Rookie of the Year RISMedia Announces 2023 Rookie of the Year and Industry Award Winners at Annual Power Broker Gala

During its 27th Annual Power Broker Reception & Dinner held in Anaheim, California last night, RISMedia announced its 2023 Real Estate Rookie of the Year winner, Stacy Cole, a REALTORⓇ with Realty Executives Bay Group in Alabama.

Designed to honor new-agent success and professionalism, RISMedia’s Real Estate Rookie of the Year Award is sponsored by industry education leader, Colibri Real Estate. Rachel McGuire, director of partnerships for Colibri, presented the award to Cole.

“At Colibri Real Estate and across our family of local schools across the nation, we pride ourselves on the role in the preparation needed to build a successful career,” said McGuire, as she excitedly began to announce Cole as the winner.

“It’s no secret to anyone that a career in real estate is a wild ride, which makes success even more worth celebrating.”

As she began to announce Cole as the 2023 Real Estate Rookie of the Year, McGuire highlighted her first year in the industry, how she hit the ground running and the impressive way she balances her personal and professional responsibilities.

With an impressive $10.7 million in sales volume and 54 transactions in 2022, Cole attributes her success to rolling up her sleeves and going all-in on her career, along with consistent follow up.

“As a small town girl from Alabama, I never expected to be in California accepting this award,” said Cole. “I’m incredibly grateful for where my real estate career has taken me in just a few short years.”

“When I first started, my goal was to have one closing every few months or so. I told myself I was going to be a part-time real estate agent, so we all know there’s no such thing as that,” she chuckled.

“God has blessed my real estate career tremendously, and I give all the honor to him. I look forward to seeing where he takes me in the coming years.”

The regional Real Estate Rookie of the Year winners were also recognized during the dinner: Midwest Region winner Heather McColaugh, with Ohio’s BF Realty; Northeast Region winner Eric Landry, with Maine’s Portside Real Estate Group; Southeast Region winner Hudson ‘Mitch’ Willis with Florida’s LPT Realty; and West Region winner Keaton Bankofier with Oregon’s John L. Scott Real Estate. In addition to claiming the national title, Cole is the Regional winner for the South.

Coming together in fraught times

Taking place at the Hilton Anaheim and held during the National Association of REALTORS NXT Conference & Expo, the invitation-only Power Broker Reception & Dinner honors the Top 500 brokers in RISMedia’s Annual Power Broker Report & Survey. RISMedia President & COO Jay Featherston welcomed the crowd of more than 300.

“I know I speak for everyone here at RISMedia and in the audience when I say thank you for fighting the good fight against these in my humble opinion, misguided litigants,” said Jay Featherston, RISMedia’s president and chief operating officer, in his welcome speech. “I’d like to thank our sponsors, including Buffini & Company, Colibri Real Estate,, Real Estate Webmasters, RE/MAX and Rocket Mortgage. Our partnerships help to better serve our readers and the real estate community at large.”

As the 2024 NAR Broker Relations Liaison, David Legaz, broker of Queens, New York-based Keller Williams Landmark Realty, addressed the crowd on behalf of the association, providing an inspiring message in the wake of the recent class-action lawsuit verdict that has rocked the industry.

“As the broker liaison, it’s my job to listen and hear what our brokers and agents need,” said Legaz. “As you know, we are facing some tough times out there and there’s no tougher people, no more creative and entrepreneurial people than REALTORS®, and I’m excited for the year ahead.”

“As NAR continues to fight the many lawsuits, NAR strongly believes that the jury reached an outcome that is neither supported by the law, nor the facts presented in the case,” he continued. “We plan to appeal vigorously; it’ll be most likely several years before we get to that outcome.” 

In honor of the accomplishments and dedication of all those gathered, Real Estate Webmasters CEO Morgan Carey offered a toast to kick off the evening’s festivities.

“I work with so many of the organizations in real estate, and I can honestly say the RISMedia team is my absolute favorite to work with. Anytime I have an idea, they don’t just listen to me—they’re passionate about it, they get excited, they give us so much support” said Carey.

“I see a gathering of individuals who have not only achieved immense success but have also redefined the very essence of what it means to be a power broker,” he continued, as he asked the audience to raise a glass. “Each one of you has demonstrated resilience, vision and unwavering dedication to your clients and this profession. It’s inspiring to witness the impact you’ve made in the lives of so many families across the nation.”

Honoring industry leadership

During the Power Broker event, two industry leaders were also awarded for their extraordinary leadership and contributions to the industry.

The National Homeownership Award, sponsored by Rocket Mortgage, is bestowed upon a member of the real estate community who continuously demonstrates extraordinary contributions toward increasing homeownership and building better communities. Laine Kostegian, strategic sales director for Rocket Mortgage, presented the award to Erin Morrison, president of the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance.

“As real estate professionals, we are ambassadors and influencers in our communities. We truly have a tremendous amount of power and an ability to demand change so that we’re no longer waking up to headlines of hate,” said Morrison. 

“Together, all of us, we can be an army for good, a collective voice saying that an attack on one of us is an attack on the call and we will stand together in solidarity and demand change.”

The Real Estate Leadership Award, sponsored by Buffini & Company, was presented by company CEO Dermot Buffini. The prestigious award is designed to honor an industry visionary who embraces innovation and exercises resilience to blaze new paths to success for real estate professionals and consumers alike. This year’s recipient was Tami Bonnell, co-chair of EXIT Realty Corp International 

“You have to be a leader personally and professionally. You have to put your heart into it and you have to put your people first,” said Bonnell. “You need to be on the right side regardless of what anyone else is saying.”

RISMedia’s Power Broker Forum

Earlier in the day Tuesday, RISMedia held its 27th annual Power Broker Forum, titled “A Clean Slate: Rethinking Your Outlook and Retooling Your Strategy for 2024” during NAR NXT at the Anaheim Convention Center. Industry leaders on the panel shared strategies for starting the year strong with new ideas for boosting business. Speakers included: Todd Sumney, Chief Industry Officer/Chief Marketing Officer, HomeSmart International; Craig Cheatham, President & CEO, The Realty Alliance; Michele Harrington, Chief Operating Officer, First Team Real Estate; Gretchen Pearson, Gretchen Pearson, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Drysdale Properties; and David Romero, Executive Vice President of Growth, Realty ONE Group. 

From left, Todd Sumney, Craig Cheatham, Michele Harrington, Gretchen Pearson and David Romero at RISMedia’s Power Broker Forum on Nov. 14 in Anaheim, California

Stay tuned to for more coverage of our 27th Annual Power Broker Forum, Reception & Dinner and our 2023 Real Estate Rookie of the Year winner. 

Follow and tag @RISMediaUpdates on social media and use the hashtag #PowerBroker2023 for photos of the 2023 RISMedia Power Broker Reception & Dinner!

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