The 2020 Texas REALTORS® Winter Meeting kicked off February 7 with Opening Session speaker Jennifer Golbeck, director of the Human-Computer Interaction Lab and associate professor in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. Golbeck delivered an introduction to artificial intelligence and explained that while AI can provide answers it often doesn’t provide insights into why particular conclusions were reached.

Award Winners Recognized

Scott Kesner was named the 2019 Texas REALTOR® of the Year at the STARs Reception Monday night. Kesner is a past chairman of Texas REALTORS® and is currently chair of the Texas Real Estate Commission.

The following members were honored at the Awards Luncheon:

  • William C. Jennings Commercial Transaction of the Year: Will Northern and WNC Commercial, Greater Fort Worth Association of REALTORS®
  • Education Program Awards:
    • Innovation Program of the Year: Greater McAllen Association of REALTORS®
    • Marketing Program of the Year: Houston Association of REALTORS®
    • Series or Short Program of the Year: Austin Board of REALTORS®
    • Legal Program of the Year: Dianne McCoy of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Gary Greene
    • Educator of the Year: Marion Napoleon, MetroTex Association of REALTORS®
  • Tom D. Morton Award: Denise Price, Amarillo Association of REALTORS®
  • Texas REALTORS® Good Neighbor Award: Jacque Gordon, Granbury Association of REALTORS®.

Board of Directors Actions Taken

During its February 11 meeting, the Board of Directors took the following actions:

  • Approved election of 2021-2022 regional vice presidents:
    • Region 2 – Kay Spiva, Abilene
    • Region 3 – Shirley Johnson, Johnson County
    • Region 3 – Tim Beary, Arlington
    • Region 4 – Angel Titsworth, Greater Texoma
    • Region 4 – Meredith Held, Collin County
    • Region 5 – Teri Norwood, Longview
    • Region 6 – Brian Sales, Permian Basin
    • Region 7 – Marty Chrisman, Four Rivers
    • Region 8 – Lennox Alfred, Fort Hood
    • Region 9 – Ben Rodriguez, Beaumont
    • Region 11 – Nick Cantu, Greater McAllen
    • Region 12 – Linda Callicutt, MetroTex
    • Region 12 – Terry Tremaine, MetroTex
    • Region 12 – Lori Solecki, MetroTex
    • Region 12 – Belinda Epps, MetroTex
    • Region 12 – Bette Washington, MetroTex
    • Region 13 – Michelle Ellis, San Antonio
    • Region 14 – John Nichols, Houston
    • Region 14 – Kenya Burrell, Houston
    • Region 14 – Jennifer Wauhob, Houston
    • Region 14 – Shad Bogany, Houston
    • Region 14 – John Nugent, Houston
    • Region 14 – Deborah Spangler, Houston
    • Region 15 – Joe Stewart, Austin
    • Region 15 – Bill Morris, Austin
  • Approved election of Thomas Mouton as interim RVP for Region 14
  • Approved the election of the 2021 Texas REALTORS® Leadership Team: Secretary/Treasurer Marcus Phipps, Chairman-Elect Russell Berry, and Chairman Marvin Jolly.

The Future of Texas Property Taxes

At the Public Policy Forum, a panel of experts discussed how new property tax laws would benefit property owners. Marya Crigler, Travis County chief appraiser; Korri Castillo, director of the Texas Comptroller’s Property Tax Assistance Division; and property tax attorney Jim Popp discussed how the changes are intended to slow property tax growth and provide more transparency for voters to have a greater voice in the process. The new laws are the result of Senate Bill 2, which was passed by the Texas Legislature in 2019. Visit the Property Taxes page to watch a short video series that explains the changes.

Elections and Engagement at Governmental Affairs Forum

At Sunday’s Governmental Affairs Forum, the Political Involvement Committee hosted a live recording of the political podcast “Texas Take,” with Scott Braddock, editor of, and Jeremy Wallace, political reporter for Houston Chronicle. They discussed key races in the March 3 primary election and what outcomes could mean for Texas. Click here to listen to the podcast. Also, PIC Chairman Brandy Guthrie interviewed keynote speaker Emily Ramshaw, co-founder and CEO of The 19th News and former editor-in-chief of The Texas Tribune. Ramshaw offered insights into how REALTORS® can be political advocates at the grassroots level and tips for building relationships with elected officials. Both sessions were also broadcast on the Texas REALTORS® Facebook page. Watch the recordings at

At the forum, Texas REALTORS® bestowed the 2019 Grassroots Advocate of the Year Award to Melody Gillespie of the MetroTex Association of REALTORS®. She led efforts to successfully stop forced municipal annexation in Montague County in North Texas last year. And the Odessa Board of REALTORS® received the 2019 Mark Lehman Governmental Affairs Achievement Award for its dedication to advocacy engagement and fundraising to support pro-real estate candidates.

Forums and Sessions Highlight Industry Trends

Most sectors of the Texas economy are very strong, said Commercial Forum speaker Barbara Byrne Denham, senior economist with Moody’s Analytics | REIS. However, factors such as the current coronavirus outbreak and the number of retiring baby boomers could dampen the present economic expansion, she said.

At the Global Forum, Michael Treyger, deputy director of business and community development at the governor’s office, spoke about why Texans—and Texas REALTORS®—can brag about the state being an ideal place for companies to locate and grow. Treyger encouraged REALTORS® to reach out to economic development organizations in their local areas and build relationships with them.

The Global/Commercial/RLI Think Tank covered the following topics:

  • Best resources for global members
  • Hemp’s impact on the real estate industry
  • Memorandum of Understandings: How To
  • Succession planning and mentorship in CRE
  • Women in commercial real estate.

The Texas YPN Forum generated a spontaneous slate of discussion topics akin to the unstructured style of a REBarCamp, which Texas YPN will host May 1 in San Antonio.

Camille Beshara, an attorney with Larson Skinner, explained the copyright issues at play with real estate listing information and photos during the Technology/MLS Forum. Attendees also heard details about MLS Statement 8.0—also known as the Clear Cooperation Policy—from panelists Rene Galicia, NAR director of MLS engagement; Rebecca Jensen, CEO of Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED); and Ed Zorn, vice president and general counsel of the California Regional MLS. Chris Heller, chief real estate officer of OJO Labs, spoke about how AI can help connect agents with consumers who have increasingly high expectations for how and when they receive information.

Attendees at the Housing Initiatives Forum heard about direct and guaranteed loan programs from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development office. Joyce McGlothlin, a loan analyst with USDA Rural Development, detailed the differences between the direct loan program, where consumers deal directly with their local Rural Development office, and the guaranteed loan program, where consumers get a loan from an approved lender that’s in turn guaranteed by the USDA. The direct loan program serves very low- and low-income individuals in rural areas, while the guaranteed program also serves those with moderate incomes or below as compared to the area median income.