Women’s Council: The Fabric of the National Association of REALTORS® - Conference Recap
Another conference is in the books! For the 79th time, Women’s Council held its Annual Conference together with the National Association of REALTORS® Conference. Nearly 700 professionals gathered in Orlando, Florida from around the country to learn, network, and connect with friends (both old and new). The conference also marks a symbolic moment when the year’s accomplishments are recognized and celebrated, and the gavel is passed to the next leaders.
The Women’s Council and NAR have always had a close collaboration and it was on full display at this year’s conference in a way unseen before. Thanks to involvement in RPAC and the industry, each organization’s respective presidents struck rapport early on in the year. A year ago, when NAR President Tom Salomone attended Women’s Council President Melissa Zimbelman’s inaugural, he expressed his appreciation at Women’s Council’s participation in RPAC and leadership in the REALTOR® organization. A cheerleader for both organizations, the data was repeated and shared throughout the year, and as a result, RPAC participation grew by over $100,000 and 10% in just one year, capping off a year of intense collaboration.
Thanks to Tom and Melissa’s rapport and collaboration, it was a year of great visibility for both organizations. Women’s Council was invited to the NAR Policy Conference in January, where Melissa participated in a leadership panel. At the midyear meetings, Tom was a keynote speaker at the Council’s reception, and asked Melissa to do the invocation at the Board of Directors meeting.
But it was not just each respective president’s showing that increased institutional collaboration, it was everywhere on display at the conference, which was presided by the NAR Meetings & Conference Committee Chair Brenda Ghibaudi (2004 Women’s Council National President).
Susan Gruen Helsinger, Women’s Council member, embodies volunteerism of Women’s Council by being only one of five REALTORS® receiving the prestigious Good Neighbor Award, which recognizes REALTORS® who have made extraordinary impact on their community, or on the national or world stage through volunteer work. You can view more about this amazing person later in this newsletter. Barbara Lach, 2002 National President of Women’s Council, embodies service by receiving the Distinguished Service Award, an honor presented yearly to no more than two of NAR’s 1.2 million members. Sadly, just before the conference was under way, we lost the 1974 National President of Women’s Council Angie Kopka, who passed away at the age of 100. Angie embodied everything the Council stood for: leadership, service, and commitment to the profession. From Women’s Council, Angie went on to become a legislator in New Hampshire, and at one point was the oldest lawmaker in the United States.
On the institutional level, the Chapter to Network project was unanimously passed by the Governing Board, and will strengthen and streamline the Networks into the future and make them viable for the next generation of Council members. Speaking of the next generation, the Council enjoyed record attendance of first-timers. While many members shuttle between NAR and Women’s Council meetings, over 200 members are there exclusively for the Council. Some will stay with the Council. Some will do both NAR and Council meetings. Some will migrate to NAR, and others will go on to be leaders in other organizations as well. No matter what the path is, Women’s Council is an inclusive home for all.
In conclusion, Women’s Council is an integral part of the fabric of the NAR, in both the past, present and future. Both Tom Salomone and Melissa Zimbelman sum it up as follows: “Average people do what’s expected of them. Great people do what’s expected—and then some.” Nearly 700 great members participated in the Council meetings this year and embody what is great about our organization - and then some!
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