It was 110 years ago that 27 men voted to create the Columbus Real Estate Board. Now known as the Columbus Association of REALTORS®, I am extremely honored to serve as your eleventh female president. The fundamental beliefs to promote high standards of conduct, offer benefits and privileges with membership, while standing as an advocate for equitable laws in the protection and welfare of all REALTORS® and the owners of real property, remain forever relevant and are an integral part of our Association's mission.
I am very appreciative of the support and camaraderie I have experienced this year. Serving as your President was on my “leadership horizon” as I was inspired by many previous outstanding leaders throughout my thirty-year membership while serving on committees, councils, and task forces. It became abundantly clear that even though our members come from different backgrounds with different experiences, we come together at Columbus REALTORS®, as a community of personal and professional partnership to create a better future for all of us.
Nelson Mandela once said, “There are times when a leader must move out ahead of the flock, go off in a new direction, confident that he is leading his people the right way.” This year, I stepped-out starting new initiatives that will have lasting effects. As a volunteer leader, I often get lost in the day-to-day shuffle of my “real work” life and forget to take a step back and appreciate all of the many great things that have transpired this year at Columbus REALTORS®.
This list, although not comprehensive, will highlight a few of the many, many great things that have taken place through the work of our exceptional volunteer leadership team of committee chairs, members and our amazing Association staff. These initiatives help propel our Association forward, demonstrating we are never complacent and always generous with time and talent, to better our communities – both real estate and real life.
My first mission was to “Raise the Bar.” Since raising professionalism is the number one goal of our current Strategic Plan, the Raise the Bar Presidential Advisory Group focuses on policies that will help both our practitioner members as well as the consumer. This committee brought forth the policy and received Board of Director approval to require all new REALTORS® take New Member Orientation, in person or online, prior to getting key box access. Until online access is available, new members will have 90 days to complete the class or their key box access will be suspended until completion has occurred. Additionally, the Brokers Advisory Group is creating a New Broker Orientation program and continues to hold educational forums thereby connecting to more brokers than ever before.
My second mission was focused on the Strategic Plan goal to increase member participation and we did so in epic proportions. The Young Professionals Network ventured to a two-day event at Mohican State Park Lodge, YPN Unplugged, and returned eager, engaged and enthusiastic. The Trade Show Expo Committee was established to create and host the new stand-alone Trade Expo in the spring of 2019, therefore separating the Trade Show from the Annual Business Meeting.
To amplify opportunities, we started the Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Began as a task force and quickly confirmed as a committee, this group is mindful of increasing awareness of fair housing issues, eliminating bias behavior, and encouraging diverse leadership within our Association. In collaboration with the Columbus Realtist Association and other industry groups, funded by a grant from NAR, Columbus REALTORS ® commemorated 50-years of the Fair Housing Act by creating the one-of-a-kind, Thirst for Equality civil rights continuing education session.
Furthermore, in addition to the 22-area realty and trade associations working to improve central Ohio on REALTOR® Care Day, Milo-Grogan was forever changed when 17 homes, one business and a community garden in their tight-knit neighborhood were enriched. The outpouring of support was so tremendous; volunteers went back a second time to improve more homes that could not be completed in June. Also, the residents held a community thank you dinner to honor the volunteer REALTORS®.
Please note, there are dozens of other committee accomplishments just as worthy of mention.
Then, we change our gaze to the MLS and COCIE and our commitment to upholding the MLS Corporation and COCIE rules, maintaining data accuracy, and providing fresh opportunities. Our leadership team delivered. The MLS Board of Directors voted to enter into an agreement with HomeSnap, the public-facing side of the Broker Public Portal to give consumers real-time access MLS data, HD photos and commute times while providing exclusive leads to the MLS agents and brokers directly. This easy-to-use mobile technology is a big win for our members and will be an additional automated tool to accelerate success rates between the inquiring consumer and the agents and brokers.
Having the practical knowledge and experience to facilitate grassroots advocacy, as well as being ready to tackle pressing issues facing our industry, clearly demonstrates to our members the value of CORPAC and our Governmental Affairs Committee. Columbus REALTORS® continues to strengthen private property advocacy in central Ohio very successfully, meeting and exceeding all the objectives in the Strategic Plan on this subject.
By raising nearly a quarter of a million dollars for CORPAC, surpassing the goals set by Columbus REALTORS® and NAR for this year, we crossed the finished line triumphantly. We financially support candidates who promote homeownership as well as work to protect private property rights by focusing on issues directly impacting real estate and the REALTOR® profession or the clients we serve. You are an essential partner in helping to take a stand, educating policymakers and donating – investing in your future through CORPAC. We are very appreciative of your generosity. Our “wins” in the arena of public policy and zoning usage are only possible because of the different voices our winning leadership team brings to this unique and unrivaled organization.
Now, as my time winds down and we prepare to transition the presidency to the competent hands of John Myers, I’d like to share some parting thoughts. First, it has been a tremendous privilege to serve as your President. Secondly, I am astonishingly proud of the things accomplished this year. Third, I am grateful of our genuinely great staff and am most appreciative of the tireless volunteer hours our leadership team donated to achieve these great successes and serve the common good. Finally, I would like to thank my real estate team sincerely, and most especially my daughter, Alex, who has been a constant source of inspiration and has also wholeheartedly supported my endeavor, even when it required us to eat late or get up excessively early.
Thank you all for giving me this opportunity to serve you as President.