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Indianapolis: REALTORS® celebrate advocacy wins, reaffirm ethics
The 90-degree heat that gripped downtown Indianapolis did nothing to dull the enthusiasm of nearly 300 Indiana REALTORS® and guests gathered outside the Indiana Association of REALTORS® headquarters on June 2. They were there for a Riding with the Brand rally, and when 2024 Regional Vice President Bernice Helman, a past state president, took the microphone to begin the midday program, the assembled crowd was ready to help deliver her trademark line:
“It’s a great day to be a REALTOR®!”
Pride in the profession and the REALTOR® difference were on full display as attendees gathered outside the historic REALTOR® building, across the street from Indiana’s capitol building. IAR President Lynn Wheeler gestured to the statehouse rotunda looming above the Riding with the Brand tour bus as she highlighted recent legislative successes.
“Indiana has an inventory crisis, and REALTORS® have pushed for solutions,” Wheeler said. “Our next state budget includes historic levels of investment in housing development, helping local governments address housing-related infrastructure costs and recognizing new residential projects as economic development priorities.”
Wheeler also noted that REALTORS® continue to advocate for homeowners.
“REALTORS® led the charge for the property tax reforms that have directly saved homeowners nearly $8 billion over the last decade,” she said.
Wheeler introduced National Association of REALTORS® President Kenny Parcell, who seized on her comments to emphasize the importance of advocacy on issues like housing affordability and private property rights. Advocating for the industry and for consumers is one of the higher commitments that sets REALTORS®, members of the National Association of REALTORS®, apart from nonmembers, he said.
To reinforce the REALTOR® difference, Indiana’s Riding with the Brand event kicked off with Code of Ethics education. Then, members and guests gathered for the outdoor rally, which featured local food trucks, music and games for an afternoon of family fun.
Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett captured the spirit of the tour, issuing a proclamation naming June 2 as “Riding with the Brand Day” in the state capital. The event ended Friday afternoon with an energized group of Hoosier REALTORS® ready for a busy first weekend of Homeownership Month and grateful to NAR for bringing Riding with the Brand to the “Crossroads of America.”
–Chris Watts, vice president of public affairs, Indiana Association of REALTORS®
Williamsburg, Va.: A Brand Steeped in History
Nearly 600 Virginia REALTORS® gathered May 18 to welcome the Riding with the Brand motor coach to historic Williamsburg for an event during which members not only celebrated the REALTOR® brand but also had the opportunity to earn CE credits and hear from elected state officials and NAR leaders.
Virginia Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears was joined by NAR President Kenny Parcell and NAR Region 3 Vice President Gail Renulfi to talk about the collective power REALTORS® hold in influencing housing policy. Earle-Sears noted that the real estate industry not only has an incredible economic impact on the state but Virginia REALTORS® also have the important job of explaining to home buyers why they should live in the commonwealth.
Earle-Sears also shared that she once served as the association executive of the Blue Ridge Association of REALTORS® in Virginia.
Attendees enjoyed an afternoon of education, inspiration and a celebration that reminded them of the significant impact they make every day. The event amplified the resounding message that REALTORS® “ride” with a brand that protects homeownership and property rights while ensuring professionalism within the industry.
–Robin Spensieri, vice president of communications and media relations, Virginia REALTORS®
Hartford, Conn.: REALTORS® Are ‘Our Best Asset’
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont joined hundreds of REALTORS® to celebrate their brand and their collective voice on housing policy during the CT REALTORS®’ Riding with the Brand event in Hartford, Conn., on May 15. The event at the Connecticut Convention Center, which was dubbed “Work Well, Live Well, Play Well While Riding with the Brand,” focused on business tips and wellness in members’ professional and personal lives.
During the “Work Well” segment of the day, Marki Lemons Ryhal, a Chicago broker and host of REALTOR® Magazine’s Drive With NAR podcast, showed attendees how artificial intelligence and ChatGPT can be useful tools in the real estate industry. Safety instructor Robert Siciliano discussed the importance of cybersecurity in an evolving landscape of digital scams.
The “Live Well” segment stressed the importance of health screenings, with representatives from the Early Detection and Prevention Program at the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute offering educational information. They also scheduled free mammograms and PSA tests for members, regardless of insurance coverage. CT REALTORS® celebrated all cancer survivors in attendance and brought them together for a special group photo.
The day concluded with the “Play Well” segment and a networking reception featuring a live band. Attendees got the chance to tour the Riding with the Brand motor coach and to climb onto the motorcycle and snap the perfect picture to show off their REALTOR® pride. NAR REALTOR® Party Committee Liaison Kurt Thompson also explained the vision of the REALTOR® brand and the importance of voting, acting and investing.
Several members explained the impact of the CT REALTORS® Riding with the Brand event:
- “This event helped highlight to members that their association hears them, wants to support them and provides them with the resources to be successful,” CT REALTORS® President David Gallitto said.
- “Riding with the Brand means to be the best professional I can be, representing my industry, my community and offering my clients the best choices for homeownership,” said CT REALTORS® member Shanyelle Young.
