7801 Deercreek Club Rd., Jacksonville, FL 32256

18 award winners honored during installation gala on Jacksonville Riverfront

18 award winners honored during installation gala on Jacksonville Riverfront

In a glittering night-time event held in a hotel along the St. Johns River, the Northeast Florida Association of REALTORS® welcomed its new administration and recognized 18 annual award winners amidst much fanfare January 13 at Jacksonville’s Hyatt Regency Riverfront Hotel.

Nearly 300 NEFAR members enjoyed a delicious three-course plated dinner during NEFAR’s 2023 Annual Installation and Awards Gala. Included in the program was a graduation ceremony for NEFAR’s 2022 Leadership Academy class, an announcement of the candidates for NEFAR’s 2023 Leadership Academy, an installation ceremony for NEFAR’s new officers and the newly elected directors for both the REALTOR® association, and a special gavel-passing ceremony that featured past presidents of NEFAR as an innovative way to welcome 2023 President Diana Galavis as she takes over the helm.

Several special guests were in the audience including U.S. Congressman John Rutherford and former Florida Senator Audrey Gibson, who is also a Jacksonville Mayoral candidate. Mayoral candidate Daniel Davis, CEO and president of the JAXChamber and his wife Rebekah stopped in at the cocktail hour before the program started.

Also in attendance was Berta Odom, Florida Realtors® District 1 Vice President and Florida Realtors® Past President Cheryl Lambert.

Also, later in the program, William Glenn East, Diana Galavis, Missi Howell, and Cole State, who are trustees of the NEFAR Charitable Foundation, presented a check for $10,000 to MaliVai Washington of Diamond Life Realty, for his work with the MaliVai Youth Foundation. Washington was the winner of the 2022 National Association of REALTORS® Good Neighbor Award.

After an invocation presented by Monsignor James R. Boddie, Jr., of Christ the King Catholic Church. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Steve Kanyar, father to 2023 NEFAR President Diana Galavis and Galavis’s son Carlos Alfredo, who is known as “The Kid.”

2009 NEFAR President Millie Kanyar presided over the installation of her daughter, Diana, and her leadership team.

Joining Galavis on the board of directors in 2022 are President-elect Rory Dubin, Treasurer Tiea Vincent, and Secretary Cole Slate. Newly elected directors for NEFAR were also installed. They included Eric Cavanagh, Margarita Cavanagh, Kim Knapp, April Hall-Lloyd, Diane Cook, Wanda McReynolds, and Rich Zeisel, who will also serve as the 2023 president of realMLS. Returning board members who will serve in 2023 are Andrew Bell, Mario Gonzalez, Samantha Heflin, Jan Jenkins, Audrey Lackie, Gonzalo Mejia, Scott Nyman, Christian Oliva, and Lauren Rohman.

2022 NEFAR President Mark Rosener presented certificates to graduates of its 2022 Leadership Academy. The graduates included: Kelseu Ackerman of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners; Jacquelyn Boyd of Residential Movement Real Estate Group; Neal Brown of IHeart Realty; Cornilus Burr of Florida Homes Realty and Mortgage; Chrisma Bythwood of Watson Realty Corp.; Craig Clear of Watson Realty Corp., Deanna Foerman of Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty; Mary Henton of Navy to Navy Homes, Nikki Lyn Holm of Herron Real Estate; Cynthia Kaneer of Minding Your Assets; Rae Laws of Slate Real Estate; Quntra Love of Navy to Navy Homes, Philip Scarborough of Elite Realty Group; India Vance of IV League Realty LLC; Danielle Wolbert of Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty; and Carray Young of NextHome Assurance Realty.

