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Women's Council Members Prominent
at NAR 2021 Leadership Academy

by Karen Kroll

When Shannon Buss, Women's Council member and broker associate with Randall Realtors in North Kingston, Rhode Island, applied for a place within the National Association of REALTORS® Leadership Academy, her previous involvement in Women's Council helped prepare her. “Women's Council of REALTORS® is where I was born and raised,” Buss says. “When I applied for NAR Leadership Academy in 2013, my only experience was with Women's Council.  It gave me a solid foundation for which I am grateful every day.”

Nine of the incoming students for the 2021 NAR Leadership Academy are Women's Council members (see graphic above). “The leadership foundation and development Women's Council provides is probably one of the best places where you can start honing your leadership skills,” Buss says, adding that it’s not a surprise that such a large percentage are Women's Council members.

The National Association of REALTORS® Leadership Academy (NARLA) “identifies, inspires, and mentors emerging leaders from the local and state level,” according to its website. The goal, Buss says, is to develop future leaders of NAR, particularly at the national level. “We’re preparing them for roles they can serve in going forward and exposing them to different things they didn’t know they were interested in,” she adds.

Buss herself is a case in point: she currently serves as president of the Rhode Island Association of REALTORS®, as well as vice chair of the advisory group to NARLA. The advisory group serves as the selection committee, evaluating applications to determine who qualifies for an interview, and then based on the applications and interviews, who is recommended for the class.

Realtors with leadership abilities, who are passionate about the industry, and are interested in getting involved with NAR at the national level are encouraged to apply. “It's a competitive process. 2020 had an unprecedented amount of applications. The application is your opportunity to present your experience and contributions both inside and outside the Realtor community. It’s your chance to tell your story”, Buss says.

Why Apply

NARLA participants gain skills and develop relationships that will help them serve in leadership capacities. Sessions this past year covered working with different personality styles and presenting at work, among other topics. In addition, each class presents their capstone projects in November prior to their graduation. 

Just as important as the formal curriculum is engaging with classmates, sharing experiences, and learning from others in the industry, but typically from different market areas. “A big part of the experience takes place outside of scheduled sessions,” Buss says. “You learn about different markets and specialties and how to do things better in your own businesses.”

The variety of perspectives is invaluable. Some Realtors come from associations with fewer than fifty people, while others have more than 50,000 members. Similarly, each student’s specialty—say, first time homebuyers, luxury properties, or commercial real estate—helps provide different perspectives. “It’s an interesting mix and everyone benefits,” Buss says.

When Buss graduated from the National Association of REALTORS® Leadership Academy in 2014, she was ready to move into other leadership roles. “It absolutely prepared me and encouraged me to put myself forward and serve within the state and national associations,” she says.

Applications for the 2022 NAR Leadership Academy open December 2, 2020. The Academy’s twelve sessions, a mix of online and in-person sessions, start in January and run through November. Subjects include leadership skills, becoming a better spokesperson, and NAR’s advocacy for the industry. “These help introduce the class to the pillars of NAR, like education, leadership and advocacy,” Buss says.

For Realtors interested in applying, Buss suggests first reaching out to a member of the NARLA advisory group, all of whom make themselves available to potential candidates to help answer questions. “It’s helpful to have a conversation with one of us in advance,” Buss says. “It will give a better understanding of whether this is a good fit and the group can provide more insight into the application process.”  

About the Contributor

Karen Kroll is an experienced freelance writer and editor.