Notable speakers from 2016 Leadership Summit

George Blankenship, Former Executive at Tesla Motors and Apple Computers

George BlankenshipGeorge Blankenship brings 30 years of international strategy, retail and real estate experience to his audiences. In his executive capacities at Tesla Motors, Blankenship successively served as Vice President of Design and Store Development, Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Ownership Experience, and Vice President of Worldwide Retail.  In these roles, he redefined the car-buying experience, and in turn revolutionized the auto industry. Prior to his achievements at Tesla, Blankenship served as the Senior Executive of Real Estate at Apple. Recognized as the architect of Apple’s brand-building retail methodology, he formulated and executed one of the most successful retail growth strategies in history. His international “Smart Growth Hit List” encompassed major cities throughout Asia, Europe and North America.   

Jennifer Branchini, NAR 2017 Liaison, Member Services

Jennifer BranchiniJennifer has been an active sales person for over 18 years and has recently taken on the role of manager at Better Homes and Gardens Tri-Valley Realty in Pleasanton, California. She is an active leader in organized real estate at the local, state and national levels, including director positions with the California Association of REALTORS® and National Association of REALTORS®. Jennifer is the chair of NAR’s Social Media Advisory Board, and she also serves as vice chair of CAR’s Strategic Planning and Finance Committees.  At the Bay East Association of REALTORS®, Jennifer’s long-time affiliation includes serving as president in 2014 and helping launch the Young Professionals Network.

William E. Brown, NAR 2017 President

Bill BrownBill a REALTOR® from Alamo, CA is a second-generation REALTOR® and has been active in organized real estate for more than 35 years. He is the founder of Oakland-based Investment Properties, a division of the family real estate business founded in 1964 by his father William H. Brown, which focuses on the sale of existing apartment buildings to both institutional and private capital investors. Bill has served in numerous positions at the local, state and national levels. At the state level, he served as California Association of REALTORS® President and was honored as REALTOR® of the Year in 2008, and he served on the Executive Committee six times. At the local level, he served as president of the Oakland Association of REALTORS® in 1984 and served on numerous local association committees. Bill and his wife, Heather, are proud parents of their son, Cole.

Chad Curry, NAR Managing Director, Center for Realtor Technology

Chad CurryChad Curry investigates emerging technologies, educates NAR members & the public through presentations, webinars, blogs and podcasts, and manages the development of products for use by members. He’s presented to REALTORS® on the national, state and local levels. 

Currently, Chad's work is focused on research and development of smart home devices, iBeacons and wearables as well as renewable energies. Specifically, he is investigating how these trends will impact the real estate industry and benefit members. To support this initiative, Chad and his team has started CRTLabs focused on testing and developing devices for the home to help improve quality of life. He is an Executive Board member of the Internet of Things Council and is leading the Case Studies Group. Chad is also a Board Member for the Real Estate Standards Organization, where he works to streamline real estate transaction technology.

Maranda DeSanto, RCE, Association Executive, Duluth Area Association, Duluth (MN)

Maranda DeSanto, RCEMaranda DeSanto joined the AE ranks in 2004 and became the CEO in 2014. She obtained her RCE in 2009, has served on the AEI Advisory Board, and currently serves on the AEC. Maranda is a graduate of the University of Minnesota – Duluth and is a proud member of the XTeam.



Helen M. Devlin, NAR Senior Legislative Representative

Helen DevlinHelen Devlin joined the government affairs division in 2004. As a Senior Legislative Representative, Devlin serves as the primary liaison between NAR and the Congressional delegations of Alabama, Kentucky, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Missouri. Prior to joining NAR, Helen served as Chief of Staff to Ronald Lewis, (KY-2nd District). Additionally, Devlin served on the staff of United States Senator and Major League Baseball Hall of Fame member, Jim Bunning (R-KY). She received a Bachelor’s Degree from Hanover College and her Master’s Degree in Public Administration from George Mason University.

Donna Garcia, NAR Director, Strategic Association Management Services

Donna GarciaDonna has been with the NAR since 1984. In 1996, she joined the Human Resources Division where she has gained extensive knowledge in recruiting, employee relations, training, and compensation analysis. As an NAR-approved Strategic Planning Facilitator, Donna understands the importance of aligning your strategic initiatives with the right leader. She provides guidance in the areas of AE/CEO searches, strategic planning, workforce planning, compensation analysis and training.

