Together is Definitely Better – AATC Annual Report

by Candy Maxey, Greystar, AATC's 2019-2020 President

There’s one important thing I’ve learned since watching the entire world suddenly jump sideways into virtual seclusion – it’s far better to be together. I know—Captain Obvious to the rescue.   

Like most of you, I’m praying we’ll see better days ahead, hopefully sooner rather than later. The election is finally behind us, and the news about amazing new vaccines is encouraging. Let’s face it, the past 9-months have been a challenge, to say the least, so I’m committed to looking forward, not behind us. I hope you’ll join me!   

Your friendly neighborhood apartment association has endured through it all. We quickly shifted our game so we could continue serving you. Although some of the delivery options have changed, in my opinion, AATC remains the best deal in town.    

If you’ve had to step away for a while, please know we’re ready to welcome you back whenever you feel ready to re-engage. If you’re one of many who’ve stuck around in this new virtual environment, from the bottom of my heart – thank you!    

The long list of accomplishments that follow demonstrate what we’ve accomplished these past 15-months. As you’ll recall, one of the many things we’ve done is to move our annual leadership and program years to January. That means the entire association leadership team agreed to serve 15-month terms of office from October 2019 through December 2020. That’s a big ask even for a dedicated group of volunteers, so once again – thank you!   

Without a doubt, this has been a challenging year to govern one of the largest multi-housing trade associations in the nation. Bottom line, we’ve proven to be up to the task. I’m so very proud of our team. You’ve endured. Thank you so very much to each of my officers, directors, committee chairs, and staff. You’ve stuck around and served when things got really hard.   

Although I could go on and on with heartfelt acknowledgments regarding time, talent, and dedication, here’s a gentle look at what your association has been up to: 

Budget & Finance
Michael Payne, Chair and Sheila Wiggin, Staff Director  

Major operational adjustments have been implemented behind the scenes since October 2019, including transitioning to robust new association management and accounting software. AATC’s excellent staff recently completed our biannual financial review and submitted the association’s annual affiliate performance standards report to TAA and NAA as well.   

In addition, we’ve moved our fiscal year from September 30 to December 31, and we’ll begin the process of merging our for-profit subsidiary (API) into our non-profit company (AATC) once the SBA and ChaseBank open the PPP loan forgiveness process.   

Since mid-March, the association has aggressively responded to the coronavirus’s fiscal impact by implementing unprecedented austerity measures. In 2021, AATC’s executive board has authorized an outside CPA to conduct a full audit to assure our members of long-tenured fiscal responsibility.  

Thanks so very much, Michael, for all of your hard work. I’m excited to see Patty Utley stepping-in to serve as our new Treasurer as well as our 2021 budget and finance chair.   

Membership
Keith McAndrew, Chair and Jessica Jackson, Donna Merrill and Sheila Wiggin, Staff Directors

Thanks to the hard work of the association’s dedicated Membership Committee, AATC has welcomed 117 new members in the midst of an economic catastrophe. Our committee met seven times, hosted two open house events for new members, and conducted a phone-a-thon in July. The committee’s focus for the balance of 2020 and early 2021 is member-retention. We need you!   

As of December 1, AATC includes 1,750 Owner-Managers, Apartment Properties, and Supplier-Partners who own, manage, and/or provide an amazing number of products and services to your residents who live in 218,046 apartment homes.   

Thanks so very much to Keith for his faithful dedication. Your enthusiasm is contagious. Charles Stroud will undoubtedly do a wonderful job like he does when he chairs our membership initiatives in 2021.    

Independent Rental Owners
Bryan Downer, Chair and Perry Pillow, Staff Director 
 

Since October 2019, AATCs IRO members met 6-times to discuss issues uniquely relevant to small-volume rental housing owners, including preventative maintenance, resident retention, emerging technology, troublesome evictions, rental assistance, and painting products, plus a program this month focused on evaluations.   

Bryan Downer has graciously agreed for the third year in a row to chair the association’s independent rental owner initiatives. Bryan, you’re such a kind and gracious gentleman. Thanks for all you do to support the association.     

