Nurturing Success

Diane Ruggiero, the 2015 Magel Award winner, on listings and leadership

In Diane Ruggiero’s 35 years of managing REALTOR® associations and MLSs, she’s learned a thing or two about, well, just about everything you need to run a REALTOR® association. Her expertise on topics from leadership training to technology to political advocacy is broad and deep. This is why she’s a sought-after speaker and trainer for REALTORS®, other AEs, and community groups nationwide.

Ruggiero, RCE, the CEO of the Kansas City Regional Association of REALTORS®, was one of the founders of the RCE designation and served on its advisory board for 12 years. She was also one of the original RAMCO project team members who had the vision for a better association management system. She has served as chair of the AE Committee, currently serves on the AEC’s Chapter Formation Work Group, and is the AE liaison to the NAR Finance Committee.

Ruggiero was a charter inductee into the Dr. Almon R. (Bud) Smith, RCE, AE Leadership Society in 1998. Her service to the REALTOR® family has earned her the 2015 William R. Magel Award of Excellence in association management.

REALTOR® AE asked Ruggiero for her take on two of the timeliest issues affecting AEs today.

Is the industry finally coalescing around a single approach to the fair display of listing data online, or are approaches still fragmented?

I think brokers, portals, MLSs, and real estate companies are all trying to achieve the same goal when it comes to online advertising of listings, but nobody is really sure of the best way to do that. So although there are different parties, I don’t think they’re at odds with each other.

Certainly in the past few years, there’s been a movement by big brokers to take back control of their listing data. They’re speaking with a more unified voice, saying, ‘We’re tired of paying for leads, we’re tired of our information being pirated, and we need to take control.’ So, in that sense, the goal of the brokers when it comes to listings online has coalesced.

When I talk to my large brokers at the street level, I find that even though they’re not actively part of the campaign for listing data control, they’re certainly not against it. Their focus is on business, but when they hear from their corporate leaders that projects like UpStream* should be supported, they support it. My brokers think UpStream is a good thing, and they think they’re going to get data control back. Although I’m not sure anyone knows yet exactly how that will happen, my brokers are supportive of the project.

My MLS has the same goal as my brokers when it comes to listing data control and protection. If they’re supportive of RPR, which they are, then we’re all for it. If they’re supportive of Upstream, then we’re right there behind them. We don’t tell our brokers what’s best for their business. We keep them informed and then we ask them what’s best for their business.”

Your association is very active politically and has a wide range of strong programs. How do you maintain this level of volunteer commitment from members?

Whether it’s advocacy activities, community outreach, diversity, or any of our other program or services, they are only as strong as the volunteer leaders behind them. That’s why identifying and encouraging leadership among our members is critically important.

If someone I meet at an event seems like a potential leader, I’ll invite that person to be on a project team. It’s up to both staff and leaders to encourage members to be involved. If I see a good committee person, I’ll ask if he or she is interested in being the chair. It’s all about identifying the potential, then recommending—not pushing—the right involvement.

Having a strong Young Professionals Network group is very important for attracting younger leaders to your organization. When a group of younger members came to us and wanted to start a YPN, I was a bit skeptical. Everything they wanted to do seemed to involve a cocktail party, and their approaches were very different. But after a while we realized that they are big supporters of the association and they are serious about mentoring and attracting more young people to become involved in the association. Now, their events attract a new group of people that we normally don’t see. The younger members who are involved talk to other members and get them involved.

* For more on UpStream, visit

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