Jerry Giovaniello, NAR Senior Vice President of Government Affairs & Chief Lobbyist

Jerry manages the association’s government affairs staff in Washington, D.C. and serves as NAR’s lobbyist for members of Congress from California, Washington, Nevada, Hawaii and Oregon. Before joining NAR in 1981, Jerry was chief of staff for two members of Congress from California -- Rep. Jerry Pettis, R-Calif., 1972-1976, and Rep. Jim Lloyd, D-Calif., 1976-1981. Prior to his Capitol Hill experience, Jerry was an analyst and writer for National Journal, a weekly magazine covering the federal government and public policy issues.

Thomas Henderson, President-Elect, Duluth Area Association of REALTORS®

Tom HendersonTom Henderson is the President-Elect and he brings 30+ years of construction, remodeling and leadership experience to the Duluth Area Association REALTORS®. He has successfully built his real estate business on two basic principles--Integrity and Honesty. Tom is very active in the community and has served on the board of directors for the Duluth Lions Club, Duluth Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Business Council.

Doug Hinderer, NAR Senior Vice President, Human Resources & AE & Leadership Development

Doug HindererDoug has 36 years of experience in Human Resources and has been with the Association for the past 23 years. Prior to joining NAR, he held a number of HR positions in the for-profit sector. Doug has a B.S. degree in Psychology from Illinois State University, and has done extensive graduate work in the area of Organizational Communication. In 1995, he earned his Senior Professional in Human Resources designation from the Society for Human Resources Management. This certification is awarded after completing a thorough course of study and passing a comprehensive exam. In 2010, he earned his REALTOR® Association Certified Executive (RCE) designation.

Katie Johnson, NAR Senior Vice President & General Counsel

Katie JohnsonKatie is responsible for assuring that the programs and policies of NAR are in compliance with the law and for protecting and preserving association assets and policies as necessary. Prior to becoming general counsel, Katie focused on software and data licensing, trademark protection, contract negotiations, data security and privacy, brokerage risk management, and providing legal counsel to NAR’s technology initiatives including RPR and RAMCO. Katie spends her free time with her husband and two young children and she has recently earned a master’s degree for Information Technology and Privacy Law.

Travis Kessler, Association Executive, Texas Association of REALTORS®

Travis KesslerTravis has served the REALTOR® organization for 38 years, including more than 20 years as a local association executive in Texas, first with the Greater Forth Worth Association of REALTORS® and then 12 years with the San Antonio Board of REALTORS®. In his role as president and CEO of the Texas Association of REALTORS®, he has a long history of service at both the state and national levels of the REALTOR® organization. He chaired the NAR Association Executives Committee, the NAR Strategic Planning Committee, and service on the Budget & Finance Committee and the Executive Board. In 2009, Kessler received the William R. Magel Award from the National Association of REALTORS®. 

Jessica Lautz, NAR Managing Director, Survey Research and Communications

Jessica LautzJessica started at NAR in 2007. The core of her research focuses on demographic trends for both NAR members and housing consumers, and issues such as: how housing preferences shift in an ever changing market place, the consistent trends of consumers for the desire to own a home, consumers search to find a real estate agent, and generational trends. She writes annual studies including the Member Profile, the Commercial Member Profile, the Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, the Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends report, the Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey, the Profile of Buyers’ Home Feature Preferences, Remodeling Impact, HOME Survey and the Profile of Real Estate Firms. Jessica discusses the results of these studies in blog articles, Twitter chats, webinars, as well as in major media outlets and keynote presentations.

Marc Lebowitz, RCE, CAE, Association Executive, Tucson Association of REALTORS®

Marc LebowitzMarc Lebowitz is the Executive Officer of the Tucson Association of REALTORS® (TAR). Before starting with TAR in February of 2015, Marc worked with the Ada County Association of REALTORS® for eight years as their Executive Officer. A graduate of the University of Maryland, Marc began his career at CBS as an Assistant Director for news operations. He has served on several NAR Committees and Task Forces, including Chair of the 2013 Association Executives Institute Advisory Board, the 2014 Core Standards PAG and is currently serving as the 2016 Chair for the Association Executives Committee.

Mark Lesswing, NAR Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer

Mark LesswingMark Lesswing holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from Lehigh University, and started programming robots just out of college. In 1988, he began working with object-oriented programming, and in 1992 he launched a consultancy. He has worked for large database vendors such as Sybase (as a startup) and Oracle, and spent a summer in Europe setting up operations for a vendor. For three years prior to joining NAR, Mark was involved in corporate turnarounds. He is a speaker at major trade conferences, and is listed in the International Who's Who of Information Technology and the National Register of Who's Who in Executive and Professions.

