RISMedia’s 2014 Real Estate CEO Exchange
Sept. 9 & 10, 2014 – The Yale Club, New York City
(in alphabetical order)
John E. Featherston is President and Chief Executive Officer of RISMedia, Inc. Since 1980, RISMedia, the leader in real estate information systems, has been providing the industry with news, trends and business development strategies through its flagship publication, Real Estate magazine; its leading website, RISMedia.com; and its renowned networking and educational events. RISMedia also provides real estate news and information to consumers through its member-only national networks: RISMedia’s Real Estate Information Network® (RREIN) for leading brokers, and RISMedia’s Top 5 in Real Estate Network® for leading agents. Hundreds of thousands of home-buying and -selling consumers receive valuable information from leading real estate professionals daily, weekly or monthly, through their affiliation with either RREIN or the Top 5 in Real Estate Network®. RISMedia is headquartered in Norwalk, Connecticut.
Gino Blefari is the incoming Chief Executive Officer for HSF Affiliates LLC, which operates the real estate brokerage networks of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Prudential Real Estate and Real Living Real Estate. Prior to this (late 2002 to June 2014) he was the Founder, President and CEO of Intero Real Estate Services, Inc., a leading U.S. real estate brokerage headquartered in California’s Silicon Valley. Blefari has led Intero through discipline, constant innovation, and a cadence of accounting, to become one of the fastest organically growing companies in the history of real estate. Today, Intero is the No. 1 real estate company in Silicon Valley and has extended their reach across the U.S. and around the globe.
Dave Liniger is Chairman and Co-Founder of RE/MAX, LLC. The visionary leader co-founded the Denver-based global real estate franchise with his wife, Gail, in 1973. Liniger is well respected internationally for his vast knowledge of the real estate industry and influence on housing policy. At the height of the recession, he pushed for governmental housing reform policies that would help speed the housing recovery; many of his recommendations were adopted. Liniger revolutionized the real estate industry when he created the RE/MAX business model, which combines a maximum commission concept with world-class support services. The name “RE/MAX” was coined from the words “real estate” and “maximums.” The model continues to attract experienced, top-producing agents who lead the industry in individual sales and professional education. The RE/MAX Balloon is one of the most recognized corporate images in the world. Liniger spent much of 2012 recovering from a life-threatening infection that surfaced in late January. After multiple surgeries, weeks in intensive care, and months in the hospital, he returned to RE/MAX World Headquarters in July. He chronicled his ordeal and recovery in an inspirational New York Times Best Seller, “My Next Step: An Extraordinary Journey of Healing and Hope.”
Kenneth R. Trepeta Esq. has been Director of Real Estate Services for the National Association of REALTORS® since June of 2007. In this role, he covers the broader real estate industry for NAR on the legislative and regulatory front, acting as liaison to senior executives at large real estate firms. Prior to this, Trepeta was the Regulatory Policy Representative for NAR handling regulatory and industry relations on issues such as RESPA and federal housing policy, including FHA. Trepeta’s former roles include serving as a Vice President for Government Relations at JP Morgan Chase where he covered tax policy, housing and mortgage issues, legal reform issues, etc., and serving as Vice President for Government Relations at the Financial Services Forum, where he led successful efforts to change the tax code with regard to capital gains and dividends and reform the nation’s class action laws. Trepeta is a monthly columnist for RISMedia, covering the Dodd-Frank Act, RESPA and other key housing issues impacting real estate professionals and consumers.
Kevin Kelleher is President & CEO of Cartus. With 30-plus years of relocation management experience, Kelleher has led Cartus on high growth and global expansion strategies, inclusive of multiple acquisitions and the creation of new products for distinctly different customer segments. He has vast experience and expertise in general management, organizational design, marketing, supply chain performance, and mergers and acquisitions. Under his leadership, Cartus has been recognized as one of Connecticut’s “Top Workplaces” in a survey sponsored by the Hearst Corporation and as “Relocation Management Company of the Year” by the Forum for Expatriate Management. For 13 consecutive years, Cartus has achieved the prestigious “Top 125” listing status from Training Magazine for its commitment to organizational development. The company has also won numerous accolades in its EMEA and APAC regions and has been cited in the U.S. for its dedication to environmental protection initiatives, such as employee ridesharing and energy conservation. Kelleher serves on a wide variety of boards and advisory councils, including the Inner City Foundation for Charity and Education and the Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council.
