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Florida Realtors Honors Christine Hansen as 2019 Realtor of the Year

Florida Realtors named Christine Hansen, 2018 president, its 2019 Realtor of the Year at a ceremony held during the association’s Convention & Trade Expo taking place in Orlando. Barbara Jordan was named Associate Realtor of the Year.

Christine Hansen portraitORLANDO, Fla. – Aug. 22, 2019 – Florida Realtors® recognized Christine Hansen, 2018 Florida Realtors president, as its 2019 Realtor of the Year. The award – one of several – was presented Thursday during the state association’s annual Convention & Trade Expo at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla.

“Thank you so much,” an appreciative but emotional Hansen told the crowd of about 500 Realtors attending the Awards Luncheon. “As I stand here, I think about the journey – you don’t do it alone – each and every one of you have been a part of this journey. You have made it so much better. You can do so much more when you have the right team, the right peers and the right organizations behind you. I look forward to what’s next and to continuing the journey.”

Florida Realtors has presented Realtor of the Year and Associate Realtor of the Year awards for more than 65 years. Winners are honored as the greatest individual lifetime contributors to their local Realtor board, community, state association and the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Over a career that spans more than 30 years, Hansen has passionately worked to enhance the Realtor brand, advance the industry and make a positive impact on her profession. A member of the former Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors, her local association is now part of the Realtors of the Palm Beaches + Greater Fort Lauderdale + S. Broward.

A leader in regional, state and national real estate organizations, Hansen served her local association on countless committees and task forces, ranging from Education to Grievance to Professional Standards, for more than 10 years before taking on higher leadership roles on the Board of Directors. She was honored as the 2009 Realtor of the Year by Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors and was recognized as Realtor of the Year in 2018 by Realtors of the Palm Beaches + Greater Fort Lauderdale + S. Broward.

At the state level, not only has Hansen served as a Florida Realtors director since 2003 and as District 11 vice president in 2009, but she has also served in every officer position, including as 2018 Florida Realtors president. During her year as president, she advanced Florida Realtors connections in global real estate, signing numerous Memorandums of Understanding on behalf of the state association with international real estate organizations. In addition to encouraging stronger relationships and mutual business goals, these agreements continue to promote Florida real estate markets and investment opportunities.

As Florida Realtors president, one of the accomplishments Hansen is most proud of is launching the first-ever Women in Real Estate (WIRE) Conference, which took place Aug. 29, 2018. The successful sold-out event offered inspiration, motivation and networking opportunities for attendees, paving the way for this year’s WIRE Conference and others to follow.

Hansen has served as a director of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) since 2004 and been an active member since that time, including serving on the Consumer Communications, Member Communications, Strategic Planning, Business Issues, and Professional Standards committees. She currently is the director of NAR’s Realtor Party and a member of its Executive Committee.

In the community, she volunteers for a variety of causes and is passionate about fundraising to support Easter Seals, Challenge Air, Paws for Patriots and Silent Angels, a Florida Realtors charitable trust. She personally helped a fellow Realtor who was injured in the 2012 bombing at the Boston Marathon by coordinating fundraising efforts to support their rehabilitation and medical needs.

Those who nominated Hansen for this honor wrote: “Christine Hansen is the epitome of a leader, ever reaching for the highest of heights, always striving to make a positive impact on the real estate market and profession.”

Associate Realtor of the Year

Florida Realtors honored Barbara S. Jordan of Greater Tampa Realtors (GTR) as Associate Realtor of the Year. A leader with her local board, Jordan has served on many different committees, including as chair of its Strategic Planning, Finance, Nominating, and Fair Housing committees, plus the International Real Estate Council and the Leadership Academy.

She was president of GTR in 2015, having served previously in other officer positions. She is a founding member and former chair of her local board’s Realtors Care Foundation, also serving on its current board of directors. In 2018, she was honored as GTR’s Realtor of the Year.

