While announcing the Realtor of the Year award at Greater Chattanooga Realtors’ 2018 Installation & Awards Reception, Sabrena Smedley only made it as far as “they adopted two teenagers” before Becky Cope English knew she was the recipient.
However, Kathy Tucker made it all the way through her introduction of the winner of the George Kangles Community Citizenship Award without her husband, Ron Tucker, figuring out she was talking about him.
English, whose extensive volunteer work in her community and profession made her an easy choice for the selection committee, melted into tears when she learned the honor was hers. “My husband has been acting weird all night,” she explained as her extended family waited in the back of the room for her to see they were there.
Ron, whose “exemplary dedication and passion for governmental and political advocacy” secured the award, reacted to the news with pure shock. He then made his way past a standing ovation to the podium, where he and Kathy embraced – him a humble recipient and her a proud spouse.
The 2018 Installation & Awards Reception, held at The Car Barn, gave Greater Chattanooga Realtors a moment to look back over the accomplishments of the past year and forward to the challenges that lie ahead.
Realtor of the Year
“The strength of Greater Chattanooga Realtors is found in each of us. United together as Realtors, we accomplish great things for our industry and clients,” Smedley, who chaired the selection committee, said during Cope’s introduction. “While we’re strongest when we work together, every once in a while, there are individuals who stand out from the crowd and embody all that it means to be a Realtor.”
In 2017, that was Cope, whom Smedley described as “a dynamo of energy who exemplifies service to others and servant leadership.”
During the year, Cope served on numerous committees at Greater Chattanooga Realtors, including Budget & Finance, Community Involvement and Governmental Affairs. She also served as an MLS director, an association officer and an RPAC trustee. In addition, Cope participated in the Tennessee Realtors spring conference and annual convention as well as the national association’s legislative conference.
Cope also moderated last year’s mayoral and city council forum at Greater Chattanooga Realtors and led the association’s Form-based Code Task Force.
In the community, Cope and her Realtor husband, Derek, served as board members of Skyuka Hall, a school for children with learning differences, where she helped with the school’s capital campaigns. (They are still serving on that board.) Cope is also a trustee to the advisory board for the Charles H. Coolidge Medal of Honor Heritage Center, where she served as event chair for the luncheon that kicked off a fund-raising campaign that has netted more than $1.3 million.
“She did this while fulfilling her commitments to her family, which include raising two adopted teenagers, and her full-time duties as a top producing agent,” Smedley added.
“Service is who I am,” Cope said after accepting the award. “I’m thrilled to be a part of so many wonderful organizations, including Greater Chattanooga Realtors. I think highly of everyone in this room.”
While Cope offered only a simple thank you, her fellow Realtors had plenty to say about her. “Becky puts herself last without even realizing it,” one Realtor said, while another added, “She does what’s best for her community, not for personal gain.”
A third said, “Becky is a shining example of what we want our members to be in the community and our profession.”
George Kangles Award
The George Kangles Community Citizenship Award was established in 2011 to recognize the passion and dedication personified by Kangles as he served not only as a Realtor but also as a political advocate.
“George’s governmental and political affairs work on behalf of the association at the local, state and national level is unprecedented,” Kathy, who received the award in 2015, said during her introduction. “This year’s recipient more than exemplifies the qualities, service and dedication George established.”
Ron’s dossier includes serving as a member of Greater Chattanooga Realtors’ board of directors and on the local association’s Governmental Affairs Committee. But his work has extended beyond the local association to the state organization, where he served two years as a Tennessee Realtors director and four years on the association’s Governmental Affairs Committee.
“Whether it’s attending Day on the Hill in Washington D.C. or a local governmental or political function, our recipient is always willing to be of service to the association and our community,” Kathy said.
During her introduction, Kathy also noted Ron’s impact on the association has been essential as the organization continues to involve in the world of government and politics.
“I’m sure you know the saying, ‘If you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re probably on the menu.’ Our recipient works diligently to ensure we continue to have a seat at the table,” Kathy said. “That can be difficult, but our recipient recognizes how important that is when it comes to protecting property rights and the real estate industry.”
Upon accepting the award and releasing his wife from his embrace, Ron said only, “George taught me to always have a seat at the table and bring good Scotch. Thank you.”
Mark Hite, Greater Chattanooga Realtors’ 2017 president, began the reception by thanking the directors and more than 200 members who served on a committee or task force last year.
“This association is your association, and volunteer leadership at all levels is the key to the success of our organization,” he said. “Thank you for serving.”
The hard work of these volunteers bore good fruit for Greater Chattanooga Realtors, which graduated 13 members from its Leadership Academy in 2017.
Also, the association crafted two programs geared toward raising the level of professionalism in the real estate industry. Take Off is a road map for new Realtors to prepare themselves for success. The handpicked classes focus on providing vital ethical and professional knowledge. Boost helps Realtors who have been in the business three or more years take their business to the next level.
