For those of you who don't know me, I've been an active RESA supporter since Day 1. Actually BEFORE day 1. Shell, RESA founder and President, and I spoke about RESA before it was official. Up until December 2017, I've been in leadership every day of it's existence. I stepped down because of what I saw, and heard in the last few years. I'm also not the only one. Look around and see who used to be in RESA leadership and isn't any longer. Ask them why. That's not what this is about though. This is about the email that came out today. The request to change the bylaws, of this member-run organization.
What's in this change of bylaw?
This is what you need to pay attention to. Let's take a look at the 'recommended' changes.
So, that doesn't seem so bad, right? Let's take another look at it. This change would mean that 1) Only STAGERS could be voting members. Technically this would eliminate people like Audra Slinky, Christine Rae, and Lance Selgo. Audra and Christine own two of the largest Staging Training companies in our industry, but neither is a stager. Lance Selgo, is a renowned TX photographer, who is a tremendous advocate for our industry. He works primarily with stagers. He is a member of the RESA Dallas Chapter, has presented at RESACon and has presented, with Karen Otto at the Florida Association of Realtors convention, on behalf of our industry.
Now, I know what you are thinking, the next section addresses that. It says that the BOARD may override this. They can make a non-voting member a voting member. How many people who have attended RESACON have commented over the year that there is a bit of a "cliquish" group in RESA? I know, I've always been part of that group, but I've also been a voice against it. I have always wanted to be business 24/7. I don't care about the social aspect.
Now, I'm not exactly sure how this whole thing was decided upon, or brought up. I may actually ask for the board meeting minutes. Let me tell you about something that DID HAPPEN. The year I was voted on as a board member, Karen Otto was also voted on as a board member. Michelle Minch told Otto that she wanted her to be the next RESA President (which is really just Chairman of the Board, but that's a completely different discussion.) Otto didn't want to be. She instead told me that I should run. So, I did. When we met, as a board, Otto was nominated by Minch. Otto refused and nominated me. The immediate reaction from Shell (a paid employee of the organization and not a board member) was that she was pretty sure I couldn't be President because I was a Realtor.
Now, see, that's pretty funny, because I still owned one of the biggest staging companies in North America at the time, and actively staged not only my own listings, but listings for other Realtors. No one else wanted to be voted on as President, so Gina (Shell's right hand person, and also an employee of RESA, not a board member), had to go look that up in the bylaws. It was clear, by more people than just myself, that they preferred to have someone, not me, as the President. Their excuse, in attempting to keep me from that position, was that I was a "Realtor" even though, it should be enormously clear to anyone who has known me for the past dozen plus years that I am in fact, A STAGER first and foremost.
Now, I have ZERO interest in running for any office again. This could just as easily happen to anyone else, however. This is the power to eliminate people that HQ and the board choose to.
This next section says that the voting membership now needs to only elect 3 of the 5 board members. The remaining 2 board members can be APPOINTED by the board, WITHOUT MEMEBERSHIP APPROVAL. While you will be told that this is so that the board can include other industry leaders like CPAs, Realtors, and CEO's of other companies (although technically these same other industry leaders cannot be voting members) what they aren't saying, is that they can also simply APPOINT anyone they want. This means that when three HQ "yes [wo]men" are voted in, that they can simply appoint the other two.
Don't think that can or would happen? Then that's because you haven't been in leadership for a dozen plus years, OR it's because you are part of that "clique" to begin with. I know, I know, I have been part of it all that time, but if you know me, you know that's just not who I am. I don't give a rat's *ss about social stuff.
Without revealing confidential information, I can tell you that there was almost no board meeting that I attended in 3 years that didn't have some kind of "drama" involved, where HQ actively complained about some chapter here or there that was causing problems because they didn't see things their way. Anyone who challenges status quo is held in clear contempt. That's also not just by HQ, it's also by long time board members who ALWAYS vote the way HQ wants. In a discussion about why RESA needs to do more to get Realtors and Homeowners to understand our value, why HQ needs to do more to bring the word of staging from the top, down to the bottom, rather than the other way around, it was stated, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".
Well, after more than a decade of "growth" RESA isn't statistically all that much bigger than when it began. Many of the top stagers around the country have left, or are simply no longer involved. They may still have a membership, but they no longer want to participate. Did you know that some of the largest chapters, of years' past are no longer in existence? How many of you remember the GIANT New Jersey chapter that came to convention every year? It's gone. There are many others too, on the way out.
We have seen the growth of IAHSP actually shifting to adopt other organizations, under the leadership of Jennie Norris. We've seen HSRA gaining traction and picking up old RESA leadership, many who had already left because they simply no longer see the value in RESA. As someone who has always taken up for and stood by RESA, it's lost it's shine and sparkle. I've lost faith that the organization can or even wants to do anything for the local staging company. This change is just another power grab. It puts the power in the hands of only a few.
If this change is really about wanting to grow and move forward, then we need to DEMAND that the wording be changed on the appointment of NON-MEMBERS to the board be VOTED on by the MEMBERSHIP. If we don't, then we cease to be a member-run organization. Just like our current national political system, all of the power will be placed in the hands of a few.