Bill Malkasian, NAR Vice President of Political Strategic Planning

Bill MalkasianIn 2011, the NAR leadership tapped Bill for Vice President of Political Strategic Planning to drive a new “My REALTOR® Party” initiative designed to expand the REALTOR® influence beyond national politics to the state and local levels. Bill is working with state and local associations to develop tailored programs that will grow community involvement and political leadership.


Elizabeth Mendenhall, NAR 2017 President-Elect

Elizabeth, a REALTOR®from Columbia, MO, is the 2017 President-Elect of the National Association of REALTORS®. She is the CEO for RE/MAX Boone Realty in Columbia and has been a REALTOR® for 19 years. RE/MAX named her the “Mid-States Missouri Broker-Owner of the Year” in 2009 and the “International Broker Manager of the Year” in 2006.  She is a sixth-generation REALTOR®. On the national level, Elizabeth currently serves on NAR’s Executive Committee, Board of Directors and Leadership Team. In 2010, the Missouri Association of REALTORS® elected Elizabeth president. For her local association, the Columbia Board of REALTORS®, she chaired the Professional Standards Committee in 2012. She served as president and was named their “REALTOR® of the Year” in 2003.

David Plouffe, Chief Advisor, Uber; Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama (2011-2013); Campaign Manager, 2008 Obama for President; and New York Times Best-Selling Author

David PlouffeDavid is widely referred to as the “architect” of President Obama’s two presidential campaign victories. After serving as the campaign manager in the historic 2008 presidential election, Plouffe served inside the White House as senior advisor to the President and led the effort that reelected President Obama, resulting in Obama being only the sixth President in US history to win 51% of the vote twice. Plouffe currently is the Chief Advisor to Uber and is a member of the Board of Directors, serving as Uber’s Chief Emissary to governments around the world and also serves on the Board of the Barack Obama Foundation. Prior to the Obama campaigns, Plouffe was an award-winning creator of political advertising and managed successful campaigns at all levels throughout the United States.

Helping change the face of politics and business forever, David Plouffe’s key insights into the issues facing our country today and his use of coherent, bold strategy combined with innovative technology—including big data—have revolutionized the way all organizations are run—from the campaign trail to the boardroom to Main Street.

Dale Stinton, NAR Chief Executive Officer

Dale StintonDale, a 35 year veteran of NAR, took over the reins November 1, 2005. He served as acting CEO and executive vice president in 1996 and became CFO/CIO in 1998. Dale drove the association’s successful effort to permanently ban banks from entering the real estate industry, while also achieving a home buyer tax credit that noted national economists acknowledged was responsible for helping sustain the housing market. In October, 2010, Smart Money featured Stinton as one of its “Power 30: Most Powerful and Influential Players”. Since December 2010, Dale has annually received repeat recognition from Inman News as one of the 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders of the year. In 2014 Swanepoel identified Mr. Stinton as the 6th Most Powerful Person in the Real Estate Industry, and on the basis of a very busy 2015 where projects Upstream, AMP and ZipLogix were approved; he was moved up a notch to #5.

Mike Theo, Association Executive, Wisconsin REALTORS® Association

Mike TheoMike was appointed as the President and CEO in 2011. Theo, a native of Madison, has worked for the WRA for 27 years. He began in 1985 as the Director of Governmental and Political Affairs and rose to Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs. In that capacity, Theo has managed the association’s legal, legislative, political, research and public relations operations. Mike Theo, CAE is currently serving as 2016 Chair for the Association Executives Committee.

Lawrence Yun, NAR Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of Research

Lawrence YunLawrence oversees and is responsible for a wide range of research activity for the association including NAR’s Existing Home Sales statistics, Affordability Index, and Home Buyers and Sellers Profile Report. He regularly provides commentary on real estate market trends for its 1 million REALTOR® members. Dr. Yun creates NAR’s forecasts and participates in many economic forecasting panels, among them the Blue Chip Council and the Harvard University Industrial Economist Council. He appears regularly on financial news outlets, is a frequent speaker at real estate conferences throughout the United States, and has testified before Congress. Dr. Yun appears often as a guest on CSPAN’s Washington Journal and is a regular guest columnist on the Forbes website. Dr. Yun received his undergraduate degree from Purdue University and earned his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland at College Park.