NextGen
Cayce Coon, Chair and Annie Williams, Staff Director  
 

AATC’s NextGen Committee kicked-off last October, executing several new initiatives, including group mentoring and networking programs focused on association events. Most important, NextGen partnered with The American Red Cross in 2020 to host 4-blood drives at the AATC office resulting in association members donating more than 100 much-needed units of blood for people in need during the coronavirus pandemic. In case you’re wondering, 100 units of blood can help up to 300 people! 

Cayce, you’ve been an excellent example to our aspiring new leaders – thank you so very much. I’m confident Jeff Duerstock will be stepping-in to chair the association’s 2021 committee with another dose of exemplary experience.    

Strategic Planning
Candy Maxey, Chair and John Mitchell, Staff Director 
 

The association’s 2020-2022 strategic planning initiative kicked-off in October 2019 with discussions organized in 6 categories focused on advocacy, programs & events, community service, education, membership services, and governance. I very much appreciate TAA’s EVP, Chris Newton, who professionally facilitated our board discussion last November, resulting in 28 consensus recommendations assigned to various association committees.     

In addition, five special task groups were appointed to discuss the feasibility of a new event; marketing member value; evaluating our print and digital communications; discussing our office building and fiscal resources, and rebranding the association.     

After numerous discussions, evaluations, and more spreadsheets than I can count, considering the midst of unprecedented challenges, it’s looking like a fun new family-focused event will be launched in fall 2021; creative new ways to share member value were adopted; an easy-to-use new mobile app was set-sail; we created and adopted a dynamic new logo, and we’ll re-consider AATCs office and training facilities in the months to come once the pandemic is resolved.  

Many thanks to each of our committee chairs, as well as Chris Lee, Becca Brown, Michael Payne, and Jason Busboom for chairing our special task groups. Our incoming president, Jason Busboom, will pick up the balance of our strategic planning recommendations when we reconvene in 2021.      

Government Affairs
John Gillespie, Chair and Perry Pillow, Staff Director 
 

AATCs government affairs committee has done a fantastic job. They focus their attention every day throughout the pandemic on behalf of all our members, responding to a wide variety of federal, state, and local advocacy issues, including many we’ve never experienced before. Here’s a glimpse of what they’ve done: 

Since October 2019, we’ve participated in more than 85 discussions with community leaders, including the entire Tarrant County congressional delegation.   

GAC committee members and staff have met with council members from the cities of Arlington, Fort Worth, Burleson, Hurst, and Mansfield. We’ve hosted property tours for Mayor Price and Councilmember Zadeh in Fort Worth, as well as Arlington City Councilmembers Wesley and Moise.   

AATCs staff has invested time with several Tarrant County JPs, Constables and County Court judges, the police, fire, code enforcement, development, housing, community development, and solid waste officials in Arlington, Bedford, Euless, Fort Worth, Grapevine, and Hurst. We hosted a virtual discussion for our committee members with State Representative Nicole Collier, not to mention a post-election commentary from NAA and TAA staff. While we’re at it, we’ve served on two county commissioner virtual townhall panels and met with FWISD Superintendent Scribner to discuss escalating tax rates.   

AATC has represented you these past 15-months by working on revitalization initiatives in Fort Worth’s Las Vegas Trail neighborhood and Arlington’s diversity concerns. We hosted or co-hosted Municipal Summits in Fort Worth, Arlington, and the Mid-cities, published AATCs 9th annual Municipal Fees & Tax Survey on AATCnet.org, worked with Fort Worth on veteran’s housing as well as affordable housing initiatives. We also launched numerous discussions regarding multi-family zoning and development incentives throughout the DFW Metroplex.    

Critical to pandemic-related concerns, since this past summer, we’ve invested a great deal of time and attention helping our members navigate rental assistance programs to help residents keep their homes in Arlington, Fort Worth, and Tarrant County.   

