The Texas REALTORS® Professional Development Department educates REALTORS® and other licensees through its proprietary school and CE courses. 2020 was a busy year for the department, which logged 52,000-plus attendees across more than 4,900 classes—most delivered virtually.

“We’ve been using Zoom since 2012,” says Deb Hernandez, director of Professional Development. “We’ve actually given multiple presentations to other states on that program.”

2021 is shaping up to be just as busy, with more than 20,000 attendees as of mid-April. Professional Development considers local boards their primary customers and supports them by offering courses that boards host. This approach saves local boards money compared to handling it on their own.

The department manages all Texas REALTORS® training, including NAR designation courses. It oversees the GRI program in Texas and boasts the most active-member GRI designees in the nation: 12,390.

Professional Development administers the Texas REALTORS® Leadership Program, which trains about 250 local leaders a year. The department works on housing initiatives and helps association members comply with NAR’s Code of Ethics requirements. It runs the Texas REALTORS® International Cruise in partnership with AMPI, the Mexican Association of Real Estate Professionals.

Members and local associations aren’t the only ones who benefit from Professional Development’s efforts. NAR is preparing to roll out a national version of the Course Administration Reporting Tool (CART) system, developed by Professional Development and built by the Technology Department.

“As our department has continued to increase the volume of courses we offer each year, we created the concept of CART to acquire accurate course records as well as providing a mechanism for associations to notify us of upcoming classes that would auto-populate on our website,” says Jon Houser, associate director. “Over time, CART has developed into a robust learning management system that is unparalleled in the real estate industry.”

The Professional Development Department is a very social and collaborative team.

“I would say the culture is one where we have as much fun as you can while working like heck,” Hernandez says. “There’s a very friendly and supportive atmosphere where everyone pulls their weight and works toward the common goal of supporting our membership.”

“We have a lot of fun,” agrees Houser. “We really enjoy working together and we really enjoy being productive and creative together. We enjoy laughing. I describe us like ducks: Ducks may look calm on the surface, but there’s a lot of paddling going on under the water. I’m very proud of us.”

The Professional Development Department is Deb Hernandez, director; Jon Houser, associate director; Gregory Lang, senior coordinator; Eric Lindsey, operations coordinator; Shiloh Modisett, program manager; and Stephanie Cuffee, assistant.