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In a move that’s right in sync with its mission to move the association forward for members, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) recently announced the appointment of two new members of its senior leadership team: real estate industry veteran Victoria Gillespie has become NAR’s chief marketing and communications officer; and Washington, D.C., insider Shannon McGahn has become senior vice president of Government Affairs, a role being vacated by Jerry Giovaniello when he retires at the end of 2018 after 37 years at NAR.

“The addition of Victoria and Shannon’s strategic leadership to our already powerful team will help us once again make real estate a topline issue,” says NAR CEO Bob Goldberg. “Together, they will lead our strategic direction in Washington and around the country to better serve our members’ interests.”

Victoria Gillespie

Gillespie’s role will be crucial in helping to drive member engagement and satisfaction. With more than 30 years of industry experience, including having previously served as a REALTOR® for more than 12 years, and as senior vice president of the REALTORS® Federal Credit Union and senior vice president of Enterprise Marketing and Communications for Northwest Federal Credit Union, Gillespie believes that her past experiences have prepared her for the opportunity at hand.

“With my industry knowledge and professional discipline, I am prepared to lead the marketing and communications team at NAR. I am able to see things through the members’ lens, having walked in their shoes, and I will advocate to meet and exceed their needs,” says Gillespie.

Meanwhile, McGahn will take up Giovaniello’s charge of advocating for key legislative and regulatory issues for NAR. McGahn most recently served as staff director for the Committee on Financial Services in the U.S. House of Representatives, which often involved working on real estate issues, such as GSE reform, flood insurance and access to lending products. In 2017, McGahn served as counselor to the Treasury Secretary, and has previously held positions with House-elected leadership. She will support NAR’s position on significant property rights legislation.

“In my 20 years in Washington, I’ve learned that when you’re discussing complex policy issues, it’s important to tell a story, and NAR has many stories to tell. It’s not about politics and it’s not just about policy; it’s about how that policy impacts people. It’s very exciting for me to have the opportunity to tell the story for the REALTOR® community and the real estate industry.”

Gillespie feels equally honored to serve the REALTOR® community. “I have the great privilege to serve 1.3 million hard-working REALTORS® across the nation,” she says. “I want to help the industry I believe in and move the issues of homeownership and the rights of consumers forward. I see content differently than many people. I understand the self-employed person juggling multiple responsibilities while striving to make client care their top priority. We need to spend time understanding their preferences and needs so that we tailor messages that bring value. We have to be respectful about what goes to them, because their time is so precious.”

Shannon McGahn

McGahn holds the additional honor of being the first woman to take on the role of senior vice president of Government Affairs in NAR’s 110-year history, a fact she doesn’t take lightly. Having risen through the ranks in Washington with several strong female role models, McGahn wants to pay that forward.

“Throughout my career, I’ve looked at the impact of the individual. How do we tell that story of the woman entrepreneur, who’s also balancing the checkbook at home? Or the family trying to find their first home in the right school district?  What is it they’re looking for from our nation’s leaders? You have to take a holistic approach. We’re representing real people who need a voice in Washington. The work REALTORS® do in their communities to provide the American Dream of homeownership and put families first is a part of all of our lives. I’m here to share the story of our dream makers with our nation’s policymakers.”

That said, McGahn admits that she is coming into the position with “big shoes to fill.”

“Jerry has a larger-than-life personality and is very well-known in D.C.,” she explains. “I’m learning from the best as he’s winding down and I’m winding up. A new Congress is coming in and that will bring many new faces, and many new REALTOR® connections. No matter who controls what gavel, this is an opportunity to make new friends and put forward a positive, proactive policy agenda that supports homeownership and issues related to real estate.”

Gillespie will initially focus on implementing workflow tools that will pave the way for automation, allowing the team to focus more on strategy—a strategy that will help REALTORS® and brokers differentiate themselves and emphasize their value proposition in an increasingly competitive and changing real estate environment.

“We have to lean forward and embrace change. We must be able to clearly articulate our value stream and show consumers how we’re different from a technology disruptor. We have to continue prioritizing education and professionalism so that we continue to differentiate ourselves. The more we help REALTORS® and brokers define their value proposition, the stronger our industry will be.”

For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor.

Maria Patterson is RISMedia’s executive editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at maria@rismedia.com. For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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