Unprecedented market conditions. Ongoing litigation. Demands for culture reform. The need for strong leadership at the National Association of REALTORS® remains manifest, and NAR is meeting the moment with a steadfast commitment to strengthen the association, defend REALTORS® and their immense value, and look to the future.
On Jan. 8, Kevin Sears took the helm as NAR president, following the resignation of Tracy Kasper. As a 30-year real estate professional from Springfield, Mass., Sears has served in numerous leadership positions at the local, state and national association levels, including 16 years on the NAR Board of Directors. Sears is a second-generation small business owner of an independent, residential brokerage and property management company, giving him firsthand knowledge of the challenges facing the association’s members.
“[As volunteer leaders,] we understand the pressures and the pains our members are feeling. I work every day with buyers, sellers, tenants and landlords. I think it’s important for the members to hear that,” he says.
Sears’ parents, who spent the first couple of years of marriage serving in the Catholic missions, raised their six children to value service. “Making sure that we give back, whether it’s in the community, the school, our church, or our industry and association, was instilled in us at a young age,” he says.
A big-picture, team-driven mindset has motivated Sears throughout his journey to the presidency, with loyal involvement in such areas as fundraising, advocacy, education and community service committees. In 2016, Sears was NAR’s vice president for Region 1, which includes Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.
Sears received a bachelor of arts degree in history from Providence College in Rhode Island, where he earned a scholarship as a Division 1 athlete on the diving team. He earned an MBA from Western New England University in Springfield.
Following Sears’ installation, in mid-January, the Leadership Team unanimously voted to appoint two additional 2024 Leadership Team members—Vince Malta of San Francisco and Sharon Millett of Auburn, Maine. Malta and Millett are well positioned to serve: Both have significant NAR leadership experience, as well as long careers as real estate professionals. Millett served as the 1999 NAR president and Malta served as 2020 NAR president. “Sharon and Vince are deeply committed to NAR’s mission,” says Sears. “They join our efforts to advance the business of the association by focusing on the legal, business and advocacy challenges that are top of mind to all real estate professionals and the clients we serve.”
Change at the top of NAR’s volunteer ranks has been accompanied by NAR staff leadership changes. In November, the 2023 Leadership Team announced the appointment of Nykia Wright as interim CEO. Wright brings a breadth of executive leadership and strategic advisory experience to NAR. Since joining the association, she has been on the front lines defending NAR’s mission, driving key priorities with critical stakeholders, and partnering with the Leadership Team, members and staff to improve the association’s culture.
In a message to staff on her first day, Wright remarked: “We have challenges ahead of us but also opportunity, and we can reach our ambitious goals only by working together. This is a moment for us to sharpen our focus on NAR’s mission.”
In December, Suzanne Bouhia joined the staff as NAR’s new chief marketing and communications officer. Leveraging 25 years of experience and a track record of success implementing multichannel and multi-stakeholder campaigns, Bouhia has been working closely with Wright and the 2024 Leadership Team to determine how existing communications channels can be evolved to ensure members and staff have the latest information about a range of critical issues, from federal policy proposals to the culture change effort to the ongoing litigation.
“It is my privilege to help shape NAR’s perspective and amplify the voice of its 1.5 million members within the real estate industry and beyond,” Bouhia says.
In an ever-changing industry landscape, these leaders will work together to promote stability and help steer NAR forward.