ULI Career Opportunity: Global Chief Executive Officer

All inquiries for this position, whether recommendations or personal interest, should be sent to ULIGlobalCEO@spencerstuart.com

Questions about this position should be sent to Lynn Cherney (LCherney@SpencerStuart.com) and Marianne Severn (MSevern@SpencerStuart.com).


The Urban Land Institute (ULI) is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit research and education organization supported by its members. Founded in 1936, it now has close to 40,000 members worldwide, representing the entire spectrum of land use and real estate development disciplines working in private enterprise and public service. A multidisciplinary real estate forum, ULI facilitates an open exchange of ideas, information and experience among industry leaders and policymakers dedicated to creating better places.

ULI is the oldest and largest network of cross-disciplinary real estate and land use experts in the world. Members say the ULI provides trustworthy information, and that ULI is a place where leaders come to grow professionally and personally through sharing, mentoring and problem solving. With pride, ULI members proudly commit to the best in land use policy and practice. ULI is its members.

ULI’s Mission Statement

The mission of the ULI is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide.
ULI is committed to:

  • Bringing together leaders from across the fields of real estate and land use policy to exchange best practices and serve community needs;
  • Fostering collaboration within and beyond ULI’s membership through mentoring, dialogue and problem solving;
  • Exploring issues of urbanization, conservation, regeneration, land use, capital formation and sustainable development;
  • Advancing land use policies and design practices that respect the uniqueness of both the built and natural environments;
  • Sharing knowledge through education, applied research, publishing and electronic media;
  • Sustaining a diverse global network of local practice and advisory efforts that address current and future challenges; and
  • Accomplishing its mission through the actions taken by its members.


ULI is seeking a Global Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of unquestioned operational excellence, intellectual breadth, convening power and practical experience within the land use industry. The successful candidate will be skilled in managing a global organization. This individual will have experience working closely with a board, staff and other constituents to achieve ambitious goals in a fiscally responsible manner. The CEO will have outstanding communication skills, both written and verbal, and the ability to represent ULI effectively among an inclusive and diverse membership, industry and organization.

The successful candidate will listen to and learn from key stakeholders inside and outside ULI, and lead in a manner that fosters creativity and innovation. The CEO will have the capacity to foster collaboration within and beyond ULI membership and thereby sustain a diverse global network of local practice and advisory efforts that address current and future sector challenges. This individual will have the capacity to foster this same “culture of sharing” within the organization itself, encouraging collaboration among people and across organization structures.

The successful candidate will be globally literate so as to not only increase ULI’s effectiveness at the local level, but also continue its expansion worldwide to increase the exchange of ideas. He/she will have a fundraising mindset while seeking every opportunity to share the value individual and corporate sponsors will derive by supporting ULI. This individual will have a demonstrated passion for the built environment and will leverage his/her absolute commitment to ULI’s mission toward advocating best practices to policymakers and regulators in order to advance the knowledge needed to enhance the built environment.

The successful candidate will have experience shaping an evolving organization with his/her leadership team and implementing its strategic plan. He/she will be familiar with a large organization of comparable size to ULI, with complex budgets, programs of work and staff/member relationships. The CEO will have distributed organizational experience with local networks and global regions, and have matrix management skills. He/she will need to understand and detail the core elements of ULI’s strategic plan and define core competencies that match. The successful candidate will have an understanding of board management and utilization. The CEO will be high energy and skilled at multi-tasking, and will understand and have measured the impact of work (outcomes versus outputs).

The successful candidate will be comfortable with extensive domestic and international travel of more than 50%. He/she will be a hands-on, engaged and involved individual.

Key Relationships

Reports to:
Global Chairman and Global Board of Directors

Direct reports:
Regional CEO, Americas
Regional CEO, Asia Pacific
Regional CEO, EMEA
Chief Marketing and Membership Officer
Global Governance Officer
Chief Financial Officer
President, Head of Advancement ULIF

Key Responsibilities

  • Lead ULI by providing transformational leadership;
  • Ensure the three-year strategic plan is successfully executed and ultimately built upon;
  • Protect and enhance ULI’s and ULIF’s reputation and brand in all regions;
  • Recognize the differences and stage of development of each region;
  • Ensure all activities and programs meet the highest standards of ethics and transparency and are aligned with ULI’s values;
  • Ensure the global organization maximizes impact and shares best practices, while maintaining the decentralized organization responsibility;
  • Lead the implementation and accountability for metrics in the strategic plan;
  • Lead the communication of ULI’s mission to wide audiences of stakeholders and potential stakeholders through all media channels;
  • Enhance membership’s ability to drive content and impact ULI’s mission;
  • Lead fundraising efforts to ensure the long-term program of work is sustainable through economic cycles; and
  • Advance a ULI culture of philanthropy, purpose, trust and innovation.


Ideal Experience

Proven track record of successful C-suite, board and constituency leadership with financial management oversight, ideally gained in the real estate, hospitality or similar industry

A successful track record recruiting, developing and mentoring high-performing teams and building consensus

Ability to collaborate with a leadership team to execute on a strategic plan and monitor its effectiveness in order to achieve desired outcomes

Known ability to deploy capital resources into initiatives that will generate the intended outcomes and results

Demonstrated ability to fundraise effectively on a significant scale

Exceptional communication and presentation skills

Washington DC residency required

Critical Leadership Capabilities

Leading People
The successful candidate will demonstrate the “partner-like” leadership necessary to be effective in an organization and among a membership of highly motivated professionals with a diverse set of skills and perspectives. The CEO will foster a culture of engagement and empowerment, convening and leading diverse constituencies from across the organization, membership and board to achieve excellence. He/she will encourage transparency, openness and mutual respect. The candidate will have the ability to set priorities decisively, delegate responsibilities, ensure accountability and allocate resources to ensure results.

Interpersonal Skills
The successful candidate will have the interpersonal skills and intellect needed to recruit, retain, motivate and inspire professional staff, current and prospective donors, members and partners. He/she will be an active listener, demonstrate respect for others and, in turn, gain their respect. The candidate will be able to develop positive and productive relationships, decisively build consensus, and engage people and institutions in achieving ULI’s mission. The CEO will have a strong sense of self and inherent intellectual curiosity to ask questions, but demonstrate a balanced ego so as to encourage others, whether they be staff or members, to seek the answers.

Communication and Fundraising Skills
This candidate will be an inspiring communicator who can articulate ULI’s vision and direction to a wide audience and be effective in one-on-one situations. He/she will have the ability to connect with and secure results from world leaders, government policymakers, corporate leaders, partners, industry associations, donors, board members and staff. This individual will have a demonstrated ability to fundraise effectively on a significant scale. He/she will have philanthropic fundraising experience and a track record of overseeing capital campaigns.

Implementing Strategy
The successful candidate will have a demonstrated record of implementing and executing strategic plans, setting priorities and leading organizations to success. He/she will work with ULI’s senior leadership team and the board to implement the strategic plan and vision.

The successful candidate will establish metrics that measure execution under the strategic plan and annual business plan. The candidate will report the results to the appropriate board(s) and full membership as appropriate.

Passion and Shared Values
The successful candidate will have a passion for and absolute commitment to improving the quality of the built environment, thereby exemplifying ULI’s strategic principles and mission. At its heart, ULI is about enabling members to create thriving communities.

All inquiries for this position, whether recommendations or personal interest, should be sent to ULIGlobalCEO@spencerstuart.com

Questions about this position should be sent to Lynn Cherney (LCherney@SpencerStuart.com) and Marianne Severn (MSevern@SpencerStuart.com).


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