On Oct. 13, 2008, the Tri-County (NY) Network of the Women’s Council of Realtors (WCR) was chartered. It introduced our area to this organization and opened up a new way for Realtors to hone leadership skills, connect with other Realtors and give back to the local area. So what is WCR and how does it connect to the larger Realtor community?
In the 1930s, the National Association of Realtors witnessed the growth of women working in real estate and increased participation of women by national conventions, as women were becoming aware of their potential in, and importance to, the industry.
A Women’s Division had already been created in 1924 by the California Real Estate Association. In 1938, National President Joseph Catherine encouraged the formation of a national Women’s Council after being impressed by the California group. At the Annual Convention in Milwaukee in November 1938, the Board of Directors voted to form a Women’s Division. Thirty-seven women, representing nine states, were at that meeting for the Women’s Council’s inception.
Through the decades, Women’s Council’s membership growth has reflected the vast number of women choosing to work in real estate as they recognized the immense career benefits combined with a Women’s Council membership, including:
- Earnings equitable to men’s because “commission is commission.”
- Flexible work schedules allowing Realtors the ability to raise a family and have a career instead of choosing one or the other.
- A support system of women in the same field garnering many friendships, networking capabilities and referrals.
- Confidence through connection with other professional women Realtors.
- Recognition for their own achievements and success, as well as inspiration and courage to strive for greater successes.
Despite the name, WCR is open to Realtors of both sexes. About 10 percent of the more than 12,000 real estate members are male.
The local network is one of 250 local and state networks nationwide that provide the backbone of WCR. Most of the work is done by volunteer managers trained to position their groups as a business resource in their Realtor communities.
Since 1998, incoming network presidents have been trained at the annual Leadership Academy. With its in-depth network management training, the Academy was recognized with the prestigious Leadership Development Trophy in Network Relations from the American Society of Association Executives in its first year. Local networks regularly have networking and educational programs, which are designed to keep members on top of an evolving market. Nationwide, Women’s Council members collectively generate more than $100 million in commissions annually.
Our local network is made up of 35 Realtors from the Jefferson-Lewis and St. Lawrence County Boards of Realtors and 14 sponsors. In its short existence, it has established several annual events and made its mark on the area. Every March, it holds a “Got Leadership?” luncheon and panel discussion featuring four or five local female leaders. This year’s edition will be held at noon on Tuesday March 21 at the Italian-American Civic Association on Bellew Avenue in Watertown. It is open to the public.
In the fall, the network sponsors a “Meet the Candidates” event and Top Producer award galas held for Realtor members of the St. Lawrence County and Jefferson-Lewis Boards of Realtors. These honor the top 20 percent of members in terms of units sold and units rented.
In the summer, the network holds a golf tournament. A portion of the proceeds assist a local nonprofit. Past recipients have included the Victim’s Assistance Center, Family Counseling Service, the Sci-Tech Center, the Watertown Urban Mission, the USO at Fort Drum, and the River Community Wellness Program at River Hospital. In 2017, the seventh annual tournament will be at Highland Meadows Golf Club on Friday, July 28.
The Tri-County Network has had a number of successes in addition to its events, including having one of its members, Lisa L’Huillier, serve as state network president. In addition, it has raised over $7,500 for local charities and raised awareness of the role women play in positions of leadership in the north country.
LANCE M. EVANS is the executive officer of the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors and the St. Lawrence County Board of Realtors. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears monthly in NNY Business.