Paul Boomsma is the president of Luxury Portfolio International®—the luxury marketing arm of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®. This global network of top real estate brokerages operates more than 5,000 offices in 40+ countries with an award-winning website: luxuryportfolio.com, which markets more than 25,000 properties annually in multiple languages and currencies and receives traffic from 200+ countries each month. Boomsma began his career marketing luxury office towers, then joined a top residential firm, and later became National Marketing Director for a major franchise. With more than 20 years of experience, Boomsma has been named one of the Most Influential People in Luxury Real Estate and has received Unique Homes’ Luxury Marketer of the Year Award.
Driven by passion and positivity, Vince Leisey is President of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Ambassador Real Estate. In over a decade at the helm of the Omaha-based Ambassador Real Estate, Leisey turned adversity into achievement, leading his company to both financial and charitable prosperity. In 2013, the Omaha office closed over 5,400 units and a billion dollars in sales volume. The firm has raised more than $1.1 million dollars for the Sunshine Kids and over $300,000 in 2013 alone. Leisey was the youngest person to ever be awarded Prudential Real Estate’s prestigious “Broker of the Year” award in 2007. He is the Founder and Chief Advisor of the REThink Council, a brainstorming group of top young agents from across the country, and likes to push people to think outside the box. Leisey has spoken in front of thousands of professionals across the country, explaining how success in life is determined by whether you’ve enriched the lives of others. His life lessons are meant to encourage and inspire well outside the boundaries of an office.
Ken Baris, president of Jordan Baris REALTORS® in New Jersey, is among the real estate industry’s most prolific and dynamic leaders. He is the proud recipient of the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® 2012 Presidents Award for Service and 2010 Transaction of the Year for outstanding client experience. Baris is also past president of the NY Metro Group of LeadingRE, a member of the CRB Board of Directors, Zillow Broker Advisory Board, Mobile Real Estate ID Board, and board and Executive Committee member of eLumindata Inc. Frequently in the media and a popular speaker, Baris is often featured in national publications and conventions. An innovator, Baris created Top Presenter, winner of the NAR Software of the Year when launched, and is heralded for his creative approach and his easy and humorous style. Baris is particularly proud of and greatly enjoys working on a daily basis with his father, Jordan Baris, who founded their company in 1952 and remains highly engaged and excited with its growth.
As Vice President of Industry Services for Trulia, Alon Chaver is responsible for the strategy and direction of Trulia’s Broker, MLS and Data quality teams. He also leads Trulia’s efforts to build new services for Brokers and MLSs, expand data-quality initiatives and strengthen partnerships with Brokers and MLSs to empower their agents and members with the tools they need to grow their businesses. Chaver has extensive experience in real estate, data management and online real estate products. Prior to joining Trulia, he was the CEO of iHomefinder, a premium IDX technology provider that grew to be a trusted partner under Chaver’s leadership, serving over 1,500 brokerages, thousands of agents in hundreds of MLSs, over 250 technology vendors, local REALTOR® associations and leading regional MLSs. Chaver received his B.S. (Magna Cum Laude) and J.D. from U.C. Berkeley.
Jenya Denissova is Head of Channel Sales, Traditional Media, Franchise & Real Estate North America for Google. Denissova runs the team responsible for selling Google AdWords, display, video and mobile products through Google partners in North America. She initially joined Google in 2007 to focus on Google Enterprise solutions and helping small and medium size businesses adopt Google cloud technology with Google Apps. Prior to Google she spent seven years at Apple in various roles supporting Apple’s growth in education and enterprise. Denissova has 14 years experience in high-tech industry, with a focus on sales, marketing and management.
Joan Docktor is the President of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, REALTORS®. She embarked as a sales associate in 1986, achieved Rookie of the Year as a novice agent, and rose through the ranks. Docktor has been instrumental to the growth and profitability of the company, the largest brokerage in the Tri-State area of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. With over 60 sales offices and over 4,000 sales associates, the company also offers relocation services, builder’s marketing, and land development. In partnership with The Trident Group, customers are able to experience a one-stop shopping experience with mortgage services, title and settlement services, and property and casualty insurance. Docktor is a Board of Directors member at The Main Line Chamber of Commerce and The Realty Alliance. She is Vice Chairman on the Board of Directors of TREND Multiple Listing Service. Also, she is a member of The Forum for Executive Women and The Select Greater Philadelphia Advisory Committee. Joan was featured in Philadelphia Style magazine as one of the city’s nine most influential women.
