2021 Year End Reflection

Posted By: Jim Wiard WMFHA Updates ,


Reflecting on 2021, I must admit it’s a little harder to look back at all the positive moments and successes of the year without lamenting that we are still dealing with a pandemic and its many challenges for our membership.

After lockdowns and work from home conditions in 2020, and with the prospects of COVID-19 vaccines to help keep us safe, 2021 was commencing to be a year of returning to normal. In the middle of the year, we felt close to being done with Zoom meetings, fuzzy backgrounds, and the “you’re on mute” reminders.

Vaccines did, if temporarily, make us all feel safer and ready to get back to in person events and meetings. WMFHA was able to schedule membership meetings in June and July to once again bring our members back together, although with admittedly fewer hugs. It felt wonderful to be around people again.

We were able to squeeze in the valuable Business Exchange reverse trade show, the enjoyable Corks, Forks & Brews event in Eastern Washington, and even held our very first golf tournament, the WMFHA Invitational.

Those were glorious times, seeing one another and being together after so many months of uncertainty and isolation. We had finally turned the corner on the virus, we thought. Then suddenly, another wave of increased infections forced us to put a pause on in person events, committee meetings, and activities in the fall.

This meant a disappointing cancelation of events such as Multifamily Unite, our supplier showcase trade show, the Maintenance Appreciation bowling event, Jockeys & Juleps, and the popular Chili Cook-Off charity event. Our Tapas & Topics had returned to in person this past summer, only to be tabled in the latter part of the year.

Pivoting Once Again

Washington Apartment Outlook was successfully delivered in a virtual format like 2020, allowing us to continue the tradition of delivering excellent market information to members.

Our resilience and resolve to serve our members and support each other and the industry allowed us to end the year on the highest notes. Our Holiday Giving Galas held on both sides of the mountains, and Holiday Social event were exciting and rewarding cappers to a tumultuous year.

Holiday Giving Gala in Seattle is an event to share company with our WMFHA family, and to raise money for Childhaven, one of our worthy community partners. Our members, dressed to the nines, came out in a huge way for Childhaven and raised over $100,000 in one evening! The shock and joy from that night’s incredible generosity is a highlight of the year and a sign of brighter days to come. 

Our first ever Holiday Giving Gala in Spokane brought together industry friends and allowed us to raise money and much needed supplies for Vanessa Behan, a charity serving children in crisis.

In lieu of the Chili Cook-Off event, our WMFHA Gives Back campaign to raise money for DAWN, Domestic Abuse Women’s Network, had our members giving electronically to this great organization. Through various fundraising efforts, including the sale of our first ever chili cookbook, our association was able to raise over $58,000 for DAWN and their crucial programs.

Once again, 2021 was a year of tremendous success for your association. Our first ever virtual Emerald Awards in March was an Oscar Awards-style video performance of the entire awards show. Without the glamourous attire of our dinner gala, we missed our members in person. The ability to honor the best of the best in our industry virtually, nonetheless, was a joyous occasion to behold.

As always kudos go to Tricia Johnson, WMFHA’s Director of Events, for once again coordinating a robust schedule of networking opportunities for our members to connect and grow.

APTConnect, our virtual, multi-day education conference, returned in 2021 to replace EdCon, our huge industry education conference and trade show event. APTConnect delivered high quality industry topics with informative classes expertly taught by our members. Despite the convenience and success of APTConnect, we look forward to the real in person deal with the return of EdCon in April, 2022.

Exciting Accomplishments 

2021 wasn’t without its unexpected highlights, however. WMFHA earned National Apartment Association’s highest affiliate award. The Affiliate of the Year Award was presented to our association at NAA’s annual Excellence Awards event in June, this year virtually. The Affiliate of the Year Award was acknowledgement of the exceptional service to our membership, even during these difficult times, and is a testimony to our great members and WMFHA team.

WMFHA even moved our entire offices in 2021. Our office lease at the former space expired June 30. Through considerable effort, we built out a new office to accommodate our expected future growth. The new space is exceptionally furnished, with many thanks to CORT and Holly Norris from HKN Design Group for their assistance. A huge thank you also to WMFHA’s Director of Office Services, Katrina Bishop, for all her hard work coordinating the move.

The new WMFHA office, still in Renton, is a state-of-the-art facility for committee meetings and outstanding training opportunities. The WMFHA team was able to come back to work once again, but now in the beautiful new office. Feel free to stop by, check out our new office, and say hi. We miss our members!

Education Never Rests

Valuable educational opportunities for our membership excelled this year. We delivered webinars, seminars, classes, and credential programs in online, hybrid, and in person formats.

Five sessions of the popular 6 Feet Apart series were held. Nine virtual legislative and legal sessions were conducted by Director of Government Affairs, Brett Waller, reaching over 1,400 attendees. This included the aptly named “What the FAQ, Seattle?” class.

Both hybrid and in person CPO classes were attended by a record 139 students. Fair Housing Fridays were enjoyed by over 720 students this year. CAM was held in both virtual and in person formats, with 50 students looking to earn their Certified Apartment Manager credential by the end of the year. Virtual CALP, CAPS, and a hybrid CAMT were conducted with great skill and dedication by Sloane Cerbana, WMFHA’s Director of Career Development. 68 attendees in total completed our valuable credential programs this year. Congratulations all!

On top of all that, WMFHA was excited to award over $38,000 in education scholarships to 28 students in 2021!

Keeping Our Members Connected

Through the efforts of Kelly Wakefield, WMFHA’s Director of Marketing and Communications, charged with motivating, inspiring, and building togetherness, our social media engagement and online connectivity has never been greater. Be it her tireless social media posts, informational email updates, or the excellently produced WMFHA Wednesday videos, Kelly epitomized the popular moniker of WMFHAbulous!

Onward and Upward

The housing industry took some hits this year but we stood up and acted with professionalism and compassion for residents who were impacted by this pandemic. We can be proud of how we have kept our site teams motivated and continuing to serve our residents, even under extraordinary circumstances.

Advocacy on behalf of the industry continues to be a priority for WMFHA. We appreciate all who have supported our government affairs efforts this year. Thank you as well for contributing to our Political Action Committee.

The association continues to support diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion efforts with the goal to provide relevant insight and guidance to members in 2022.

Thank you to the 2021 Board of Directors, our exceptional Executive Officers, and our sincere appreciation goes to Shar Eller, this year’s President of the Board. We are excited for the leadership of incoming Board President Natasha Amira, and 2022’s officers and board members.

We look forward to serving our members and the multifamily housing industry in 2022. Our members motivate us every day. We are lucky to be in this industry that helps families find their right home.

Thank you for all your support of WMFHA these past couple years. We wish you all a healthy, happy, and prosperous new year.

Jim Wiard, CEO