Q1: How did your career path lead you to where you are today?
I’m from Indianapolis, and my aunt and I started a business called Kids Party Power, which provided entertainment to children. I was also very involved in my church and was successful, with the help of many others, in starting a Christian day school that still exists today. When my husband received a job offer, we relocated to Fort Wayne. Initially, I became very involved in my kids’ school while they were little. But later, when an opportunity to manage the membership program at Upstate Alliance of REALTORS® became available, I saw the potential for growth and accepted the job. I was fortunate to be named executive officer several years later. I love being in a leadership role.
Q2: What is a typical work day for you?
We have 1,400+ REALTOR® members and 200 affiliate members. One side of UPSTAR is nonprofit. We provide education and resources to members, handle professional standards inquiries, serve as advocates for homeowners and REALTORS® in local government, and conduct community outreach projects to assist the underserved in our community, which is a passion of mine. Our community outreach program focuses on housing-related needs and gives REALTORS® the opportunity to give back to the communities they serve. The for-profit side of the business is the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). REALTORS® upload information about properties for sale in the MLS database to assist their clients in buying and selling homes. We manage the MLS database and enforce the rules that govern it. On a day-to-day basis, it’s always different. I have a group of women on my team here, and I am so blessed to have them. They make me thrive.
Q3: Who has influenced you the most in your life and why?
I’m so fortunate to have many people in my life who have helped me in many ways. My husband, my mother – if it weren’t for her, I would never be in the spot I am today. I was a bit of a rebel and my mom kept me on the right path. I have forever friends who have been by my side encouraging me on my journey, and one of them in particular really took me under her wing when I first moved here. She helped me emerge as a professional and become what I am today. I also live by Helen Keller’s quote: “The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen nor touched; they must be felt with the heart.”
Q4: What does it mean to you to be a female leader?
In today’s world, it should not mean anything different than being a male leader. There are many women out there who have the desire and capability to work in a professional leadership role, and I would love to see them step out, as I did, and fulfill their potential.
Q5: How do you define success, and how is it achieved?
I truly believe success is trusting that you can do anything if you set your mind to it. It’s being persistent, it’s being fair. It is treating everyone the way you want to be treated. If you do that, opportunities to be “successful” will fall into place.
Q6: What do you have planned in the next few years?
Well, I plan to continue working because I truly love it. I also want to do more volunteering, especially with Go Red for Women and the American Heart Association. Several years ago, I was fortunate to chair the Go Red for Women campaign to bring insight to women about heart disease. It was a huge initiative for me. Both of my parents died from complications related to congestive heart failure. It was heart wrenching to watch them suffer, and I want to raise awareness about the disease and offer support to other people and their families facing the same thing. I also have a passion for veterans. UPSTAR raised money to build a home for a wounded warrior. That was a real joy for me, so I look for opportunities to do other things like that. I also take every chance I can get to spend more time with family. They are my pride and joy.