Orlando Regional REALTOR® Association
Marks 100 Years and All-Female Leadership Team
Celebrating its 100th anniversary is enough to make this year an unforgettable one for the Orlando Regional REALTOR® Association (ORRA), which serves more than 18,000 Realtors in Central Florida and is the eighth-largest association of its kind in the nation. But this is not the only milestone the organization is recognizing in 2021. ORRA has a groundbreaking team at the helm for its big birthday: its first all-female executive board.
President Natalie Arrowsmith has served on the board of directors since 2013, but stepping into the top role at this time feels especially remarkable.
“It is the 100-year anniversary, and we want to show the community that we care about them and that we are giving back,” she said. “I want to spend this year celebrating the community.”
She realizes the importance of playing such a significant part of history for the association. “It’s humbling,” she said. “I grew up in a time when girls were told they couldn’t do things, only boys could. This is our first all-female line for our executive board. I’m very honored to be able to serve during this time period.”
Serving alongside her on the executive board are President-Elect Tansey Soderstrom, who will succeed Arrowsmith in 2022; Treasurer Lisa Hill; and Secretary Juliana Boselli-Neves. The women were inaugurated on January 9, 2021.
“In the past, women have been among top producers in our industry, while the leadership, in general, has been mostly made up of men,” Soderstrom said. “Now it really feels like we’ve come into our own.”
The Orlando Regional REALTOR® Association Team
The four leaders have a lot in common: They are all business owners, professionals and mothers. Their paths to ORRA’s executive board, however, have been decidedly unique.
Arrowsmith started her real estate career after moving from her home state of Florida to the picturesque town of Clyde, North Carolina, in the Great Smoky Mountains about 20 miles from the popular travel destination of Asheville.
“I knew a lot of Florida people who were moving up to the mountains during that time to buy a property and thought, ‘I can do this.’” She worked for other firms before eventually moving back to Florida and starting her own. Ten years after operating Arrowsmith Realty in Apopka, she joined the NextHome franchise system and today operates NextHome Arrowsmith Realty.
Soderstrom was still in high school when she earned her real estate license, but her interest in the career started long before then. As a child, she helped her mother, a real estate agent, by addressing envelopes and hanging marketing materials on neighborhood doors. Soderstrom founded Stirling International Realty in 1989 and acquired the Sotheby’s franchise in 2004, where she was the broker until starting The Real Estate Firm of Orlando in 2013. Soderstrom has been active as a volunteer in the profession and the community, building an extensive resume of service in leadership positions throughout the years.
Hill describes how she found her way to real estate as fate: She began as an office manager for a commercial and residential firm, where the work piqued her interest. “I asked my boss, ‘If I get my real estate license, would you train me as an appraiser?’” He said yes, and six weeks later, she had her license. Hill went on to own an appraisal business for 20 years. In 2008, she switched to sales and has been a broker associate ever since, currently with Keller Williams at the Parks. ORRA recognized her as its 2020 Realtor of the Year.
Boselli-Neves started her career soon after relocating from Brazil to the U.S. for college, where she met a couple who owned and operated a large restaurant chain. She spent her first eight years in real estate on the business development and commercial side with them, laying the path for her next steps. “I fell in love with the business, but when I had my daughter, I decided I wanted to get my real estate license,” she said. “That’s how I started on the residential side.” Now she serves as owner and broker of Glasstone Group Inc.
Lifting Each Other Up
The women’s paths intersected at ORRA, where their shared beliefs in servant leadership and teamwork have brought them together. They point to the camaraderie and support the association provides its members.
In 2007, when the Great Recession made her doubtful about the future, Arrowsmith turned to another group: the Women’s Council of Realtors. “They uplifted me and brought me back into real estate and helped guide me into opening my own brokerage,” Arrowsmith said. “They also taught me the importance of the association and that it advocates for you and provides the services you need.”
While Orlando Regional REALTOR® Association (ORRA) offers practical tools, courses, and events to keep its members continuously improving, it’s that feeling of having such an incredible group of peers and friends on your side that resonates most with each of these leaders. They all speak about the mentorship of the association leaders who came before them.
“I always looked up to our leaders and almost worshipped them,” Hill said, laughing. “Because I never pictured myself being in that position. But I had a few really great mentors who are past presidents of ORRA who gave me that push.”
Navigating Uncertain Times
The association has been especially helpful for its members as the world deals with the COVID-19 pandemic, the leaders explained.
“What’s great about ORRA is our ability to move in tune with the times,” Soderstrom said. “The pandemic has triggered new work and new ways to get things done, and our leaders have quickly acknowledged these trends and been able to run with them.”
The support members give each other is not only on a professional level but also personal — which has been important during the pandemic, Arrowsmith said. “To be able to call other moms and other women in my industry and say, ‘I’m losing my mind right now, and I need your help,’ and here are some of the strongest women I’ve ever met in my entire life saying to me, ‘I’m crying every day, too.’ It was this inspiration of, ‘You don’t have to be perfect. You can be human and still lead and be a strong woman.’”
Boselli-Neves summed it up this way: “The association has brought friends to me. Not just colleagues, but friends that I can count on.”
ORRA seems to breed a special kind of leadership, which attracted all four women to the association.
“What I saw and what made me impressed from the leadership at ORRA was that everyone was a servant leader,” Boselli-Neves said. “I’m a big proponent of that. We’re all competitors, but all working toward the same goal: to better the industry. The next step is nurturing the next batch of leaders.”
All four take their role during this time in history very seriously. They know they are paving the way for members who, like them, may decide in the future to get into leadership in ORRA. But they are also paving the way for the next generation of women in the profession. After all, this supergroup of agents wasn’t planned: It’s a byproduct of a growing number of women working their way to top leadership roles in real estate.
“I think it will open doors for a lot of women,” Hill said, “and I hope we can empower them to make their move up the leadership ladder.”