REALTORS® care for so many. Don’t forget about you.
Leslie Rouda Smith

© Craig Washburn Photography

2022 National Association of REALTORS® President Leslie Rouda Smith with Remi. Her dogs Ranger and Buckeye and cat Squirt just couldn’t sit still for the photo.

It’s an extraordinary time, with the world still in the throes of the pandemic. What’s your advice for dealing with all the pressures?

REALTORS® are the most caring people I know. They shepherd families and businesses through big change, and lately, they’ve had to do that under highly demanding and competitive market conditions. It’s easy for self-care to get lost in the shuffle. Set aside time to focus on yourself this year, especially after the last 22 months. To be effective and keep our engines running smoothly, we must keep our minds clear and open. There’s nothing better for our physical and mental well-being than exercise and getting outside. Both are a must-do for me so I can be as effective as possible in this role.

For your family, the great outdoors is a sacred space. Can you tell us more about that?

Conservation is important to my family; we own ranchland that encompasses three ecosystems. Leaving behind the steel and concrete excites the senses and gives us a feeling of peace. Mother Nature truly heals the stress of the week. Our ranch also serves as a wildlife habitat. School groups visit to learn about nature and sustainability.

But I wouldn’t be in real estate if I didn’t believe that sustainability is important to the built environment, too. Through our 10-year Sustainability and Resilience Plan, released in 2020, NAR is driving toward solutions that cut waste, reduce carbon emissions, and increase buildings’ resilience in the face of severe weather. The plan incorporates environmental, social, governance, and resilience criteria into NAR’s decision-making process, and encourages all three levels of the REALTOR® organization to be good stewards of the environment. NAR is providing resources, education, research, and benefits that empower members and member businesses to be resilient and sustainable. Importantly, this work dovetails with our diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, because sustainable and resilient markets are an important driver of vibrant and diverse communities.

Yes, DEI remains a strong focus from last year.

Most definitely. Our strategic priorities are not “one and done.” They require multiyear efforts, and success is cumulative. A few people have said to me, “We’ve heard the message.” My response: But are you paying attention? We need to listen to all voices and respect people’s differences. That’s why I’m proud the 2022 extended Leadership Team is among the most diverse. It’s also the first to have a female majority, high time since the membership is 65% female. That said, I’m honored and humbled to represent all of the more than 1.5 million National Association of REALTORS® members.