“About a year ago tonight, I shared with you my goal of raising the bar, and I’m pleased with the end result, which our Professional Development Committee put together for our members,” Hite said.
Hite also praised association members for their continued work at the local, state and national levels to protect and promote private property rights. During 2017, Realtors made their collective voice heard on several major issues, including flood insurance and tax reform.
“The Realtor voice was widely heard because folks like you contacted our congressmen to express the importance of homeownership as the tax reform bill made its way through Congress,” Hite added.
Hite also said he’s pleased with the local membership’s contributions to the Realtors Political Action Committee, which promotes the election of pro-Realtor candidates across the U.S. In 2017, 673 local Realtors invested more than $51,000 in RPAC – which was 123 percent over the association’s goal.
Of those Realtors, 21 were major investors in RPAC. These donors received special recognition and a handblown glass award created Ignis Glass.
Investors who donated between $1,000 and $2,499 were Susan Barnette, Kim Bass, Mark Blazek, Linda Brock, Randy Durham, Jennifer Grayson, Paula McDaniel, Bill Raines, Robyn Ring, Nickie Schwartzkopf, Carol Seal, Leann Stitt, Vicki Trapp, Hite, Smedley, the Englishes and Kathy Tucker.
Investors who donated between $5,000 and $9,999 were Travis Close, Geoff Ramsey and Lois Killebrew.
Greater Chattanooga Realtors also recognized the three Realtors who transitioned to Realtor Emeritus status in 2017. This designation recognizes agents who have been a Realtor for 40 years and served at least one year at the local, state or national level. (Beginning in 2019, the service must be at the national level.) New Realtors Emeritus include Pam Duffy, Robert Yarbrough and Kathy.
Brian Copeland, immediate past president of Tennessee Realtors, handled the installation of local officers and directors for 2018. Before swearing in the new leadership, he emphasised the national organization’s 2018 theme: “Own it.”
“Everything we do in this industry, whether it’s sell a home, sell commercial property, or represent a client in another matter, it’s our job to own that because no one else will,” Copeland pointed out. “And each of these people have pledged themselves to owning this association for you.”
New directors for 2018 include Robert Backer, Dan Griess, Joanna Jackson (who will also serve as Northwest Georgia Council president), Steven LaMar, Denise Murphy, John Payne, Ben Pitts (who will also serve as Commercial Council president), Robyn Ring, Joyce Smith, Kevin Wamack, Ron and Becky Cope.
New officers include: Geoff Ramsey, president; Kim Bass, president-elect; Brandi Pearl Thompson, secretary-treasurer; Barry Hamilton, MLS chairman; and Hite, immediate past president.
Copeland installed everyone but Ramsey. The mantle for that honor fell on his broker at Re/Max Properties, Nickie Schwartzkopf, who began by providing a brief history of Ramsey’s life and career.
Ramsey first earned his real estate license in 1993 while working his way through college as a bartender in Oak Ridge. After realizing he’d piled too much on his plate, Ramsey retired his license. When a friend’s father opened an Assist-2-Sell franchise in 1996, Ramsey reactivated his license, sold one condo and then retired his license again.
Ramsey met Realtor Billy Weathers after arriving in Chattanooga in 2002 and became part of his team. “He spent all his time learning the business – and boy did he learn the business,” Schwartzkopf said.
Over the next 12 years, Schwartzkopf watched Ramsey develop into a dynamic agent. One day, she suggested he become involved with the Realtor association. Ramsey took her advice and started small by serving on a committee. In time, he was named Realtor of the Year – all while maintaining a multi-million-dollar business with one buyers’ agent and one assistant.
Schwartzkopf couldn’t resist telling the room about Ramey’s wild side – “He loves to have fun and he plays hard so be ready to keep up!” But she also cast a light on his softer side, which can be seen in the significant amount of time and money he invests in St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
“It’s an honor to work with Geoff,” Schwartzkopf said before asking him to raise his right hand and take the oath of office. “I’m glad he accepted the challenge to work for this association.”
“For a blue jeans and sports coat kind of guy, this is a tad overwhelming,” Ramsey said after being installed. “I’m excited about 2018 and building on what the presidents who served before me began.”
Ramsey expanded on the theme of “Own it,” saying there are several ways in which Realtors can own their profession in 2018, including increasing one’s RPAC investment, participating in more After Hours networking events, serving on a committee, earning a designation, completing the Take Off or Boost program, donating items to Habitat ReStore, helping with the Tee Up & Wine Down event and joining the association on its visits to Nashville or Atlanta to speak with government officials.
“This is not my year, it’s our year,” Ramsey said. “The board of directors is ready to own it, but it doesn’t stop with them.”
In closing, Ramsey said he’s given “Own it” coins to each of the new directors. But the coins are not theirs to keep. Rather, they will give the coins to association members they deem are “owning it.”
“Think of it as paying it forward as we identity those who are owning it,” Ramsey added. “Are you with me?”