Illinois REALTORS® approves three-year strategic plan

The Illinois REALTORS® Board of Directors gave its approval to a plan that will guide the association for the next three years at its business meetings in Naperville last week.

The outline is the result of more than a year of work which included a comprehensive member survey, and which involved scores of members aiding in the crafting of the 101-year-old organization’s priorities.

The work identifies five core areas the association will focus on in the years ahead:

  • Advocacy: Protect private property and promote the value of REALTORS®.
  • Education: Create professional development programs that help REALTORS® strengthen their businesses.
  • Ethics: Advance ethics enforcement programs that increase REALTOR® professionalism.
  • Legal: Protect REALTORS® by providing legal guidance and education.
  • Outreach: Share the story of the association and its role in helping REALTORS® succeed.

Many of the plan’s details were worked out by a Strategic Thinkers Working Group, which provided the information to the Strategic Planning Committee.

Recapping the October Business Meetings

The 2018 officers include (l to r): President-elect Dan Wagner, Immediate Past President Doug Carpenter, President Matt Difanis and Treasurer Ed Neaves. (Michael Hudson Photo)

Last week at the Illinois REALTORS® October Business Meetings, a new leadership team and board of directors were sworn-in, some members were honored for their service and plans were approved for special projects.

Check out the photos and catch up on the details of the meetings and the Inaugural Gala, check the following headlines and follow the links to stories:


Illinois REALTORS® Board of Directors approve 2018 committee chairs and vice chairs

On Oct. 12, the Illinois REALTORS® Board of Directors voted to accept nominations for chairs and vice chairs of 2018 committees at the October Business Meetings.

These individuals help shape the association’s policies, make recommendations to the board and aim to keep the association as relevant as possible. President Matt Difanis chairs the Executive Committee and President-elect Dan Wagner is vice chair. The duo serves in the same leadership roles on the NAR Political Advisory Working Group.

Among other appointments are:

  • Advisory Council — Mike Drews, chair;
  • Association Executives Committee — Steve Volkodav, chair, Charay Palmer, vice chair;
  • Business Issues-License Law Forum — Kristie DeBrun, chair, Sue Miller, vice chair;
  • Commercial-Industrial-Investment Committee — Steve Myers, chair; Kris Keller, vice chair;
  • Conference and Expo Working Group — Angie Zahn, chair;
  • Ethics Citation Panel — Matt Silver, chair, Tonya Corder, vice chair;
  • Finance Committee — Ed Neaves, chair;
  • Grievance Committee — Eleanor Nastepniak, chair, Catherine Terpstra, vice chair;
  • Housing Opportunity Working Group — Zeke Morris, chair, Jeffrey Barkstall, vice chair;
  • Illinois REALTORS® Plaza, Inc. — Ed Neaves, chair;
  • Illinois General Assembly and Statewide Independent Expenditures Committee — Christopher Tenggren, chair;
  • Illinois Local Government Independent Expenditures Committee — Mike Drews, chair;
  • Illinois REALTORS® Global Business Council — Vicky Sampah, chair, Maurice Hampton, vice chair;
  • Leadership Development Working Group — Sarah Ware, chair, Bob Eby, vice chair;
  • Nominating Committee — Jim Kinney, chair, Mike Drews, vice chair;
  • Performance-Compensation Review Committee — Mike Drews, chair;
  • Professional Development Member Involvement Group — , Max Mitchell, chair, Alisa Patterson-Orosco, vice chair;
  • Professional Standards Committee — Mike Oldenettel, chair, Michael Gobber, vice chair;
  • REALTORS® Political Involvement Working Group — Tom Krettler, chair, Chad Doyle, vice chair;
  • Public Policy and Government Affairs Member Involvement Group — Tim Ryan, chair, Hugh Rider, vice chair;
  • REALTOR® of the Year Working Group — Chris Read, chair;
  • RPAC Fundraising Working Group — Jeff Gregory, chair, Kevin Van Eck, vice chair;
  • RPAC Trustees — Jeff Kolbus, chair, Nykea Pippion-McGriff, vice chair;
  • Screening and Candidate Audit Working Group — Jean Crosby, chair, Sheryl Grider-Whitehurst, vice chair;
  • Strategic Planning Committee — Dan Wagner, chair, Ed Neaves, vice chair;
  • Young Professionals Network Advisory Group — Jayme Ahlden, chair, Brian Kwilosz, vice chair.

The Advisory Board will choose its chair in the near future.




Illinois REALTORS® welcomes 6 new board members

Vicky Silvano (far left) installs the 2018 Board of Directors during the Inaugural Gala Thursday.

The Illinois REALTORS® welcomed six new members to its Board of Directors Thursday as the entire board was installed during the Inaugural Gala. All six were appointed to three-year terms: Nicholas Apostal, Jeffrey Barkstall, Ayn Bartok, Michael Gobber, Matt Silver and Karen Stailey-Lander.


