Leadership Lyceum: Q&A With This Year's Graduates


The FAA Leadership Lyceum works to identify emerging multifamily housing leaders who are dedicated to the mission of the Florida Apartment Association and its local associations. The course consists of three modules designed to inform students about the association and how they can serve as leaders in moving the association forward.

Congratulations to FAA’s 2018 Leadership Lyceum Graduates:

Donna Ameller, SEFAA
Annika Cline, BCMHA
Gina DaSilva, BAAA
Leslie DeMaio, BAAA
Courtney Gavin, AAGO
Rosa Houston, ECAA
Terri Jeffries, FCAA
Nancy Lovell, AAGO
Sabrina D'Ali-Mendoza, AAGO
Ashlee Frost-Partin, FCAA
Monica Ramsey, AAGO
Lee Rogers, AAGO
Jessica Romero, SCAA 
Alex Mauro Ross, AAGO
Margaret Rushing, BAAA
Kelly Shaver, BCMHA
Denise Snyder, NCFAA
Shalonda Taylor, BCMHA
Crystal Verastegui, FCAA
Leana Wolters, AAGO

Since FAA began the Leadership Lyceum course in 2009, more than 180 students have graduated. Three 2018 graduates recently shared their thoughts on the experience:

Gina DaSilva, property manager, Mezzo of Tampa Palms, BAAA
Jessica Romero, territory sales manager, CORT. SCAA
Courtney Gavin, CAS, sales and marketing manager, WellKept, AAGO

What made you decide to participate in FAA’s Leadership Lyceum?

Gina: I heard about Leadership Lyceum for years and always wondered – what is that? Why do it? How can that help me in my current field? So, I decided, along with the encouragement from my asset manager, to take the leap and explore what Leadership Lyceum was all about. I have always thought of myself as a natural leader not only of my team, but also in my community. What better way to influence others and strengthen my skills than through the Florida Apartment Association?

Jessica: I’m a new board member on SCAA.

Courtney: I wanted the opportunity to grow my leadership skills and take my education to another level.

What skills did you develop or improve through your participation in the program?

Gina: Knowledge is power. Having knowledge about how our local and state boards function within the apartment associations is invaluable. When you know what you are doing and where you are going, the sky is the limit! I never had much of a concern for politics and why they matter, but I feel this is one of the most useful topics covered within the Lyceum.

Jessica: The proper protocol of meetings.

Courtney: The Leadership Lyceum helped me to think outside the box and refine my problem-solving skills. I've also improved my ability to communicate with others.

Which module taught you something new that you’ll use in your career?

Gina: I learned that a PAC – political action committee – is not just donating money to a cause. It’s really more than that – rallying together as a local community and even more so at the state level, and reaching out to politicians who can make a difference. You can truly make a difference with regard to topics that could severely impact our industry, our jobs, and our personal well-being. I have enjoyed the last two years heading to Tallahassee for the FAA Legislative Conference and will continue to do so in the future!

Jessica: The legislative module was very informative! I loved the speakers who came in, especially the Orange County property appraiser!

Courtney: All of the modules definitely expressed the importance of team-building when it comes to problem-solving. We solve problems and find solutions when we work together and use all of our skills for the team's benefit.

What surprised you the most about Leadership Lyceum?

Gina: I would say what surprised me the most about Leadership Lyceum was the fact that there were so many people in the same boat as me. Don’t ever be afraid to ask if you don’t know about something in general, but more specifically as it pertains to your local board if you are a participating member. You don’t know what you don’t know – so just ask!

Jessica: How much fun it was! The team builders were excellent.

Courtney: Surprisingly, I didn't expect to learn so much about governance. I have a newfound passion and interest for governance and legislature that I previously didn’t have before. Lyceum did a phenomenal job of bringing in guest speakers to elaborate more on the topic. Having been on the Legislative Committee and a part of Lyceum has certainly opened my eyes to this side of the world.

What is your favorite memory from Leadership Lyceum?

Gina: Passing the gator – at the end of every session we had takeaway messages that we would share by “passing the gator.” I am not a Florida Gators fan, but it was funny!

Jessica: The marshmallow team builder and Orange County property appraiser presentation.

Courtney: I have several favorite memories. One of my favorite memories is Rick Singh speaking about real estate trends. That was cool and I learned a lot about the Orange County market. I enjoyed the data. I also enjoyed the speaker in Module III who did the Whole Foods vs. Cracker Barrel demographics comparison of voters— that was very interesting. But overall, my favorite part was the opportunity to learn and grow alongside our multifamily peers. I feel like we are all a family now because we were in this together. Lastly, another unforgettable guest speaker was (now state Representative) Anna Eskamani. Wow, what a true inspiration she is. She left such a big impression on me that I am now encouraged to run for office one day. 

What would you tell a future Leadership Lyceum student, or someone considering the program?

Gina: I actually am mentoring a new Leadership Lyceum student for the 2019 year and I expressed to him that he should take notes, be involved, and make new industry friends

Jessica: Get more involved. The associations are only as good as the people participating. If you don’t like the events being hosted, how funds are being used, etc., the only way those things will change is if you get involved.

Courtney: I would tell a future student to apply as soon as you can. You won’t regret this decision because of the information you will learn and the new perspectives you will have on the industry as a whole. If I could do it all over again, I certainly would. It is well worth the investment.