Kenny Parcell is Riding with the Brand

The National Association of REALTORS® 2023 president is on the road, calling on members to get involved and show the REALTOR® difference.
Kenny Parcel and Riding with the Brand motorbike

Kenny Parcell’s journey to become president of the National Association of REALTORS® was an unexpected one that started with a challenging experience buying his first home.

As a 22-year-old, newly married student at Brigham Young University, Parcell decided to buy a home rather than rent.

“We only qualified for six homes in the county,” recalls Parcell, 2023 NAR president. When the agent wrote up a full-price offer, “I said, ‘I’ve been doing some reading. Could we ask the sellers to pay closing costs and come down on the price?’”

The agent, who was a licensee but not a REALTOR®, said she didn’t have time to rewrite the contract and Parcell would have to make the changes.

“So, I rewrote my own contract, and the offer was accepted,” he says. “I had no experience; I didn’t know what to ask for. There were no seller’s disclosures, no home warranty, no home inspection.”

After closing, Parcell and his wife, Heather, walked into their home and discovered the seller had replaced the white refrigerator with a green one that didn’t work. The seller had also removed the kitchen cabinets, air conditioner, and garage door.

“We called the agent and said, ‘We have a problem.’” Parcell says. “She said, ‘I don’t have a problem. You have a problem. I’ve already been paid, and I didn’t make very much. You’re on your own.’”

For six months, the couple stored food in camping coolers until they could afford a refrigerator.

After that experience, Parcell saw a classified ad that said, “Don’t be a Licensee. Be a REALTOR®. There’s a Difference.” He took the classes and got his license, not to become a working real estate professional but to avoid the pitfalls of his first home purchase. “I wasn’t thinking career at that point,” Parcell recalls. “I just wanted to get educated.”

He wrote about the experience for a family science class. To his surprise, he got a call from his professor. She needed to sell her house and asked him to list it. That sale led to referrals. In the first year, he says, he sold 15 houses—many to clients who didn’t realize he was still in college as a full-time student.

By the time Parcell earned a business degree in 1998, he was a top-performing agent. In 2001, REALTOR® Magazine named him to its second “30 Under 30” class. Over 25 years, he has sold more than 3,200 homes. He is now the broker-owner of Equity Real Estate where he leads the Kenny Parcell Team, a six-person real estate team serving buyers and sellers in the Spanish Fork, Utah, area.

Our theme is not riding for the brand but rather with the brand, because our members are the brand, and the brand means something to all of us. It’s bigger than the organization or any one person. It represents the very best of people who truly love our communities and the people who live in them.

Meeting the Moment

As Parcell takes on the role of NAR president, higher mortgage rates have taken a toll on his market and many others throughout the country. Like so many agents, he says, he’s confronting these challenges each day.

“I’ve been doing this long enough that I’ve been through some challenging markets,” he said in a recent interview with Jared Lloyd for the Daily Herald, a Provo, Utah, newspaper. “I’m still in the business. My kids like to eat year-round, so I’m out there hustling every day. Every member can know that their president is going through the same things they are.”

Parcell advises agents who’ve never been through a downturn to “always strive to be improving. Be better today than you were yesterday and better tomorrow than you were today. It’s better to be prepared for an opportunity than have an opportunity show up and you’re not prepared.”

Every NAR member should know that they are valued and that their challenges are recognized at the national level, he says.

“From the moment I first talked to [Kenny], he said, ‘The focus is on members, understanding what they’re looking for and answering their needs—and always leading with kindness,’ ” says Nashville, Tenn., broker Kristi Hairston, ePRO, SFR, who serves on Parcell’s extended leadership team as the liaison to REALTOR® Party Fundraising.

That is why he launched his presidency with a 50-state motorcoach tour, “Riding with the Brand.” At tour stops, NAR leaders are engaging with their elected officials, community members, and REALTORS®, to showcase the REALTOR® difference and the value of the REALTOR® brand.

The Riding with the Brand theme harkens back to a tradition in the Old West.

“When cowboys rode for a brand, it meant they had signed on to the mission, goals and aims of the ranch owner,” Parcell says. “It also meant they promised to protect the brand as though it were their own.

“Our theme is not riding for the brand but rather with the brand, because our members are the brand, and the brand means something to all of us. It’s bigger than the organization or any one person. It represents the very best of people who truly love our communities and the people who live in them.”

A Strong Foundation

Parcell’s success in business and association leadership is the result of determination and a strong work ethic. His parents, Kenny “Rexy” and Carolyn Parcell, helped him develop these traits at an early age.

When he was 7 years old, Parcell made his county’s all-star baseball team. His parents were working and unable to take him to practices, so he had to figure out how to make the 12-mile trek to get there.

“I got on my BMX bike, put my glove on the handlebars and rode all the way on my own because I wanted to be on that team so badly,” Parcell told the Daily Herald. “I had a specific route that I would come home so if my mom or dad got done with work, they would know where to find me to pick me up.”

Parcell’s parents were hard-working and did a variety of jobs to make ends meet. Although they never graduated from high school, they encouraged him to push himself to overcome any disadvantages in his life.

“I can still remember my mom telling me, ‘Kenny, you have athletic ability, but if you’re not twice as good and twice as nice—and if you don’t work twice as hard—you won’t play,’” Parcell says. “I knew I could be twice as nice and work twice as hard, and I always had that in the back of my mind.”

Each day, Carolyn Parcell asked her son if he’d given his best. In high school, he had good grades, lettered in four sports, and was recruited by university baseball and football programs. Before enrolling in college, he devoted two years to a church mission in Tennessee.