At the state level, Jordan has been a member of Florida Realtors Board of Directors since 2006. She is the current vice chair for the state association’s Insurance Subcommittee and serves as the legislative key contact to state Rep. Susan Valdes. She served as District 6 vice president for Florida Realtors in 2017 and is a 2016 graduate of the state association’s Leadership Academy.

A strong advocate for the Realtors Political Action Committee (RPAC), Jordan has been an RPAC investor since 1995 and a major investor since 2012. She has also served as a director for the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and on its Global and Housing Opportunities committees.

Giving back to the community is important to Jordan, who has been vice president of the Sickles High School PTA and a leader with both the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts organizations. She has been a member of the Carrollwood Village Phase 3 Board of Directors as well as vice president, treasurer and secretary. During her term as president of her local association, she connected Tampa area Realtors with the local Salvation Army for outreach and volunteer efforts, which continues today.

Realtor Achievement Award

Brenda Fioretti, a member of the Naples Area Board of Realtors (NABOR), was named the winner of Florida Realtors 2019 Realtor Achievement Award, which recognizes a Realtor who serves as manager, broker of record or officer in his or her company. The award acknowledges the winner’s previous three years’ contributions to the community, local, state and national Realtor associations.

Fioretti was NABOR president in 2010 and 2011, having previously served as its treasurer in 2009. She launched her local board’s Young Professional Network (YPN) chapter in 2011 and also started its Ombudsman program that year, which helped save the board money. She has chaired numerous local committees, including the Economic Summit Task Force multiple times: The board now hosts an annual Economic Summit with 400 members attending the event. Fioretti also served NABOR’s Dean of Orientation from 2012-2018 and was instrumental in revamping the orientation for new members.

At the state level, she served on many Florida Realtors committees, including as chair of the Research Advisory Board and of the Legislative & Regulatory Research Breakout Session. She has served on the state association’s Board of Directors from 2006-2011, and from 2014 to the present. Fioretti currently is a member of Florida Realtors Education Foundation Board of Directors.

On the national level, she has served on the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Professional Standards Committee, the Interpretations and Procedures Advisory Board, Board of Directors, and is a current member of the Research Committee. She was named a Realtor Emeritus by NAR in 2013.

A passionate supporter of her community, Fioretti has organized and chaired the annual Sunshine Kids Foundation charity event in Naples for the past 17 years. The event has generated nearly $100,000 every year, raising funds to help children fighting cancer.

Newcomer Award

Winning Florida Realtors Newcomer Award for 2019 was Patricia J. “P.J.” Smith, a member of the Naples Area Board of Realtors (NABOR) . The Newcomer Award recognizes someone who entered the Realtor profession within the past three years, and, during that time, made notable contributions to the local and state associations, as well as to his or her community.

Since earning her real estate license and joining her local association in 2016, Smith has participated in more than 86 training, educational and business meeting sessions at NABOR, including MLS Advanced Training, Multiple Contract classes and Competencies in Professional Standards. She is vice chair of her local RPAC Committee and a Sterling R major investor in RPAC, plus a member of NABOR’s Safety Task Force and its Budget and Finance Committee. A graduate of her local board’s Leadership Academy in 2018, she also has been selected to serve on its Board of Directors, beginning in 2020.

Smith was honored with NABOR’s Rising Star Award in 2019 and was a NABOR Circle of Excellence recipient in 2018.

In the community, she is a member of the Naples Women’s Club, the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, Naples Botanical Gardens and Artis Naples. Smith volunteers with Habitat for Humanity of Collier County and is an ambassador for the BlueZones Project of Southwest Florida, as well as a current appointee to the City of Naples Design Review Board.

Commercial Realtor Achievement Award

The Commercial Realtor Achievement Award honors a Realtor’s lifetime of contributions to commercial activities at the local, state, national and community levels. Benjamin Crosby, a member of the East Polk County Association of Realtors, received the 2019 Commercial Realtor Achievement Award.

He also is a member of the Central Florida Commercial Association of Realtors and the Florida Gulf Coast Commercial Association of Realtors, as well as the Greater Lake and Sumter Counties, Osceola County and Tallahassee associations.

