Spotlight: Interview with Laura Archuleta

Spotlight: Interview with Laura Archuleta

Laura Archuleta is President of Jamboree Housing Corporation, an Irvine, CA-based community development organization that specializes in affordable housing and holds $1 billion in real estate assets. A member of Union Bank's Community Advisory Board, Archuleta was recently named a winner of the Orange County Business Journal's "Women in Business" award.

How do you describe Jamboree's mission?

Jamboree works to improve communities throughout California by developing housing that is affordable to lower-income families, seniors, and people with special needs. We choose projects with additional benefits, such as neighborhood revitalization, and make sure our developments fit into the overall design and feel of a community.

Resident services are also central for us. In cities that provide a lot of services, we tie into those offerings and make sure residents know they're available. In areas that aren't as service-enriched, we offer more onsite resident services. We even have a Girl Scout troop meeting at one of our properties.

How is Jamboree weathering the economic slowdown?

We saw continuous growth until 2009, when we saw a real crisis. It was a scary year. Thankfully, our pipeline is now continuing at a steady pace of two to four deals per year, but due to the loss of redevelopment and reduction of subsidy dollars, the projects are smaller.

One way we've responded to the slowdown is by expanding into new areas. For instance, we just opened a property in Sacramento with retail on the first floor, which is new for Jamboree. We're also examining other innovative business lines to supplement our existing services, such as bringing property management or construction in-house.

Tell us about your experience on Union Bank's Community Advisory Board (CAB).

I've never served on the Board of a bank, so it's been a very interesting experience. We help to ensure that the bank is investing in communities where it operates and "doing the right thing." It's been eye- opening to see how far along Union Bank is in tying its products together with the needs of its communities. I've also seen the bank make huge advances in recent years in ensuring that women and minorities have great career opportunities at Union Bank.

You've been Jamboree's president since 2001. What have you learned about leading a successful organization?

It always comes down to the people. Successful organizations understand that their human capital is their biggest asset, and make sure they're hiring the right people and recognizing them for the work they do. That's something that's important to Union Bank and to Jamboree. At creative, innovative businesses that are rebounding from the downturn, it's the people that really make the difference.