WASHINGTON, DC-At the beginning of July, Lynn Thurber, chairman of LaSalle Investment Management in Chicago, was named the new chairman of the Urban Land Institute. Thurber has been involved with ULI for years; among other roles she was a former treasurer of the institute. Now she is embarking on her biggest commitment to the organization yet as chairman, a two-year term that will end June 30, 2015. Interestingly, Thurber is assuming the chairmanship as ULI starts to ramp up its building healthy places initiative. Thurber is particularly interested in promoting this initiative, as well as several others. Read on to see how she plans to translate that enthusiasm into practical end-results.

GlobeSt.com: Let’s talk about your goals for ULI over the next two years.

Thurber: One is to make sure that ULI is generating visible signs of progress against its mission–that is, measuring its impact.

We need to make sure activities and events, publications and our work in general is changing the way our industry and members and public officials are dealing with the issues that are facing us. In short, we want to ensure that our knowledge of practices is not just shared but is actually changing the ways in which we are building our communities and improving them.

Another goal I have is to promote the closer integration of our approximate 30,000 worldwide members with our different initiatives and overall focus, such as workforce housing and public leadership. We want to make sure our members benefit to the maximum extent possible by providing them with access and data that is most appropriate to their goals.

We want to see those connections come about personally and virtually, so that someone from Chicago can learn from someone in Paris who attended a conference in Hong Kong about a particular issue.

GlobeSt.com:  I have been hearing so much about the building healthy places initiative. Can you tell me more about that? I know that is one of your goals as well.

Thurber: Yes it is. This is actually an area ULI has been engaged with for years, so I don’t view it as a totally new initiative. Rather it is a different lens through which to look at these issues.

This initiative is about how to promote wellness and health in the environment—making sure that that lens of health and wellness is the actual intention and not just the result of developing a quality housing product or community.

With increased urbanization and density of urban areas around the globe, this will be an important way for cities to distinguish themselves.

GlobeSt.com: I know it’s only been a few days since your chairmanship was announced, but what are your thoughts so far on your new role.

Thurber: Actually I have been involved with the organization since 2004 and it has been an extremely gratifying experience. There is a terrific group of members involved with ULI, all of which are eager to share their knowledge.

We’ll be covering more about the healthy places initiatives shortly; please follow to get the latest!