When Noris Roche was approached about becoming the next President for the Ocala Women’s Council of Realtors, her initial reaction was “I’m not ready for that!”.

It wasn’t because she doesn’t hold the organization in high regard, or that she didn’t want to accept the appointment. She just didn’t know if she should. One look at her office gave her some pause in considering the offer.

“My basket is overflowing,” she says. “And I mean literally overflowing. I have a “to do” tray on my desk, and you can’t even see it anymore. You can’t even see the desk! I thought, how in the world could I take this on?! But then, really – how could I not?”

It’s nothing new for her – or most women, for that matter – to be multitasking. Holding four or five spinning plates aloft while figuring out the next week’s schedule and when to squeeze in an oil change is normal. It’s also not hyperbole to say that women are driving forces for progress and change, and if anyone epitomizes that concept, it’s Noris. Regardless of the chaos in her office, she actually knows exactly where everything is and what priorities she’s assigned them, and what the deadlines are. The seeming madness has a lot of method to it.

Almost immediately on the heels of her initial hesitation to become WCR president was a determined resolve. She wanted to take this on.

“It’s about us helping each other build our careers. There’s a lot of education so that we can develop foundations as managers and entrepreneurs.” ”

–  Noris Roche, Showcase REALTOR®

Women were initially barred from participating in Real Estate organizations and memberships, such as the National Association of Realtors (NAR) – and by extension, from valuable networking and business growth opportunities. NAR was founded in 1908 as the National Association of Real Estate Exchanges, and membership was 100% male at the time – so this is recent history, barely a century old. Even the 19th Amendment to the Constitution wouldn’t be certified for another twelve years. Although women would eventually become the fastest-growing majority of the nascent organization (and still are, at 65%), in the early 20th Century there were monolithic, unyielding barriers to achieving industry equality, and women are still a minority in industry leadership.

Being the proactive and fearless innovators they are, women did it for themselves and created a resource of their own. The WCR began in 1942 as a national organization serving as a voice for women in Real Estate, offering them support, education, and networking opportunities. Everything from seminars to trade shows, conventions, meetings, summits, and networking events are packed solidly in the calendar, all with the mission of making it easier and more productive for women in the business to connect with each other.

Men were allowed to become active members in the organization about ten years ago, and the organization now works quite closely with and is an affiliate of NAR. But it’s always stayed committed to retaining its own identity and focus on the primary mission: Supporting and creating opportunities for women.

“It’s about us helping each other build our careers. There’s a lot of education so that we can develop foundations as managers and entrepreneurs,” Roche explains. “You get a lot of support and a lot of interaction and exchange of ideas, and if you need a contact in say, Chicago or Los Angeles, it’s a nationwide network you can take advantage of and find someone to help.”

“The summits are my favorite thing to do. You meet and get to talk to so many people. It’s certainly been incredibly valuable for me, and I’ve had some fantastic experiences. I come back knowing a whole new swath of people I can reach out to if I need it. Plus I just really enjoy the educational and advancement programs that are available. ”

–  Noris Roche, Showcase REALTOR®

She already has some key goals set out for when she formally takes over as President in January 2023 (she’ll be installed on November 15). Because of the Covid pandemic, new memberships to WCR declined due to the lockdown; member meetings were scaled down dramatically, and of course hardly anyone was traveling or holding major group or crowd events. Like almost everyone else, they had to put those things on hold until it was safer to resume.

“We’re finally getting back to doing those things, which is good. People need to meet and talk to each other,” Roche says, adding that she hopes to increase events and training opportunities over her one-year term. “I’m hoping to strengthen that momentum and membership recovery with some new ideas and programs to encourage and engage people. Hopefully we can help reestablish the Council, and our local chapter, back to its full strength and purpose.”

Already there are good signs of that recovery in Ocala; the local chapter is now at 50 active members – an increase from 31 in 2021 – and Noris is already setting up and participating in monthly board meetings to assess the current status with the membership director and social media coordinator, along with planning upcoming meetings, summits, and potential guest speakers.

“The summits are my favorite thing to do,” she says. “You meet and get to talk to so many people. It’s certainly been incredibly valuable for me, and I’ve had some fantastic experiences. I come back knowing a whole new swath of people I can reach out to if I need it. Plus I just really enjoy the educational and advancement programs that are available.”

She just completed her Performance Management Network (PMN) Certificate, which mainly focuses on negotiation, strategy, and networking, noting that it’s “going to be handy for this new gig” as WCR president. The PMN is a big deal because it can be cost prohibitive – a lot of Realtors don’t opt to take the course. It’s extremely intensive and requires not only a significant financial investment, but also of the agent’s time and schedule. Noris even attended two summits in DC and Chicago along with her online classes.

“It was as challenging as the GRI,” she groans. “And that was fourteen days of seven classes and seven textbooks. It was crazy. I thought at one point I was going to just collapse and cry, because I was up at 4 a.m. studying and getting the work done,” Noris recalls. “But I was determined, and I’m really glad I got the PMN designation.”

Next up is her Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) Designation – so she can do global real estate transactions in other countries. “I think CIPS is another seven-day course, so I need to prepare myself. But I like to study, and I’ve got a lot of coursework done already.” She shrugs. “That’s part of the benefit of WCR. They really arm you with tools you need and can use.”

In addition to handling her duties as President next year, juggling summits and continuing education, and developing her real estate work, she’s also just been appointed to a committee with the National Association of Realtors and hopes to become more involved over the next few years at the regional and national levels. It’s a lot of work, but she’s ready to cannonball straight into the pool.

“I have a crazy full plate, but I really enjoy it. It keeps me active and motivated, and all that work helps me bring everything to the table for the members,” she explains. “I have the energy for it, and I haven’t lost my curiosity.”

Then she laughs. “Huh. I guess I was wrong. I am ready for this.”

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