2015 Florida Realtors President Andrew Barbar congratulates Sherri Meadows, 2014 president, on being named Realtor of the Year at the state association’s recent Convention and Trade Expo.
ORLANDO, Fla., Aug. 31, 2015 – Florida Realtors® recognized Sherri Meadows, 2014 Florida Realtors president, as its 2015 Realtor of the Year. The award – one of several – was presented during the state association’s recent annual Convention & Trade Expo at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla.
“As I’ve watched all the award winners up here today, I keep thinking of something that was said at a meeting last week,” Meadows said. “It was something Tom Salomone told us – ‘Good leaders do what’s expected of them and great leaders do what’s expected and then some.’ And that’swhat so many people here have done. This award is on behalf of all of you. This is yours. It wasn’t me.
“Thank you for all that you’ve done. Keep believing in the possibilities.”
Florida Realtors has presented Realtor of the Year and Associate Realtor of the Year awards for more than 60 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).
On the local level, Meadows has served on countless committees, task forces and projects during the three decades she has belonged to her local Realtor organization, the Ocala/Marion County Association of Realtors. She was president of the Ocala/Marion County association in 2002, selected as its Realtor of the Year in 1995 and in 2003, and was named Distinguished Member of the Year in 2006. Meadows served as both the Ocala/Marion County MLS president and the local chapter president for the Women’s Council of Realtors (WCR) during the same year – in 1997. She went on to become the Florida chapter president for WCR in 2007.
Meadows has a long list of accomplishments at the state level working with Florida Realtors. She chaired the President’s Advisory Group that envisioned and developed the state association’s Industry Data and Analysis department. She has served in every leadership position, from Florida Realtors Board of Directors to District 7 vice president (twice), secretary, treasurer and on to become Florida Realtors president in 2014. In 2007, Florida Realtors named her as its Realtor Achievement Award winner.
During Meadows’ tenure as president, Florida Realtors restructured committees, redesigned education programs, created the Commercial Core Law class, held the first Young Professional Network (YPN) Summit, created the Housing Matters Summit, sponsored the Florida Realtors Political Action Committee (PAC) Road Rally and conducted the national award-winning advocacy effort, “Helping the Homeless: Realtors® Believe Tour,” to raise awareness and combat homelessness in Florida.
Her commitment to the real estate profession extends to the national level. Meadows is serving her ninth year on the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Board of Directors and is a NAR Federal Political Coordinator to U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.). She has chaired many NAR committees over the years, including the Idea Exchange for Brokers and the Legislative & Political Forum. She is a graduate of NAR’s inaugural Leadership Academy Class of 2008. In 2016, Meadows will serve on NAR’s leadership team as the vice president to government affairs for 2016 President Tom Salomone.
Meadows is just as dedicated to the community as she is to her profession. She has long served as vice chair of the Florida Health Choices Board of Directors, helping to create a marketplace for attainable and affordable health insurance for small business owners and Realtors. Actively involved with the local Land Development Regulation Commission, Meadows also works with her local Chamber of Commerce, Habitat for Humanity, American Cancer Society and Interfaith Emergency Services.
Associate Realtor of the Year
Florida Realtors honored Judy Ramella with the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches (RAPB) as Associate Realtor of the Year. Ramella is the current president-elect for RAPB, and has served her local association in every officer position as well as chairing numerous committees. She was the driving force in establishing a successful Leadership Academy for RAPB, which has helped to encourage the growth and participation of new leadership for the organization’s future.
At the state level, Ramella currently is a member of Florida Realtors’ Diversity Committee, and the Board Leadership and Member Outreach forums. She also serves on Florida Realtors’ Board of Directors, a position she’s held since 2009. Over the years, she has been involved in numerous Florida Realtors committees, including professional standards, finance and professional development.
Ramella has a long history of support and leadership with The Women’s Council of Realtors. WCR recognized Ramella as its Mentor of the Year in 2011 and as Member of the Year in 2012. She serves on the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) Board of Directors and is a national Code of Ethics instructor.
Giving back to the community is important to Ramella. Not only is she on the Board of Directors for the Children’s Home Society of Palm Beach County, she has worked with the nonprofit at all levels including teaching the children how to cook simple meals. Ramella serves as a real estate advisor and ambassador for Families First, a group that helps low-income families with education, counseling, homeownership grants and seminars to help first-time homebuyers.
But closest to her heart is her volunteer work with Camp Fatima for Developmentally Disabled Adults and Children. She has spent 22 years volunteering as the director of activities for the annual adult camp and three years as a counselor for the children’s camp.
Realtor Achievement Award
Florida Realtors honored Ann DeFries with the 2015 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.
Named one of the 25 most influential women in real estate, DeFries has earned a sterling reputation locally, regionally and nationally for her high professional standards. A member of the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches, she serves on its Board of Directors and as a member of numerous committees including governmental affairs, finance and executive. She also previously was a member of what is now the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors, serving as president in 2005 and was named its Realtor of the Year in 2006.
On the state level, DeFries is an 18-year member of Florida Realtors Board of Directors and has served the state association in many capacities over the years. She has chaired several committees, including public policy, Great American Realtor Days and the legislation and political forum. DeFries also is the current legislative contact for state Rep. George R. Moraitis Jr. (R-Fort Lauderdale). In 2000, she served as the Florida chapter president for the Women’s Council of Realtors (WCR).