- “Riding with the Brand represents the strength we have with the 1.5 million REALTORS® throughout the country fighting for property rights and homeownership,” said NAR 2023 Region 1 Vice President Joanne Breen.
The event also highlighted REALTORS®’ commitment to serving their communities. The CT REALTORS® Foundation collected donations for the Backpack Nutrition Program at Hands on Hartford, which helps children who receive free lunch at school and often don’t have enough to eat on weekends. Volunteers provide backpacks with meals, drinks and snacks to the kids each Friday. Attendees donated more than 330 pounds of food items and more than $1,200 to support the program.
Gov. Lamont said at the event that REALTORS® are the people telling the Connecticut story. “You are our best asset,” he said. “I’m trying to be there as your partner. We partnered together during the worst of COVID. We’re partnering now. We’ve got the wind to our back, and that’s why I’m here today.”
–Kristi Olds, director of communications, CT REALTORS®
REALTORS® Legislative Meetings: Knocking It Out of the Ballpark
As many as 11,000 REALTORS®, members of Congress and congressional staff donned blue Riding with the Brand T-shirts and descended on Nationals Stadium in Washington, D.C., for a massive “block party” on May 9 to celebrate the power of the collective REALTOR® voice.
Set to a ’90s cover band that played hits from Alanis Morrisette, the Cranberries and the Spice Girls, the 2023 REALTOR® National Block Party gave members the opportunity to kick back, dance, mingle with NAR leadership and take part in baseball-themed activities like batting cages and a fastpitch contest. The event also served as a giant networking session, and attendees even used the moment to support a vital cause—raising $1,300 for the REALTORS® Relief Foundation.
The block party was held during the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings, a five-day conference during which attendees raised an overall $7,600 for RRF.
The nation’s capital—the pinnacle of the national Riding with the Brand tour—is also the home turf of the DC Association of REALTORS®, which joined NAR at Nationals Park to host the pitching cage and celebrate the REALTOR® brand. The Riding with the Brand motor coach was parked on the stadium's field, giving attendees an opportunity to tour the inside of the bus and hold impromptu gatherings.
One highlight of the night: NAR President Kenny Parcell joined the Presidents Race, a Washington Nationals tradition featuring the team’s mascots—George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt—competing in a relay. Parcell “won.”
–Erica Christoffer, REALTOR® Magazine
Sacramento, Calif.: Making a Difference for Working Families
The CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® closed down an entire Sacramento, Calif., city block on May 2 for a Riding with the Brand event showcasing the value of REALTORS® and the importance of real estate and REALTORS® to local communities. The event took place during C.A.R.’s 50th Legislative Day in Sacramento.
More than 1,800 REALTORS® participated in the C.A.R. Riding with the Brand Block Party, which featured food trucks and drinks, a disc jockey, games, and photo opportunities to celebrate the real estate profession and the collective goal of creating pathways to homeownership for all Californians.
“The CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® was proud to host its first-ever Riding with the Brand Block Party. It was a joy to gather with so many passionate professionals and REALTOR® colleagues to celebrate our brand,” said C.A.R. President Jennifer Branchini, a REALTOR® practicing in Pleasanton, Calif. “REALTORS® working to make a difference for working families is something of which we can all be proud. It truly begins with us.”
Attendees enjoyed the opportunity to connect with fellow REALTORS® and National Association of REALTORS® leadership, Branchini said. NAR’s 2023 President-elect Tracy Kasper, a broker from Eagle, Idaho, was on hand to thank C.A.R. members for their commitment.
The fun and momentum continue next week in Washington, D.C., for the REALTOR® National Block Party on May 9 at Nationals Park. REALTORS® from around the country will host their Congressional representatives and staff, highlighting how REALTORS® from every district are protecting the American dream of homeownership.
Springfield, Ill.: Speaking With One Voice
Triumphantly raising the Riding with the Brand belt buckle above his head, Illinois REALTORS® President Michael Gobber told more than 600 members who were gathered near the state Capitol building in Springfield on April 25 that their voices are powerful. During the state association’s Capitol Conference and Lobby Day—which brought members face to face with their elected officials to discuss housing policy—the REALTOR® brand loomed large.
Gobber emphasized the importance of statewide advocacy efforts aligning with NAR’s nationwide initiative to ensure a well-oiled machine supporting the REALTOR® voice. “Our Capitol Conference today is a proud recognition of our statewide advocacy efforts and reminds us of the value we bring to our communities and this industry,” Gobber said.
Jennifer Wauhob, NAR’s newly appointed vice president of association affairs, spoke to the crowd about the importance of authenticity to branding. “When you share your stories—really show people what you do—that helps protect our brand,” she said.
After inspiring speeches and meetings with state representatives, members still had time for interpersonal connection and fun. Many took photos with Riding with the Brand signage, enjoyed a live band and played cornhole. They posted selfies and reels on various social media platforms, showcasing their support for the campaign.
Monica Nia Jones, who was crowned Miss Illinois in 2022, made a surprise appearance at the closing reception, expressing her admiration for the Riding with the Brand campaign after learning more about it. Nia Jones also posed for photos with members and leadership. It was a pleasant end to an inspirational day.