With 37 years in the real estate industry, Crosby has served his local association in numerous ways, from teaching courses to chairing its Commercial, RPAC and Professional Standards committees, and serving as a former president of the organization.

On the state level, he teaches for the Land Institute and developed several courses for continuing education (CE) credit used by various local associations. In 2010, he received the Realtors Land Institute’s Florida Land Realtor of the Year Award as well as its Excellence in Instruction Award. He served as president of the Florida CCIM (Certified Commercial Institute Member) Chapter in 2012, and has been a trustee for Florida Realtors Political Action Committee.

A long-time and passionate supporter of RPAC (the Realtors Political Action Committee) on the local, state and national levels, Crosby’s name appears on the National Association of Realtors’ D.C. “RPAC Hall of Fame.”

Humanitarian of the Year

Proving that Realtors make a difference, Robert W. “Bob” Caldwell III, a member of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association, was named the 2019 Humanitarian of the Year by Florida Realtors.

Prior to becoming a Realtor, Caldwell was a certified fireman and emergency medical technician (EMT). For years, he has been the Realtor to call when it comes to the aftermath of hurricanes and other natural disasters. He’s one of the first to respond and run to the area to see how he and other Realtors can help: He rallies the troops, picks up supplies, helps with cleanup and whatever else is needed to help in the recovery efforts.

Within the first days after Hurricane Michael hit the Panhandle on Oct. 10, 2018, Caldwell was packing his truck and calling Realtor volunteers to join him in taking relief supplies to the area. He and the other volunteers drove seven hours to offer their help, remaining in the area for four days with little sleep and virtually no access to electricity.

Once he returned to Orlando, Caldwell knew help was still needed, so he organized a second trip to the Panhandle to help Floridians there who were homeless, had no power and no access to clean water.

After that second trip, Debbie Ashbrook, CEO of the Central Panhandle Association of Realtors, wrote the following: “Bob Caldwell is a true humanitarian. I had the pleasure of meeting Bob when he came to my area to help with relief efforts following Hurricane Michael. He is the true picture of personal sacrifice. He even slept in the parking lot in between doing all the work to help hurricane victims.”

Caldwell also volunteered with recovery efforts in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and was instrumental in organizing the National Association of Realtors’ Habitat for Humanity build of 52 homes in New Orleans just before the NAR annual convention there during the same year. In the past, he has served as a trustee on Florida Realtors Disaster Relief Fund and is currently in his second term as a trustee for NAR’s Realtor Relief Foundation.

He currently serves as chair of his local Realtor association’s charitable foundation and has long been a supporter of Habitat for Humanity. He also has been a Little League baseball coach, umpire and board member for 12 years, a member of the North Orange County Development Association for 24 years and a member of the Committee of 100 for Orange County. He volunteers with Relay for Life and is a multiple Gallon Club member for the Florida Blood Bank. Caldwell also was awarded the U.S. Coast Guard’s Merit Award for Bravery – an honor he holds dear.

Spirit of Advocacy Award

Nancy J. Riley, 2007 president of Florida Realtors and a member of the Pinellas Suncoast Association of Realtors, is the first recipient of the new Spirit of Advocacy Award.

This award honors a member of Florida Realtors who has demonstrated excellence in advocacy at the local board, state association, national association and community within the governmental or political arena over their lifetime. Monetary donations are not a consideration of the award.

Riley has an extensive resume of contributions to public policy issues, committees and advocacy at the local, state and national Realtor association levels. She has passionately been dedicated to advocacy throughout her life.

She has served her local Realtor associations in numerous capacities, including as the 1999 president of what was then the Greater Clearwater Association of Realtors (now part of the merged Pinellas Suncoast Association) and was honored as 2000 Realtor of the Year by the Greater Clearwater Association. In 2008, Florida Realtors recognized Riley as its Realtor of the Year.