Then in 2008, DeFries became president of the national WCR. She has served as a director for NAR for seven years, and is chair of its Leadership Academy Advisory Group. She also serves as a trainer and speaker on leadership to associations throughout the U.S.
In the community, DeFries volunteers with the Palm Beach County Habitat for Humanity and is active in local networking events. She served on the Deerfield Beach Planning and Zoning Committee for 12 years.
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. Danny Smith, a member of the Realtors Association of Lake and Sumter Counties, received the 2015 Commercial Realtor Achievement Award.
For his local association, Smith established the Commercial Information Exchange in 2009, the Commercial Committee in 2012 and a Commercial Information Exchange, which is about to become district wide.
At the state level, he helped form Florida Realtors commercial law class, update the state association’s vacant land contract and establish the Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) – Realtor Land Institute (RLI) marketing session at both the Florida Realtors Mid-Winter Meetings and annual Convention. He is the current Florida Realtors District 7 vice president and a member of its Board of Directors.
Smith was the president of the Florida chapter of the Realtor Land Institute in 2007 and 2008. He also has served NAR as a member of its RLI Board of Directors. The national RLI recognized Smith as “The 2012 Land Realtor of America.”
In the community, Smith chairs the Sumter County Enterprise Zone Development Agency Committee and is heading up a new building project for his church. He serves on the Sumter County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and as a board member for PALMS (Performing Arts of Lake, Marion and Sumter).
Humanitarian of the Year Award
Proving that Realtors make a difference in communities, Cynthia Shafer, a member of the Realtor Association of Greater Fort Myers & the Beach, was named the 2015 Humanitarian of the Year by Florida Realtors for her efforts in helping children and young adults. This marks the second time Shafer has been recognized for her volunteerism and advocacy on behalf of children – she also was honored with Florida Realtors Humanitarian Award in 1998. The National Association of Realtors named her a Good Neighbor Award winner in 2002, and she was Florida Realtors’ 2009 Associate Realtor of the Year.
Shafer began teaching disadvantaged children how to read while she was still in high school, and she hasn’t stopped volunteering since that time. She has been a child advocate for more than 45 years, including shepherding abused, abandoned and neglected children through the legal system and foster care as a Guardian ad Litem volunteer for more than 20 years.
She spends her weekends working with two programs she created: Duffels for Dignity and Beds for Kids. Both programs provide items to transplanted children who may not have the things they need to make a move more comfortable and less traumatic, such as a toothbrush, a pillow, a stuffed animal or even a bed to sleep on. Inspired by a story she heard of a grandmother who was unable to take custody of her grandchild because she didn’t have a bed for the child, Shafer and her husband John started Beds for Kids. It provides foster children with a new bed and bedding, including delivery and setup. The program has provided up to 300 new beds and bedding annually in emergency situations throughout five counties in Southwest Florida.
In the last 12 years, Shafer has purchased six trucks – on a typical Saturday, she and her husband may travel 300 miles delivering beds and bedding to children, teens and young adults. Since the couple started Beds for Kids, they have delivered more than 9,000 beds, sheets, pillows, blankets and stuffed animals. The Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs are generous donors for the cause, while the Southwest Quilters Guild sews at least 100 quilts a year for toddler, crib, twin and double beds. Another group, The Linus Project, also makes blankets and pillows for the program.
Newcomer of the Year Award
Winning Florida Realtors Newcomer Award for 2015 was Adam Gurske, a member of the Gainesville-Alachua County Association of Realtors (GACAR). 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.
Eager to make a difference in his chosen profession, Gurske immediately earned his Graduate Realtor Institute designation after joining his local association. He attended and participated in Florida Realtors and NAR meetings.
Gurske currently serves on five local association committees: Professional Standards, Realtor Enrichment, Young Professionals Network (YPN), Member/Community Outreach and Technology. He graduated from his local association’s Leadership Academy and is a member of The Women’s Council of Realtors. At age 23, Gurske has already demonstrated the desire and ability to be a leader in the real estate industry.
Along with his dedication to his profession, Gurske remains committed to his community. He is the president of the Board of Directors for Family Promise of Gainesville, a nonprofit serving homeless children and their families. He also sponsored a fundraiser for the High Springs Community School.
Education Individual Achievement Awards
Two Realtors were recognized by President Andrew Barbar as Individual Education Award winners at Florida Realtors 2015 Convention and Trade Expo – shown pictured with Barbar are winner Joanne Chando and also winner Grant Simon.
One 2015 Education Individual Achievement Award winner, Joanne Chando, a member of the Realtor Association of Greater Fort Myers & the Beach, was her local association’s 2014 Broker of the Year and is passionate about professional development. She has earned no less than 10 professional real estate designations, including Graduate Realtor Institute (GRI). She is a veteran instructor statewide for GRI, Certified Education (CE) Express and Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC) courses.
The second Education Individual Achievement Award winner was Grant Simon, an affiliate member of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association. As an instructor, Simon tackles tough educational challenges, such as the Dodd-Frank Act and the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) changes that soon will take place. For many years, Simon has traveled the state teaching CE Express and instructor-owned courses.
Florida Realtor magazine awards
Florida Realtor Magazine Best Article: Patti Gabrielse, Pinellas Suncoast Association of Realtors, for the article, “Pin It to Win It!” July 2014
Florida Realtor Magazine Editorial Excellence: Rob Brooks, Emerald Coast Association of Realtors, for the article “Starring … Your City!” Jan/Feb 2015