–Anthony Hebron, vice president of marketing and communication, Illinois REALTORS®
Helana, Mont.: A State That Understands Branding
Montana REALTORS® put on their dancing boots to welcome the Riding with the Brand motorcoach to the state association’s Spring Business Meetings, which were held April 19-20.
Even in the April snowfall, 110 members clamored for photos with the bus and the REALTOR®-branded motorcycle. Jay Bodner of the Montana Department of Livestock’s Brands Enforcement Division kicked off the event with a speech about the power of branding—Montana style. The state’s approach to brand enforcement is similar to NAR’s trademark enforcement program, and members had the chance to learn more about the history of livestock brands in Montana. (And for those who watch the TV show “Yellowstone”—no, a livestock agent is not a real job.)
NAR President-elect Tracy Kasper and Region 12 Vice President Connie Fogle were on hand to promote the power of the REALTOR® brand not only at a national level—but right in our communities and neighborhoods. “The energy and enthusiasm from members at this event was contagious, and it was fantastic to see so many of our members taking the opportunity to engage with NAR leadership,” said Mark Dobrenski, president of the Montana Association of REALTORS®. “Many of our members who are thinking about joining state leadership were certainly inspired by what they heard from NAR leadership at our event.”
–Nicole Riebe, communications director, Montana Association of REALTORS®
REALTOR® Broker Summit: Passing Down the Power of the Brand
The philosophy behind Riding with the Brand was on full display April 17-18 during the 2023 REALTOR® Broker Summit in Kansas City, Mo. The more than 400 brokers who turned out for the event—many of whom were first-time attendees—marveled at the sheer volume of tools, resources and support NAR provides members. They also shared their pride for the real estate profession and learned new ways to connect their agents to the REALTOR® brand.
“This is incredible,” said attendee Michelle Grafton, broker-owner of Talan Properties in Toccoa, Ga. Grafton, who oversees 17 agents, said she learned insights at the summit that will help her agents better understand the value of being a REALTOR®. “It’s pretty amazing that our membership gives us access to all these tools and resources. This is exactly what I needed to communicate to my agents why we are REALTORS®.”
NAR President Kenny Parcell and CEO Bob Goldberg reminded attendees at the standing-room-only event that the REALTOR® brand wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the participation of members. Riding with the Brand represents the symbiotic relationship between members, who are at the forefront of the real estate business, and the association, which provides support in the background, Goldberg said. “Part of Riding with the Brand is remembering that you—our most successful professionals—are the brand. You provide the value to the brand,” he added.
Marki Lemons Ryhal, host of REALTOR® Magazine’s Drive With NAR podcast and managing broker of Exit Strategy Realty in Chicago, said two of the most important benefits of being a REALTOR® for her and and her team are education and advocacy. “The reason that I’m here 20 years later is because of the education that NAR has provided me,” Lemons Ryhal said. “We stand over 1.5 million members strong. There’s power in numbers, and together, we have made homeownership more affordable and more accessible. We’re saving buyers and sellers money.”
That message also resonated with Wyoming REALTORS® President Scott Richard, who is also broker-owner of Richard Realty in Cody, Wyo. Riding with the Brand “is bringing our REALTOR® family under the single idea that it’s not just about you and it’s not just about me. But together we make up the brand.”
Richard added that the more he gives to the association, the more he receives back. His travels, education and speaking engagements as a part of the association have made him a more skilled and knowledgeable real estate professional. “Through all of this, I’ve learned more and more about how the industry works, and I’ve found that the opportunities are incredible,” he said.
–Nicole Slaughter Graham, REALTOR® Magazine
Boise, Idaho: REALTORS® as Shepherds of the Great Outdoors
Idaho’s scenic outdoor wonders inspired REALTOR® pride as the Riding with the Brand motorcoach rolled into Boise on a brisk morning April 13. More than 200 Idaho REALTORS® gathered around the bus at the state Capitol not only to celebrate the REALTOR® brand but also to show their numbers on a bike ride along the Boise River Greenbelt, which was led by Idaho REALTORS® President Denise Lundy and Kenny Parcell, president of the National Association of REALTORS®.
Idaho Gov. Brad Little and NAR President-elect Tracy Kasper—an Idaho REALTOR® based in the town of Nampa—joined Parcell to discuss topics such as advocacy and brand identity. The event also included a variety of activities and contests, such as cornhole, putt-putt golf and even a mechanical bull. A raffle was held, with winners taking home prizes such as a new Traeger grill, a cruiser bike in REALTOR® blue, tickets to a local rodeo and passes for a whitewater rafting trip. Touring the bus was a highlight of the day, providing members with a unique opportunity to connect with colleagues, snap photos and learn more about the Riding with the Brand message.
The afternoon bike ride was a meaningful culmination of the day: NAR leadership interacted directly with Idaho members, which epitomized the philosophy behind Riding with the Brand. The REALTOR® brand has come to be known as a family of community representatives who are connected on local, state and national levels.
“Idaho was thrilled to host Riding with the Brand and bring together our members to celebrate REALTOR® pride and community involvement,” Lundy said. “Between the activities, prizes, and our incredible speakers, we had an amazing celebration for Idaho. Thank you to everyone who joined us on the Capitol steps.”