Serving as Master of Ceremonies for the event was William Glenn East. After the Leadership Academy graduation ceremony, East introduced the candidates of NEFAR’s 2022 Leadership Academy, which will be led by Chairman Clark LaBlond and Vice Chair Mario Gonzalez. The candidates are: Heather Baptiste of Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty, Lillia Barrington of Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty, Joanne Beepot of Residential Movement Real Estate Group; LeTrell Clark of Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty, Ron Elliott of Navy to Navy Homes, Laila Iarossi of Florida Homes Realty and Mortgage LLC, Jan Jenkins of Select Home Realty Group LLC, Rodneshia Jones of Florida Homes Realty and Mortgage, Emily Lloyd of Team Lloyd Realty, Brad Lloyd of Team Lloyd Realty, Rush Lockhart IV of Redfin Corporation, Sara McGraw of Watson Realty Corp., Angela McKee of Innovative Property Solutions Jacksonville LLC, DeMarcus Rodriguez of Navy to Navy Homes LLC, Keith Royal of Residential Movement Real Estate Group, Lisa Sawyer of Repass Law, Brenda Thornton of CW Realty, Jessica Tisby of Bold City Realty Group, Inc., Erin Torres of United Real Estate Gallery, Amy Trahan of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners, Angela Wakefield-Manning of Bold City Realty Group, Inc., and Paulette Walker of Njoi Realty LLC.


NEFAR honors 18 award winners

This year, NEFAR received 63 nominations for the 15 awards that it offers each year. An Awards Task Force comprised of a diverse group of NEFAR REALTORS® from all geographic areas in Northeast Florida reviewed the nominations, which were presented to them in a blind format. The task force members decided on the winners based upon the award criteria.


The Affiliate-Business Partner of the Year Award

J. Riley Williams – J. Riley Williams, PLC

The NEFAR Affiliate Business Partner of the Year Award recognizes one NEFAR affiliate member who has contributed outstanding support and service to the association during the current year. J. Riley Williams is a model NEFAR affiliate member who has contributed much through instructor hours and sponsorships in 2022. He supported several NEFAR Area Councils, the Global Business Council, and the Community Affairs Task Force. He was a major sponsor of the inaugural RPAC Fall Family Fun Fest, and NEFAR’s Clean-up Florida Waters initiative in July. He also donated items for the annual RPAC Auction that raised over $120,000.


The Circle of Honor Award

Mario Gonzalez – Navy to Navy Homes

NEFAR’s Circle of Honor Award recognizes many years of exceptional service and contributions to the community, state, and the real estate profession by NEFAR members. Mario is a long-time NEFAR member who is passionate about education and teaches GRI and property management classes. He is a member of the NEFAR Board of Directors and sits on the association’s Education Task Force. He also serves on several committees for Florida Realtors. His brokerage, Navy to Navy, specializes in helping military members and serves as a national affiliate with Homes for Heroes. Mario’s firm was an inaugural sponsor for the 2022 NEFAR RPAC Fall Family Fest. He is a past president of realMLS and an RPAC Major Investor at the Sterling R level.


The Diversity Award

Gonzalo Mejia – Watson Realty Corp.

The Diversity Award recognizes a NEFAR REALTOR® member who has actively worked to raise the consciousness of inclusiveness within NEFAR, the REALTOR® community or in their workplace. Nominees must earn the At Home with Diversity designation and have completed online fair-housing tools such as NAR’s Implicit Bias training, and the Fair Haven video simulation. They should also have tangibly demonstrated the promotion of fairness and diversity regarding age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, political affiliation, marital status, disability and so forth within NEFAR or their workplace, or the real estate industry.

Gonzalo is an instructor of the course, At Home with Diversity, and perhaps no NEFAR member better exemplifies the spirit of inclusiveness within our association. As a REALTOR®, Gonzalo completed the At Home With Diversity class three times. He has taught NAR’s new class, Bias Override training, throughout the country and was a presenter at the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance Conference. He also has done presentations regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion for REALTOR® associations throughout the United States. Locally, he is a board member for the LGBTQ Community Fund of Northeast Florida, assisting in its efforts to raise funds and support events and programs for the LBGTQ community in the region.

He leads his real estate team in promoting homeownership among the Hispanic community participating and hosting events for Spanish-speaking consumers.. In 2023, he will serve as the NAR Diversity Committee Vice Chair.


