Illinois REALTORS® consulate liaisons making an impact for Illinois and Baltic Region

(l to r) REALTOR® Mikus Kins, Ambassador Andris Teikmanis, REALTOR® Andy Velkme and Consul General Robert Blumberg.

REALTOR® members Mikus Kins and Andris Velkme, members of the Illinois Realtors® Global Business Council and Consulate Liaisons for Lithuania and Latvia, respectively, have taken the lead to create an opportunity for cross-border connections and partnerships.

They were part of a new event called “Spotlight Latvia: Gateway to Business in Europe and Beyond.” This event brought 40 business owners from Latvia to present their businesses and share the economic landscape and legal framework to do business in Latvia. Illinois business owners, including some of our members, were there to make connections and discover potential opportunities with Latvian clients and investors.

This event included the launching of the Latvian-American Chamber of Commerce, which was founded in part by Kins and Velkme. This new chamber will now have the Spotlight Latvia under its purview and is looking forward to continuing this effort.  At the event, more than 50 organizations joined the new chamber and they are excited for it to grow.

The Honorary Consulate General to Latvia, Mr. Robert Blumberg, and the Ambassador of Latvia to the United States H.E. Mr. Andris Teikmanis were on hand to be part of the launch of the program and are looking forward to expanding U.S. partnerships. The event was kicked off by Mr. Mark Peterson, CEO of Intersect Illinois, the public-private economic development organization for Illinois.

Consulate liaisions work together on strategy

(l to r) Andy Velkme, John LeTourneau, Vicky Silvano, Betty Milam, Marsha Collins-Mroz, Jana Herdova and Don Pasek.

Wednesday evening in Chicago the Illinois REALTORS® consulate liaisons got together for an after-hours session to network, share information and to strategize on ways to collaborate and an improve methods to convey the REALTOR® message to foreign representatives.

With the program in its second year, the team has increased in size and many have had great success in their initial meetings with the Consulate offices. Having that experience under their belt gives them the ability to share best practices with their colleagues and team members.

This informal networking session gave opportunity to build relationships and learn from each other. They also had a special guest via Skype. Sharon von Schoenberg, Program Manager for Global Services for the The Canadian Real Estate Association called in and shared information on how our members can tap into information and resources with their Canadian colleagues.

Illinois REALTORS® adds to Consulate General Liaison team

Claire Sylvestre (left) is the latest addition to the Consulate General Liaison team. Joining her is Sharon Gorrell.

The Illinois REALTORS® Global Business Council is excited to add Claire Sylvestre, broker with @Properties in Lincoln Park to the Consulate General Liaison team!

While going over the details of the program we decided to dive into a bit of French culture by having lunch at a little cafe and enjoy a few French classics, Salade niçoise and Tarte flambée. Sylvestre is a native of France and has been working in the real estate industry here in the U.S. since the mid-90s. She began her career in real estate in Ohio but has been here in Illinois for more than a decade.

Claire is no stranger to international business. She has been involved in corporate relocation and is a long-time member of the French-American Chamber of Commerce in Chicago. She is active with the French Consulate and is looking forward to sharing the importance of REALTORS in an international transaction. She is actually heading to France for the month of August to visit family and also do a bit of real estate!  She is excited to share her expertise with the Illinois REALTORS® and be part of the Global team!  Welcome Claire!

Illinois REALTORS® Global Business Council to host Ghana delegation next week

Illinois REALTOR® Vicky Sampah is spearheading an effort to help a delegation from the Republic of Ghana learn about real estate industry regulation.
The delegation is scheduled to visit with Sampah and other REALTORS® in Chicago next week. Two years ago, the Illinois REALTORS® hosted a parliamentarian and real estate practitioner delegation from Ghana to share experiences and give counsel about regulating the real estate industry. The group has incorporated some of the amendments Illinois REALTORS® suggested in 2015 but the policy has not been passed in Ghana’s parliament.
Illinois REALTORS® welcomes the delegation members back and is happy to share its advocacy expertise and be part of the global community of real estate.

4 questions: REALTOR® Silvano to be sounding board for NAR global efforts

Vicky Silvano

During the Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C., REALTOR® Vicky Silvano was presented as the 2018 NAR Global Business Alliances Liaison.

Silvano, a broker associate for Century 21 SGR in Chicago, is one of 16 NAR committee liaisons who will start their new duties after the NAR Conference & Expo in Chicago in November. Appointed by NAR President-Elect Elizabeth Mendenhall, the group is collectively known as the president’s enlarged leadership team.

Silvano began learning about her new responsibilities by shadowing the current Global Business Alliance Liaison, Mark Kitbayashi of Seattle, during the week of legislative meetings and NAR activities in the nation’s capital.

As Chair for the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA) in 2016, she helped successfully lobby for the U.S. Census Bureau to gather separate information on behalf of Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) instead of under the heading of “other.” She also serves on the Chicago Association of REALTORS® Global Council, and she joined the Illinois REALTORS® Consulate General Liaison Program as a consulate general for the Philippines.

“I am very excited about the new position,” she said.

Q1. What does a global business alliances liaison do?

In the global arena, I will be the eyes and ears of NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall and let her know what’s happening in several areas – the Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) Advisory Board, the Global Business Council Forum and with the Global Business Alliances. Using my feedback, she can look at our current programs and depending on the specific issues, evaluate if we need to do something different to better serve the general membership.

Q2. Global has long been a passion. Why do you think it’s so important for members to be aware of cross-border opportunities?

In 2016, global business transactions created 102 billion business opportunities, and to not highlight them means lost business opportunities for our members. The more our members can take advantage of these opportunities, the better off they’ll be.

Q3. Your work with AREAA resulted in the successful “No Other” campaign. What impact did that have on the industry and why was this so significant?

The “No Other” campaign resulted in the disaggregation of data by the US Census Bureau which has been much needed to understand the housing challenges and needs of the AAPI community. Prior to July 2016, the quarterly housing report lumped Asian Americans into a category with mixed races and various ethnic groups that are very different from AAPIs. With a stand-alone category, the data is much more accurate for our community.  From an industry standpoint, real estate professionals and service providers can better understand what’s going on with housing trends for AAPIs and provide better support to increase the rate of homeownership for our community. From a Policy perspective, the government can now focus on the issues and needs of the AAPI community and address them accordingly.

Q4. What’s the best thing about being in real estate?

I’ve been a top producer and achieved a lot in my career, but my legacy is what I accomplished through AREAA for the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. For me, the greatest success is making sure the needs of those communities are being served, and that issues are being heard and resolved to expand the homeownership rate in the AAPI community.