As one of the most recent inductees to the Dr. Almon “Bud” Smith AE Leadership Society, Deb Junkin, RCE, CEO of the Georgia Association of REALTORS®, is recognized for her achievements on many fronts. In the area of association management, Junkin has honed her skill by earning the Strategies in Nonprofit Management certificate from the University of Chicago and is a graduate of Duke University’s Nonprofit Management program.
In community outreach, Junkin serves her area’s interests on the University of Georgia Housing and Demographic Research Center Advisory Board and the Georgia Healthy Homes Strategic Planning Advisory Committee. And for political advocacy, Junkin is a Platinum R RPAC Hall of Fame investor and a six-year member of NAR’s President’s Circle. She also serves on the National Association of REALTORS®’ Housing Opportunities Committee and AEC State EO Forum. Here, we ask Junkin for her perspectives on achieving success in today’s changing association environment.
Q. Do you believe AEs will need new skills to run the association of the future over the next five or 10 years? What skills?
There will be a greater demand for AEs to be leaders, not administrators. Studies have shown that the volunteer leaders of the future are looking for AEs who are visionaries, strategic thinkers, collaborators, unifiers, mentors, and problem solvers. Leaders want executives who understand not only association management but also the real estate industry. I often hear that the state or national conference doesn’t offer enough for AEs, but I don’t think that’s true. Attend a session or two for brokers and invest the time to understand their challenges so you can position yourself to help focus the association to identify solutions.
Q. As someone involved in housing opportunity at the national association and in your state, what challenges remain in achieving the goals of the Fair Housing Act (eliminating all discrimination in housing)?
If we asked our members which protected class represented nearly 60 percent of the 8,300 complaints of housing discrimination filed in 2016, they may be surprised to learn these were discrimination based on disability. The challenge continues to be awareness and understanding of the protected classes not only as recognized by the Fair Housing Act but also as recognized by the REALTOR® Code of Ethics.
Q. As a role model and mentor for your local association executives, what advice do you have for smaller association AEs who feel undervalued by their leadership?
The primary role of the elected leadership is to govern, and the role of the AE leader is to manage the association. Many smaller associations with a staff of one or two have a greater challenge when it comes to separating the two because leadership is often called upon to be both volunteer leader and volunteer manager, depending on how the association is structured. To develop mutually respectful and beneficial working relationships, smaller associations should develop detailed staff job descriptions with a chief staff evaluation process adopted by the BOD as policy. Written volunteer position descriptions are also necessary because often, over time, volunteer positions assume authority that is not actually spelled out in the bylaws. Next, strive to be compensated fairly by presenting your leadership with salary facts from compensation studies, including from local outside organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce or other not-for-profits, or online sources, including guidestar.org.
Become your own best advocate by tracking and sharing your achievements. Let’s face it, most of us are great at singing the praises of our leadership but we often fail to let them know what we have accomplished. Lastly, reach out to your peers for assistance with any of the above; they are your greatest resource.
Q. In today’s polarized political environment, has your approach to advocacy or communication regarding your association’s political actions changed?
Communication of our advocacy efforts has expanded to include legislative, regulatory, and bipartisan issues on the national, state, and local levels. For Georgia, our goal is to continue to embrace bipartisan advocacy to positively impact our associations, our membership, and our communities. With the adoption of Core Standards, advocacy has become an essential focus of our service to the local associations and membership.