for success as real estate managers. Being a part of a professional organization like IREM and working with some of the most incredible leaders at all levels, I’ve gained so much and can now leverage those experiences to advance our overall strategic goals.
JPM: What does IREM offer that real estate managers can’t get anywhere else? And how does this year’s leadership team plan to build on those strengths?
LE: The IREM CPM (IREM Certified Property Manager) certification—it’s our specialty. There are no other certifications for that level of property management. Our higher-level education and certification are seen as the best in the business, domestically and internationally. You won’t find that kind of education anywhere else but at IREM. It’s always specific, and we cover most asset classes while also learning from our international partners. No matter what country they’re in, property managers need IREM education and resources to help them manage their properties and enhance the resident and tenant experience.
JPM: How will IREM engage with the next generation of real estate managers?
LE: The IREM Certified Sustainable Property (CSP) program is going to take off. New certifications were up 53% year over year in 2022 through the end of October. Certifications for sustainable properties are designed so managers can focus on property management systems, water use, area lighting, utilities, and so forth, to reduce costs through sustainable practices.
This kind of strategic focus attracts the next generation to our buildings and communities. I read a statistic saying that 80% of our next generation of residents want to live in a sustainable building because they believe it’s better for their health, and 61% of those residents are willing to pay for it.
JPM: What does success for the Institute look like in five years, considering the strategic plan and current initiatives?
LE: Success for IREM would mean that we would be recognized globally even more than we are today. We’d like to add many more countries to our membership. And we’d be widely acknowledged as an industry leader for our diversity, equity, and inclusion practices, and a leader known for our sustainability certifications. I think all of that will help us better serve property managers around the world.
JPM: What else are you looking forward to in 2023?
LE: Every time I attend any of our IREM meetings, I grow both personally and professionally. The IREM members are collaborative and helpful and have become true friends. Early on, I had choices about what memberships I wanted to pursue, and from day one, I chose IREM and have never regretted it. Not once. My colleagues all bring something different to the table. They’re the most caring, professional managers out there. And we all want to be helpful, encouraging, and, again, collaborative. When we share our ideas, we all win. I’m very grateful to be a part of the group.
Secretary/Treasurer Dawn Carpenter, CPM®
JPM: Which initiatives will you be focusing on in 2023?
Dawn Carpenter: I’m excited about working with the Board of Directors to fortify our strategic plan. Each year, we’re taking that strategic plan and expanding it, so I’m really excited about 2023. It was a labor of love because everyone was aligned and had thoughtful ideas. When we put it together, we didn’t realize how well it would sync with IREM’s core values, but it does, and I’m excited to keep working with that.
JPM: What previous IREM experiences—volunteering roles, events you’ve attended, chapter involvement—will you draw from most in your approach to serving as Secretary/Treasurer?
DC: I just celebrated my 20th year as a CPM. I started in 2002 and became a chapter president in 2006 after having been vice president for chapter activities. I’ve held several chairs on various task forces at the national level. Outside of IREM, in 2017, I was the president of the New York State Association of REALTORS®, a 60,000-member organization.
The IREM Secretary/Treasurer has the fiduciary responsibility to oversee the financial portion of what HQ handles monthly and to facilitate the Audit & Investments Committee calls. Those other roles gave me the experience to work at the executive level, understand fiduciary responsibility, and keep IREM’s finances healthy.
JPM: What aspects of this role get you most excited for 2023?
DC: I am excited to collaborate with the most professional group of practitioners I’ve ever met. Specifically, I’m excited that we’re setting a new standard as the first all-women leadership team in the history of IREM. Moreover, our new CEO is also a woman, which I’m really excited about. There are a lot of DEI goals we outlined in our strategic plan that are being met.
JPM: What role do you see IREM playing in meeting the needs of real estate managers when they face significant macro challenges, like the pandemic and inflation?
DC: Well, the Institute means education. One of the pillars of the strategic plan addresses lifelong learning for our members, so we offer them tools they can use, whether it’s skill badges, webinars, or podcasts. It’s exciting to provide help through just about anything—a pandemic, an eviction moratorium, surging inflation, a talent shortage, and now a war in Ukraine. Being able to help our members with their day-to-day activities through our educational offerings is the most exciting part of that.
JPM: What other areas could IREM prioritize that will immediately impact the real estate industry?
DC: We lobby with NAR and work well with them. We also work well with our other affiliated organizations. There’s power in numbers, and we’re stronger together. And when we’re stronger together, we lead better together. It makes us a better organization.