Association Executives Committee
Political Advocacy Competencies Work Group
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Telephone Conference


Final Report


Work Group Purpose

To identify competencies that demonstrate proficiency in lobbying and other political advocacy skills, and explore the possibility of integrating these competencies into a professional designation or certification for GADs or an advocacy component of the existing RCE designation.


During the first meeting at the 2014 AE Institute in Baltimore, the work group discussed the possibility of developing a certificate or certification designation for REALTOR® association GADs.  The purpose of such a designation would be to increase competency and proficiency in political advocacy, lobbying, and policy development skills among REALTOR® association GADs, and to recognize them for such attributes.  

To begin the information gathering process, a survey was sent to all association chief staff and GADs on April 29 to seek their input on development of a designation. A total of 470 responses were received with 347 responses from chief staff executives, and 123 responses from GADs, for a response rate of 33%.  According to the survey, both chief staff and GADs supported the concept of a designation for GADs, but the work group concurred that further input was needed to gauge the level of involvement/time and effort GADs are willing to devote to pursue a designation, and to determine the most appropriate format and desired competencies/body of knowledge that a designation should address. 

Focus groups were conducted at the July GAD Institute, and feedback was mixed.  The majority of GADs who participated in the focus groups were skeptical of or opposed to the development of a GAD designation. Time was a primary concern, as many felt that most GADs would feel compelled to attain the designation, yet they are already very limited in time.  They also questioned whether a designation would have a significant impact, as the designation could not account for the intangibles that are a measure of success and so important in the day-to-day aspects of a GAD’s job. They also didn’t think a designation would necessarily translate to financial gain.  An overall concern was that preparing for a designation would take time away from their jobs to learn skills that they might not ever apply.  

While focus group participants were skeptical of a GAD designation, they noted the importance and value of REALTOR® association professional development and the need to continuously develop their skill set.  There was overall agreement that the knowledge and the training are more valuable than the letters after their name.

Discussion and Recommendations

The work group met via conference call to review the survey and focus group feedback and to discuss the feasibility of moving forward with a recommendation to develop a GAD designation. In addition to the survey and focus group input, the work group also considered the financial aspect, and concurred that it would be difficult to fund a designation with such a small base, particularly if universal support from its constituency is lacking.  The work group agreed that it was best not to move forward with a recommendation to develop a designation. Rather, the work group proposed that the GAD Advisory Board work with staff on the following:

  1. To pursue greater professional development opportunities for GADs at each NAR and GAD gathering.
  2. To create more focused planning opportunities whereby GADs and NAR staff can collaborate to identify and develop education offerings for GADs. 
  3. To explore partnerships with other external lobbying and public affairs organizations that have political advocacy education opportunities that could be utilized for REALTOR® association use. 

The work group also recommends that there be greater education opportunities for AEs from associations without GADs.  The AEC RCE Certification Advisory Board is expanding the RCE body of knowledge to include more advocacy content, and the AE Institute Advisory Board will be asked to consider such content for future AEI programming.

Work Group Members

Mike Theo, CAE, Chair
Doug Tomson, Vice Chair
Warren Andrich
Gavin Blair
Ruth King Briggs, RCE
Toni Cockerman, RCE
Cashion Drolet
Frankie Elliott
Amy Jo Fisher
Robert Hill, RCE
Belton Jennings, RCE, CAE
Sandy Narragon, RCE
Jeanette Newton, RCE
Julia Parenteau
Barbara Pitman, RCE
David Stark
Albert Suguitan, RCE
Denise Tatman, RCE
Cady Thomas


Sharon Keating

Staff Executives

Krystal Allen
Renee Holland
Kyle Lambert-London, RCE, CAE
Bill Malkasian
Cindy Sampalis

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