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Nineteen members of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) completed the 2021 SILVAR Leadership Academy on Sept. 23. The SILVAR Leadership Academy is a six-month training and development program structured to help participants develop their leadership knowledge and abilities and encourage them to get actively involved at SILVAR and eventually assume a leadership role. Candidates were asked to complete an application that included questions on issues and topics that impact the business of real estate, their civic involvement and leadership aspirations. Attendees were required to complete all sessions in order to graduate with their class.

The sessions touched on a variety of topics, including the REALTOR® Association Structure at the Local, State and National Level, How Organized Real Estate Helps You and Your Business, Communicating & Conducting Meetings Effectively, Resolving Conflict Situations & Building Consensus, Local, State and National Legislative Actions That Affect Your Business, and Fair Housing and Implicit Bias in Real Estate. The guest speakers from local, state and national organizations involved in real estate included U.S. Representative Anna Eshoo, 2020 California Association of REALTORS® President Jeanne Radsick, 2005 C.A.R. President and SILVAR National Association of REALTORS® Director Jim Hamilton, NAR Director of Governmental Advocacy Sydney Barron, C.A.R. Senior VP for Governmental Affairs and Chief Lobbyist Sanjay Wagle, C.A.R. Manager of Public Policy John Scribner, and attorney for Californians for Homeownership Matthew Gelfand.

Two sessions were devoted to the new NAR L.E.A.D Vision Course. L.E.A.D. stands for Lead, Elevate, Accelerate and Deliver. The course focused on creating a vision, team building, leadership styles, active listening, and other topics. It was the first time the course was taught to members of a local/state association. Steve Francks, CEO of the Washington Association of REALTORS®, and Suzanne Yost, chair of SILVAR’s Leadership Academy Committee, taught the eight-hour course.

The last session focused on “A Leader’s Role in Fair Housing, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.” Guest speakers included Farrah Wilder, Vice President & Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer at C.A.R.; Allen Okamoto, Broker, T. Okamoto & Co., Founding Director & Director Emeritus at the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA) and NAR Board Director, and Matt Difanis, Broker, Champagne, Illinois and NAR Board Director.

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The 2021 SILVAR Leadership Academy opened strong last week, with U.S. Representative Anna Eshoo addressing 40 participants and guests. SILVAR President Joanne Fraser delivered the opening remarks and SILVAR Board Director Suzanne Yost, chair of the Leadership Academy steering committee, led the program.

In her talk to members, Eshoo said in the past year the Bay Area housing market has remained strong, but the shortage of supply and rising prices have deeply impacted housing affordability, changing the composition and identity of our local communities and forcing many people to leave the area in search of more affordable places to live. She fears if nothing is done, the state will be viewed as a place where only the wealthiest can live.

Eshoo said solutions to the severe housing affordability problem can only come from a partnership of federal, state, and local governments working in cooperation with non-profits and the private sector. Congress plays an important role in this partnership by providing federal funding to build new housing and protect the existing supply of affordable housing, and through incentives in the tax code and programs that strengthen affordable housing.

As an advocate of housing, Eshoo said she has been able to pass 50 bills under four presidents due to her leadership philosophy of building coalitions and generating consensus to support legislation. She stressed the importance of REALTOR® advocacy, which she said has always supported her and shaped her legislative work. She values input from REALTORS® and noted of all groups that come to D.C., REALTORS® are the best prepared.

“The meetings are rich for me. Your advocacy informs my work,” said Eshoo.

The Congresswoman thanked SILVAR members and noted she is deeply grateful for REALTORS®’ support. “Thank you for all your magnificent support all these years. Our relationship has always been a great source of pride for me. You really mean a great deal to me.”

An impressive lineup of speakers followed Eshoo. They included Sydney Barron, NAR Director of Governmental Advocacy; Sanjay Wagle, C.A.R. Senior VP for Governmental Affairs and Chief Lobbyist; John Scribner, C.A.R. Manager of Public Policy; Matthew Gelfand, attorney for Californians for Homeownership; 2008 SILVAR President Leannah Hunt; and SILVAR Government Affairs Director Ryan Carrigan.

The NAR and C.A.R. senior staff presented an overview of the structure of REALTOR® advocacy and explained each of their roles in lobbying at the federal and state level. TBarron said REALTORS® are a powerful force and NAR is seen as a valuable resource in shaping government policy.

“Our power and our strength is our members,” said Wagle. He said Red Alerts are especially powerful and get the attention of legislators.

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