GATEWAY PERSPECTIVES: Ann Garti: A 40-Year Tutorial in Leadership

GATEWAY PERSPECTIVES: Ann Garti: A 40-Year Tutorial in Leadership
Richard Haggerty, Chief Executive Officer with Ann Garti, Chief Operating Officer

To say that June 30, 2021 is going to be a bittersweet day for not just me, but for all of the members of HGAR, is an understatement, as that is the day that Ann Garti formally retires from HGAR. Ann’s career spans 40 years of service for the Realtor organization, and during that time she has been recognized as a true thought leader, not just in the lower Hudson Valley, but throughout New York State and around the country.

To borrow from a famous ad campaign: When Ann talks, people listen.

Ann was born and raised in East Harlem until the age of 12, when her parents moved north to the Bronx. She attended Queens College, achieving a degree in Business Administration. She moved north to Orange County in 1969, and she was hired as the Association Executive for the Orange County Association of Realtors in 1980 by a search group spear headed by John Dwyer, a past president of the Orange County Association, as well as a past president of NYSAR. Her mentor during those early years was George Kohl, another past president of both OCAR and NYSAR, and one of the most respected Realtors throughout the state.

I met Ann soon after I joined the then Westchester County Board of Realtors in 1984 and she became, and continues to be, a valued mentor. We had similar interests (gardening, travel and food to name just a few) and a passion for Realtor policy, from Code of Ethics enforcement to MLS policy, to Realtor legislative issues. What immediately drew me to Ann was her intellect, her honesty, her candor and her sense of humor. I wasn’t alone. She was never satisfied with the status quo. Ann was a trail-blazer and the members of the Orange County Association of Realtors knew it and appreciated it.

I can’t begin to recount all of the memories that Ann and I have shared over the years. However, two certainly stand out. The first started on Sept. 10, 2001. Ann and I were attending the NYSAR Fall Business meetings at Lake Placid and were having a wonderful evening overlooking Mirror Lake, remarking how gorgeous the setting was. The next morning, 9-11, the world felt like it was falling apart at the seams. There was understandable panic and fear. New York City was shut down, as were the suburban bridges and tunnels. Ann was the voice of reason. Deal with what was in our control, and don’t succumb to all of the speculation and fear. That’s when I truly realized the importance of true leadership during times of crisis. That’s when the voice of reason is vital.

The second memory occurred in 2011. Drew Kessler, then the President of the Rockland County Board of Realtors, reached out to us to discuss the possibility of a merger. Gil Mercurio, my predecessor, and I thought that any merger discussions should include Orange County. Ann was onboard. She recognized that bringing people together to engage in conversations about furthering Realtor interests was a win-win. If the conversations were productive, then everyone benefited. If the conversations were not productive, then so be it. We had the framework for a merger hammered out within months, in many ways thanks to Ann’s leadership.

Ann has always been adamant that you can’t “teach” leadership. You can enhance leadership traits and you can improve leadership skills, but you can’t teach leadership. Either you have it or you don’t. One thing I know for sure. Ann has it in spades. Her whole career has been about leadership. Living it day in and day out–quietly, effectively, with little fanfare, and at the end of the day with tremendous impact.

For me, what will always define my relationship with Ann, is our friendship, and I know that I’m not alone in that feeling. Ann is a fierce, loyal, honest and unwavering friend, and that friendship has benefited me so many times through the years. Fortunately, while Ann may be retiring at the end of June, I know that our friendship will continue.

I know you all join me in wishing Ann the very best in the years to come.

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