The Making of a President

The Making of a President ~
Bio of Christy Jellets, IFMA Atlanta President 2010/11
by Chris Sanders


It’s Friday around 12:30pm and typical for a Facilities Manager’s schedule; Christy Jellets and I are meeting at a Starbucks to conduct this interview. By typical I mean we had to reschedule several times and finally resorted to a spontaneous meeting in between work-related appointments. Many of you may know Christy from her years of volunteer time spent with IFMA or from her dedication to community service. Some IFMA members reading this will only know that Christy is our new chapter president. What you will learn from this interview is the depth of Christy Jellets’ passion for the Facilities Management profession and her dedication to making her mark on IFMA and its members.

Christy, why did you decide to run for president of the IFMA Atlanta?

I have been asked many times in the past to run for president and have many times turned down the opportunity. Last year I attended the House of Delegates meeting in Dallas and was riveted by what I heard. In discussions with fellow attendees, what I noticed was that others were not as engaged or enthralled by what they heard. They didn’t get it but I did. It was at that point that I knew my passion for facilities would benefit the Atlanta chapter best if I was president.

What is your vision for IFMA Atlanta?

I want the Atlanta Chapter of IFMA to be recognized on a national level as the premier Facilities Management association in the southeast and throughout the nation. My hope is that we continue to provide resources and opportunities for FM professionals to grow and expand their careers. Through supporting professional development we expand our knowledge base. By expanding our knowledge, we become experts. We want to be the experts and foster expertise among our members.

What do you hope your legacy as president to be?

To develop and employ a strong strategic vision that will take our chapter beyond just one year ahead in planning. I would like to end this year with a five year plan established that can be built upon in the following years. I want our BOD to keep our mission first and foremost and see how our chapter strategic plan ties into that vision and how that vision relates to International. By achieving this goal, I will have created a forward-thinking strategy that can carry our chapter into the future.

Very few people start their career as a FM, How did you get your start in Facilities?

I started in community service as a liaison for the YWCA of Greater Atlanta. As a partner with IFMA who hosting meetings and there I observed the conversations and presentations through which I learned to apply facilities management skills to the position I held. It was through this assimilation that I came to realize that Facilities Management was in my blood. In those early years at the YWCA, I was performing the tasks of a FM without the title. As fate would have it, the YWCA posted a position for a Facilities Manager. Through the support of peers and mentors in the industry I end up taking the position and fourteen years later I’m still here. I owe a big thank you to Mitch Rabil who through all these years has provided guidance and supported my professional growth.

Prior to chapter president, what has been your contribution to the chapter?

Up until two years ago I was a member and eventually chaired the Community Service Committee. Community Service is my heart and it drives the direction of my life. Two years ago, I rolled into the MCIC of IFMA International as a membership chair and then served as Vice President of our chapter for 2009-2010. It is through this volunteer service to IFMA that I have had the opportunity to witness firsthand the interactions of many sides of the organization from both a local and international perspective. One of my primary accomplishments has been the establishment of the Annual Nonprofit Summit engage members in community service. I am proud of the efforts and compassion of our members to help the community.

What advice can you offer to new members of the Facilities Management community?

Tap into the resources that IFMA has to offer. Get involved with your local chapter and make the connections that will help foster your growth. We have a collective knowledge that cannot be taught in school. Sure, in school you learn the terms and the theory, but it takes real time experience where you have to apply knowledge with good decision in the heat of the moment to give depth to that knowledge. I would advise that you reach out to your network of IFMA professionals who have been there – done that for guidance. Nothing beats experience especially in this profession.

World Workplace will be hosted in Atlanta this year, what do you hope is a result of this event?

I hope our members and our BOD use this opportunity to really get to know the staff at International. They are a phenomenal resource. Our participation with International on this annual conference has truly been a partnering unlike what has been done in the past. We studied past years’ experiences and determined early on that we didn’t want International to just show up and run the show; we wanted to fully engage our resources to make WWP 2010 in Atlanta the most successful WWP in years. Through our efforts, we have coordinated tours to highlight Atlanta properties and we sold out Peachtree Street. For our associate members, which I want to add are wonderful supporters and we wouldn’t be able to do what we do without them, I want to see our associate members make national contacts that foster business growth in Atlanta and beyond. The Atlanta Chapter is huge; we make a huge impact on this community. This impact will be seen and felt.

If you could sum up the motto for IFMA Atlanta 2010-2011 what would it be?

It’s about relationships. Me Knowing You and You Knowing Me.

Christy Jellets lives in Atlanta with her husband Jeff Jellets, a frequent contributor to IFMA Atlanta and our August luncheon guest speaker and their 17 year old daughter. When Christy is not working or fulfilling her duties as chapter president, she enjoys volunteering, crocheting hats for newborn babies and quilting for Project Linus, spending time in her garden, and reading. Christy is currently reading, The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove by Cathy Erway.