–Pete Katsilometes, membership director, Idaho REALTORS®
Salem, Ore.: ‘When REALTORS® Show Up, We Get Results’
About 500 REALTORS® greeted the Riding with the Brand motorcoach as it pulled up to the Oregon state capitol building in Salem on April 11 to support the REALTOR® Day at the Capitol, an annual Oregon REALTORS® event that brings members and state lawmakers together to discuss housing policy, private property rights and their communities’ needs.
Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek was on hand to provide an update on the state’s housing affordability efforts; Pete Kopf, vice president of advocacy for the National Association of REALTORS®, discussed the association’s legislative priorities; and Jonathan Jwayad, cofounder of local sports apparel company Baseballism, explained the importance of branding and how to make it and keep it successful.
The RWTB bus, which was parked in front of the capitol building, served as a giant symbol to state legislators that REALTORS® were present and were using their collective voice to affect change. “When REALTORS® show up, we get results,” said Oregon REALTORS® President Grace Bergen. “We are a united front that comes together to do what is best for homeownership, private property rights and our community. The Riding with the Brand bus served as an epic symbol for all to see what we have and can accomplish as REALTORS®.”
Oregon REALTORS® also were able to use the bus itself as a meeting space with several legislators as well as a backdrop for photo opportunities, networking and even as a resting spot to get off their feet for a few minutes. Bergen said that the RWTB tour stop was a perfect addition to such an important day. “The big blue bus, decorated with the iconic REALTOR® logo, became the centerpiece of the event and symbolized the pride and strength of REALTORS®,” she said.
–Benjamin Caulder, director of communications and marketing, Oregon REALTORS®
La Vista, Neb.: Riding a Blue Wave
REALTOR® blue swept through the center of the country April 3 as hundreds of Nebraska REALTORS® turned out for an exciting Riding with the Brand event during their 2023 Convention & Expo in La Vista, Neb. The dinner event was a huge success, giving Nebraska REALTORS® a chance to connect, network, and learn more about the value of the REALTOR® brand, says state association President Doug Dohse.
The Swamp Boy Blues Band performed, and NAR First Vice President Kevin Sears joined the festivities, speaking briefly to thank Nebraska REALTORS® for Riding with the Brand. Members enjoyed numerous branded photo opportunities with the Riding with the Brand swag, especially the motorcoach and motorcycle!
“The Nebraska REALTORS® Association has always been at the forefront of providing professional development opportunities for its members,” says Dohse, an agent with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Ambassador Real Estate in Omaha, Neb. “The Riding with the Brand event is a testament to the association’s commitment to creating unique and engaging experiences for our members.”
–Hanna Oltman, communications director, Nebraska REALTORS® Association
Reno, Nev.: A Gathering of Leaders
More than 300 REALTORS® and guests participated in Riding with the Brand festivities April 10, kicking off the Rocky Mountain Region 11 Conference in Reno, Nev. The conference brings together leaders from Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming to address regional challenges and advance common goals.
Regional Vice President Kevin Sigstad, CCIM, CPM, welcomed National Association of REALTORS® President Kenny Parcell and First Vice President Kevin Sears to the RWTB event, which took place poolside at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno. Sigstad who served as Nevada REALTORS® president in 2015, is broker-owner of RE/MAX Premier Properties in Reno.
Combining a networking mixer, cornhole tournament, and variety of RWTB props for photo-taking, the event brought participants together to share stories, tell jokes and talk about what it means to be a REALTOR®. After a winter with record-breaking snow and rain, REALTORS® were pleased to welcome in the first warm spring day as they met new friends and colleagues from across the region.
–Dan Eckles, communications director, Nevada REALTORS®
Tallahassee, Fla.: REALTOR® Brand in the Sunshine
More than 1,000 Florida REALTORS® gathered around the Riding with the Brand motorcoach when it pulled up near the state capitol building in Tallahassee on March 30—just as a historic housing bill was signed into state law.
The Live Local Act, a comprehensive, statewide workforce housing plan, marked a hard-fought success for the Florida REALTORS® association, which has been advocating for such a law for more than three decades to help alleviate a growing housing crisis. The powerful presence of the REALTOR® brand at such an important moment in state housing history was felt throughout the crowd.
“I can’t stress enough how amazing it was to be able to rally around the REALTOR® brand in the backdrop of such a historic event for our state,” said Florida REALTORS® President Mike McGraw. “This bill would never have happened if it wasn’t for the REALTOR® voice. It made this year’s event all the more special, demonstrating that as a profession, we are strong, we are influential and, most importantly, we are united in our efforts to bring the dream of homeownership to all.”
The arrival of the motorcoach coincided with Great American REALTOR® Days, an annual Florida REALTORS® event that takes place during state legislative sessions. GARD provides an opportunity for REALTORS® throughout the state to visit their capital and speak directly with lawmakers as they advocate for real estate industry priorities. Though always an energetic and meaningful affair, the presence of the RWTB bus took things to a whole new level.
“Our members always look forward to GARD each year because it gives them a chance to get directly involved in Florida’s legislative process,” McGraw said. “Their camaraderie is always strong, but what I witnessed when that bus arrived knocked my socks off. Members were smiling from ear to ear as they high-fived, hugged and generally beamed with REALTOR® pride.”