A crucial part of our recent bylaws amendments included expanding our government affairs led to a 2-year term of office. I’ve learned great respect for John Gillespie during the past few months and appreciate so very much that he’ll keep serving the association as our GAC chair in 2021.    

AATC PAC
Michael Payne, Chair and Perry Pillow, Staff Director 
 

Many of you may not know the association has its own political action committee. Well, we do, and we use the generous funds you provide by playing golf with us and by attending the Business Exchange to help support our elected leaders who support us. Since October 2019, AATCs PAC has contributed $11,500 to various local and state-wide political campaigns, and we funded $64,334 of TAAs PAC. In addition, we directed $50,000 to Tarrant County congressional campaigns plus another $10,300 to federal candidates throughout the nation from AATCs NAA PAC account.   

With the recent adjustments we’ve made to AATCs bylaws, Michael will once again chair the PAC in 2021. Thank you, Michael!   

Golf
Adam Keck, Chair, and Annie Williams, Staff Director 
  

Thanks to the impressive commitment of AATC’s Golf Committee, as well as our determined golfers—although the association’s 2020 spring Golf Tournament eventually became a pandemic casualty—our fall Golf Classic was a smashing success at Texas Star in October. It was great to see everyone at our first face-to-face event in 7-months.   

Adam, thanks for hanging in there with us – you’re a trooper. Kyle Gambrell will no doubt do a wonderful job chairing the 2021 committee. By the way, our next shotgun start is scheduled at 8 am sharp on April 6 at Bridlewood, so stay tuned!   

Products & Services
Jeff Duerstock, Chair, and Ed Blinn, Staff Director 
 

AATC’s 2019-2020 supplier-partners began last October with a joint get-together including AAGDs PSC, and we hosted seven additional PSC meetings through a challenging pandemic year. Our supplier-partners discussions focused on advocacy, best practices, self-motivation, diversity and inclusion, and community service.   

The PSC advisory board also tackled four strategic planning assignments, including a robust new marketing plan and creating a new AATC President’s Club scheduled to launch in 2021. Remaining for discussion next year, our incoming PSC leaders will consider a new Lyceum-style leadership program and broader-based sponsorships opportunities.   

Jeff has done an incredible job leading us through our virtual experience. He’ll be stepping in to serve as our newest Vice-president in 2021, and I’m excited to see Becca Brown serving as our newest PSC chair.       

Trade Show
Becca Brown, 2019 Chair; James Giddens, 2020 Chair and Ed Blinn, Staff Director 
  

The October 2019 Trade Show was a complete sell-out featuring 170 exhibiting companies in 205 booths and 1,166 OMs in attendance, plus 985 exhibitors yielding more than $250,000 in net income for the association.   

In 2020, our in-person show has become yet another unfortunate pandemic victim, replaced by an enthusiastic but significantly smaller virtual exhibition featuring 40 supplier-partners sharing expert consultations online over 2-days in November. This was the biggest hit to our networking experience, but we’ll be quick to welcome you back in 2021!  

I’m thankful for the great job Becca’s team invested in 2019 and grateful for the challenges James and his team have endured in 2020. Amy Alvarez will chair AATC’s 2021 show, and I’m confident she’ll be excited to eliminate virtual hugs.    

Marketing
Laura Williams, Chair and Ed Blinn, Staff Director  
 

AATCs Marketing (formally our Communications) Committee kicked-off the year in October 2019 with discussions focused on Dimensions Online editorial content. The committee launched a comprehensive new marketing plan for association events and education curricula and provided much-needed advice regarding the development of AATC’s new mobile app and the launch of a completely new association website.   

Despite a vast number of pandemic-related program and event cancelations since October 2019, AATCnet.org has enjoyed 94,000+ pageviews, and Dimensionsmag.org has seen 15,000+ peeps check-out our online magazine.   

Thank you, Laura, for leading us so well. You and your company have been one of our most faithful supporters for longer than I can remember. Natalie Duke will chair our 2021 Marketing team, and I’m sure she’ll do a magnificent job.       

