As an avid volunteer in local mentoring programs, Project Manager Sheila Nale has a strong passion for sharing her expertise of the local land development process with students in the Washington, DC Metro Area.
In April, Sheila led a team of George Mason University Masters students to first place at the NAIOP DC/MD 2018 Capital Challenge, a local case study and scholarship competition, as the team’s civil engineer mentor. More recently, she has been involved with Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) UrbanPlan Program.
In a Q&A, Sheila shared her experience with ULI and explained what drives her volunteer work with local schools and professional organizations.
What is your current role in ULI?
Sheila: I am currently a member of the Young Leaders Group and an UrbanPlan volunteer. My previous roles included being a member of the Mentorship Program and serving on the Special Events Committee.
How did you first get involved in this organization?
Sheila: I got involved with ULI when I first started at Bohler as a design engineer. As a young professional with only a few years of experience, I was curious about the land development industry and wanted to expose myself to different discussions and peers outside of the office and my “comfort zone”.
Tell us more about the UrbanPlan Program and your involvement.
Sheila: UrbanPlan is a curriculum for high school and graduate programs that engages students in a real-life development planning scenario. The students are broken into development teams with distinctive roles (i.e. Site Planner, Financial Analyst, City Liaison, etc.) and are given a Request for Proposal (RFP) by the city to compete for the winning contract.
As a "District Council" volunteer, you hear student presentations, challenge their proposals as would happen in an actual city council hearing, and award the development contract to the winning development team. Can you tell us more about the role?
Sheila: As a “District Council” member, you are responsible for following the supportive reasoning for the proposed development, knowing the city and neighborhood needs, understanding the financial metrics, and being able to lead a 10-15 minute Q&A discussion with the teams. These responsibilities are true to life, and have helped develop my own professional skills.
Why do you volunteer?
Sheila: I volunteer because it is a way for me to serve as an expert in Bohler’s niche and provide feedback to young students. The presentations are an opportunity for volunteers to poke holes in the proposals and ask some tough questions on why the ultimate design was chosen. It’s rewarding to help the students evaluate the pros and cons of their development scheme and narrow in on areas where they could enhance their development plan.
What's your advice for others looking to get involved in volunteering with a professional group like ULI?
Sheila: Find a group that you enjoy being part of. You will get the most reward out of your time and efforts if you are committed to the cause.
At Bohler, we encourage employees at all levels to get involved in local industry organizations.