Typically a three-day event, GARD consists of dozens of hill visits with lawmakers, legislative briefings for different member groups and a huge street party next to the capitol building. Members were handed blue block “R” shirts as they took over Adams Street. Two blocks were closed off specifically for the street party, which also housed the RWTB motorcoach. The result was a sea of people in “REALTOR® blue” playing cornhole, taking pictures, shaking hands with lawmakers and dancing the night away.
“The really cool thing about our annual GARD street party is that legislators get a first-hand view of the passion and commitment of REALTORS® to their profession and their state,” says McGraw. “And when I say ‘literal,’ I mean it, because they looked out their office windows of the capitol, and all they saw was this wall of blue surrounding this huge block R-branded bus. It was a sight to behold. There is no way that a Florida lawmaker witnessed that and thought to themselves that REALTORS® are a group to be ignored.”
–Tom Butler, public policy communications director, Florida REALTORS®
Austin, Texas: ‘Sea of Purple’ Shows Commitment to Policy, Not Politics
The south mall of the Texas capitol building in Austin turned into a sea of purple March 22 as REALTORS® showed their passion for protecting property rights and championing housing policies in the state—an issue that largely brings people in the blue and red corners of the political spectrum together.
The Riding with the Brand motorcoach was flanked by about 3,500 members of Texas REALTORS®, some of whom traveled more than 500 miles across the state for the association’s REALTOR® Day at the Texas Capitol. Attendees started the day with a rally on the capitol’s steps, which was led by leaders from Texas REALTORS® and the National Association of REALTORS®, before holding meetings with elected officials.
Texas REALTORS® Chairman Marcus Phipps thanked the crowd, decked out in purple jackets, shirts and shoes, for being part of the “purple solution.” “Our policy positions are never red; they are never blue,” Phipps said. “Our positions are based on policy, not politics.”
In meetings with 181 legislators and statewide leaders, Texas REALTORS® discussed the association’s legislative priorities, including reining in property taxes through effective, sustainable and equitable methods; protecting property owners from undue burdens; making investments in the state’s infrastructure; and supporting the day-to-day business activities of REALTORS®.
Resolutions were read in the Texas House and Senate, declaring Texas REALTORS® Day at the State Capitol and praising REALTORS® for their vital role in their communities. “We are more than a transaction,” said NAR Region 10 Vice President Cindi Bulla. “We are building communities across the nation.” Bulla, NAR President Kenny Parcell and NAR President-elect Tracy Kasper greeted REALTORS® who took tours of the Riding with the Brand bus and motorcycle, played cornhole and talked about a range of topics.
“I wanted to be here in person,” said a Texas commercial real estate specialist who was a first-time attendee at the REALTOR® Day at the Texas Capitol. “It’s one thing to interact with your association from a computer, but there’s nothing like being here.”
–Marty Kramer, director of communications, Texas REALTORS®
Atlanta: Georgia Has REALTOR® Pride on Its Mind
More than 800 Georgia REALTORS® greeted the Riding with the Brand motorcoach as it pulled into Atlanta on March 1 for the state association’s annual REALTOR® Days at the Dome Legislative Conference. A longstanding tradition for the Georgia Association of REALTORS®, the conference provides members a chance to get face time with their elected officials and discuss issues pertaining to private property rights, homeownership and the real estate industry in Georgia.
GAR President Lisa Scully notes that members raised $100,000 for RPAC at an auction the night before the RWTB event, excitement was in the air from the first moment. “As soon as everyone arrived at the [RWTB] event, they went directly to the bus and started snapping photos, recording videos and sharing them across their social media channels,” Scully says. “I was eager to check it all out myself—and even got the chance to ‘drive’ the bus!”
Joey Tucker, member services liaison for the National Association of REALTORS®, kicked off the event with a rousing speech noting the intersection of real estate and policymaking. “I’m thrilled that Riding with the Brand was able to interact with two of our audiences: our members and our elected officials,” Tucker says. “When our legislators were done speaking to our group, many of them walked over to check out the bus and motorcycle. Attorney General Chris Carr recorded a message for his social media followers in front of the REALTOR® bus, and Gov. Brian Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp stopped by as well. [RWTB] was definitely a popular addition to the conference!”
Both Scully and Tucker visited Kemp’s office to present him with a Riding with the Brand belt buckle.
GAR members enjoyed having a new element to explore during the event. Members took turns taking selfies with the REALTOR®-branded motorcycle, exploring the motorcoach and playing cornhole between meetings with elected officials. There also were a couple of bus photo ops inside the event, which were a huge hit.
Rodney Rawls, a member from Savannah, says he was thrilled to see NAR have a bold presence at a GAR event. “I am so grateful that NAR decided to put REALTOR® Days at the Dome on the Riding with the Brand schedule,” he says. “It takes an event that is already great up another notch.”
One memorable moment was when conference attendees filed out of the venue for a large group shot. “I think this will encourage Georgia REALTORS® to attend NAR events,” Scully says. “By coming to us on this tour, NAR is building pride and cultivating active and engaged members at every level of the REALTOR® organization.”