Maintenance Mania
Tony Sims, Chair and Annie Williams, Staff Director 
 

Just before the coronavirus shutdown, our 2020 Maintenance Mania event broke all previous attendance records. With 450 competitors and 700 spectators jamming their way into the Irving Convention Center, along with our friends from AAGD, we hosted the largest Mania event in the nation. Back for another national championship qualification, Highmark’s Angel Diaz represented the entire DFW Metroplex quite well during NAAs first virtual Mania competition.   

Tony, thanks for leading the charge. You did an excellent job. Without a doubt, Adam Keck will follow-up well when he chairs our 2021 Mania program. By the way – we’re moving Mania down the road next year, so be sure to put June 22 on your calendar right now!   

Education
Darcy Bixby, Chair and Gregory Ann Goldrick, Staff Director  
 

The 2019-2020 Education Committee kicked-off its year with a rock-star focus group tasked with brainstorming member interests and needs reflected in a robust 2020 curriculum roll-out. The committee met 13-times during the past 15-months, developing 46 education class sessions plus ten lunch-time discussions featuring AATC’s legal-eagle experts.   

Just 2-months into this exciting new show, Covid-19 hit town and shut us down nearly overnight, but only for a little while.   

Under the thoughtful guidance and determination of AATC’s Education gurus, we quickly shifted 28 of our top-notch education programs into an exciting new virtual platform.   

Our TAA Redbook Seminars included 440 students, and we delivered hybrid credentialed courses, including NAAEI’s CALP, CAPS, and CAM-CAS programs, as well as pool schools in English and Spanish. Our Covid response included two no-cost legal webinars, including 1,200 members. We provided five additional low-cost seminars to assist more than 500 members focused on resident retention, leasing, employee engagement, service team operations, and leadership.     

AATC’s annual Education Conference: FUSION2020 was shifted to an interactive virtual platform over 3-days just last month, featuring an all-star team of national keynotes including Lisa Trosien and Jackie Ramstedt as well as featured presenters Jeff Barber, Tracy Cherry, Katy Polanco, Kara Rice, Sarah Turner, Chelsea Kneeland, and Lori Snider. For those who attended, I think you’ll agree our first crack at a virtual conference was simply top-notch.     

Altogether nearly 2,500 students have learned something new and could bring back something of value to their companies from AATCs education programs in 2020. With the New Year coming quickly down the road, our faithful education committee has already begun planning an exciting curriculum for 2021.    

I’ll never be able to thank Darcy Bixby and her incredible team enough for the creative determination to deliver outstanding programs for AATC’s members. Sarah Turner will serve as our newest education chair in 2021, and I’m sure we’ll be swinging for the fences once again.    

Education Foundation
Michael Payne, Chair; Cindi Scoggins, Divas Cup Chair and Sheila Wiggin, Staff Director 

The Association’s Education Foundation exists to provide scholarships for our credential programs, as well as underwriting AATCs annual Education conference keynotes. Unfortunately, our beloved 2020 Diva’s Cup was forced to cancel in May due to the coronavirus, but we had enough money in the bank to carry-on. Our wonderfully generous Past-president Cindi Scoggins will once again chair AATCs 2021 Divas Cup, and newcomer Lane Beene will serve as our next foundation chair.     

Lone Star Awards
April Royal, Chair and Annie Williams, Staff Director 
 

The association’s recent shift to a calendar leadership and program year has moved our annual Lone Star Awards nominee submissions and evaluations to this fall. We’re in the process right now of judging 250 nominees in 13 LSA categories. This year’s submissions are being evaluated on a virtual platform with award presentations announced January 29 during AATCs LSALC banquet at a venue soon to be announced, so stay tuned!    

I very much appreciate the work April Royal and her team have invested in this year’s awards program. In a return engagement, Nicole McQuarry will be serving as our 2021 LSA chair.  

