ORLANDO, Fla., Sept. 8, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Florida Realtors® recognized Andrew Barbar, 2015 Florida Realtors president, as its 2016 Realtor of the Year. The award – one of several – was presented during the state association's recent annual Convention & Trade Expo at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla.
"Wow. You don't get here alone," Barbar said when accepting the award. "For many, this represents 30 years of service to the Realtor organization. For me, it represents 30 years of being with a family that has supported me, encouraged me and challenged me – but also, in the darkest of times, has prayed for me – and I will never forget that. Thank you."
Barbar called it an honor and a privilege to be part of the Realtor family.
Florida Realtors has presented Realtor of the Year and Associate Realtor of the Year awards for more than 60 years. Winners are honored as the greatest individual lifetime contributors to their local Realtor board, community, state association and the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
With more than three decades of experience in South Florida real estate, Barbar has served on countless committees, task forces and projects for his local association, the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches (RAPB). In fact, he was instrumental in the merger of two local associations that then became RAPB and the organization of Regional MLS of Florida. He was president of RAPB in 2003-2004 and named its Realtor of the Year in 2006.
At the state level, Barbar has a long list of accomplishments working with Florida Realtors. He served with distinction in every leadership position, from Florida Realtors Board of Directors to District 3 vice president, secretary, treasurer and on to become Florida Realtors president in 2015. As president, Barbar was instrumental in developing a practical, productive long-term strategic plan and strategic planning process for the 155,000-member state association.
His dedication, professionalism and service to the real estate industry culminated in his being honored as the state association's Realtor Achievement Award winner in 2011.
Barbar's commitment to the real estate profession extends to the national level. Since 2003, he has been a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Board of Directors. He's served on numerous NAR committees, including as the current vice chair of the Reserves Investment Advisory Board and the 2016 NAR President's Liaison to Lebanon.
Barbar is just as dedicated to the community as he is to his profession. In addition to being an active member of his church, he has volunteered on behalf of his local Habitat for Humanity, 4Kids Foster Care, Boca Helping Hands and the Palm Healthcare Foundation. He also supports Sheridan House and Place of Hope at the Haven, a comprehensive child welfare program in Palm Beach County.
Associate Realtor of the Year
Florida Realtors honored Stephen Lingley of the Venice Area Board of Realtors as Associate Realtor of the Year. He has been an active participant with his local board since he joined in 2001 and served on numerous committees, including as chair of the Professional Standards and Data Services, Political Affairs, RPAC (Realtors Political Action Committee) and Grievance committees.
He was president of the Venice board in 2008, and also has served as treasurer for the My Florida Regional MLS. In addition to receiving several local exceptional service awards, he was recognized as the Venice board's Realtor of the Year in 2013.
Florida Realtors named Lingley as the winner of its Newcomer of the Year Award in 2003; Lingley was the first recipient of that new award. A longtime member of the Florida Realtors Honor Society, he has served on numerous state association committees over the years, including as chair of the MLS Practices Forum. In 2013, he was Florida Realtors District 13 vice president. Demonstrating his commitment to professionalism, he earned the Graduate, Realtor Institute (GRI) designation.
Lingley also believes in advocacy and investing in his profession: He has been a Sterling R donor for RPAC for years and is a member of the President's Circle. He also holds the At Home With Diversity certification from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and is currently working on his master's degree in real estate from the Realtor University.
A veteran of the U.S. Army, Lingley volunteers with many community groups including Clean the Beaches, Habitat for Humanity and Family Promise of South Sarasota County. He is actively involved with the Sertoma Club and has chaired its Speech Clinic, which helps children with speech impairments. Lingley also is a member of the Venice Area Chamber of Commerce, the Venice Yacht Club and Sarasota Trap, Skeet & Clays Club.
Realtor Achievement Award
Judy Ramella, a member of the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches (RAPB), was named the winner of Florida Realtors 2016 Realtor Achievement Award, which recognizes a Realtor who serves as manager, broker of record or officer in his or her company. The award acknowledges the winner's previous three years' contributions to the community, local, state and national Realtor associations.
Ramella has served her local association in every officer position as well as chairing numerous committees. Currently, she is the 2016 president for RAPB. She was instrumental in developing a successful Leadership Academy for RAPB, and served as its first chairman – continuing in that post for three years, even during her term as president.
At the state level, Ramella currently is a member of Florida Realtors' Diversity Committee, Leadership Academy Committee, Board Leadership Forum and Realtors Political Involvement Committee. She also serves on Florida Realtors' Board of Directors, a position she's held since 2009. Over the years, she has been involved in numerous Florida Realtors committees, including professional standards, finance, global/international business and professional development. Last year, Ramella was recognized as the Associate Realtor of the Year for Florida Realtors.
Ramella serves on the National Association of Realtors' Board of Directors and its Diversity Committee. She also is a national Code of Ethics instructor.
Giving back to the community is important to Ramella. Not only is she on the Board of Directors for the Children's Home Society of Palm Beach County, she has worked with the nonprofit at all levels including teaching the children how to cook simple meals. She serves as a real estate advisor and ambassador for Families First, a group that helps low-income families become homeowners through education, counseling, homeownership grants and seminars.
Ramella also is a longtime volunteer for Quantum House, a supportive home that offers a place to stay and caring atmosphere for families whose children are receiving treatment for a serious medical condition in Palm Beach County.
Commercial Realtor Achievement Award
The Commercial Realtor Achievement Award honors a Realtor's lifetime of contributions to commercial activities at the local, state, national and community levels. William "Bill" Poteet, a member of the Naples Area Board of Realtors (NABOR), received the 2016 Commercial Realtor Achievement Award.
