As my year winds down as your 2014 Multifamily NW President I wanted to take the opportunity to tell you about one of the most important pieces of this organization: the leader. It is no easy task to lead any association. It demands patience, finesse and the ability to understand the political environment. I’ve often thought about how challenging it would be to have a different “boss” every year as a new board President is sworn in. After spending a year developing a strong working relationship, you turn around and start over with someone new. In addition to that change, as a leader you now have a new executive committee and board members to work with. The ability to accept and work with constant change is part of this role.
Deborah Imse took the position as the Executive Director for Multifamily NW in 2001 when the organization was known as Metro Multifamily Housing Association. There were 35,000 units at the time and income statement was showing a loss. Over the years with Deborah’s leadership, the membership has grown to over 160,000 units with a positive net income and healthy balance sheet. This has been a strategic process requiring hard work and perseverance.
Part of this success included fostering the National Apartment Association relationship. Deborah has developed a strong relationship with the leadership at NAA and partners with our national organization in many different ways. She serves as a mentor to other Executive Directors, sharing advice on how to put on a successful trade show. Annually, Deborah attends the Capital Conference in Washington D.C. and the NAA Educational Conference. This year she attended the Association Executive Boot camp and the AE’s for Excellence Conference. These are all excellent opportunities to expand knowledge and share ideas with other executive leaders in our industry.
As the association grew into more of a statewide organization Deborah lead the charge to develop Regional Councils in Bend and Salem adding to the existing council in the Southern Willamette Valley. She developed structures that would work for each region and provided educational opportunities that expanded to outlying areas that didn’t have access to training. Deborah developed the first “road trip” from Central Oregon which allowed members to attend the Spectrum Trade Show and Conference. In addition she organized the first Apartment Report breakfast for the Southern Willamette Valley region, which immediately sold out.
Multifamily NW has increasingly been recognized as a reliable source for issues in our industry. This year alone we have received positive mentions in the Portland Business Journal, the Oregonian, the Tribune and other local papers. Deborah was interviewed by Channel 8 after the Apartment Report Forecast breakfast demonstrating that Multifamily NW is the “go to” organization for authoritative multifamily information in Oregon and Southwest Washington.
Deborah collaborates with many external stakeholders that require countless hours and dedication. Deborah is one of the Portland Housing Advisory Committee Commissioners. She sits on the Landlord Tenant Coalition where she negotiated rules favorable to allow required renters insurance and continued criminal background checks. Deborah sits on the statewide Section 8 advisory group and the Fair Housing Advisory committee for Portland, Washington County and Clackamas County. She also works with the statewide Reentry Housing Workgroup, the Quality Rental Housing Workgroup, Multnomah County Housing Impact Assessment Committee and the Gresham Revised Stakeholder Group. Deborah continues to work with Healthy Homes for Multnomah County, Clackamas County and all of Oregon. She has also served on the bedbugs and hoarding state groups.
Most notably this year, through Deborah’s efforts Multifamily NW was awarded the Meyers Memorial Trust Grant to promote statewide education. The grant will pay for her to travel to rural areas of Oregon to train landlords on House Bill 2639 which makes Section 8 Vouchers protected under source of income. Deborah is committed to our statewide organization and ensuring equal educational opportunities for all landlords and this grant will allow her to extend our reach.
Deborah holds a Masters in Public Administration from Washington State University. This training regarding public policy translates well for our association. Deborah has gained the respect of our members, the media, housing groups, politicians and national representatives through her work in the field. Her years of commitment to housing have earned her this position and the association has grown to what it is today through her leadership.
On behalf of the Association, I would like to publicly thank Deborah Imse for her professionalism, her dedication and continued commitment to the housing industry. We should all be proud to have an Executive Director with such integrity and reach within our industry.