A change of direction and new staff at VAR

VAR is changing so we can do more for you and your business.

We are, after all, your association — it’s our job to be your advocate and to work to ensure Virginia has the best possible environment for doing the business of real estate.

We asked what you wanted, and thousands of members responded through surveys, e-mail, and phone calls. We heard you.

We’re fighting for you in Richmond

The number one benefit we provide is serving as the business advocate for real estate professionals in Virginia — you know it as advocacy: We work with lawmakers and regulators to help make and keep Virginia the best place for real estate business. That’s especially true as the state and federal governments propose new laws and regulations in the wake of the housing recession.

“We work hard on many fronts to protect both our members and Virginia property owners,” said VAR President Bradley J. Boland. “It’s our job to prevent any additional burdens being placed on real estate professionals or on homeowners. Realtors should know that we have their backs.”

We’re bringing the experts closer to home

Martin Johnson

To bolster our lobbying and policy efforts, we’re bringing the expertise in-house. As of April 1 we will have a familiar face back at VAR: Chief of Policy and Advocacy Martin Johnson who will spearhead those efforts. Since 2008, Johnson has been co-owner and partner at FutureLaw, a government relations and real estate consulting firm; before that he served as director of public policy and government relations for VAR, and as an assistant secretary of administration and as a special assistant for senate relations for Governor James Gilmore.

We’re raising funds to help us fight

Kathy Diradour

To be sure we have the loudest voice possible when we’re acting as your advocate on Capitol Square, we’ve added a dedicated RPAC fundraising director and political field representative to our staff — former Realtor and VAR political field representative Kathy Diradour — and we’ve enlisted a group of volunteers: the RPAC Fundraising and Broker Involvement committee, or “RPAC FBI,”  to help get the word out about how important RPAC is to building our advocacy relationships, supporting REALTOR®-friendly candidates for election and laying a strong foundation for your business success.

We’re helping protect you while you do business

Jim Hopper and Jay DeBoer join VAR’s legal team.

VAR needs to have the experts in Virginia real estate law so we can help Realtors stay legal and ethical, and to best advise our organization. VAR is pleased to announce two major additions to our legal department that will help keep REALTOR® members well informed, as well as supporting our policy writing and analysis efforts.

Joining the staff is new in-house general counsel Jim Hopper, and a familiar face: longtime VAR colleague Jay DeBoer.

Hopper has a strong background not only in real estate law, but in working with the legislative and executive branches. A former cabinet secretary with the governor, he also served in the office of the attorney general, where he supervised the legal counsel to the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, the Virginia Real Estate Board, and served as legal counsel to the State Board of Elections.

Jay DeBoer, besides his previous experience with VAR, was a 20-year member of the Virginia General Assembly and served as chief of both the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation and the Department of Aging. He comes to VAR as adjunct counsel and will assist in regulatory oversight and legal education to the local associations.

Hopper heads VAR legal department’s experienced team of Deputy General Counsel Blake Hegeman, Legal Consultant Jay DeBoer, and Director of Professional Standards and Legal Affairs Erika Almstead.

We’re reaching out to members more, and to more members

VAR staff have embarked on a new program called “Out and About. We visit local associations to work together on projects, learn from one another, and help out where we’re needed.

“Real change begins with individuals,” said VAR CEO Terrie Suit. “We want to use the power of thousands of Realtor voices to make Virginia a great place to do business.”

We’ve remade our RealtorsChoose.com website to make it easy to keep up with our policy efforts, track bills, learn our priorities, and see the value of your RPAC contributions.

And we’ve redesigned Commonwealth magazine to keep you better informed on issues impacting your business, how VAR is working for you, and what your peers are up to around the state. We’re also increasing our social media presence so we can connect to more members in more ways. (Be sure to look for us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.)

This is not the end of our changes. This is part of an ongoing process to be sure we do the best job possible representing the interests of Virginia’s Realtor’s. We welcome your feedback, today and any day — tell us what you like, what you want to see more of, and how we can serve you better.


About Andrew Kantor

Andrew is VAR's editor and information manager, and -- lessee now -- a former reporter for the Roanoke Times, former technology columnist for USA Today, and a former magazine editor for a bunch of places. He hails from New York with stops in Connecticut, New Jersey, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Roanoke.
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