The NEFAR Golden R Award

Wanda McReynolds – Slate Real Estate

The Golden R Award commemorates a NEFAR REALTOR’s faithful, long-term service to NEFAR. When Wanda McReynolds of Slate Real Estate makes a commitment, she sees it through. During her faithful service to NEFAR she has earned numerous certifications and designations through NEFAR’s education and training courses.

Wanda served on the 2022 NEFAR RPAC Task Force and supports many of the NEFAR Area Councils, especially when auction baskets are involved! She has been active in the Global Business Council for many years, and also has helped with the REALTOR®/ Builder Trade Show. She has served as a director for Florida Realtors® in 2018 and 2019 and has been a member of Florida Realtors® Honor Society.

At the Legislative meetings in Washington DC in 2022, she received membership into the RPAC Hall of Fame, and the Golden R’s President’s Circle. She was also admitted into the EDGE™ Society in 2022.


The NEFAR Guiding Light Award

Amanda Feagle – Watson Realty Corp.

The Guiding Light Award honors a NEFAR REALTOR® member who has done an exemplary job of educating NEFAR members either through teaching in the classroom or by mentoring less-experienced fellow agents above and beyond what is required by paid positions within their real estate firm. Amanda Feagle is a licensed real estate instructor through DBPR and Florida Realtors®. While working as a managing broker for two Watson sales offices in Jacksonville and Orange Park, she has taught real estate education and professional development within her company and throughout the general real estate community.

In 2022 Feagle was the chair of NEFAR’s Education Advisory Task Force and a member of Florida Realtors® Board of Directors. She went above and beyond her local duties when she taught the REALTOR® Code of Ethics class for the 2022 Florida Realtors Convention and Expo.


The NEFAR Global Involvement Award

Gonzalo Mejia – Watson Realty Corp.

The Global Involvement Award recognizes a NEFAR member who has been involved in real estate by working within the global community. Members must hold the Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) designation and be actively involved in NEFAR’s Global Council. A Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) instructor and member of NEFAR’s Global Business Council for many years, Gonzalo attends Florida Realtors® meetings, including Global Exchange sessions. He has been a member of Florida Realtors Global Committee for several years and was the 2022 vice chair.

During the 2022 NAR Convention and Expo, Gonzalo spent time with participants from throughout the world and attended the International Gala. This past year, he attended several international real estate events including the A Place in The Sun conference in May, in London, England, where he promoted homeownership opportunities in Florida for second-home buyers. Also in May, he visited Seville, Spain, for the Inmocionate 2022 Conference to learn more about European real estate trends and presented for SIRA members. In August, Gonzalo traveled to Barranquilla, Columbia, for the Latin American Real Estate Conference where he connected with real estate practitioners from throughout the Americas.

He has served as the Global Ambassador for Uruguay in 2017 and 2018, and as the Ambassador for Peru and Ecuador for 2020, 2021 and 2022. He is also a member of the REBI Global Alliances Committee. Locally, Gonzalo is happy to assist NEFAR members with some of their global transactions and concerns.


NEFAR Good Neighbor Award

Ben Glynn – Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Realty

The Good Neighbor Award honors the NEFAR member who has dedicated extensive personal time and resources to humanitarian causes or charitable efforts during the year. Ben Glynn has a lengthy partnership with Hunger Fight that extends over several years. Hunger Fight is a community organization that provides food to hungry families, children, and seniors as well as books to preschoolers. He has donated many hours of his time to packing events, speaking engagements, and serves on the nonprofit’s Board of Directors. In addition, he contributes a portion of every real estate transaction he completes to Hunger Fight, providing nearly 20,000 meals in 2022. Ben is also a community partner for Hunger Fight’s 10th Annual Thanksgiving Community Outreach packing event. He was also involved in helping to find a general contractor for the nonprofit’s new offices that will be built in 2023.