She has been active with numerous community, social and political organizations. Riley was elected Republican State Committeewoman for Pinellas County in 2000 and has served in that role since then. She was a member of the Board of Directors of the Republican Party of Florida from 2001-2016. A graduate of the Leadership St. Pete Class of 1995, she was a voting delegate to the Republican National Convention in 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016.

Three different Florida governors – Charlie Crist, Lawton Chiles and Robert “Bob” Martinez – appointed Riley to serve on state committees or task forces, including the Taxation & Budget Reform Committee, HOPE (Home Ownership Promotes the Economy) Task Force, Keep Florida Beautiful and the Tampa Bay National Estuary Committee. She is a past member of the St. Petersburg Charter Review Committee, St. Petersburg Baseball Task Force (to bring baseball to St. Pete) and the St. Petersburg Code Enforcement Task Force.

As Florida Realtors 2007 president, Riley once said, “The Florida Association of Realtors has built a foundation for a strong political presence in Tallahassee and in Washington, D.C. Our Realtor members can expect to see their state association resources committed to a broad spectrum of property rights and quality-of-life issues.”

Riley serves as a crusader for private property rights, a strong voice for engagement and investment, and boldly represents the real estate profession.

Education Volunteer of the Year

The Education Volunteer of the Year Award recognizes members who volunteered their time and energy to advance professional development for Realtors. This year’s Education Volunteer of the Year winner is Adam Vellano from the Naples Area Board of Realtors (NABOR).

With 17 years in the real estate profession, Vellano is dedicated to giving back to the industry. He is the current vice president for NABOR and has served on several of its committees, including as a founding member of its Realtor Safety Task Force and the Water Quality Advisory Task Force. Not only has he helped to educate colleagues about the importance of these two issues, he also has taught students at local high schools about the benefits of homeownership.

Vellano serves as a member of his local board’s Media Relations Committee, Short Term Rental Task Force, Task Force and chairs its Leadership Academy. He helps to promote courses, serves as a class monitor, and writes, speaks and advocates on behalf of professional development. In recognition of his dedication, NABOR honored him with its Leadership Academy Alumni Award.

At the state level, he is a Florida Realtors’ instructor and has volunteered to do phone interviews and other tasks for the Professional Development Committee.

Educator of the Year

This year’s winner of Florida Realtors Educator of the Year is Charles S. Bonamer, a member of the Venice Area Board of Realtors. The Venice board recognized him as its Realtor of the Year in 1992; that same year, he was honored as the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) Instructor of the Year. He was awarded Realtor Emeritus status by NAR in 2013, and also honored as NAR Instructor of the Year in 2016.

Bonamer’s courses have earned top ratings throughout the U.S., from Alaska to Puerto Rico. In addition to teaching education classes for local, state and national Realtor organizations, he’s also often been hired as an instructor by fair housing organizations.

He is a certified “One America” facilitator for NAR, as well as an instructor for Graduate, Realtor Institute (GRI), Instructor Training Institute (ITI) and “Train the Trainer” courses. Bonamer also is certified to teach the coveted Florida Realtors instructor training program, Learning Centered Instructor Workshop (LCIW).

A past president of the Florida Real Estate Educators Association, he has chaired his local association’s Professional Standards Committee, Grievance Committee and the Professional Development Committee. In fact, Bonamer trains many of the local Realtor organization’s Grievance and Professional Standards committees throughout Florida. He has chaired Florida Realtors Technology Committee and its Business and Technology Forum, and also conducted interboard-arbitration hearings.

Certified by NAR for both course writing and presentation skills, Bonamer’s articles appear in Communique, Real Estate Today, Issues and Trends, Real Estate Business, Florida Realtor® magazine and other publications.

Florida Realtor magazine awards

Florida Realtor Magazine Best Article: Rebecca Romaine, St. Augustine & St. Johns County Board of Realtors, for the article, “Leads, Listings and Lasting Impressions,” September 2018

Florida Realtor Magazine Editorial Excellence: Brett Ellis, Royal Palm Coast Realtor Association, for the article “Build Your Marketing on the Foundation of Powerful Data,” July 2018

© 2019 Florida Realtors