Press Release
2023 Cathy Whatley
Florida Realtors President G. Mike McGraw presents the Spirit of Advocacy Award to Cathy Whatley, 1996 president of Florida Realtors and 2003 president of the National Association of Realtors.

Jacksonville Realtor® Wins 2023 Spirit of Advocacy Award

ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida Realtors® recognized Cathy Whatley, the 1996 president of Florida Realtors and the 2003 president of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), as the 2023 winner of its 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 for the award.

A member of the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors and a third-generation Realtor, Whatley has invested more than 54 years in the real estate profession as a Realtor Emeritus. She has long been committed to advocacy and volunteers her time and effort to support her profession. She has spent decades inspiring and educating others on key industry issues and asking for their support, as well as mentoring future real estate leaders.

Whatley served as the 1990 president of the Jacksonville Association of Realtors (now known as the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors). She was named NEFAR’s Realtor of the Year twice – in 1986 and 1993 – and received the Presidential Lifetime Service Award, its highest honor, in 2003. She led NEFAR to create programs that encouraged homeownership opportunities and helped promote homeownership education in the community, such as HOME (Home Ownership Made Easy).

Whatley also has served on the board of directors for JEA (formerly the Jacksonville Electric Authority), the eighth largest municipal utility in the U.S.

At the state level, Whatley has not only held every officer position at Florida Realtors but has served on 274 committees and task forces for the state association. She’s been a Florida Realtors Honor Society member every year since 2008 and was named its Realtor of the Year in 1998. Whatley often has testified before the Florida Legislature and was instrumental in the creation of the state’s Sadowski Trust Fund for affordable housing. She also served several years as a member of Florida’s Commission on Ethics.

Nationally, as president of NAR, she oversaw the deployment of the HOPE Awards, a program for increasing minority homeownership, and hosted the first National Summit for Housing Opportunities. Whatley has testified numerous times before the U.S. Congress on real estate issues. Her work for the Realtors Political Action Committee (RPAC) has been key in ensuring the preservation of the divide between banking and commerce, along with fair reform of the settlement services regulations.

Whatley is a dedicated advocate for private property rights, a strong voice for Realtor engagement and investment, and represents the real estate profession at its best.

Florida Realtors® serves as the voice for real estate in Florida. It provides programs, services, continuing education, research and legislative representation to its 238,000 members in 51 boards/associations. Florida Realtors® Newsroom website is available at