–Brandie Miner, director of communications and marketing, Georgia Association of REALTORS®
Little Rock, Ark.: The Power of Uniting Behind a Common Purpose
More than 250 REALTORS® assembled at the Arkansas State Capitol in Little Rock Feb. 21 for a Riding with the Brand event as part of the Arkansas REALTORS® annual REALTOR® Day at the Capitol. REALTOR® Day at the Capitol highlights the association’s legislative and advocacy efforts, while providing the chance for members to meet with their state legislators and talk about advocacy goals.
Pete Kopf, 2023 vice president of advocacy for the National Association of REALTORS®, was on hand to talk about what it really means to ride with the REALTOR® brand.
“We thoroughly enjoyed having Pete with us to remind our members of the importance of always ‘Riding with the Brand,’ as well as the impact we can have when we come together and unite in our purpose,” says 2023 Arkansas REALTORS® President Paulette Richie. “Fighting for private property rights in Arkansas is something we take pride in, and having 250 REALTORS® show up to meet with their state legislators just reinforces our commitment to fighting for Arkansans across the state.”
Kopf presented a Riding with the Brand belt buckle to Frankie Rivers, ABR, GRI, an agent with RE/MAX Elite in Benton, Ark. Arkansas REALTORS® leadership chose Rivers—for her work at both the local and the state level—as someone who truly embodies the REALTOR® spirit.
In addition to Kopf, Arkansas Speaker of the House Matthew Shepherd, Arkansas Senate President Pro Tempore Bart Hester, and Arkansas State Rep. Clint Penzo, a REALTOR® from Fayetteville, Ark., joined REALTORS® for the event.
“Having members of the legislature and special guests from NAR in attendance was such a special treat for our members,” says Richie. “The Riding with the Brand event is the perfect way to showcase that REALTOR® spirit and show off all the hard work our members put back into their communities each and every day.”
– B.J. Matthews, director of public relations and meeting planning, Arkansas REALTORS®
Lexington, Ky.: REALTORS® Find They Have Advocates, Too
The Riding with the Brand motorcoach stopped in the Bluegrass State on Feb. 17 during the annual Kentucky REALTORS® Legislative Meetings in Lexington, Ky., with more than 200 members gathering to take selfies with the RWTB bus and motorcycle, play cornhole, and discuss the power of the REALTOR® brand. Members croded onto the bus throughout the chilly morning for meetings and photo opportunities. They were asked to show off their REALTOR® pride on social media.
Some members got a sneak preview of the RWTB setup while participating in an RPAC mixology event, where they taste-tested signature cocktails at the Malone’s Prime venue in Lexington. Later, members crowded into the venue to hear NAR First Vice President Kevin Sears and Vice President of Advocacy Pete Kopf discuss what being a REALTOR® means to both the real estate industry and consumers. It was the first time ever that the Kentucky association had two NAR leaders in the room at the same time. It also was Sears’ first time visiting Kentucky, so members enjoyed introducing him to the state’s famed bourbon.
The Riding with the Brand event capped off the weeklong Kentucky REALTORS® Legislative Meetings, where members conveyed the importance of homeownership and consumer protections in meetings with their legislators at the state Capitol. “The brand encapsulates who we are not only as REALTORS® but industry professionals who have the best interests of our communities at heart,” says Kentucky REALTORS® President Elizabeth Monarch. “When a member of the public sees the ‘R,’ we want them to know that REALTORS® are on Capitol Hill fighting and advocating for the importance of homeownership.”
Kentucky REALTORS® viewed the Riding with the Brand tour as creating synergy between the local, state and national associations, and it emphasized that members have advocates for their business at every level of the REALTOR® organization.
–Kentucky REALTORS® COO Kyle Tetzlaff
Oklahoma City: REALTORS® Put the ‘Home’ in ‘Oklahoma’
Welcoming National Association of REALTORS® Treasurer Greg Hrabcak, Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell, and former Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, more than 200 REALTORS® from across the state of Oklahoma were Riding with the Brand in style Feb. 14.
The Capitol Conference kicked off with a welcome reception at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, where Oklahoma REALTORS® had the chance to network with fellow members as well as state senators and representatives. A western theme got REALTORS® ready for Riding with the Brand.
NAR Treasurer Greg Hrabcak kicked off the next morning with a message about the power of the REALTOR® brand and the financial strength of the National Association of REALTORS®. Afterward, Oklahoma REALTORS® heard from Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell, who recently used his leadership position to build the state of Oklahoma’s brand and show that Oklahoma is more than just “OK.”
From there, we headed to the state capitol to meet with state legislators and other elected officials. Our REALTORS® were able to promote the REALTOR® brand to their state representatives and senators, as well as Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and House Speaker Charles McCall, who both stopped by the Riding with the Brand motorcoach when it was parked in front of the state capitol.
Last, we headed back to the museum for a keynote lunch with former Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett. Named one of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders” by Fortune in 2018, Mayor Cornett shared his expertise in building Oklahoma City’s brand during his four terms as mayor and talked with REALTORS® about how to build their personal brands.