NEFAR Newcomer of the Year Award

DeMarcus Rodriguez – Navy to Navy Homes

The Newcomer of the Year Award honors a NEFAR REALTOR® who has been a member for a maximum of three years and who has demonstrated active NEFAR participation through educational accomplishments and/or NEFAR committee, council, and task force service. A REALTOR® who joined NEFAR in 2021, DeMarcus Rodriguez earned the ABR, SRS, RENE, and AHWD designations in 2022, by attending more than a dozen classes – 61 CE hours’ worth. He helped at least 20 families find rental homes and sold 10 homes last year.

DeMarcus spearheaded a neighborhood charity event providing back-to-school supplies, clothes, shoes, and haircuts for underprivileged kids at Kings Trail Elementary in a “challenging” section of Jacksonville. He has also donated 25% of every commission donating more than $20,000 last year to the Homes for Heroes program that helps active military, veterans, first responders, medical professionals, and teachers. As a military veteran, Rodriguez said he wants to impact people in his new career.


The Professional Development Award

Carray Young – Next Home Assurance Realty

The Professional Development Award honors a REALTOR® who has excelled in professional development over the past two years by completing local, state, and national real estate courses, designations, and certifications. During this past year, Carray has logged 144 hours of CE training. Some of it -- 72 hours’ worth -- was put toward her broker’s license. Included in her course work was the GRI designation and At Home with Diversity. Carray was also a member of the 2022 Leadership Academy and has recently joined NEFAR’s EDGE™ Society.


Property Manager of the Year Award

Bailey Jordan – Navy to Navy Homes

The Property Manager of the Year award honors a NEFAR member who has made a great contribution to the property management profession through professional leadership initiatives and/or educational accomplishments. A new mom, who recently gave birth to her second child, Bailey Jordan is a full-time property manager and REALTOR® with a personal portfolio of more than 100 homes that she manages.

As a REALTOR®, she maintains volume numbers at the top of her firm, and she is an investor doing a handful of property renovations each year. She donates 25% of every commission to the Homes for Heroes program and another 5% to help Heroes in need. In addition she donates 10% through her church to help numerous outreaches, mission work, and the underprivileged throughout the world. Bailey and her husband also support two children in Africa.

This year she served as vice chair of NEFAR’s Education Task Force, and worked to step up the level of designation classes in 2022. She also personally called brokerages to increase in-class participation. Also, in 2022 she earned the ABR and SRS designations. In the past, she has been active in NEFAR’s Young Professionals Network, Area Councils, and the Nominating Committee. In 2021, she served as chairman of the Mandarin Council and organized everything from family cookouts, educational real estate events, and mixers.


The Silent Angel Award

Rae Laws – Slate Real Estate

Not everyone commands a headlined leadership role. The Silent Angel Award honors a NEFAR REALTOR® member who has demonstrated continued personal involvement and support to NEFAR and to the real estate profession for the past three years. Rae Laws is always willing to lend a hand to set up, organize, and promote member participation at Area Council events particularly through social media. Without being asked, Rae devised a social media marketing plan for NEFAR’s Clean-up Florida Waterways event and assisted with the Build-a-Ramp project as part of the NEFAR Community Affairs Task Force. She even returned the following day when other NEFAR members were absent to assist the contractor with finishing up off both ramps for the homeowners. She also has volunteered with “Meals for Hope” during Florida Realtors® conventions.


NEFAR REALTOR® of the Year

Rory Dubin – United Real Estate Gallery

The REALTOR® of the Year Award honors one NEFAR REALTOR® member who has demonstrated continued personal involvement and support to NEFAR and the real estate profession for the past three years.

Rory has earned nearly every designation and certification offered in real estate – no less than 35 of them. He has served nine years on NEFAR’s Budget and Finance Committee and eight years on NEFAR’s Board of Directors. In 2021 he was NEFAR Secretary and served as NEFAR Treasurer in 2022. This year he will be president-elect of the association.

Rory is very active on both Florida Realtors and NAR committees. A longtime NEFAR Global Business Council member, he has served on both NAR’s CIPS Advisory Board and as a C2EX Ambassador. As a NEFAR Global Business Council member he is part of the planning committee for the Council’s 2023 Trade Mission to Vietnam. In 2021, he won the inaugural NEFAR Global Involvement Award. He also serves as the National REBI Global Alliances Chairman, was REBI Past President in 2022, and has been elected to the 2023-2024 National REBI Board of Directors. He has also served on the Florida Realtors® Board of Directors.

