This month’s featured member is Jennifer L. (Knittle) LaPointe, a Co-Chair of the Membership Development Committee and a member of the Women’s Leadership Initiative of ULI Columbus.
In her day job, she serves as Central Ohio Development Group Leader for Kleingers Group, a full-service civil engineering, surveying and landscape architecture firm with offices in Columbus, Cincinnati and Dayton. LaPointe, a three-year member of ULI Columbus, has more than 20 years of experience in the field, working with owners, developers and architects on a diverse range of projects including commercial, industrial, residential and healthcare.
Jennifer L. (Knittle) LaPointe, Central Ohio Development Group Leader, Kleingers Group
Family: Married, rescue dog (I’m a dog lover)
Hobby: Travel (I went to Kenya last year)
Favorite restaurant: That’s tough, I like a lot of the restaurants in Columbus. But right now, Brassica
Favorite book: Non-thinking “beach” books
If I could meet one person: Lenny Kravitz
Favorite thing about Columbus: The food and brewery scene. We worked on the BrewDog project out in Canal Winchester.
How did you get involved with ULI Columbus?
LaPointe: I was recruited to ULI by one of the advisory board members, Joe Williams, a great guy who’s affiliated with Wagenbrenner. He was suggesting that I get involved with ULI, and I didn’t know much about it so I thought, okay, what is this group all about? I did a little research and went to an event and said, how am I not involved with this group? I just didn’t know much about ULI.
What have you gained from being involved?
LaPointe: First and foremost, for me, it’s networking. It’s really being at the table with some of the leaders in the industry, the folks that are doing the development and work in the urban core, which is where things are happening right now. I think what’s super cool about ULI is that it’s more of a mission-driven organization and it’s not about lobbying for interests. It’s about everybody doing better in the real estate industry—and it’s got a great mix of people, from consultants to developers and municipalities. And it really gives a good platform for educational opportunities, too. The programming is awesome, really learning about what’s coming up and how to make Columbus better. The snapshot of how development it going to be with the next million people has been pulled out at municipal meetings, I’ve seen some planners use it, and it really kind of changes the conversation about zoning regulations. If we don’t have those conversations and start having that placemat information, it’s really not going to drive change.
What would you say to somebody who’s thinking about joining ULI Columbus?
LaPointe: I was Membership Co-Chair for a while so I do talk to a lot of prospective members and I’m sharing the word—just like Joe did with me—about ULI’s mission and what it is. It might not be a fit for everybody, but I think it’s definitely worth exploring. There are some people I’ve talked to that are like, well, who am I going to deal with? Well, ULI is not where you’re going to do deals. That’s not what the organization is about. It’s to get informed and be better in the real estate industry—for what we all do. And drive change.
What’s your leadership role?
LaPointe: I’m on the Women’s Leadership Initiative. Really, it’s more of a grassroots effort, making sure that women in the real estate industry are heard and that they are at the table. It’s not really all about women-only events, it’s about making sure if there’s a panel that there’s a woman’s perspective involved. It’s great to be a part of that, and it’s great to meet other women leaders in the industry.
What are you excited about in Columbus?
LaPointe: The most exciting things that people in our office work on are the cool, hip new restaurants and bars and breweries that are coming. I think Columbus has this really cool brewery/foodie underground kind of culture that’s really exciting. And that’s kind of the stuff that everybody likes to work on. But what I like seeing is the redevelopment downtown, in the Short North, on High Street. Really seeing some of the buildings come out of the ground, seeing some of the high-rises and just densification of those areas. Because I think Columbus is way behind. There’s big discussion around transportation and what we’re going to do. That’s all super interesting. Are we going to add more public transit? Can we skip it? All those discussions, to me, I just can’t get enough. It’s exciting. I don’t know the answer, though. That’s why we’re part of groups like ULI Columbus, because it brings so many people together to talk about those things.