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Realtor Scoop

The FAR Award Winners!

The industry’s best were honored at the Florida Association of REALTORS® (FAR) 90th Annual Convention & Trade Expo at Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood. The envelope, please...

Russell Grooms and Mike Dooley at the 06' FAR Convention
Russell Grooms
Realtor® of the Year

Russell Grooms’ real estate career spans more than three decades.

He believes in the power of volunteer leadership and took FAR to a higher level legislatively when he served as 2004 President of the Association. He worked tirelessly with RPAC (Realtor Political Action Committee) trustees to raise contributions to political parties. He helped create Real Estate Industry Solutions.

He’s traveled more than 200 days for FAR and was instrumental in raising more than $1.3 million in Disaster Relief Funds for our members.

The following year, he was instrumental in the passage of the Commercial Lien Law.

For the Northeast Florida Association Grooms has been Realtor of the Year three times, and received the Circle of Honor award for his contributions to the community, state and real estate profession. His most recent local recognition was the Presidential Lifetime Service Award.

With the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) he has served on the board of directors, the Legal Issues Committee, the Federal Housing Policy Committee and the State Leadership Forum, and the nominating committee. At NAR’s request, in 2004, he made three lobbying trips to Washington, DC.

In the community, he has served for many years on the Florida BAR Grievance Committee.

An avid outdoorsman, fisherman and hunter, Grooms is a proponent of wildlife conservation. He is an active member of Ducks Unlimited and the Coastal Conservation Association.

Elizabeth Paul
Associate Realtor® of the Year

Liz Paul is loyal to the Realtor cause. As a 20-year veteran, she has been active in the Realtor Association of Greater Fort Myers and the Beach, serving on countless committees as chair and member. She was president in 1998. She received her local Association’s Realtor of the Year Award in 1995 and Humanitarian of the Year in 2003. She received the Women’s Council Member of the Year award in 1994, and served as president of her local chapter in 1995.

Paul was an FAR director for many years as well as 2002 district vice president and 2006 RPAC Trustee. An RPAC Sterling “R” member, she was 2005 chairman of FAR’s Communications Committee. She has been an FAR Honor Society member since 1993, and holds both the Graduate, Realtor Institute (GRI) and Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) designations.

Paul enjoys promoting FAR, NAR and her local Association and its members to the community.

Patricia Fitzgerald
Realtor® Achievement Award

This award recognizes Patricia Fitzgerald’s contributions during the previous three years to her community, local, state and national Realtor associations. A member of the Jupiter-Tequesta-Hobe Sound Association of Realtors, Fitzgerald has served on the New Member Orientation Program, Leadership Development, Government Affairs, Professional Standards, Long Range Planning and RPAC Committees, to name a few. She also chaired the Nominating, Education, President’s Advisory Board, Honor Awards and Finance Committees, served as president of the regional MLS and was named Realtor of the Year twice.

An RPAC Sterling “R” member, Fitzgerald is also active in the local Women’s Council of Realtors and was a past local chapter president and member of the year.

Her contributions to FAR include serving on the board of directors and currently chairing the Public Policy Committee. She has also chaired the MLS Forum, the Awards Subcommittee and the Communications Committee. As chairman of the Realtor Image Task Force, she helped launch FAR’s Scholarship Program.

Fitzgerald chairs the NationalAssociation of Realtors’ (NAR) Communications Committee and helped develop NAR’s ad campaign. She is also an NAR Director. She is Federal District Coordinator for Congressman Mark Foley.

Steve Chitwood
Humanitarian of the Year

Because of Steve Chitwood’s dedication and commitment, many disadvantaged Central Florida families now have access to the American Dream of homeownership.

Chitwood, a member of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association (ORRA), developed an affordable housing concept called “Art in Architecture” and brought it to ORRA. Together, they have developed a program designed to alleviate the “not in my back yard” mind-set by removing the stigma of the predictable “concrete square box” that often typifies affordable housing. They create aesthetically pleasing affordable homes in the Orlando area by incorporating architecturally significant changes to the design so that they can be incorporated into any neighborhood.