He entered Brigham Young University in 1994 with a football scholarship and two goals: graduate and build a solid financial foundation. When he graduated in 1998, he says, he had 35 job offers and a thriving real estate business.

Parcell’s mom died in 1999 at the age of 47, but he says he still hears her voice in his head every day, asking if he’s given his best.

Rexy Parcell says his son has more than met that test. “She would be so proud of Kenny,” he says.

Principles to Live By

Parcell’s life and leadership philosophy are centered around principles he calls “the five L’s”: legacy, laugh, love, learn, and lead.

Parcell’s Path to the Presidency

  • 2001: REALTOR® Magazine’s “30 Under 30”
  • 2008: President, Utah Central Association of REALTORS®
  • 2009: NAR Leadership Academy
  • 2011: President, Utah Association of REALTORS®
  • 2012: NAR Information, Communications and Professional Development Liaison
  • 2013: NAR Member Mobilization Liaison
  • 2015: REALTOR® Party Director
  • 2016: Regional Vice President
  • 2017: RPAC Fundraising Liaison
  • 2018: NAR VP, Government Affairs
  • 2023: 115th NAR President

Living by Parcell’s 5 L’s

LEGACY: Always leave things better than they were, not just within the REALTOR® family but in all aspects of life. Your candle loses nothing when it lights another.

LAUGH: In life, it is important to laugh and smile often. Laughter is contagious. When we laugh at our mistakes, we learn and improve. Our best teacher is our last mistake.

LOVE: Always love others no matter what, and look for people to love. As people feel loved, they will achieve more. This gives us a great place to grow from. Everyone needs to be loved and have someone to love.

LEARN: Always push yourself to be better today than you were yesterday and better tomorrow than you were today. The more you learn, the more value you bring to others.

LEAD: The best leaders are the best listeners. They know leadership is never about them. It’s always about others. Great leaders foster other leaders and help people become better. Great leaders always give their best.

Along with following these principles, he aims to do three things each day. “I try to do something hard, something fun, and something for someone else,” he says. “Something hard because if you do the hard things, your life will become easy, but if you only do the easy things, your life will become hard; something fun because life is hard, and we all need to find joy; and something for someone else, because everybody is struggling with something, and kindness goes a long way.”

Margo Wheeler, a Tacoma, Wash., broker who is NAR vice president of association affairs for 2023, says Parcell’s compassion makes him stand out as a leader. “He is the most genuine individual I’ve ever met,” says Wheeler.

One way Parcell demonstrates kindness is by being a mentor in his community. You’ll often find dozens of neighborhood kids hanging out at his house where, he says, “the door is always open.” When they leave, he makes a habit of saying, “I love you” because “you never know whether they’re hearing it at home.”

“Kenny is one of those people who everyone gravitates to,” says Pete Kopf, a Cincinnati broker and NAR vice president of advocacy for 2023.

Parcell also believes in being busy. He’s up by 3:30 a.m. most days and enjoys doing chores, cooking dinner, hanging out with his dog Chewie, riding his motorcycle, going boating with his family, and doing any number of extreme sports.

“People say, ‘You only live once,’ but I prefer, ‘You only die once,’” Parcell says. “You get to live every day.”

In This Together

For Parcell, the joy of leading the association comes from knowing he’s not in it alone but working in concert with the other members of the NAR leadership team, including Kopf, Wheeler, and his 15 presidential liaisons.

In addition to being strong advocates for the profession, the team is lockstep in their desire to make sure others feels welcome, appreciated, and involved.

In September, Parcell was on an association visit to a partner organization in Romania, which sits on Ukraine’s southern border. With Ukraine under siege, Parcell wanted to let Ukrainian international REALTOR® members know that they’re important, valued members of NAR. So he packed survival gear and traveled into the country, spending five days meeting with Ukrainian real estate professionals and government officials and absorbing the enormity of their struggle.

“They were excited for the visit, not because of me but because of the mantle of the presidency of this organization,” he says.

He met wounded soldiers and heard many stories of heroism. He tried to help in any way he could, including carrying several disabled, elderly women down a long flight of stairs to a checkpoint at a train station. What struck him hardest was the idea of having to evacuate your home with nothing but a backpack. “It makes you appreciate what we have here,” he says.

As REALTORS® work to protect homeownership both in the U.S. and globally, Parcell says each member has a role to play and can make a difference.

It’s kind of like football, he says. “One of the things I love about football is that you’re focused only on your task.” As a strong safety at BYU, if he did his job, his teammates might get a sack or force an interception. “Everyone depends on the other team members to focus on their assignment, give their best, and play hard every play. It’s the same at NAR. We have 90 committees, forums, and advisory boards and thousands of volunteers sacrificing their most precious commodity, their time. No one person can do it all.”

Parcell is committed to giving his best as NAR president and encourages others to do the same in their own volunteer efforts and careers.

“By giving each other our best, we will move the work of the association forward and leave it better than we found it,” Parcell says. “We will be better today than we were yesterday, and we will be better tomorrow than we were today.”

Thanks to Deanna Devey, director of communications and operations for the Utah Association of REALTORS®, and Jared Lloyd of the Provo, Utah, Daily Herald for their contributions to this article.


2024 NAR Leadership Team

In addition to the elected leadership team, there are appointed positions that make up NAR’s extended leadership team. These include two vice presidents, along with committee liaisons, who serve as conduits for communication between the Leadership Team and their assigned committees, help committees operate effectively, and help identify future committee leaders. Meet the 2023 team here.

Riding with the Brand

A nationwide, multi-stop member activation tour. Join us in your community for Riding with the Brand to drive home the REALTOR® difference!

For a list of tour stops and to enter the sweepstakes online, visit