Dave Garland is Manager for Rainmakers Consulting Group and Principal at Pacific States Capital, where he pairs his passion for innovation with an essentialist leadership style that values collaboration, clarity and creativity. He is a passionate advocate for the proper application of technology in real estate. In over 14 years of entrepreneurship, he has established, led and managed advisory, technology and investment firms each dedicated to the pursuit of increased yield to stakeholders. In addition to advising top global residential and commercial real estate organizations on everything from marketing and communications to IT and corporate finance, Garland has acquired and managed national investment-grade real estate portfolios, and has developed several mixed-use, commercial and residential properties totaling over a quarter billion dollars in market value. Garland is a Licensed Real Estate Broker, Certified Construction Specialist, member of the Urban Land Institute and sits on the board of directors at Sustainable Land Development International. Garland holds a BA, Summa Cum Laude from the University of Notre Dame; a degree from Oxford University and an MBA from the Melbourne Business School.
James Harrison is President & CEO of MLSListings Inc., one of the largest multiple listing services in northern California. MLSListings Inc. serves more than 15,000 subscribers, and promotes the listings of more than 65,000 real estate professionals. Harrison is a 25-year veteran of REALTOR® Association and regional MLS management in the states of Texas, Virginia and California. He has served on the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) MLS Policy Committee for nine years, and is the former chair of the NAR/National Realtor Database System Standards Board. He has also served as a member of the Board of Governors for the Association Executive Institute, as a director for NAR, and on the board of advisors for the Center for Realtor Technology (CRT). Harrison was part of the Presidential Advisory Group that created the NAR Real Estate Gateway project; now known as Realtors Property Resource, or RPR. He currently serves on the board of directors for RPR, on the Executive Advisory Committee for MOVE.Com, and on the NAR Emerging Issues and Trends Advisory Board. He is also a board member of the Council of MLSs.
John L. Heithaus serves as Chief Industry Relations Officer for BuyerMLS, the first and only “smart” buyer marketplace for the residential real estate industry. A third-generation real estate professional with nearly 35 years of industry experience, Heithaus has served in executive and “C” level capacities with Coldwell Banker, Prudential, Merrill Lynch Realty, Monster.com and the mega-MLS, MRIS. John’s entrepreneurial ventures have resulted in nearly $100 million in successful exits from three start-ups and he is widely credited with a number of industry innovations in supplier alliances and global supply chain management, along with large scale branding , product launches and marketing initiatives. As a musician and producer of corporate events his work has taken him around the globe performing as a bassist, guitarist and keyboardist. His co-invention, the rock “fantasy camp” has been widely adopted worldwide. Pursuing his avocation, John is managing partner for SuperStar Productions, a record label and experiential marketing company based in Nashville.
Anthony Hitt is the Chief Executive Officer of Engel & Völkers North America and is responsible for leading and managing the Hamburg-based company’s emergence as a distinct provider of premium segment real estate in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Before being named CEO in January 2014, Hitt served as Chief Operating Officer and oversaw the management of the brand’s premium level client service standards among its brokerage network throughout the U.S. Hitt also established the Engel & Völkers Academy in the U.S. to maintain the brand’s level of quality offered on the continent and to ensure its consistency with standards held by the company worldwide. Prior to joining Engel & Völkers, Hitt worked with Sotheby’s International Realty for eight years as a top producing agent, management professional and trainer. Hitt was recognized by both the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times as one of the nation’s top-producing agents. In 2005, he began his own training company. He is also the author of several books on achieving personal and business success.
As Chairman of the Board, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, Mason-McDuffie, Ed Krafchow’s tenure as leader of Mason-McDuffie has been highlighted by three specific accomplishments: growth of the company, technology innovation and a focus on training agents. His basic philosophy is that good organizations create accountability, develop people at all levels of the company and acknowledge those that get their job done, create a result and serve people well. Krafchow’s greatest pride is the charitable work that has been created within Mason-McDuffie. With the help of his wife, Kathy, there have been millions of dollars and thousands of hours spent by volunteers of the brokerage in serving a variety of needs – locally, nationally and internationally. Krafchow believes the real estate industry really functions on good service and survives because of the care of its clients.
Kevin Levent is the President and CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers, a full-service real estate brokerage in the greater Atlanta marketplace. Levent joined the company 30 years ago as a sales associate and assumed his present role almost 20 years ago. The company has 1,800 sales associates working from 25 office locations throughout the region, and operates a unique business model with centralization of processes driven by technology. The firm owns its other core businesses of Mortgage, Insurance, Title and Pre-License School.