Rory is also a member of the Florida Realtors® Global Business Council’s Resort & Second Home Breakout Group.

For NEFAR, in addition to his work on the Global Business Council and Board of Directors, he has served as chairman of NEFAR’s Commercial Alliance of REALTORS®, the Candidate Screening Committee, the Legislative Committee, YPN, and the Education Task Force, and the RPAC Task Force. He attended most NEFAR Area Council events in 2021 and 2022.

Rory is a Golden R President’s Circle Major Investor and will be admitted into the RPAC Hall of Fame in 2023.

In 2022 he taught 12 broker licensing courses for First Coast School of Real Estates and served as a manager for his firm assisting approximately 400 agents daily.

He has attended Sell-A-Bration and President’s Circle conferences, attended all online and live Florida Realtors® and NAR meetings, as well as Great American Realtor® Days. He is also a RRC Regional Mastermind division member. He also has entertained his fellow REALTORS® by playing piano for three Florida Realtors® state events.


Special Recognition Award

Mark Feagle – Watson Realty Corp.

An advocate for conservation, clean waters, and healthy fishing, Mark Feagle has spearheaded NEFAR’s Clean-up Florida Waters initiative for the past few years. He is a man who does not take ‘no’ for an answer and has the knack for encouraging his colleagues to show up and sponsor fundraising events. For years, Mark has continuously raised money for the NEFAR Charitable Foundation so that a local oyster bar restoration project can be created in partnership with the Coastal Conservation Association. The NEFAR Oyster Bar will be placed in the St. Johns River in upcoming years.


Special Recognition Award

Jon Singleton – Watson Realty Corp.

While on active duty with the U.S. Navy in Afghanistan in 2006, Jon Singleton served as a mentor with the Afghan National Army and bonded with his interpreter. When the U.S. left Afghanistan in 2021, he worked to save his interpreter and his family. By establishing a network of veterans and military to crowdsource Intel, the Afghans avoided Taliban checkpoints and were able to leave the country. Jon is credited with personally saving 41 Afghan nationals, 15 of which have made it to the U.S. He also raised $25,000 to give to Afghan allies to help with their survival.


Special Recognition Award

Elizabeth Wells – Engel & Volkers First Coast Realty

Every Monday from 6 pm to 8 pm Elizabeth Wells spends time at the Juvenile Detention Center mentoring incarcerated youths with VerbKind volunteers. She also raises donations for Movers for Moms and has spent time volunteering for ReThreaded. Helping women and youth get back on their feet is very dear to Elizabeth’s heart because in her youth, she was one of those kids, and so was her youngest daughter.


Special Recognition Award

MaliVai Washington – Diamond Life Realty

Having won NAR’s Good Neighbor Award this year, MaliVai Washington is in a category all his own and is most deserving of NEFAR’s Special Recognition Award. For 26 years Mal has helped break the cycle of poverty through a vibrant tennis and after-school mentoring program in one of the roughest neighborhoods in Jacksonville. His foundation now serves 500 children annually and 100% of the children who faithfully stay with his program graduate from high school. During the presentation, MaliVai was also presented with a check for $10,000 for his foundation by NEFAR Charitable Foundation Trustees William Glenn East, Diana Galavis, Missi Howell, and Cole Slate.


Real Estate Icon Award

Cathy Whatley – Buck & Buck Realty

To be honored with the Real Estate Icon award, you must be a long-time NEFAR REALTOR® who has made a significant contribution to the profession in Northeast Florida. Your name should be recognizable to the community at-large and be synonymous with exemplary ethical behavior as well as knowledgeable and compassionate service to clients. Highly respected in the REALTOR® community, the winner must have demonstrated generosity with his or her time through support of community organizations.

