September 9, 2012

"The 'Other' NAHB Associate Leadership Position"

The "other." To have an "other" there must be another. Associates, at the NAHB level of leadership, have as a junior officer position the National Associate Chairman. This position is the highest level, at least at the moment, that an associate can attain in leadership volunteerism. The "other" refers to the leadership position for associate members within BUILD-PAC, our national political action committee. Both positions have the two associate leaders engaged with builders, sharing associate view points within their respective areas and initiatives.
Today's guest blogger is Monica Sommerfeldt Lewis, NAHB's Associate BUILD-PAC Vice Chairman. Monica first took her seat with her fellow BUILD-PAC officers, all builder members of NAHB, at the 2011 BUILD-PAC Trustee Meeting. Advocacy is the NAHB's number 1 priority for the benefit of all members, builders and associates. Monica would like to share her thoughts on this position and, as her two year term closes at IBS 2013, hopefully shed light and give advice for anyone interested in heading down this path of leadership.   

Reflections on Filling an Associate Leadership Chair
By: Monica Sommerfeldt Lewis CAPS, CGA

As the first BUILD-PAC Associate Officer, I wanted to share not only what this position is, but my thoughts on what this position means. At IBS 2013, I will complete my two year term serving in one of the new, and maybe the longest titled, NAHB leadership positions – Associate Vice Chair of the Executive Committee of Build-PAC. The selection of the next Associate to fill this term will be done prior to IBS, so now is a great time to explain this position and invite interested Associates to step forward.

A little history on this position, BUILD-PAC policy was changed in 2010 to create the Associate BUILD-PAC Officer. Mike Kurpiel, who worked with the Officers to create this position stated, “If it affects builders, it will affect associates. Understanding this critical component to an entire building industry effort in advocacy was the driving force in working with the 2010 BUILD-PAC Officers to bring an associate to their team and to continue the position into the years to come”. Tom Woods, BUILD-PAC Chairman when the position was created, also talked about Associates and Builders being on the same team, stating that, “We have to work together if we are going to win. Since Associates make up 2/3 of our Association, it was important that an Associate was on the BUILD-PAC Officer team."

So what does being the Associate Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee of BUILD-PAC mean? First, there is no cool acronym, like AVCECB or anything. Most of the correspondence that goes out from the BUILD-PAC Officers just says Associate Chairman after my name. The position is different from the Associate BUILD-PAC Trustee (Sean Olin), or Associate Members Advocacy Subcommittee Chair (Diana Lucero). We all have different job titles and descriptions, but we are all involved with increasing Associate involvement in advocacy and BUILD-PAC. My position serves with the BUILD-PAC Chairman, 1st Vice Chairman, 2nd Vice Chairman, 3rd Vice Chairman, and the Immediate Past Chair as Officers of BUILD-PAC. All Chairmen except the Associate Vice Chair are Builders appointed by an incoming Senior Officer of NAHB and climb the ladder each year with the Builder that appointed them. The Associate Vice Chair is selected by the appointed BUILD-PAC Officers to serve a 2 year term, with no ladder.

As an Officer we administer the BUILD-PAC funds. This includes controlling disbursements of PAC dollars, monitoring Trustee obligations, and fundraising efforts. Most funds are disbursed based on requests from BUILD-PAC Trustees appointed by each State. The Officers review the total dollar amounts of requests prior to the Trustee meetings held in conjunction with NAHB Board Meetings. Depending on where we are in the fundraising cycle, we have asked Trustees to limit amounts requested or postpone requests.

We also handle compliance of Trustees with their obligations. This is a fine line of diplomacy. Trustees are appointed by every State, plus several of our Councils have Trustees (PWB, Associates, Remodelers, etc). For the last two years, there has been a concerted effort by the BUILD-PAC Officers to enforce the commitments each trustee accepts with their position. This has required making outreach calls to help get state events planned and scheduled.

In addition, the Officers preside over the BUILD-PAC Trustee meetings. During these meetings, reports on the status of the PAC funds and the business of approving PAC requests are done. The Officers also have monthly, and sometimes biweekly, conference calls to discuss fundraising initiatives, handle emergency requests, oversee our Club events, and discuss legislative and NAHB issues.

What was an unexpected feature of this position? As Officers, we are so engaged with NAHB’s Government Affairs Staff. They are on all of our calls and at our meetings. They keep us apprised of legislative issues, campaign issues, state issues and provide key information necessary to distribute BUILD-PAC funds to candidates. This last election cycle saw redistricting, retirements leading to open seats, and contested battles of incumbents. Mix that with a really bad economy and a housing crisis - their input was invaluable. By the way, we have incredible Government Affairs Staff at NAHB. Our lobbyists know who and what is happening and their insight into DC politics is better than any TV or radio show!

The Officers I serve with are an impressive group, also. These Builders take advocacy and NAHB seriously. Their commitment, dedication and knowledge are why several of them are or will be Senior Officers in the near future. Most also serve as NAC’s (National Area Chairmen) or State Reps and have chaired Federal Government Affairs. Serving at this level with these NAHB leaders is truly challenging and motivating.

So, how can you be the next Associate Vice Chair at BUILD-PAC? First, to qualify for the position the Associate Vice Chair needs to maintain a Gold Key Club commitment. There is also a time commitment. We meet every month via phone call, and sometimes biweekly. We also have BUILD-PAC Officer meetings in person during the week of NAHB Director meetings. These are normally held on the same day as the NAHB Executive Committee meetings which is a day earlier than subcommittee and Associate Outreach Network meetings. You are also required to be at Legislative Conference.

And last, but most important, this position is responsible to actively fundraise for BUILD-PAC, especially among Associates. When Granger McDonald, Chairman my first year, was asked why an Associate position was created, he responded, “When the vast majority of our association is made up of associates, and the associates make up a huge percentage of the BUILD-PAC contributors, it only seemed reasonable to put an associate in the mix.” This basically sets the tone for the position. While Associates do not contribute as many large dollar amounts as Builders, the lists of members who give at the Club 2012 and Century Club are filled with Associates. The Associate BUILD-PAC Officer needs to make a big commitment to helping the Associate Members Committee get the BUILD-PAC message back to the members in their States and Locals.

It has been my pleasure and honor to serve as the first Associate Vice President at BUILD-PAC. If you are interested in knowing more about this position or how you can get involved, please contact me at:

 If you have any suggestions for articles in the future, or you would like to be a guest blogger, click on my my name below and contact me. Posts must somehow be relevant to our NAHB membership and not a commercial for your product or service.


Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP 

Immediate Past NAHB Associate Members Committee Chairman
Immediate Past NAHB National Associate Chairman

(click here) NAHB Advocacy - The Passion of an Industry podcast

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