Community Service
Wesley Chapman, Chair and Annie Williams, Staff Director  

Our 2019 U.S Marine Corps Toy for Tots campaign set another record for AATC-AAGD member donations, including $84,000 – simply amazing! After quickly shifting our focus to the UGM Charity Bowling Tournament last February while anticipating another complete sell-out, the pandemic of the century eventually shut us down. After attempting to reschedule more than once, we eventually were forced to cancel. Still, our members contributed over $6,600 during a stand-alone silent auction in July, and our wonderful members provided much-needed supplies and Walmart gift cards for every child at the Mission.   

Wesley, thank you for taking on 2-toy drives and a lot of adjustments throughout the year. It warms my heart to see what we’ve accomplished to help others in spite of the environment we’ve been facing. We’re fortunate to have former board member Bob Duff stepping-in to serve as our 2021 community service chair.   

Business Exchange
Nicolle Block, Chair and Perry Pillow, Staff Director  
 

The 2020 AATC-AAGD Business Exchange was moved twice in 2020, eventually shifting to a virtual platform on October 9 due to coronavirus restrictions. Although far smaller than our normal nationally acclaimed super-event, the association’s faithful owner-managers and supplier-partner members joined hands to contribute $47,000 for NAAs PAC.   

Thank you, Nicolle, for being so flexible. Your team did a fabulous job. I’m already looking forward to seeing what another newcomer, Emily Watson, and her group will accomplish when the Exchange hopefully returns to a face-to-face networking extravaganza in 2021.    

Leadership Lyceum
Jinger Lane, Chair and John Mitchell, Staff Director  
 

Due to coronavirus challenges, AATC’s 2020 Lyceum was thoughtfully moved down the road to spring 2021. A virtual Lyceum program simply wasn’t a desirable option. AATC’s Lyceum represents a unique opportunity to empower new association leaders. After 14-years, our Lyceum has pushed 86 members through our unique leadership program, including the ten most recent AATC past-presidents.   

Jinger, thanks for stepping up to the plate during this challenging moment in time. It’ll be exciting to see our distinguished past-president Nicolle Block serving as our next Lyceum chair.   

Bylaws
Sherry Jordan, Chair and John Mitchell, Staff Director 
 

After several long discussions beginning last May, several adjustments to the association’s bylaws were approved by AATC’s board of directors and all of our members in August.  

Many thanks to Sherry and her team for accepting this often-thankless job. Bylaws reviews aren’t the sexiest task in town, but the time we invest represents the association’s core foundation; a guidebook, the rules for everything we strive to accomplish.    

Care Team
Lani Grant, Chair and Sheila Wiggin, Staff Director 
 

AATC’s Care Team has reached out to our leadership team members when there’s a need to acknowledge or support life’s ups and downs, basically major life-events. We’ve been doing so since 2010 when Megan’s Care Team was first created by past-presidents Darnell Harris and Mike Clark in honor of AATC president-elect Megan McCadden. She distinguished AATC as the heart of our multi-housing family. Many thanks to my dear friend Lani as well as a long list of cherished volunteers who’ve made AATC their association family for more years than I can remember.    

Last but definitely not last on my list, I’d like to acknowledge our 2019-2020 leadership team. To my officers, including Jason, Michael, Jackie, Patty, Nicolle, and Sherry – thank you for helping guide the association through the pandemic. Although we’re not there quite yet, we know how to get the job done no matter how hard the battle becomes. To our board of directors – thanks to you as well, most especially those who’ll be retiring from our leadership team this month. Sherry, Jackie, Jeina, Jinger, and Paul – please stay engaged – we need you! To my committee chairs – the work you’ve invested will last longer than all of us, so thank you! As you’ve seen throughout my annual report – job well done. Finally – to our staff team – you guys are the best; gently herding the cats in the most productive direction each and every day is a talent I’ve grown to respect. Thanks so very much to John, Sheila, Perry, Ed, Annie, Gregory Ann, Donna, and Jessica. I so very much appreciate you.      

It has been a blessing to serve you, my friends. Thanks so very much!   

Candy Maxey has served as AATCs president, our chief elected officer since October 2019. In the daytime, Candy serves her profession as an exceptional regional property supervisor for Greystar, and she’ll be serving once again in 2021 as AATCs Immediate Past-president.