Cathy was licensed in 1969 and is a third-generation REALTOR Emeritus member with over 53 years of experience. She assumed ownership of a family-owned Jacksonville firm, Buck & Buck, in 1985.

She holds the professional designations of Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS), Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), Graduate REALTOR® Institute (GRI) and Performance Management Network (PMN).

She has provided dedicated service to all three levels of the REALTOR® organization over the course of her real estate career. Cathy served as president of the Jacksonville Association of REALTORS® in 1990, and as president of Florida Realtors® in 1996, as well as president of the National Association of REALTORS® in 2003. She has served on numerous national committees and forums and continues to serve to this day on all three levels, local, state, and national, and first served on the NAR Board of Directors in 1996 and has continued to hold a seat on the board from 1998 to the present day.

During Cathy’s NAR presidency, she oversaw deployment of the HOPE Awards, a program that focused on increasing minority homeownership opportunities. She also hosted the first National Summit for Housing Opportunities. Her work for the REALTOR® Party Action Committee (RPAC) proved instrumental in ensuring preservation of the divide between banking and commerce, and fair reform of the real estate settlement services regulations. She also instituted REALTOR® Safety Week to help protect real estate professionals on the job, which continues today as NAR’s Safety Initiative.

Cathy was one of four NAR Board members who started up NAR’s REALTOR® Relief Fund after 9/11.

She was named Florida Realtor of the Year in 1998. In 1986 and 1993, she received the NEFAR REALTOR® of the Year award. And in 2003 Cathy received NEFAR’s Presidential Lifetime Service Award, the highest award a past president may receive from a local association.

She is a long-time member of the Women’s Council of REALTORS® and was president of the organization’s chapter in 1985. She was also a member of the board of directors of Move Inc., operator of NAR’s realtor.com® website, and served as an ethics commissioner for the State of Florida for several years.

Cathy was instrumental in the formation of the Sadowski Fund for affordable housing in the Florida legislature and served as key contact to Jim King when he was both a Florida representative and senator. She was also one of nine commissioners on Florida’s Commission on Ethics and served on the state’s Impact Fee Task Force.


NEFAR Lifetime Legacy Award

George Linville (1929 – 2009)

This award honors a long-time REALTOR® member, living or deceased, who has made a significant mark on the Northeast Florida real estate industry. Tonight, there is not a REALTOR® in Northeast Florida who does not appreciate the impact that George Linville, our Lifetime Legacy Award winner had on all of us, both in real estate and within the greater Jacksonville community. George’s wife, JoAnne Linville, received the award. The couple was married for 59 years when he passed away in 2009.

George worked in the insurance industry before forming his own real estate company. He was also an enthusiastic civic leader and patriot. During his lifetime, George served as president or chairman of more than 60 organizations and worked on several political campaigns. He served as president of the Rotary Club of South Jacksonville where he maintained a perfect attendance record for 44 years. He was a strong believer in the youth of our country and served as an advisor to Junior Achievement and Rotaract groups locally.

Mayor Hans Tanzler appointed him to chair the city’s American Bicentennial Commission that celebrated the nation’s 200th birthday throughout 1976. “He was Mr. Enthusiasm for anything and everything that dealt with the welfare of Jacksonville and its future,” Tanzler said.

A dynamic amateur auctioneer, who started NEFAR’s RPAC auction in 1983, George also volunteered his time to several worthy charities.

In real estate, he served as president of the Jacksonville Association of REALTORS® in 1977 and received the association’s REALTOR® of the Year award in 1977 as well as two special service awards in 1970 and 1976. He received NEFAR’s Golden R award in 2001 and its Presidential Lifetime Service Award in 2003.

He served Florida Realtors® as District Vice President in 1980 and was its treasurer in 1983 and president in 1986. He also served several FR committees and was named FR’s REALTOR® of the Year in 1989.

Nationally he served as a director for the National Association of REALTORS® in 1988 and twice as chairman of the Membership Policy and Board Jurisdiction Committee.

George received NAR’s REALTOR® Emeritus certification in 2005 for more than 40 years in the organization.