Seven Realtor Associations Host 3rd Annual DEI Summit in Newark

The goal of the Summit was to build curiosity while exploring the understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion within personal and professional careers.

Seven Realtor Associations Host 3rd Annual DEI Summit in Newark
Some of the many HGAR members and staff that attended the 3rd Annual Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Summit on June 3-4 in Newark, NJ.

NEWARK, NJ—The Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, along with six other Realtor associations, recently held the 3rd Annual Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Summit at the Newark Liberty International Airport Marriott here.

HGAR teamed up with the National Association of Realtors, the New York State Association of Realtors, the New Jersey Realtors, the North Central Jersey Association of Realtors, the Greater Bergen Association of Realtors and the Greater Rochester Association of Realtors to create the two-day presentation (June 3-4).

The goal of the DEI Summit was to build curiosity while exploring the understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion within personal and professional careers. It was also designed to help attendees develop the skills needed to be successful and create actionable steps toward impactful change.

This year’s keynote speaker, Thasunda Brown Duckett, Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People of 2024” and President and CEO of TIAA, shared the stage with Michelle Mills Clement, CEO of Chicago Association of Realtors, where they discussed financial inclusion, retirement, building generational wealth, and importance of financial inclusion.

Duckett is determined to put more underserved Americans on a path to financial health and resilience. She helped launch Advancing Black Pathways, an initiative to help more Black Americans achieve sustained economic success. She's also striving to help the 40% of all Americans at risk of running out of their retirement savings.

The first day of the Summit launched with Bias Override, an approved continuing education course to combat bias in the industry led by certified instructor Matt Difanis. The next day included close to 20 speakers and panelists on various topics.

“With over 200 attendees from several associations mainly from New York and New Jersey, this year's DEI Summit was our best yet,” said Freddimir Garcia, HGAR’s DEI Officer. “It was uplifting and invigorating to hear a strong support of DEI from our keynote speaker, Thasunda Brown Duckett and Michelle Mills Clement, among others.” The topics covered included advocacy, appraisal bias, advancing DEI, and on-the-field challenges with the “-isms.”

“This powerful and innovative summit is the leading Realtor DEI event in the Northeast,” added HGAR CEO Lynda Fernandez. “It engages members of participating Associations while advancing DEI throughout the region’s real estate markets through collaboration and by securing top speakers and industry leaders who address the latest topics and issues impacting DEI."

A host of HGAR members attended the two-day DEI conference and were pleased with the programs offered and the issues addressed at the event.

“The DEI conference this year was such a great experience because we talked about real issues to increase knowledge. Knowledgeable realtors close more deals,” said Rey Hollingsworth Falu, Broker/Owner of Hollingsworth Real Estate Group. “DEI isn't about replacing one group with another. It's about preparing ourselves for the markets we are encountering now and in the future. It's about how we can work with one another to level up our business. The networking was great and that means more opportunities to close business with more professionals. The keynote was impactful and could apply to any professional looking to get better at their craft. Diversity is our strength. Equity means everyone has a stake in winning. Inclusion means a rising tide lifts all boats. I'm pumped for next year already.”

Immediate Past President of HGAR Tony D’Anzica, JD, CIPS, AHWD, Broker-Owner of DynaMax Realty NYC, Inc., said, “I believe we must start moving away from acronyms and start moving toward an environment where everyone has an equal opportunity to participate, lead, and actively contribute to the growth and improvement of our existing institutions.”

“Thinking/hearing/learning about DEI is never a one-and-done experience,” noted Leah Caro, AHWD, CBR, CIPS, CRB, PSA, President and Principal Broker of Park Sterling Realty of Bronxville. “HGAR and the other associations that bring our members the annual DEI Summit know that the exposure to the best DEI speakers and trainers, along with all the right resources will make us not just better Realtors, but better humans.”

Anthony Domathoti, AHWD, CRS, C2EX, SRS, CIPS, ABR, who is the Broker/Owner of EXIT Realty Premium of the Bronx, related, “The third annual Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) Summit in Newark, NJ, was a remarkable success. The event brought together a diverse group of real estate professionals dedicated to advancing DEI within the real estate industry.”

He noted that the first day of the event featured an insightful session led by Matt Difanis on overcoming biases in fair housing, followed by a vibrant networking reception that allowed attendees to connect and discuss the day's learnings.

The second day began with empowering welcomes from NJR President Gloria Monks and NYSAR President Joe Rivellino. The day continued with impactful discussions on representation and appraisal biases, featuring experts like Alex Vidal, Troy Singleton, Jillian White, and Alexia Smokler. A highlight was the keynote fireside chat with Thasunda Brown Duckett, President & CEO of TIAA, moderated by Michelle Mills Clement, which delved deep into the role of leadership in fostering diversity and inclusion, Domathoti stated.

“The summit was an eye-opener, leaving us inspired and equipped with new strategies to drive real change in our professional lives,” Domathoti said. “The event concluded with attendees feeling motivated and ready to implement the new tools and strategies they had gained.”

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