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We recently announced the RISMedia 2021 Real Estate Newsmakers, individuals who made news in 2020 for their positive contributions to the industry. Help us recognize the leaders who helped their fellow industry professionals navigate a whole new world of challenges in the world of real estate, focusing on training and technology to quickly adapt.

Our Luminaries—the Iconic Leaders—are founders, CEOs and executives who’ve built and grown their companies to enormous successes. You’ll recognize these leaders as those who’ve dedicated their lives to the betterment of their companies, agents, the real estate industry and all those it serves.

We like to call our Trailblazers, “The Agents of Change.” From keeping pace with innovation to new technologies and more, we celebrate our agents of change for their contributions to moving the industry forward and improving agent-client relationships on every level.

Read about their accomplishments on their Newsmaker profile pages and, below, hear what they have to say about their recognition and their thoughts on the future of real estate.

Gino Blefari, Luminary
HomeServices of America

“RISMedia is synonymous with real estate news and accomplishments. To be feted in this way by such a highly influential real estate media company is very special. While I am always more focused on what I have not yet accomplished than prior achievements, I am most grateful to be so honored, especially among others who I deeply respect.

“This first quarter has seen a continuation of the housing trends of 2020—at least in the short-term in my opinion: very low interest rates, a significant drop in available inventory and a material shift in lifestyle preference with appreciable outbound migration stimulated by buyer preference for more space. A rekindled interest in suburbs and rural areas will keep our markets robust. While I expect a continuation of these developments, the rise in prices and its impact on affordability, along with the potential for lessening demand, will impact markets. To predict the real estate market in general with any precision is not possible, given the broad spectrum of variables that impact buyer and seller behavior.

“My focus is on the three Rs: Recruiting, Retention and Revenue. These are the three Rs that lead and that guarantee desired profitability. My relentless goal is to ensure that all levels of HomeServices of America and HSF operations—specifically our brokerage mortgage, title, insurance and brand—continue to be fully resourced, led and managed by highly competent and responsible executives who, in turn, attract and develop the best of the best in order to deliver the highest of value to the clients and consumers we serve across the globe.”

Lynette Keyowski, Trailblazer
Managing Partner
Second Century Ventures (REACH Canada)

“I have long seen those named RISMedia Newsmakers as the ‘elites’ in our space: those people I wanted to follow, get to know (if and when I could)—to watch and learn from.

“First, it seems a little surreal to me to now be named part of this group I’ve always held in such high regard. But mostly, it makes me feel both hopeful and humbled that I might also be an example or a beacon for someone else in our industry to do great things that will continue to move the real estate industry forward.

“I feel the real estate industry will double-down on accelerating innovation in the next year, particularly around three themes: anything that enhances the consumer experience; anything that can elicit an emotional response/connectivity; and harmonizing the broker experience.

“From a REACH Canada (and personal) point of view, our goal is to continue to grow the amazing community of people that we work with—from agents/brokers to the corporate and venture capital communities—and become the trusted resource for all of those segments to foster the acceleration of innovation for the real estate ecosystem and the practitioner on the ground.”

Adam Contos, Luminary
Chief Executive Officer
RE/MAX Holdings, Inc.

“I’m humbled to stand alongside some of the most talented and skilled people in the industry recognized for this prestigious award. The strong RE/MAX representation in this year’s Newsmakers awards is a testament to the mountains we were able to move together last year as a company and, more importantly, is reflective of the undeniable traits of resiliency, compassion and agility that run through the veins of our network.

“People are seeking trust, safety and inclusion more than ever in their transactions, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon. Companies with a stated set of values will be key to attracting and retaining customers so our goal is simple: Be kind, provide value and continue to be the worldwide leader in real estate.”

Kathy Kwak, Luminary
Executive Vice President, Operations & Counsel
Proper Title, LLC

“I am truly honored and humbled by this recognition. It has been one of the toughest and most challenging years of not only my professional, but also personal life. I dedicated my heart and (title) soul into the team to make sure that each person felt seen, heard, valued and supported as we all navigated through the pandemic and its effect on our lives. This recognition makes me stop and reflect on how much was accomplished last year, and a great way to say ‘buh-bye 2020.

“I foresee the title industry recovering, restructuring, planning and continuing to adjust to the virtual manner in which transactions are being handled and closed, from order entry to title to closing to policy issuance. I hope to continue to have open communication with my colleagues in the title industry to learn and collaborate as we navigate through never-ending changes to title and, most importantly, how to get through the effects the pandemic had and continues to have on the industry. And of course, a big goal is to be the No. 1 issuing title agent in the state again next year!”

Bess Freedman, Trailblazer
Brown Harris Stevens

“I am honored to receive recognition, but this accolade really belongs to all of us at Brown Harris Stevens. We have the best leadership team supporting the most talented, brilliant agents in the industry. I am inspired by them every day.

“I think this year has plenty of challenges, such as the pandemic and the economic recovery, but I am immensely optimistic because we are vaccinating people, and hopeful that we are starting to heal after a very tumultuous time socially and politically. I have already seen an impressive bounce-back for NYC real estate and I foresee that this will continue.

“Our biggest challenge remains in the numerous listing aggregators and their bait-and-switch tactics with both agents and consumers. A good real estate agent can make all the difference when buying or selling a home, yet these websites strive to undermine their value. More transparency and education are needed.”

For consideration for the 2022 Real Estate Newsmakers, please email nominations to Official online nominations will open this spring.

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s senior online editor. Email her your real estate news ideas to