Three Leadership Lyceum Students Awarded Nan Cavarretta Memorial Scholarships

By Randa Griffin

Three future FAA leaders have been selected to receive scholarships for the 2018 FAA Leadership Lyceum program.

The goal of the FAA Leadership Lyceum is to develop and educate potential leaders of the state and local associations. Local association executives nominate multifamily professionals who are willing to volunteer their time and energy in leadership positions at the state or local levels.

Leadership Lyceum nominees can apply for the Nan Cavarretta Memorial Scholarship, managed by FAA in partnership with the AAGO Foundation, to assist with the cost of the leadership program. The scholarship, established in 2015, covers all travel expenses and registration fees. Typically, two students are selected, but this year’s Executive Committee decided three individuals demonstrated financial need as well as leadership potential and commitment. This year’s recipients were Amanda Fies of Capital City Apartment Association, Rosa Houston of Emerald Coast Apartment Association, and Kelly Shaver of Bay County Multi-Housing Association.

Amanda Fies got her start in the apartment industry in 2009, when she moved to Tallahassee and began working in student housing. In June 2017, she began working at her first conventional property. Fies has worked her way up from leasing agent to assistant manager, and community manager. She’s currently the property manager for Apalachee Point Apartments in Tallahassee.

Fies said recipients of the scholarship should be leaders who are fully committed to the industry. "I have my CAM certification as well as my real estate license, just because I want to have as much information and education as possible to work in the business," she said.

Fies embodies FAA’s broad-based vision by immersing herself in all aspects and facets of the apartment industry. She said she expects to get more education and exposure to the industry, and other people working in it, at this year’s Leadership Lyceum. Currently serving as vice president of the Capital City Apartment Association, Fies hopes her Lyceum experience will serve as another stepping stone in her journey toward future positions such as regional manager.

Rosa Houston began working in the apartment industry at 18 as a housekeeper. In a short period of time she worked her way up through the same company as an admin, leasing manager, assistant manager and more. Her current position is as senior community manager at Three Waters Green Apartments in Pensacola.

Houston said she’s going to use this year’s Leadership Lyceum as an opportunity to grow, not only as a person, but as a leader in the industry as well.

The past several years that Houston has sat on the ECAA board have prepared her for the responsibility of the lyceum.

"When you sit on these committees and boards, you become interested in more than just your daily job," she said. "Others who went to the Leadership Lyceum just come back with so much knowledge, and I want to fully understand every aspect of our industry."

Houston is dedicated to educating and fostering the growth of others and sees a positive future for herself in the apartment industry.

"In five years I hope to be working with the state level, participating in their board meetings and participating on those committees, as well as with NAA," she said.

While there are many important qualities a Nan Cavarretta Scholarship recipient should possess, Houston says the most important thing is to really care about what you’re doing. With the rapid growth of the apartment industry, leaders have a responsibility to do the best thing not only for the company, but for the residents as well.

"At the end of the day, genuinely caring for other people is the ultimate goal and everything else sort of falls into place if you know you’re doing the right thing for other people."

Kelly Shaver took an interesting career journey to find her way into the apartment industry. She began opening restaurants in her early 20s and eventually transitioned into accounting. After eight years working at NASCAR in publishing she intended on an early retirement and packed her bags for Florida.

"I moved to Florida and after a few months quickly learned that I was much happier having a professional purpose, or something to look forward to everyday," Shaver said.

In 2011 she was hired as a part-time leasing consultant and then quickly advanced to assistant manager, and then property manager within a year.

"I’ve never looked back, and I love what I do," Shaver said.

In many ways Shaver has been preparing for the Leadership Lyceum for years. She says her employer, CF Real Estate Services, has created an organizational culture that encourages her to be philanthropic, think outside of the box, and be mindful of other people’s situations.

The Leadership Lyceum presents an opportunity for participants to learn about themselves, their associations, and the apartment industry itself. Shaver said she hopes to be exposed to new ideas and new areas of growth where she can effectively use her managerial leadership skills.

Shaver said she thinks she has all the qualities a recipient of the Cavarretta Scholarship should possess.

"I think a recipient should have the ability to lift those up around them with encouragement, motivation and creativity. They should challenge others to be their best selves."

While Shaver is beyond content in her position as property manager, she said a leadership role in volunteerism or education would also pique her interest.

"Our world is constantly changing and evolving," she said. "We all have to find ways to either adapt and fit in, or break out and set a new course for the future. I want to be a trailblazer."