Poteet has served on numerous committees and in every leadership position for the Naples association, including as its 2012 president. Currently, he is the 2016 chair of the local RPAC Committee (Realtors Political Action Committee). On the local level, Poteet has earned NABOR's Commercial Realtor Achievement Award, Realtor of the Year, Citizen of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year, Committee Member Spotlight Award and the Ad Miller Award, one of the top honors given for a lifetime of work towards insuring private property rights.
Currently, he serves as Florida Realtors District 5 RPAC trustee, chairman of the Realtor Party Forum and as vice chair of the state association's Commercial Alliance Committee.
Since 2007, Poteet has been a key contact for state Rep. Matt Hudson; he also is a Sterling R investor in RPAC. On the national level, he is a member of the Land Use, Property Rights and the Environment Committee and the Commercial Legislative and Regulatory Subcommittee for the National Association of Realtors.
In the community, Poteet chairs the Conservation Collier Land Acquisition Committee (2003-2016), which has acquired more than $104 million in environmentally sensitive properties for public use and protection. He is a member of the Collier County Value Adjustment Board, serves on the board of directors for the Golden Gate Area Civic Association and for the Junior Deputy League of Collier County, a youth program serving mostly elementary school age students. Among other activities, Poteet also serves on the Southwest Florida Council of the Boy Scouts of America's Executive Board and the Greater Naples Better Government Committee.
Humanitarian of the Year Award
Proving that Realtors make a difference, Jose Fernandez, a member of the Miami Association of Realtors, was named the 2016 Humanitarian of the Year by Florida Realtors for his efforts in helping children in his community and internationally.
Fernandez has been involved in humanitarian efforts since he was a child living in Puerto Rico. He began sponsoring several children through Children International in 2001, when he was attending Florida International University. Over the years, he has traveled on missionary trips to Uganda, Mexico, Honduras and the Dominican Republic.
While helping children across the globe, Fernandez was introduced to an orphanage in Honduras for 33 children who are not only orphans but also living with HIV or AIDs. FundacionAmor y Vida is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing love, protection, care, education and development for those children. The cause captured his heart. Fernandez has been actively involved with the orphanage since 2008, has volunteered more than 1,000 hours in the past 16 months and raised close to $200,000 to benefit the children. This past November, he brought all 33 kids to Walt Disney World for a five-day, all-expenses-paid, dream trip of a lifetime!
In his local community, Fernandez is active in his church, working with several of its ministries and support groups. He volunteers at the Salvation Army Rehabilitation Center in Miami and for "Mejorando tu Salud," a health fair that has benefitted thousands in Homestead, Little Haiti, Immokalee, Pembroke Pines and Miramar, among other areas. For the past five years, he has organized Red Day, an initiative to give back to the community, at the real estate firm where he works. Through his leadership of that event, he has helped more than 350 children from low-income communities in Miami-Dade County and those living at His House Children Home in Miami Gardens.
Newcomer of the Year Award
Winning Florida Realtors' Newcomer of the Year Award for 2016 was Blaine Elmer, a member of the Royal Palm Coast Realtor Association. The Newcomer of the Year Award recognizes someone who entered the Realtor profession within the past three years, and, during that time, made notable contributions to the local and state associations, as well as to his or her community.
Eager to make a difference in his chosen profession, Elmer signed on to the Knowledge Service Committee and the local Leadership Academy after joining his local association in 2015. This year, he serves on his local association's Grievance and Public Policy committees, and as local chair of RPAC (Realtors Political Action Committee). Elmer is a major investor in RPAC and remains highly engaged in legislative issues and concerns of interest to the real estate industry. He attended and participated in Florida Realtors and NAR activities.
Retired from military service, Elmer's goal is to use the leadership and organizational skills he learned over the course of 24 years in the military to work for his association, continue his professional development and serve as an advocate for Realtors and the real estate profession. He is active with the local chapter of the Women's Council of Real Estate.
Elmer also remains committed to his community. He is a member of the Tiger Bay Club of Southwest Florida, a nonpartisan club dedicated to fostering a better understanding of civic issues. A member of the Special Forces Motorcycle Club and the Eagle Club, he helps to raise money for various events and activities that support the needs of veterans and children all year.
Education Individual Achievement Award
This year's winner of Florida Realtors Education Individual Achievement Award is Phillip Riek, a member of the Greater Tampa Realtors. His local association honored Riek with its "Pedagogy Award" last year, in recognition of his "valuable knowledge, instructional skills and ability to bring forth higher professional standards, member satisfaction and organizational value" through his instruction. He also received a special commendation from the Tampa association for his work honoring veterans.
Helping colleagues learn more about working with international clients is a key goal for Riek, who often plans and presents programs with global themes. He has led a Global Symposium, as well as planned marketing sessions about the United Kingdom, Costa Rica, Ecuador, India, Uruguay and Albania. During Florida Realtors 2015 convention, he presented an outbound trade mission to members of the Global Networking Committee. Riek also teaches CIPs (Certified International Property Specialist) courses.
A member of the state association's Professional Development Committee, he has participated on numerous instructor audition panels and helped review CE (Continuing Education) Express courses for Florida Realtors. At present, Riek is working with the National Association of Realtors to update the "Military Relocation Professional" curriculum.
Florida Realtor magazine awards
Florida Realtor Magazine Best Article: Debbie Miller, Lakeland Association of Realtors, for the article, "Knock Knock" June 2015
Florida Realtor Magazine Editorial Excellence: Drew Russell, Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee, for the article "A Party with a Purpose" May 2016
Florida Realtors® serves as the voice for real estate in Florida. It provides programs, services, continuing education, research and legislative representation to its more than 155,000 members in 55 boards/associations. Florida Realtors® Media Center website is available at http://media.floridarealtors.org.
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SOURCE Florida Realtors