Jennifer Marchetti is the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC and leads the teams responsible for brand marketing strategy, direct marketing, online marketing, franchise sales marketing, and communications. Prior to joining Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, Marchetti was Wyndham Worldwide’s Vice President of Marketing and Innovation for the Wyndham Family of Brands, where she was responsible for strategic planning, global marketing, loyalty marketing, and e-commerce strategies for the Wyndham Hotels and Resorts®, TRYP by Wyndham®, Wingate by Wyndham®, and Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham® brands. Marchetti spent nine years with Wyndham Worldwide and its parent company, Cendant Corporation. During her tenure, she held other positions including Director of Marketing for Cendant Preferred Alliance and Senior Director of Strategy at Wyndham Hotel Group. Marchetti began her career as the Director of Corporate Communications with Trilogy, Inc., a privately-held software company based in Austin, Texas. She received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Duke University with a minor in Art History.
Mark A. McLaughlin is Chief Executive Officer of Pacific Union International, Inc. McLaughlin acquired Pacific Union in August 2009 and the brand enjoys an exclusive relationship with Christie’s International Real Estate. A visionary in the industry for more than 20 years, the hallmark of McLaughlin’s successes has consistently been executive team leadership, early adoption of technology applications, open communication and teamwork with keen emphasis on quantitative goals, and exceeding client expectations. With the launch of Marin County’s Morgan Lane in September 2006, McLaughlin built the company in just three years to be Marin County’s most respected luxury brand, with productivity per professional reaching $13 million per year in 2009. Since 2009, McLaughlin has grown Pacific Union from $2.2 billion in sales volume to over $5 billion in 2013. In addition, McLaughlin also drove initiatives to develop joint ventures in the mortgage, insurance and property management service lines to benefit Pacific Union’s clients. Before the Morgan Lane start-up, McLaughlin served as the interim President of Sperry Van Ness International, an Irvine, Calif.-based commercial real estate firm.
Steve Rodgers currently serves as President/CEO/Partner of the new Real Living Lifestyles real estate franchise, a full-service real estate brokerage with an industry-leading suite of tools and resources for real estate professionals and their clients. A proven leader in the real estate industry for nearly 20 years, Rodgers brings his entrepreneurial spirit, incredible track record and forward thinking to the company. His goals for Real Living Lifestyles include growing integrated real estate technology and tools complete with lifestyle services to create a truly multi-dimensional and full-service real estate entity. Rodgers currently serves on several National Association of Realtors committees and contributes year-round to schools, charities and community events. An accomplished speaker, Rodgers has shared the stage with a diversity of acclaimed leaders and authors in addition to addressing a group of high-level executives at the Harvard Business School.
David Romero is President and CEO of CENTURY 21 Award-Superstars. Since 2009 he has managed a 16-office, 1,400 agent combination of two top-performing CENTURY 21 operations based in Orange and San Diego Counties. Romero began his real estate career in 1992 while attending California State University, Sacramento. After graduating with a degree in Political Science, Romero and his brother built a full-service real estate company, purchasing CENTURY 21 Superstars and expanding the business throughout Orange County. In 2004 the Romeros purchased San Diego-based CENTURY 21 Award and combined it with Superstars. Active in the community he serves, Romero works with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Easter Seals, Housing & Redevelopment in the City of Anaheim in addition to the city’s Planning Commission.
Dale Ross, Chief Executive Officer of Realtors Property Resource LLC®, has been in the real estate business for 35 years. As a real estate consultant and/or broker to many companies, Ross has been involved with asset management, renovations, and sales disposition of commercial and residential ground, hotels, multi-family apartment buildings, shopping centers, and office buildings. In 1994, he co-founded the Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, Inc. (MRIS) and served as its President and Chief Executive Officer for seven years. In 1985, Ross served as President of the Montgomery County Association of REALTORS® (Maryland). Four years later, he became the youngest member to be elected President of the Maryland Association of REALTORS®. In 2001, Ross became a charter member of the Board of Directors of the Partnership for Housing Foundation, Inc. a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization funded with seed money from the Maryland Association of REALTORS®. He was President of the Partnership from 2004-2008, and remains on the Board of Directors today. In 2001, he was awarded Maryland Association of REALTORS® Lifetime Achievement Award.
