Chérie Talbert: The Future of the HBA Keynote
I feel greatly honored to be confirmed as the next Executive Vice Officer and CEO of the HBA of Metro Denver. It is also a great honor to follow Jeff Whiton in this position. He is a proud homebuilder and a great leader within this industry. And, he has taken this Association from the brink, back to being healthy. We owe Jeff an enormous thanks for his leadership and for the many improvements that he has made possible.
Jeff will be one tough act to follow. His roots run far and deep in this industry. He is widely respected by his peers, and our members.
My style will be different. But, my goal will be the same…to deliver results that help you, our members to do business more successfully.
Over the last 10 years, I have had the opportunity to build a first-class advocacy program here at the HBA. My background has always been about advocating – advocating for policy that will support practical application of what you all do in the field and in your offices every day.
I understand the challenges you face as you enter into new and existing markets. I’ve been with you during political challenges from the Great Recession to the current capricious (or fickle) political climate. I’ve stood as your representative, your lobbyist, as your advocate, as the collective voice of the industry to push back and negotiate new rules, regulations, policies, and standards. I’ve even worked through municipal staffing issues, served on countless municipal committees and boards, lead meetings, coalitions, and political efforts. I understand the constant barrage of unexpected costs and regulations that are time consuming and so often unwarranted. It is through this first-hand experience that I know our industry is frequently misunderstood by policy makers and others.
These and other challenges will always continue to introduce themselves on a daily basis. We are stakeholders and investors in 8 counties and 34 municipalities. My job as CEO will be to leverage my operational expertise once more, enjoyed from my days managing Title 32 Metro Districts as well as looking out into the future as far as I can see to anticipate issues and for a clear picture of the needs and challenges of our industry members.
So how are we going to do this? We will be the dynamic, leading source of collective home building expertise reaching our internal membership and external constituencies – driving constant communication, learning, and innovation while maintaining our uncompromised principals as we grow into the future.
I am honored to work with a talented, hardworking staff and to further build our team to tackle the education and training needs of today and the future, to provide programs and activities that enhance and support connectivity and comradery within the industry, and to ensure effectiveness in the advocacy arena – remaining credible with the level integrity it is currently is known for with additional levels of proactive coverage and outreach as the new year approaches.
When the succession plan was announced that I would be moving into the CEO role, the most frequent response was, “Congratulations, we are all so excited and we know you will do a great job BUT…who is going to replace you in your current job? We are worried about not having you in that role fighting for us!”
To that, I would say I had been working hard on finding the right person with a rolodex like mine and deep understanding of local government. There had only been one person that kept coming to mind and rising to the top of my list. When we were able to make the formal announcement that the current Mayor of the City of Thornton would be joining the team, the reactions I received were high-fives and genuine appreciation for such a good hire. Heidi Williams will be joining the team as the Director of Government Affairs on November 5th – just shy of two-weeks from today! I have NO doubt that she will provide a seamless transition for us and I will be here for quarterbacking, strategy and institutional history on the government affairs issues.
With the sheer number of ballot issues on both the local and statewide ballots coupled with TABOR and Gallagher restrictions challenging the local governments future ability for funding and operations, our issues will most likely compound. Along with an already very large territory for one person to juggle (I know this from a decade of doing it), we need a second person on staff working on government affairs and technical and regulatory affairs. As Scott highlighted the recent advocacy successes of this year, impact fees are a growing problem for us precipitated by the state laws. This is why I am working on adding a second hire into the advocacy department, a Manager of Government Affairs. My timeline is to have this person start in January.
Other changes within this transition period have already started. Education adds such value to our members, and the Board approved our moving forward to find the right candidate. We are happy to have expanded our HBA University staff from a once part-time position to a full-time position. Dorys DeMiranda is on her second week as our Manager of Education and Training and we are excited to have her! Her bi-lingual skills and background as a construction trainer and educator made her an excellent fit for the future of our education programs and she is in the process of meeting with all of the Councils and Committees to ensure our educational programing is in place and thriving.
Late this summer Katie Karpovich, who at the time was an active HBA member, joined us as the Manager of Membership. Katie hit the ground running and is doing a terrific job retaining and recruiting new members and is able to talk with any existing or new member about all our councils and committees and is helping them identify where their interests lie so that they can become more active and engaged for a long-term relationship with the HBA and its members.
This plan ultimately realizes two new FTE’s. Other enhancements that you can expect will be a better understanding of who does what at the HBA. We can and will do better streamlining internal processes and clarifying systems.
Speaking of systems, we are already working on future improvements to our data base collection software, we will be converting to a cloud-based storage system the first quarter of the new year, and are taking a look at our electronic infrastructure needs for our conference rooms since we love having members’ use them as an extension of your business operations.
And I ask all of you to support me in these efforts. I have high standards and I know you do too. We will need to do more, but in doing it together we are putting you – members, board directors and staff at the center of the process. The combined wisdom of peers is greater than that of any one individual.
Finally, thank you for allowing me to channel my enthusiasm and passion and to share my vision for the future of our industry in this new capacity. I will also continue my role as the Executive Director of the Metro Housing Coalition Political Committee. The Board and I do not want me to lose my connections nor my affinity to politics. It will be critical in my role as CEO to stay politically connected and to continue being out in the community as your ambassador.
I am proud to be your next CEO and I am equally proud to be the first female CEO in the HBA of Metro Denver’s 75-year history.