Advocate Corner: Greg Cerbana, Washington Multi-Family Housing Association
Greg Cerbana, Director of Public Relations for Weidner Apartment Homes, is an avid “12th man” of the Super Bowl-winning Seattle Seahawks.
The term is a reference to the team’s loud and proud fans who often play a pivotal role in games. While Cerbana is on the sidelines cheering as the Seahawks’ 12th man, he plays quarterback for the apartment industry, helping to lead the Washington Multi-Family Housing Association (WMFHA) to many victories.
As a founding board member, past president and member of WMFHA’s Government Affairs Committee, Cerbana regularly speaks on behalf of the industry to legislators. “He was instrumental in helping us defeat legislation that would have created portable screening reports,” says Joe Puckett, WMFHA’s Director of Government Affairs. This bill would have mandated that a prospective resident could obtain a comprehensive screening report and, if provided with it, an owner/operator could not charge the prospective resident to obtain a screening report from a company with which the owner/operator had a business relationship.
“He is knowledgeable and truly cares about the growth of our industry and the support given to our members,” says Jim Wiard, Executive Director of WMFHA. “He is one of our most active and engaged members in our commitment to legislative advocacy.”
Cerbana says he believes that advocacy is at the core of what his local and statewide apartment associations are all about and that a vigilant government affairs committee is necessary. “The monitoring of federal, state and local legislative and regulatory issues keeps our membership informed and prepared to mobilize a response when necessary. I very much enjoy being involved in setting the priorities that our local association pursues,” he says.
“It is gratifying to watch a piece of legislation that is beneficial to our industry work its way through the process and onto the desk of the executive to be signed into law. It’s during those times when you realize that the hard work that’s been put in by countless people for many months and sometimes over the course of several years is worth it.”
There are many different reasons why companies and owners of multifamily real estate participate in their associations.
Cerbana says he was motivated to be active in advocacy efforts because that’s what the companies he’s worked for want from their membership. “They wanted the association to be the canary in the coal mine that would sound the alarm when a piece of legislation needed to be defeated, or a candidate for office needed support,” he says.
Cerbana regularly attends the NAA Capitol Conference and WMFHA’s annual “Day on the Hill.” “I remember my first time going to Olympia, and I’m not afraid to admit that I was really apprehensive about it,” he says.
“What I quickly came to realize is that many of our elected officials are experts in their respective fields. Not many have had experience as a property owner or manager, and I found out that when talking to our legislators, our role is to inform them about our industry and how our day-to-day operations can be affected positively or negatively based on the outcome of that piece of legislation.”
Away from the advocacy field, you can find Cerbana on the soccer field working as a soccer dad, watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy, enjoying Hawaiian vacations and waiting for football season to begin.
— Carly Simpson, NAA Manager of State and Local Government Affairs