Florida Realtors® Honors Award Winners at Convention: Patricia "Patti" Fitzgerald Named 2013 Realtor of the Year

Aug 29, 2013, 10:05 ET from Florida Realtors

ORLANDO, Fla., Aug. 29, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Florida Realtors® recognized Patricia "Patti" Fitzgerald, 2011 president of the state Realtor association, as its 2013 Realtor of the Year. The award – one of several – was presented during Florida Realtors' recent annual Convention & Trade Expo at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla.

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"I'm speechless, which as most of you know, isn't usual for me," said Fitzgerald upon accepting the award. "This is the greatest honor I've ever achieved, and without all of you, it never would have happened. It has been my honor to serve this Realtor organization."

Florida Realtors has presented both the Realtor of the Year and Associate Realtor of the Year awards for more than 50 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).

On the local level, Fitzgerald has served on so many committees and projects for her Realtor organization, the Jupiter-Tequesta-Hobe Sound Association of Realtors (JTHS), that it's impossible to list them all. She began her career more than 30 years ago and has been active in her profession ever since. She has held a number of leadership positions, including secretary and president of JTHS, and has twice served as president of the Regional MLS. Fitzgerald also is a long-time member of her local Women's Council of Realtors (WCR) chapter and served as its president. She was named JTHS Realtor of the Year twice, in 1991 and 2001, and received a Special Recognition Award in 1997. Her local WCR chapter previously recognized her as its Member of the Year.

Fitzgerald has a long list of accomplishments at the state level working with Florida Realtors. She knows there is no better way to strengthen an organization than to inspire, encourage and motivate as many Realtors as possible to get involved. Throughout her career, she has served as an example and mentor for others. In addition to serving or chairing many state committees, Fitzgerald chaired the Realtor Image Task Force that produced the highly successful Florida Realtors Scholarship Essay Contest. She has served Florida Realtors as District 3 vice president, secretary, vice president, president-elect and, in 2011, as Florida Realtors president.

Her commitment to the real estate profession extends to the national level. For the past 16 years, Fitzgerald has participated in every National Association of Realtors (NAR) conference. While serving on its Communications Committee for seven years, including as vice chair and chair, she was instrumental in the development of successful NAR ad campaigns.

Fitzgerald volunteers her time and talents to improve her community. She has worked with the local Habitat for Humanity and the North County Entertainment Council. She spent many years working with R.O.C.K. Camp, a local camp for children with cancer, and raising money for that cause. Fitzgerald was involved in the Parade of Neighborhoods, an affordable home project that makes homeownership a reality for the underprivileged. Working in partnership with the Town of Jupiter, that project earned her local association the prestigious NAR "Ambassadors for Cities Award" in 2009.

The list of the organizations she supports goes on and on. She helped create scholarships for underprivileged women through her efforts with the Executive Women of the Palm Beaches, a group she served as president. Through her involvement with Leadership Palm Beach County, she helped to raise $25,000 for a daycare center for underprivileged children. Fitzgerald also is passionate about helping those who have served our country in the military and giving back to veterans. She dedicates time to the Wounded Warrior project and to the Paws for Patriots program.

Associate Realtor of the Year

Florida Realtors honored Brenda Ghibaudi, a member of Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors, as Associate Realtor of the Year. Active with her local association since 1985, she has served in many leadership capacities, including as vice president, president-elect and president in 2010. She currently is the 2013 chair of her local association's RPAC committee as well as a Sterling R contributor. Ghibaudi is a 14-year member of her local Honor Society and also Florida Realtors' Honor Society. Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors honored her as its 2011 Realtor of the Year.

She has an undying dedication and passion for her profession, which she extends to Florida Realtors and other industry groups. Ghibaudi is a staunch supporter of Florida Realtors' Leadership Academy and has served on many committees for the state association. She was Florida Realtors District 11 vice president in 2012.

For 21 years, she has been an active member of the Women's Council of Realtors (WCR), holding a wide range of positions including national governor and Florida state chapter president. Ghibaudi has been a faculty member of WCR's Leadership Academy for five years, traveling the country teaching management and business. In 2004, she served as the national president of WCR.

Ghibaudi also makes a difference in her community. In 2012, she was appointed to the Broward County Metropolitan Planning Organization Citizen Involvement Roundtable. The group's goal is to transform the county's transportation system by emphasizing mass transit in a way that promotes economic vitality, protects the environment and enhances quality of life.

And as former president of her local association, she played a leading role in initiatives with the area's Smart Growth Partnership, Broward Housing Partnership and Broward Housing Council.

Realtor Achievement Award

Florida Realtors honored Brett Brown with the 2013 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.

A member of the Naples Area Board of Realtors, Brown has long been active with his local board and served on numerous committees ranging from professional development to budget and finance. A trained mediator by Florida Realtors and the National Association of Realtors (NAR), he also serves as a mediator for NABOR. He originated his local Global Committee and implemented NAR's three-year business plan for global business. Brown was honored by NABOR with its Hall of Fame and Realtor of the Year awards, and is a 13-year member of the board's Honor Society.