Being a REALTOR® in Oklahoma is something that our members should be proud of. Oklahoma’s state motto is labor omnia vincit, or work conquers all. As REALTORS®, we know the truth of that, showing up every day to help our clients reach their dreams.
As for Riding with the Brand, we are not finished just because the event ended. This ride is a lifelong journey, from protecting property rights to promoting the American dream of home ownership. That’s the REALTOR® brand. That’s who we are.
–Oklahoma Association of REALTORS® President Julie Smith
Denver: Rocky Mountain High on REALTOR® Spirit
Climbing more than 5,000 feet in elevation, the Riding with the Brand motorcoach came to the Rocky Mountains, pulling into Denver’s bustling downtown to the fanfare of more than 220 Colorado REALTORS®. Members from every corner of the state came together Feb. 8–9 for the Colorado Association of REALTORS®’ Economic Summit and REALTOR® Day, which also drew state lawmakers and industry experts who outlined their predictions for the real estate market.
Throughout the two-day event, CAR President Natalie Davis, AHWD, SRES, C2EX, and CEO Tyrone Adams, CAE, RCE, discussed with members how the REALTOR® brand impacted their careers as well as how to embrace and prepare for change, achieve work-life balance and make a difference in the real estate industry. Economists spoke about ways in which Colorado is leading the nation in affordable-housing development and credit-building programs. Eleni Angelides, deputy legislative director for Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, joined lawmakers from the state House and Senate to talk about housing policy and bills currently under consideration. And Kristy Hairston, EPRO, SFR, C2EX, NAR’s RPAC fundraising liaison, explained the importance of supporting REALTOR® candidates for state and local offices.
Colorado REALTORS® raised more than $53,000 for RPAC at the REALTOR® Day reception.
The Riding with the Brand motorcoach, which was only a block from the Colorado state capitol building, attracted both REALTORS® and Denver residents alike. CAR members were encouraged to post a photo of themselves with the bus on social media and talk about why they are proud to be a REALTOR®.
“We created an opportunity to showcase the value of a REALTOR® with our members as well as with our local elected officials and community partners,” Davis says of CAR’s Riding with the Brand event. “One distinct difference about working with a REALTOR® can be found in our advocacy work. This year, we had the opportunity to identify proposed bills that could directly impact homeownership and property rights for Coloradans. When it comes to Riding with the Brand, REALTORS® are the brand—and the brand is us. Together, we are working to protect private property rights and advocate for housing availability and attainability.”
“We came together to share perspectives, gain insights on our state and national economy, meet with our state’s elected leaders and celebrate the strength and power of the REALTOR® brand and our work on behalf of consumers across the country,” Adams adds.
–Lisa Hansmeier, vice president of member engagement and public relations, Colorado Association of REALTORS®
Columbia, S.C.: Learning From a REALTOR® Champion
The memory of NAR leader Margo Wheeler, who died of cancer Jan. 28, was on the minds of the more than 300 REALTORS® who welcomed the Riding with the Brand motorcoach to Columbia, S.C., on Feb. 2. The bus pulled into the South Carolina REALTORS®’ annual Capitol Conference & Leadership Training, a two-day event that highlights the association’s legislative and advocacy efforts and supports future real estate leaders.
NAR Regional Vice President Amy Hedgecock, who serves Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, kicked off the leadership training day with a tribute to Wheeler and a passionate speech about the purpose and importance of the REALTOR® brand. Columbia Mayor Daniel Rickenmann and state association President Rob Woodul also were on hand during the welcome event.
SCR CEO Nick Kremydas presented Woodul with a set of spurs as a gift from Wyoming REALTORS®, which hosted the previous stop on the tour. Kremydas also gave away two Riding with the Brand belt buckles and held a drawing for a grand prize, a Cowboy electric bike.
“We were all so excited to be a part of the nationwide Riding with the Brand tour to spread the word about the REALTOR® volunteer spirit, community spirit, commitment to excellence, Code of Ethics and relentless defense of property rights—all of which encompass the REALTOR® brand,” Woodul said.
At the end of the event, he symbolically passed the torch to the next stop on the tour, Denver, by tossing a football into the stands of Williams-Brice Stadium in downtown Columbia.
–Sharon Delia Stone, senior vice president of communications and marketing, South Carolina REALTORS®
Cheyenne, Wyo.: A Small but Mighty Force Lifts the REALTOR® Brand
Wyoming REALTORS® may be a small association, but its members are a tour de force. More than 200 descended on the capital of Cheyenne—some traveling hundreds of miles across the state in snowy conditions—for the Riding with the Brand event at the association’s annual legislative meetings Jan. 23.
Tracy Kasper, president-elect for the National Association of REALTORS®, gave a powerful and inspiring speech about what it means to be a REALTOR®. Then, attendees met with industry leaders, toured the Riding with the Brand motorcoach and played in a fundraising cornhole tournament before greeting their legislators and community leaders that evening. “Wyoming knocked it out of the park,” Kasper says. “They were so gracious to everyone who attended. It was so perfectly stated that Wyoming’s association may be small, but they’re mighty.”
