Our Member of the Month in April is Sarah Mackert, a licensed architect with JBAD (Jonathan Barnes Architecture and Design) who is passionate about adaptive reuse projects. A ULI Columbus member for three years, Mackert serves as co-chair of the Programs Committee.
JBAD (Jonathan Barnes Architecture and Design)
Resides: Near East Side
Family: Married, 3 cats (named after British royals Charles, Henry, Albert)
Hobbies: Painting, gardening, house projects/home rehab
Favorite restaurant: Wolf’s Ridge
Favorite book: The Stormlight Archive
Favorite candy: Skittles
How long have you been a ULI Columbus member and how’d you get involved?
Mackert: I was involved in 2008 for a while through a different firm. But recently I became involved again after having come back to Columbus. I had left for eight years—I went and had my master’s education in Cincinnati and then I lived in Pittsburgh for a few years. So when I came back and worked with Jon (Barnes), and expressed interest in really learning the development side of things, and not just architecture, he encouraged me to get involved again in ULI. Through that, I’ve had the opportunity to be, within three years, a chair on the Programs Committee, a member of the regional product council and I’ve been able to attend lots of different events. So it’s been really great.
What do you do in those leadership positions?
Mackert: With the Programs Committee, we meet about once a month. Alicia (Gaston) will have a number of events planned for the year, and they’re branded events, things that we usually do—brown bags where you have a small group of people who get to sit down with an expert and ask them behind-the-scenes questions, all the way up to our big awards ceremony that we held for the 10-year anniversary. It just runs the gamut. So she has all of these things that are standard for ULI, and she asks all of us to give input on who the guest should be, on when we should have the event, on how we can do outreach better, how we can innovate. That’s been really fun. It’s getting together with people and coming up with great ideas.
How has the networking within ULI shaped your career?
Mackert: It’s really cool because ULI collapses not only multiple sectors of the real estate world but also multiple levels—so I’ve had the opportunity to be a mentor to younger people through Hines Competition, but I’ve also been mentored. I’ve sat at the dinner table with Yaromir Steiner—who’s studied around the world and run businesses around the country—and had him talk to me from a developer’s perspective about what he thinks we should do in the future of architecture. And that’s been pretty amazing.
What specific things have you brought to your practice?
Mackert: I’ve definitely put a face to a lot of potential clients, or clients that have been realized. And colleagues. So, for example, two of my co-chairs for the Programs Committee are Mark Lundine, who works in the Economic Development Department at the city and who I talk to about projects all the time. And Allison Srail who works at Crawford Hoying. So when I’m thinking is this something a developer would be interested in, or if I have an idea for this project, I can pick up the phone and talk to Allison. So I’m creating professional relationships that have given me those opportunities.
What would you say to someone who’s thinking about joining ULI Columbus?
Mackert: Do it! There are organizations where you go to happy hour and you’re meeting salespeople. This is a professional organization—you won’t get a hard pitch. I’ve never received a hard pitch in three years. But at the same time you have the opportunity to sit across from all these great thinkers in different fields and think about the future of what we do, and how we’re really impacting our community here. And how what we’re doing here can be collaborative with other communities, nationally, and even around the world.
What do you think about Columbus’ trajectory?
Mackert:(In addition to Pittsburgh) I also lived in California for a while. Pittsburgh has topography, California has climate. Columbus, I think, has the best community. It’s the kind of community where I really feel like there’s a lot of transparency and a lot of people working together. There’s a lot of opportunity because we are booming right now. There’s been a shift in perspective, and we think we’re a bigger city now. We used to think we’re a small town. With all of that, we just have this momentum. It’s really, really exciting.