Marshall Saunders has been a licensed real estate agent in the state of Minnesota since 1998 and in 2008 became the Co-Broker/Owner of RE/MAX Results, the largest RE/MAX franchise in the world. RE/MAX Results is based in Eden Prairie, Minn. and is made up of 27 offices throughout Minnesota and Western Wisconsin with just under 850 sales executives. Saunders holds several designations, including Certified Relocation Professional (CRP), Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM), Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE), and is a member of the RE/MAX Hall of Fame. Additionally, Saunders was awarded the Distinguished Service Award in 2014 by RE/MAX, LLC, and received RISMedia’s 2013 Tech Titan award for his progressive view on technology in real estate. RE/MAX Results was ranked number 16 in RISMedia’s 2014 Power Broker Report for achievements in 2013. Inspired by his late father’s battle with colon cancer, Saunders sits on the Vision 2017 Cancer Advisory Development Committee. The goal of this committee is to raise one billion dollars toward a University of Minnesota Cancer Research Center by 2017.
Mike Schlott is the President of the Randall Family of Companies which includes Kinlin Grover Real Estate, Randall Realtors, Page Taft Real Estate and Pequot Commercial. With over 500 agents and $1 billion in annual sales, the Randall Family of Companies is one of New England’s largest real estate brokerage with offices in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. As a 29-year veteran of the real estate industry, Schlott has a strong background in real estate franchising, mortgage banking and mergers and acquisitions. In addition, he is a long-time member of the Board of Directors of MLS PIN, the 8th largest MLS in the country.
Richard ‘Dick’ Schlott is currently the chairman and CEO of Gloria Nilson REALTORS® and RLS REALTORS®. He founded Schlott REALTORS® in 1971 and grew it to 140 offices and 4,500 salespeople across five states, with more than $7 billion in sales. Schlott also developed the Home Mortgage Network before selling Schlott REALTORS® to Coldwell Banker in the early 1990s. Schlott then ran the ERA Franchise system until its sale to Cendant in the mid 1990s. He then moved on to develop GMAC Home Services and served as president and CEO from the late 1990s through early 2001.
Merle L. Whitehead is the President/CEO of RealtyUSA. He is a 2011 REALTOR Emeritus representing 40 years experience as a REALTOR. RealtyUSA has 60 offices in upstate New York and one office in Pennsylvania. Whitehead is also the Chairman and CEO of First Priority Mortgage, Inc., a licensed New York State Mortgage Banker. RealtyUSA is the largest independent Real Estate Company in the State of New York and ranked 11th in transaction sides among RISMedia’s Top 500 Power Brokers for 2014. Sales for 2013 were 21,524 transactions totaling over $3.3 billion dollars. RealtyUSA has been selected as “One of the Best Places to Work” in the Buffalo and the Capital Regions. Whitehead served on the New York State Board of Real Estate, Department of State Regulatory Board, from 1996 – 2010. He has shared his passion for real estate as a guest speaker at the National Association of Realtors Convention, the RELO Annual Convention, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Settlement Services Summit.
Thaddeus Wong is the co-founder of @properties, the largest independently owned residential real estate brokerage firm in Illinois and one of the 25 largest brokerage firms in the U.S. by sales volume. Wong, a Loyola graduate (BBA ’96), began his career in real-estate sales in 1996 and quickly established himself as one of the most successful agents in Chicago. During the early years of his career, he earned four consecutive Golden Eagle Awards from the Chicago Association of REALTORS® as the top-producing agent among the organization’s 10,000+ members. In 2000, Wong and business partner Michael Golden established @properties, and in less than 15 years have grown the company from $40 million in sales to more than $4 billion in annual sales. Today, @properties has 15 offices in the city of Chicago, surrounding suburbs and southwest Michigan. The firm has divisions for residential and commercial brokerage, development marketing, relocation, property management and bank-advisory services. Wong is primarily responsible for the recruitment and retention of @properties’ more than 1,200 agents, as well as the development and implementation of the firm’s award-winning marketing programs.
As President and CEO of ERA Real Estate, Charlie Young is responsible for the strategic growth of the worldwide real estate franchisor. He manages relationships with member brokers and oversees the field services team, operations and national training program. Since becoming President and CEO in April 2009, Young has led the rebuilding and repositioning of the ERA® brand. Young has more than 20 years of experience in business management, field operations, marketing and real estate. Prior to joining ERA Real Estate, he worked his way up at Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC, from Senior Vice President, Marketing, to Chief Operating Officer. During his five-year tenure, Young spearheaded several innovative programs that served as industry firsts. Previously, Young served as a vice president for then Cendant Mortgage (now PHH Mortgage) where he worked closely with brokers in the ERA, Coldwell Banker® and CENTURY 21® systems to implement private-labeled mortgage programs. Prior to real estate, Young held executive positions at Frequency Marketing Inc., Foote, Cone & Belding Direct, Bell Atlantic (Verizon) Directory Services and the New Jersey Nets.
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