Sloane Cerbana - Industry Educator of the Year

Posted By: Jim Wiard Articles , Industry Trends , WMFHA Updates ,
We are ecstatic to announce our Director of Career Development, Sloane Cerbana, has been selected as National Apartment Association's ACE Industry Educator of the Year for 2022!

Read more to find out why!

Background:

Sloane Cerbana joined Washington Multi-Family Housing Association (WMFHA) in 2008 as our Director of Career Development. Her extensive corporate training background brought energy, enthusiasm, and very quickly, industry expertise to this important role. Since then, Sloane has positively impacted thousands of professionals with valuable, top-quality educational programs. With each passing day, she continues to eat, sleep, and breathe apartment industry career growth and personal and professional development for our members.

Her member service and attention to quality educational experiences have set WMFHA apart in more ways than one. In 2017, her work in developing a jump-start program for new industry associates to launch their careers earned an Excellence Award for Excellence in Education! In part due to her consistently superb educational programs, the association was also awarded a Member Engagement Award in 2019.

The association was forced to pivot our services to members in 2020, including developing virtual training opportunities such as our newly developed 6 Feet Apart free webinars. Sloane’s quick-fire efforts to serve our members with online education during the onset of the pandemic contributed to WMFHA achieving the coveted Affiliate of the Year Excellence Award in 2021. Sloane’s contributions to these major accomplishments have been unprecedented.

Why she is deserving:

Sloane is passionate about providing learning opportunities for our members. She does so by creating access for all by stewarding WMFHA’s Education Scholarship Fund. These funds are awarded through a rigorous application process that she oversees. In 2021 alone, $38,100 was awarded to 28 students to participate in NAAEI credential programs! Despite the financial barriers a student might face, Sloane maintains a fair system to make our education opportunities equitable to all our members.

Education revenue that Sloane shepherded in 2021 well exceeded budget for the year! That exceptional influx of funds offset the lost revenue we incurred due to a tumultuous global pandemic. We weren’t certain we would make it unscathed, but Sloane’s stellar programming carried us through, allowing us to continue to serve our membership through challenging times.

One of Sloane’s many passions is diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA). She is a founding member of the association’s DEIA steering committee and executes her work with an equitable and inclusive lens. Proof of her dedication to DEIA, Sloane completed a rigorous Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace certificate program with the University of South Florida Muma College of Business in 2021. She also teaches monthly fair housing classes that have been extremely popular for industry rookies and veterans alike.

One of Sloane’s current innovations is partnering with the NAA Education Institute to pilot a Property Maintenance Pathway program. Targeting opportunity youth, this effort will not only attract potential maintenance talent but also reach marginalized communities. Just when the industry needs fresh talent in maintenance roles, Sloane’s work is serving underrepresented demographics while solving our members’ biggest hiring gaps.

Sloane provides opportunities for our members to become certified trainers, giving them the experience and exposure to facilitate classes. All the while, she keeps our costs and staff time nominal. Her “Train the Trainer” program helps to improve members’ facilitation skills, in exchange for a commitment to lead classes throughout the year.

Sloane also leads our committed Career Development Committee with a passionate fervor. Sharing her experience with others benefits the industry immensely. She effectively passes the torch to our members, equipping them with the skills and confidence to be successful purveyors of industry education.

Her contributions, expertise, activities:

To say Sloane is a professional educator is an understatement. She is also a wonderful speaker, motivator, program developer, and mentor. A one-woman show, she has led exquisite education for 14 years and made a name for our association across the nation.

Sloane took our organization’s infantile educational programming and graduated it summa cum laude with national distinction. From simple lunch and learns to multifaceted credential courses, diversity and inclusion series, monthly fair housing classes, and complex conferences, Sloane has single-handedly raised our education bar to the Olympics level. She has educated associates across the country with online opportunities, as well as presented classes on a national stage at NAA conferences.

Thanks to Sloane’s expertise, we launched a Leadership Lyceum program in 2019. Nine students successfully completed that first round. She looks forward to getting this up and running again this year to provide leadership skills to emerging talent in our industry.