On the state level, he has served on many Florida Realtors' committees, forums and special trade groups. He recently chaired the state association's Task Force for Inbound Trade Mission Workgroup, which promoted global business in Florida. In 2012, Brown was the District 5 vice president for Florida Realtors and a trustee for Florida Realtors PAC (Political Action Committee). He has been a member of Florida Realtors Honor Society for the past nine years.

Brown graduated from NAR's Leadership Academy in 2012, and has worked with numerous committees and groups for the national association. He is a current NAR director and a Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) instructor.

As dedicated to his community as he is to his profession, Brown works with Habitat for Humanity and helped raise thousands for such organizations as Paws for Patriots and Florida Realtors' Silent Angels. He volunteers at local retirement homes for Veteran's Day, Memorial Day and Fourth of July festivities, serves on the Miss Southwest Florida Pageant's board of directors, and is active in his church.

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. Receiving the 2013 Commercial Realtor Achievement Award is Carlos Fuentes, a member of the Greater Tampa Association of Realtors. Fuentes specializes in commercial, resort properties and international real estate. He has earned the Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) and Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) designations.

Active with his local association, Fuentes has served on numerous committees and task forces. In 2008, he won the "Deal of the Year" Award in the commercial transaction category, while in 2009 he was named local Realtor of the Year for the Tampa association. Fuentes also is always available to offer advice or guidance to any of his residential Realtor colleagues who may be interested in transitioning to commercial real estate.

At the state level, he was District 6 vice president for Florida Realtors in 2011 and served as a member of the board of directors from 2004 through 2011. Fuentes also has been active in many committees for the state association, ranging from the Industry Data and Analysis Advisory Board to chairing the MLS Practices Forum and the Global Business Committee. At the national level, he is a member of NAR's Diversity Presidential Advisory Group (PAG) and has served on its public policy and MLS policy groups. He also has served as the NAR President's Liaison to Guatemala, Panama and El Salvador. 

Fuentes shows how much he cares for his community through his volunteer efforts. He is a certified Federal Court Interpreter for English to Spanish. He also has served on the board for Hillsborough County's Habitat For Humanity and as a board member for the Realtors Care Foundation.

Humanitarian of the Year Award

Proving that Realtors make a difference in communities, Jill Johns of Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors was named 2013 Humanitarian of the Year by Florida Realtors.

As a child, the Make-A-Wish Foundation granted Johns a wish. That experience made an unforgettable impact and inspired her to volunteer with the foundation as soon as she was old enough. Having personally experienced the power of the Make-A-Wish mission, Johns has served as a driving force in the granting of wishes over the last 20 years. She is actively involved with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida.

Johns says she feels that "if children can witness her, as a living-proof survivor, then they realize they too can overcome their life-threatening illness."

One special wish-granting experience stands out for Johns. She once made six-year-old Chloe's wish come true by getting her to Disney so she could have tea with the Disney princesses – a day her whole family cherished. Years later, she ran into Chloe's mom and was overjoyed to hear how well Chloe was doing. Her mom told Johns that one of Chloe's friends once asked about her scar. Chloe explained it was from surgery that occurred when she had leukemia. Her friend asked, "Leukemia? Don't you die from that?" Chloe responded … "No silly, you get to go to Disney and have tea with the princesses." That, Johns says, is the power of a wish fulfilled by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Florida Realtors recognized Johns for her life-long commitment to the Make-A-Wish Foundation as well as her work for Kids In Distress, the Starlight Starbright Foundation, Marine Industry Cares, the Humane Society, the Red Cross and several other worthy causes.

Other Florida Realtor award winners this year:

Environmental (ENVY) Award, commercial category: Summit East Technology Park in Tallahassee. This year's award recognizes a commercial development that showcases green building practices designed in harmony with Florida's natural resources.

Summit East Technology Park is a 117-acre commercial development that serves as an ecologically friendly community including the latest advances in technology.

ENVY judges noted that the quality of the spaces between and surrounding the buildings was given as much importance as the quality of the buildings themselves. Innovations include the integration of a stormwater pond into a beautifully created lake that's home to a variety of fish, turtles, a pair of bald eagles, a family of foxes and a pair of lake otters.

The project's emphasis on recreational, wildlife and environmental features rivals that of many residential communities.

Education Individual Achievement: Cynthia DeLuca, West Volusia Association of Realtors

Florida Realtor Magazine Best Article: Carlos A. Melendez, Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches, for the article, "The Best $10 You'll Ever Spend"

Florida Realtor Magazine Editorial Excellence: Anne-Marie Wurzel, Orlando Regional Realtors Association, for the article, "Turning 'Likes' Into Business"; and Nayla Benitez, Miami Association of Realtors, for the article, "iFabulooooous!"

Florida Realtors®, formerly known as the Florida Association of Realtors®, serves as the voice for real estate in Florida. It provides programs, services, continuing education, research and legislative representation to its more than 118,000 members in 63 boards/associations. Florida Realtors® Media Center website is available at http://media.floridarealtors.org.

SOURCE Florida Realtors