Wyoming REALTORS® raised more than $20,000 for RPAC during the event, which shows the power even a small association can wield. As the president of Wyoming REALTORS®, I can say that our legislators, members and community leaders witnessed firsthand the meaning of “REALTOR® Strong.”
–Wyoming REALTORS® President Scott Richard
Phoenix: REALTORS® Have a ‘Field Day’ Celebrating Their Brand
From the Jersey Shore to downtown Phoenix, the National Association of REALTORS®’ Riding with the Brand motorcoach drove cross-country, arriving at Chase Field, Home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, for REALTOR® Day on Jan. 10.
This first-of-its-kind Arizona REALTORS® event, formerly known as REALTOR® Day at the Capitol, combined real estate, political advocacy, and Riding with the Brand—providing approximately 500 Arizona REALTORS® an opportunity to meet with their state legislators, learn about advocacy goals for the 2023 legislative session and hear insights from NAR Political Representative Jack Greacen, and 2023 NAR President Kenny Parcell.
“It was exciting to see how many of our members, elected officials and community leaders embraced Riding with the Brand through a better understanding of the importance of real estate and REALTORS® throughout Arizona,” says Arizona REALTORS® CEO Scott Drucker.
The Riding with the Brand pop-up added a unique and exciting experience for members, who descended in droves to climb aboard the REALTOR® motorcoach, play a friendly game of cornhole and take selfies in front of the branded REALTOR® motorcycle parked near home plate.
“Whenever you have the Speaker of the [Arizona] House, NAR President Parcell, and Arizona REALTORS® President Gibbs under one roof, engaging everyday REALTORS®, it’s a win,” says Arizona REALTORS® Government Affairs Director, Matthew Contorelli.
Aside from the exhilarating Riding with the Brand experience, REALTORS® had the opportunity to consider what their brand truly means and their role in driving home the REALTOR® difference.
“What excites our members the most is that Riding with the Brand is not something that Kenny Parcell and NAR leadership is doing for us. Rather, it’s something they are doing with us, which makes this event even more special,” says Drucker. Members left REALTOR® Day empowered and unified, with the knowledge that the brand is not defined by one person but rather by a shared responsibility. “We are the Brand; and we can make a difference in our communities, and our state at large.”
“What an honor it was to have President Kenny Parcell and NAR with us for REALTOR® Day at Chase Field,” says Arizona REALTORS® 2023 President, Eric Gibbs. “The Riding with the Brand experience reminded us of who we R: REALTORS®. We’re thrilled to continue Riding with the Brand in 2023 and beyond.”
–Teleia Galaviz, social media manager, Arizona REALTORS®
Atlantic City, N.J.: Road Trip Begins
The REALTOR® brand rode into Atlantic City, N.J., in early December as part of the National Association of REALTORS®’ Riding with the Brand member activation tour.
More than 6,500 REALTORS® from New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania were gathered for the Triple Play REALTOR® Convention and Trade Expo. In the expo area, members followed the Riding with the Brand logos on the floor to reach the branded motorcoach and motorcycle and to connect with state association leaders and 2023 NAR President Kenny Parcell.
Over the next 12 months, the Riding with the Brand tour is engaging with members nationwide to highlight their role in shaping the REALTOR® brand and emphasize opportunities to strengthen market conditions for U.S. consumers. The campaign kicked off at NAR’s REALTOR® Party Conference in Philadelphia, Nov. 29–Dec. 1, before heading to the Jersey Shore.
“It was truly an honor to be the second stop for NAR's Riding With the Brand campaign,” said New York State Association of REALTORS® President Jennifer Vucetic. “Members who attended our tri-state convention in Atlantic City felt supported by our national association, and it made Triple Play [now in its 21st year] that much more special. We appreciate the opportunity to be part of the campaign.”
“Triple Play is a unique experience where we are able to connect with members from all over the tri-state area,” said NJ REALTORS® 2022 President Robert White. “Welcoming the national brand and association into that mix created an even more meaningful and successful convention.”
‘Protect the Realm’
Brand building was a big theme of Triple Play. Keynote speaker Bethenny Frankel, founder and CEO of lifestyle brand Skinnygirl, spoke to a packed room about staying true to your authentic brand.
“Before my success, I didn’t think of the word ‘brand.’ It wasn’t discussed, but it is really important,” said Frankel, who gained fame as a cast member of Bravo’s “Real Housewives of New York.” In addition to founding Skinnygirl, Frankel is a New York Times bestselling author and a TV producer. She hosts a business podcast, Just B, and founded and launched BStrong, a worldwide initiative in partnership with Global Empowerment Mission to collect aid and donations to help people affected by natural disasters.
“The concept [of brand] is so important,” Frankel said, “even if it’s your own moral compass. I always know what my brand is: Protect the realm.”
That’s just what Riding with the Brand aims to do.
“Our members look forward to attending Triple Play every year to network with each other and gain valuable business insights,” said Pennsylvania Association of REALTORS® President Christopher Beadling. “Hosting NAR President Kenny Parcell, the Riding with the Brand bus and motorcycle, and keynote speaker Bethenny Frankel added an extra level of excitement to the event.”
–Colleen Oliver, director of public relations and marketing, NJ REALTORS®