Sloane also serves on NAAEI committees and has helped to re-write the national Certified Apartment Manager course. It seems every direction in our industry we look, there is Sloane building up associates and programs around her.

Her commitment:

Despite ongoing challenges with COVID-19, Sloane always finds a way to balance continuing education needs while considering student safety. In 2021 she pushed ahead with a variety of in-person career development offerings for our members. It had been 18 months, and her students were thrilled to learn with her again at our new high-tech training center.

With our new facilities, Sloane is now able to coordinate hybrid training and credential programs. Once again, she found a way to provide the exceptional value of classroom learning with the option to participate virtually. In this, her educational programs are now able to serve every corner of our state, and even across the country. 

Between in-person classroom offerings and virtual classes, Sloane is committed to serving our membership’s educational needs with a dedication to educating, equipping, and motivating our members to grow their careers and industry experience.

The impressive accomplishments of WMFHA’s educational programs in 2021 included over 60 classes with over 3,600 student attendees, such as:
  • 5 sessions of our popular “6 Feet Apart” webinar series with 235 students, all at no charge
  • Virtual Certified Apartment Manager (CAM) course with 22 students
  • In-person CAM hosting 28 students
  • Virtual Certified Apartment Leasing Professional (CALP) for 28 eager students
  • Virtual Certified Apartment Portfolio Supervisor (CAPS) attended by 18 students
  • 10 Fair Housing Fridays, online seminars attended by a total of 724 students
  • 9 virtual legislative and legal seminar sessions reaching 1,467 attendees
  • 4 hybrid Certified Pool Operator (CPO) sessions attended by 100 students
  • One in-person CPO session with 39 students and hands-on learning
  • Hybrid Certificate for Apartment Maintenance Technicians (CAMT) helping 22 students
  • APTConnect, our virtual 3-day education conference with nearly 500 attendees

Sloane also promotes NAA’s Visto online educational classes to her students. WMFHA is always recognized in the top five affiliates across the country with member Visto participation. The revenue share WMFHA received from Visto attendees totaled $14,000 in 2021.

On top of all her internal education, Sloane furthermore assisted our partners at North Seattle College to develop a Property Management Bachelor’s Degree of Applied Sciences! She serves as the Chair of the degree’s Program Advisory Board. Whilst giving back to the community, she works on her own time to ensure our members have a direct pipeline to graduating students of this degree program. We are very proud to share it is the first of its kind on the west coast.

It is without a doubt Sloane Cerbana is committed to apartment industry education and promoting residential property management careers. She even recruited her daughter to work at an apartment community for some time!

Her unique approach:

Each one, teach one is Sloane’s unique approach to career development. Not only is she providing personalized attention to any of her students that need it, but her work also empowers students to pass along their knowledge, build their industry network, and include association involvement in their education. She is a big advocate for residential property management careers and realizes that her interactions within and outside of the industry can make or break the path of associates and recruits.

Sloane makes sure that every student has a rewarding experience and sets them up for success in their careers. Supporting her students with one-on-one attention, she makes their learning experiences exceptional. She ensures they are prepared to learn, are active participants, and that they have the best chance of successfully passing exams and meeting qualifications.

Sloane will even allow credential participants to make recurring monthly payments toward their course tuition to eliminate financial concerns that might otherwise inhibit participation.

When developing professionals feel supported and encouraged in their trajectory, they are more apt to stay in the industry, and maybe even introduce their friends to the industry! Sloane does just that and more. Her work is like a snowball effect. Some may even say Sloane is like the rising tide, lifting all Washington multifamily boats and beyond.

Moreover, Sloane is not afraid to tell it like it is. When she sees a need for change that will benefit our members and the industry, she doesn’t shirk away from the challenge. She will always recognize and vocalize what is best for rental housing and its constituents.

Continually, Sloane goes beyond the confines of her role at the association to spread the multifamily message wide and far. In her free time, she sits on the board of a nonprofit member organization, Apartment Life. She never takes off her industry hat, serving at home and afar as a true advocate for apartment education and career development, helping one person who will then help another.