BOMA Does Business Inside The Beltway


A near-record crowd of BOMA members gathered on Capitol Hill January 28-31 for the 2018 Winter Business Meeting & National Issues Conference to discuss future initiatives and share commercial real estate’s legislative priorities with lawmakers. Attendees participated in a full slate of committee, council and task force meetings to develop new initiatives and begin crafting a strategic plan to shape the future of BOMA.

An Insider’s Guide to Inside the Beltway

Tuesday’s keynote luncheon, sponsored by Allied Universal, featured speaker Paul Begala, a CNN commentator and political analyst. Begala offered an entertaining insider’s perspective on politics in America, drawing on his years working for political campaigns and inside the White House during the Clinton administration. He also explored how economic compression and social tension have contributed to our current political landscape, and spoke on the need for increased bipartisan communication.

Following the luncheon, members gathered for "Politically Speaking," a legislative briefing and lobbying workshop to help attendees prepare for visits with their elected officials the following day. Custom advocacy resources were distributed to each BOMA local association, and BOMA International’s advocacy staff and experienced members shared guidance on current best practices for making their case to lawmakers about BOMA’s top issues.

Hundreds of BOMA members put these lessons into practice the following day as they took to Capitol Hill. BOMA members had more than 200 meetings with lawmakers and their staffs to discuss the most pressing issues facing the commercial real estate industry, including infrastructure investment, ADA lawsuit reform and the preservation of ENERGY STAR®.  These meetings provided lawmakers and their staffs with first-person insight into how these issues are affecting commercial real estate on a day-to-day basis.

Strong Start for BOMAPAC

Future advocacy efforts should get a boost from the record success of BOMA International’s Political Action Committee (BOMAPAC) at the meeting. BOMAPAC held a raffle for a Sonos sound system and a Roomba vacuum at the event, and countless BOMA members came out for a chance to support the PAC and upgrade their home with the latest and greatest tech devices. Overall, more than $11,000 was raised for the PAC.

BOMA members in attendance who contributed $500 or more to the BOMAPAC last year and were Gold- or Platinum-level BOMAPAC members also were invited to an exclusive BOMAPAC reception in honor of BOMA International Immediate Former Chair Brian Harnetiaux. Harnetiaux was an accomplished baseball player in college, so the party featured a baseball theme and attendees even went home with Brian Harnetiaux baseball cards.

The Business of BOMA

Throughout the meeting, BOMA members collaborated on new ideas and initiatives to make both the association and the industry even stronger. During the Town Hall, attendees broke out into small groups to brainstorm and tackle topics, ranging from technology to fostering talent in the next generation of property professionals.

On the final day, the Board of Governors meeting not only featured updates from BOMA International committees, but also incorporated live polling, allowing BOMA leadership in attendance to give real-time feedback on BOMA’s future research initiatives through BOMA International’s brand new mobile app. The proceedings—which took place just days before the Super Bowl—also featured a fair amount of friendly football rivalry among BOMA leadership.

BOMA International Chair (and loyal Patriots fan) Rob Brierley, BOMA Fellow, started off the meeting by announcing the Life Memberships of Pat Hilleary of BOMA/Denver Metro and Dolores Bocian of BOMA/New Jersey. In his Report of the Chair, Brierley spoke about BOMA’s success as a strategic business partner for the industry. As BOMA International enters a new year of strategic planning, Brierley said he believes the association is well-positioned to continue leading commercial real estate through changing demographic trends and shifting tenant demands. Following this report, the 2017 Year in Review video chronicling BOMA’s 2017 achievements and milestones was debuted.

BOMA International Vice President Deidre Schexnayder, RPA, CPM, also announced the winners of the EER Local Participation Awards, which honor BOMA local associations—and their BAEs—with the greatest percentage increase in submissions to the EER surveys in their markets:

  • Highest Increase in Participation for BOMA Local Associations with 300+ Members: BOMA/Metro Detroit—Janet Langlois
  • Highest Increase in Participation for BOMA Local Associations with 150-299 Members: BOMA/Orlando—Allyson Peters
  • Highest Increases in Participation for BOMA Local Associations with <150 Members: BOMA/Omaha—Judy Sunde

BOMA International’s Research Committee conducted live polling, led by the committee chair, Sheldon Oppermann. When asked whether they felt the commercial real estate environment was improving, declining or staying the same as compared to a year ago, most in attendance were optimistic: 79 percent said it was improving, with a mere one percent saying it was declining. The crowd also was polled on the importance of a number of key research topics to their industry, with such issues as workforce development and disruptive technologies ranked as particularly important. The Research Committee already has begun work on new initiatives for 2018, recently partnering with technology firm Building Engines on a new survey to identify how property professionals are getting the most out of their building technology.

A Network to Remember

The meeting also offered attendees the chance to unwind and connect at a number of first-rate networking events. During the Welcome Reception, sponsored by Naylor Association Solutions, attendees got the chance to mingle with old friends and new colleagues. After their full day of lobbying on Capitol Hill, attendees gathered once more during the Closing Reception, hosted by thyssenkrupp, to cap off a successful three days in Washington, D.C.

The Winter Business Meeting & National Issues Conference ended with a look towards the annual conference in San Antonio this coming June. Please visit for more information on the 2018 BOMA International Conference & Expo. For other BOMA-sponsored events, go to