Apostal is the managing broker and co-founder of the Apostal Group, part of Keller Williams Chicago-Lincoln Park. With the Chicago Association of REALTORS® (CAR), he helped establish the Young Professional Network. Apostal is a member of the CAR Board of Directors. For the Illinois REALTORS®, he served on the YPN Advisory Committee from 2015 through 2017. He also helped on the State Legislative Contacts Working Group in 2016 and 2017.


Barkstall is a broker for Century 21 Heartland-Champaign. He’s been involved in several committees with Illinois REALTORS®, including three consecutive years with the State Legislative Contacts Working Group, Professional Development Major Investors Group and the Housing Opportunity Working Group. For the Champaign County Association of REALTORS®, he’s been an active member since 2005 and served as president for 2014-2015.


Bartok is the managing broker-owner for All in One Real Estate Co., in Harrisburg. She was the 2014 president for the Egyptian Board of REALTORS®, was its 2016 REALTOR® of the Year and served on the Ed/Tech, Nominating and Awards committees. For the Illinois REALTORS®, she served as a state legislative contact, is an RPAC Major Investor and an avid RPAC supporter.


Gobber is a broker for Century 21 Affiliated in Westchester. In 2017, he served Illinois REALTORS® on six committees: State Legislative Contacts Working Group, RPAC Major Investor Working Group, Real Estate Educational Foundation, Professional Standards, Business Issues-License Law Forum and the Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR). He is president-elect for the Mainstreet Organization of REALTORS® and has been on its board of directors for seven years.


Silver is a partner-broker for Urban Real Estate in Chicago. He began serving on Illinois REALTORS® committees in 2001, and served on numerous committees from 2011 through 2017, including chair of the 2015 Education Working Group and chair of the 2013 Grievance Committee. Silver was the 2017 president for the Chicago Association of REALTORS®.


Stailey-Lander is a broker for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Snyder Real Estate in Bloomington. She began serving on Illinois REALTOR® committees in 1989, again from 1992 to 1996, and from 2009 to 2017. During the past year, she was on the Professional Development Major Investors Group, the Professional Standards Committee and the REALTOR® Institute Working Group. She is the immediate past president for the Bloomington-Normal Association of REALTORS®.


Difanis sworn-in as president of Illinois REALTORS® 2018 leadership team

(l to r) NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall swears in Matt Difanis as Illinois REALTORS® president, Dan Wagner as president-elect and Ed Neaves as treasurer during the Inaugural Gala Thursday night. (Michael Hudson Photo)

The Illinois REALTORS® celebrated the installation of its new leadership team Thursday night as Matt Difanis, ABR, CIPS, GRI, of Mahomet was sworn-in as the 2018 President. The ceremonies were part of the association’s Inaugural Gala at the Chicago Marrriott Naperville.

Other 2018 officers are: President-elect Dan Wagner, senior vice president for government relations at the Oak Brook-based Inland Real Estate Group of Companies, Inc., and a Wheaton resident; and Treasurer Ed Neaves, of Bloomington, managing broker of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Snyder Real Estate in Bloomington. Immediate Past President Doug Carpenter, ABR, AHWD, GRI, SFR, of Coldwell Banker The Real Estate Group in Mokena will continue to help the leadership team.

2018 President Matt Difanis

Difanis is the co-owner of RE/MAX Realty Associates, with offices in Champaign, Mahomet and Monticello. He took his real estate pre-licensing coursework in 1998 while still an undergraduate student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He subsequently worked full-time as a REALTOR® while attending the University of Illinois College of Law and chose to remain in the real estate industry after earning his Juris Doctor degree. He was featured in REALTOR® Magazine’s 2004 Class of “30 Under 30.”

He has been involved in all levels of REALTOR® organization. He was president of the Champaign County Association of REALTORS® in 2012 and was honored as its REALTOR® of the Year in 2013. Nationally, he is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Board of Directors.

At the state level, he has chaired a variety of committees, working groups and task forces and, in 2018 will lead the Illinois REALTORS®’ Executive Committee and Board of Directors. He has chaired ethics and arbitration hearing panels all over the state and has served as an ombudsman with the Illinois REALTORS®’ Ombudsman Program since its inception. He is a Golden “R” Major Investor in the REALTORS® Political Action Committee (RPAC) and a member of NAR’s President’s Circle.

Difanis is active in his local community, serving in leadership roles with the Mahomet Area Youth Club, as the past official photographer for the Central Illinois Honor Flight and volunteering with a variety of other community charities and events. In 2015, Difanis was named Central Illinois Business Magazine’s “Forty Under 40” Man of the Year. He and his wife, Angelle, live in Mahomet and are the parents of two children, Gabriel and Isabelle. His wife is a nurse practitioner, who treats patients in a convenient care clinic.

For more photos, see the gallery below.