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The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® is launching the 2021 SILVAR Leadership Academy. The sessions will start in April and is open to all REALTOR® members of the association who are interested in learning more about how they can make a difference in real estate and grow in their professional and personal lives.

The SILVAR Leadership Academy will be an intensive six-month program. Participants will learn about the REALTOR® association structure of SILVAR, the California Association of REALTORS® and the National Association of REALTORS®, fair housing and implicit bias in real estate, and how local, state and national legislation affects their business and their clients. They will receive “hands-on” training on communicating and conducting meetings effectively, networking with other real estate professionals, resolving conflict situations and building consensus.

The leadership academy is the second part of a Diversity & Inclusion grant which SILVAR has received from NAR. In February the local trade association completed the first part of the grant with a program that focused on “Faces & Voices of Leadership in Real Estate.” The event featured a panel of past and present leaders of multicultural real estate associations and key speakers Santa Clara County Supervisor Otto Lee and Bay East Realtor and community leader Mony Nop. Discussions focused on their leadership roles and experiences.

Joanne Fraser, president of SILVAR, said NAR is working to ensure REALTORS® are active leaders in the fight against bias and discrimination. Last year, NAR began implementing the fair housing “ACT” plan, – which emphasizes Accountability, Culture Change, and Training. As a part of this plan, NAR released a new interactive training platform – Fairhaven – designed to help combat discrimination in the real estate market. In addition, NAR developed an implicit bias training video with strategies to help Realtors override biases in their daily interactions.

“SILVAR is committed to fair housing for all. The Leadership Academy is in step with our goal of inclusion and diversity in housing and within our association,” said Fraser.

The sessions are scheduled for April 15, May 20, June 17, July 15, August 19, from 1:00-4:00 p.m. Additionally, participants will be required to attend C.A.R.’s annual Legislative Day.

There is no cost to attend the leadership academy, but attendance in all sessions is required in order to graduate. “If you are interested in learning more about being a volunteer on a committee or district council, this is for you. If you are interested in becoming a better volunteer, this is for you. If you are a member of a SILVAR committee or district council, this is for you,” said Suzanne Yost, who is coordinating the Leadership Academy. Yost is a past SILVAR president and currently chairs SILVAR’s Professional Standards Committee.

SILVAR REALTORS® may access an application to join the program at They can also contact Yost at


“Faces & Voices of Leadership in Real Estate” held February 25 by the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® featured Santa Clara County Supervisor Otto Lee and East Bay REALTOR® Mony Nop, as key speakers, and a panel of leaders from Silicon Valley multicultural real estate associations. They included Chika Mori, 2021 president of the Asian Real Estate Association of America; Mark Taylan, 2021 president of the Filipino American Real Estate Professional Association; Dexter Lat, past president of the Chinese American Real Estate Association; Hilda Ramirez, co-founder of the National Hispanic Organization of Real Estate Associates; Paige Nguyen, 2021 president of the Vietnamese National Association of Real Estate Professionals; and Ketan Jashapara, 2021 president of the Residential Real Estate Council.

The panelists, featured first, discussed their respective leadership roles and views and experiences with diversity and inclusion in real estate. Nguyen said as a leader she has learned “when everyone comes together for the same purpose, we can do great things.”

Taylan said the biggest challenge for all leaders is devoting time to volunteer, but indicated it is worth it. Mori said she is able to meet many amazing real estate professionals, which has helped her be a better REALTOR® and leader.

Lat said leadership has opened many opportunities for his business. Ramirez added it is not enough to get involved with one organization, that being involved with many opens more doors. She said leadership is time consuming, but emphasized, “You get double what you put into it.”

“Real estate professionals from diverse backgrounds have more in common with each other than they realize. Leadership roles develop professional skills, professional networks, enable us to represent our communities, have a voice and, above all, make a difference,” said Jashapara.

The panelists said while leaders from different ethnicities may have to overcome cultural difficulties at the start, they learn to grow. When program participants were polled on whether they felt excluded in association events because of their race or ethnicity, 3 percent said yes and 97 percent said no.

Nop and Lee, both immigrants who came from troubled countries, were able to adapt and succeed in America. A survivor of Cambodia’s Killing Fields, Nop related how he would root through dumpsters at the age of six eating rats and other animals to keep from starving.

“You name it, I’ve eaten it,” said Nop.

Arriving in California from a refugee camp in the Philippines, Nop soon thrived. He served 17 years as a Livermore police officer, then became a REALTOR® and community leader. He is a recipient of the National Association of REALTORS® Good Neighbor award.


March 2021


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