AMP Interviews with the biggest movers and shakers in the Apartment Management Industry
Donje is someone I reached out to over a year ago because I saw her name pop up frequently as a leader amongst her local VAMA association as well as NAA giving tips and tricks for her fellow multifamily peers. When we got to talking, I learned that we were connected for life with our love for peanut butter! We finally got to meet in person at NAA 2019 and it was like meeting an old friend you haven’t seen in years. She and I also know what it's like to go from the management side to the “dark side.”
I love dissecting words and looking for greater meaning like the word Apartment. What sets you “Apart” and why are you “Meant” for the multifamily industry?
When you're a military brat, you are used to being a little bit APART from the local crowd, and having to make new friends. I'm also very "chatty," as my first-grade report card said. I can talk to and find something in common with anyone, which is a great asset in this business. I'm MEANT to be someone who creates and serves communities, whether it is an apartment community, charitable communities, or communities online. I believe in connecting people and connecting with people in a sometimes over-enthusiastic but always genuine way.
How and when did you get your start in the industry?
In college, I applied for a part-time Leasing Position at St. Andrews Apartments in Newport News, VA. Would you believe I was the SECOND choice for the position, but I showed them by leasing up that community working 3 -7pm during the week and every weekend and keeping it full, for 4 years. When I graduated college, they offered me a management position at a little 88 unit Tax Credit property. I learned how to run a property, including scheduling turns, cleaning up curbs, and having tidy and organized paperwork, and most of all, to inspect what you expect.
What is one song that always puts you in a good mood?
Feeling Good- Michael Buble'
What are 3 tips you would give someone considering a career in multifamily?
1) If you don't like people and find them fascinating, this industry will be really hard for you. 2) Learn how to not take anything personally. People are emotional about their homes and since we touch so much of their lives, they can seem like they are attacking us, but there is usually more going on than we know about. 3) There is no group of people more fun than multifamily people. If you love this industry, you will be a "lifer" and you will want to do nothing else. You can easily identify a "lifer" as they will wave at strangers and pick up trash.
What is your proudest moment in multifamily?
My local association, VAMA presented me with the Gloria D. Jacobs Member of the Year in 2015. I love the work of this association and NAA and really believe in supporting our networking and lobbying for the owners and those who work in our industry.
Who is your mentor and why?
Kathy Scott, my boss at Signature Management for years. She has taught me a lot about thinking about the big picture and dealing with anything that comes your way one step at a time, no matter how large the issue it is. She always says, "Starts with the basics" when faced with an issue and that advice never serves me wrong.
What book has left the biggest impression on your life?
Lately, Indistractable- "How to Control Your Attention and Control Your Life". It talks about concentration and how to create a life that accomplishes more by paying attention to what you are supposed to instead of squirreling off. Of all time- "I Capture the Castle". It's not a life-changing book, but I love it every time I read it.
If you ever owned an apartment community, where would it be and what would you name it?
I'd love a little waterfront property here in the Hampton Roads area-- James River Cove.
What is your most memorable vacation?
My husband and I went to Scotland and I was there on my birthday. We had perfect Scottish weather-rainy and sunny then rainy and felt like we could stay forever.
If our country went to 4-day work weeks, how would you spend your 5th day?
Reading whilst reclining in a hammock and eating M&M's.
Dir. Strategic Initiatives