A shaking Karla Roberts, association executive (AE) for the Prescott Areas Association of REALTORS® (PAAR), had to be nudged out of her seat on Monday, March 18, at the Association Executive Institute conference in San Diego, CA. “I couldn’t believe they called my name,” Roberts recalls. This year, Roberts joins only three other AEs in receiving the prestigious Dr. Almon R. (Bud) Smith, RCE, AE Leadership Society Award. “It’s such an honor,” said Roberts. “Especially since [this award] came from my own peers.”

Each year, the Dr. Almon R. (Bud) Smith, RCE, AE Leadership Society recognizes AEs who have proven to be leading contributors to the industry and the profession. Winners of this award play an active, ongoing role as innovators and mentors for the AE community. This award also recognizes the honoree’s ongoing commitment to the advancement of REALTOR® association management and anticipated future contributions. The Smith Society received an outpouring of letters of recommendation for Roberts from many members of the REALTOR® community including PAAR President Ed Pattermann. Patermann said, “I have tremendous respect for AEs. In all my years in business, I’ve rarely encountered a harder job. Karla Roberts has been an AE for more than 30 years and has always performed her job with class and professionalism.”

Roberts’ contribution to her association and the REALTOR® industry have a ripple effect that can be felt throughout the state, if not the country. Roberts started her career in 1982 at the Alton-Wood River Board of REALTORS® and Belleview Area Association in Illinois. In 2002, Roberts moved to Prescott to fill the role of AE at PAAR. Since then, Roberts has created multiple programs that benefit her membership, including the wildly successful Member Payment Plan. Roberts said, “In the middle of a terrible economy, we let our members split up dues payments.” This small gesture allowed members to make their dues payments in three increments instead of one lump sum. Roberts said the first year, more than 400 agents participated. Now, in its fifth year, associations across the country are using the same model. The member payment program is just one way that illustrates that “in her heart, in her core, Karla truly cares about the well-being of the members,” said Pattermann. K. Michelle Lind, Esq., chief executive officer for the Arizona Association of REALTORS® added, “This award is well-deserved, and I know that she will continue to blaze new trails on behalf of PAAR and its members.”

Members aren’t the only ones that Karla cares about. Since joining PAAR, Roberts has encouraged her staff and the staff of local associations to pursue their REALTOR® Association Certified Executive (RCE) designation. “When I came to Arizona,” said Roberts “I was so surprised that there were few local AEs that had their RCE.” Roberts thinks that if REALTORS® pursue professional development, so too should their association. Kimberly King, RCE and executive vice president for the Sedona Verde Valley Association of REALTORS® said, “I know I would not have my RCE today without her personal attention to my career.” King goes on to say that Roberts is one of the few people she knows who are dedicated to “increasing the professionalism and education of all REATLOR® members and the staff that works for them.”

Ty Strout, RCE, CAE and former CEO of the Arizona Association of REALTORS® said this, in his letter to the Smith advisory board: “Karla is a leader in many ways and her inclusion in the Smith AE Leadership society…enhance[s] the prestige of the Society.”

“I’m thrilled to receive this recognition,” said Roberts. “It is something I always wished I could receive someday … and it happened! And, it happened because of some very special leaders took the time out their day to nominate me. That makes it very special to me!”

Roberts will be inducted at a ceremony taking place at the Midyear Meetings Leadership Luncheon on May 17. More details can be found here.

About the Author

Michelle Lind

K. Michelle Lind, CEO of Arizona REALTORS®, is also an attorney, State Bar of Arizona board certified real estate specialist, and the author of Arizona Real Estate: A Professional’s Guide to Law and Practice. Please note that this article is of a general nature and may not be up-to-date or revised for accuracy as statutory or case law changes following the date of first publication. Further, this article reflects only the opinion of the author, is not intended as definitive legal advice and you should not act upon it without seeking independent legal counsel.