Meet the President: Jo Ann Stevens, PMN
Like many real estate professionals, Jo Ann Stevens, ABR, GRI, PMN, started her real estate career in a non-traditional way. “I was expecting my first child, and my doctor told me I needed to take a leave of absence from my regular job,” says Stevens, a sales associate with Lane Real Estate in Richmond, Texas, and National President of the Women’s Council of Realtors®. In her newly free time, she decided to attend some real estate classes. “My cousin was in real estate, and I had always been interested in doing it.” She took the test at eight months pregnant, passed and was immediately put on floor duty by her broker. “I sold my first property that day, and it closed the day I came home from the hospital with the baby.”
That was some 30 years ago, and Stevens was hooked. She’s been going strong ever since, hanging her license with Lane Real Estate in Sugarland, Texas. “Lane is a very small, family-owned business. The Lane family has been in the area for generations,” she says. Now at the helm of the National Women's Council, Stevens reflects back on her entrance into the world of Women’s Council.
Stevens served Women's Council as Local Chapter President in 1990, District Vice President in 1991, Governor in 1992, President of the Texas Chapter in 1996 and Regional Vice President for Region IX in 1997. Jo Ann has served on numerous national committees, forums and task forces including the Executive Committee, Finance & Budget, Nominating and Bylaws. She has chaired both the Education Committee and the Outreach & Influence Steering Committee. Jo Ann has served on the Leadership Academy Faculty for five years and twice has been named "Member of the Year" for Texas.
In addition to her Women's Council involvement, Jo Ann serves the Houston Association of REALTORS® on several committees and, in 2014, chaired the PAC Advisory Committee. She is also active with the Texas Association of REALTORS® (serving the last three years as a trustee) and the National Association of REALTORS® (serving on numerous committees).
She’s held many different local, state and national offices over the years, but the one that sticks out in her mind the most is that of the Treasurer of the newly formed Sugarland chapter.
“There was a Council network in Houston, but it was quite far from where I lived and worked,” she said. Luckily, a new chapter was being formed in Sugarland and Stevens attended the first organizational meeting in 1986. “I became the first treasurer. I joke that I had the easiest job in the whole world because we didn’t have any money,” she laughs. “We’re still growing strong after all this time, and it’s rewarding to see the number of young women going through our network and emerging as leaders.” Stevens is still active on the local and state level, as well as, of course, the national level.
When Stevens first joined Women's Council, she was licensed in real estate but working for a national title company. It’s through this company that she realized the true value of being a Council member. “I was running a division in the Sugarland area. After several years, the owners offered me a position as the manager of the national division of the company. [She eventually became senior vice president.] When I asked why, they said that no matter where I go—in Texas and around the country—I know people in real estate,” she says. The Women's Council network is strong. And, that network provided me an opportunity to move into a career position with a Fortune 100 company.”
As president, Stevens would like to focus on increasing membership and delivering great products and services to Women's Council members. “2018 will be Women's Council's 80th anniversary year. I’m often asked if the Council is still relevant after 80 years because the real estate market is so different from past times. But, I look at National Association of REALTORs® membership and see that 60 percent of that membership is comprised of women. Yet, in NAR’s history, we’ve had only six women as presidents of NAR [including 2018 president Elizabeth Mendenhall]. Women's Council is as relevant now as it has been in the past,” she notes. “Women need the leadership training so they can step into those roles at NAR and elsewhere.
She’ll also be working with a “wonderfully diverse leadership team. The combination of personalities on the team is what makes us a strong team,” she says. “I’m lucky to have these people on my team, and I’m looking forward to a productive year. These are not ladies who let the grass grow under their feet; they want to move forward and get things done.” The team, according to Stevens, will be looking closely at the strategic plan for 2018 and beyond. “We’ll study our structure and processes to ensure we’re offering value and doing things the most efficient way,” she says.
Stevens is looking forward to a wonderful year of celebrations and productivity that will serve all Council members. “I’m looking for great things to happen this year.”
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