Chitwood has worked nonstop, recruiting architects, builders, financial institutions, local governments and other real estate professionals to become partners. Through his initiative, ORRA has completed two projects. Four homes were sold to moderately low- to very low-income families, and 10 were part of the Winter Park Land Trust. A third project will include 60 townhouses built on eight lots in Orange County’s Holden Heights community.

Charles J. Bonfiglio, Sr.
Humanitarian of the Year

Charles “Chuck” Bonfiglio, a member of the Realtor Association of Greater Fort Lauderdale, contributes countless hours each week to Easter Seals, a community based nonprofit health and human services agency that provides medical rehabilitation and vocational services to individuals with disabilities.

A director for Easter Seals of Broward County since 2004, Bonfiglio’s efforts have helped fund many of the programs and services the agency provides annually to more than 2,000 recipients. He is the leading supporter of the agency’s work; during the past three years his contribution to fundraising events helped raise a quarter of a million dollars.

Easter Seals of Broward County honored Bonfiglio as Philanthropist of the Year in 2003 and 2004, and the Realtor Association of Greater Fort Lauderdale presented himwith the 2004 Humanitarian of the Year Award.

He also gives his money and time to the Cattlemen’s Club, the Boys and Girls Club, Catholic Charities, the Cleveland Clinic and the Jimmy Junior Fund that helps children with cancer.

Hope Carina Andrews
Newcomer Award

This award recognizes an outstanding individual who entered the Realtor profession within the past three years, and has made notable contributions to the local and state associations, as well as to his or her community.

During her first year in the business, Hope Andrews received the Osceola County Association of Realtors’ (OSCAR) outstanding newcomer award for her contributions to virtually every Association event. By the next year, she was serving as director on her local board and on the RPAC and international committees. In her third year, she became the only RPAC Gold “R” member in OSCAR’s history.

This year, she is vice president of OSCAR. And as a FAR director, she served on the Public Policy Committee and attended Great American Realtor Days in Tallahassee. She also chairs RPAC, the candidate screening committee, and serves on the executive and finance committees,to name a few.

Board Achievement Awards
Small Board: New Smyrna Beach Board of Realtors; Medium Board: Venice Area Board of Realtors; Large Board: Space Coast Association of Realtors; Mega Board: Pinellas Suncoast Association of Realtors.

Graduate, Realtor® Institute Scholastic Award
This award is presented to the member with the highest cumulative score on the GRI exam. There was a tie for this year’s award, which went to Jack Fritz, GRI, Greater Tampa Association of Realtors and Howard Shelnutt, GRI, Emerald Coast Association of Realtors.

Education — Single Program Achievement
Medium Board: Bonita Springs-Estero Association of Realtors, “A Step by Step Overview: From Contract to Closing the Sale”; Large Board: Manatee Association of Realtors, “Technologies for Realtors–First Steps”; Mega Board: Realtor Association of Greater Miami and The Beaches, “Ninth Annual International Real Estate Congress.”

Education — Overall Program Achievement
Small Board: Marathon & Lower Keys Association of Realtors; Medium Board: Realtors Association of Citrus County; Large Board: Space Coast Association of Realtors; Mega Board: Realtor Association of Greater Fort Lauderdale.

Education — Individual Achievement
Cyn Ewald Zellner, Osceola County Association of Realtors.

Florida Realtor Magazine Editorial Excellence Awards
Best Article: “How to Transform Seminars into Sales,” Gabor A. Presser, Greater Tampa Association of Realtors.

Editorial Excellence: “How to Serve the Senior Market,” Maria S. Wells, Realtor Association of Martin County.

Editorial Excellence:
“How to Cultivate Overseas Buyers,” Lesley Dolby, Orlando Regional Association of Realtors.

Residential Environmental “ENVY” Award
Verandah, located in Fort Myers and developed by The Bonita Bay Group, is the first community in the state to meet the requirements of the Florida Green Building Coalition to be certified as a green community. The certification process requires protection of ecosystems and conservation of natural resources; circulation of people and traffic within and outside of the community; use of green utilities practices; green-friendly community covenants and deed restrictions; and education and promotion of green living practices.