PAR celebrates Women’s History Month by recognizing the impact that female leaders have had on PAR and the real estate industry. These PAR past presidents have inspired other women to become more involved in their local, state and national associations, whether through legislative advocacy, RPAC, standard forms or other areas of the industry.
PAR’s 2005 President Melissa Sieg comes from a family of Realtors®. Her grandfather started the family insurance business in State College, then expanded to real estate. Both her father and mother, Doyle and Becky Corman, were licensed and served as presidents of the Centre County Association of Realtors®.
Her father later got into politics, becoming a Centre County commissioner before running for the state Senate, where he served for 21 years. Her brother, Jake, followed his father’s footsteps and served as a senator for 23 years.
“Jake and I always joked that he got the politics gene and I got the real estate one,” Sieg said. “My mom encouraged me to get my real estate license in 1983, while she was working for her broker license. She took over running the family business, Corman and Associates, while my dad was in Harrisburg.”
Sieg started her volunteer activity at PAR, before her local association, Centre County.
“I was new when I attended my first Legislative Committee meeting at PAR, and I didn’t understand the committee structure and the difference between being a member and a member of the committee,” she said. “At first, I asked people not to share who my father was and then when I was serving on a legislative subcommittee, another member commented on how bad a piece of legislation my dad had sponsored was and how he didn’t know what he was talking about. I suggested that we look at the merits of the bill and see if it would help people. Another member commented, ‘you just don’t know how politics works!’”
“Getting involved in the local and state associations gives you the opportunity to create business relationships. When you serve on committees and task forces, you get to know people, you learn more about the industry and you become more confident in your business,” Sieg said. “It’s a great chance to network with people from around the state. I’ve met people at PAR’s business meetings that I’ve gotten referral business from and established a comradery with. For anyone fairly new in the business, the more you participate, the more confidence you get and you’ll find it helps with your business.”
One of the initiatives she started as president was round table meetings with brokers, leadership and board members when she traveled around the state. “We really learned a lot about the issues and challenges they were facing,” she added.
Bette McTamney, PAR’s 2013 president, leaps into association activities with a lot of passion. Her real estate career started 40 years ago after she and her husband bought their first house and she thought “I can do that.”
She credits her former broker, the late Angelo Guerra, for getting her involved in the state association. She was active in her local association, the then-Montgomery County Association of Realtors®, and served as its president in 2002.
“I didn’t initially think women could be so involved,” she said. “But I have to credit past PAR Presidents Janice Smarto and Ellen Renish. They are both so smart, amazing leaders and great role models. Janice really encouraged me and other women to move into leadership.”
“The more I thought about it, I realized that women are good leaders – they multi-task and have to balance a lot – their families, homes, careers and getting their children where they need to be. They’re really natural leaders,” she added. “Over the years, I’ve discovered how important mentoring other Realtors® is to encourage them to get involved and to become leaders.”
McTamney suggests that Realtors® should think about serving on a committee that mirrors their interests. When she started at PAR, she first joined the Standard Forms Committee.
“Every time I’ve agreed to volunteer for something, it is fulfilling and provides more to me personally,” McTamney said.
Being involved brings more than industry knowledge. “This is the best family you could ever have,” she adds. “We celebrate our successes together and we feel each others’ losses. Through my activities at my local, PAR, NAR and REBI, I have Realtor® friends across the country. When you get a tap on the shoulder to serve on a committee, you want to be part of the leadership.
Kim Skumanick has fond memories of her installation when family friend Gov. Tom Corbett installed her as PAR’s 2014 president during PAR’s Winter Business Meetings.
“He was a terrific advocate for our industry and I appreciated the working relationship PAR had with him to repeal the sprinkler mandate, ban private transfer fees, create local land banks and amend mechanics’ lien law legislation during my years on the leadership team,” she said.
Skumanick became involved in her local association when her first broker encouraged agents in the office to attend membership meetings, especially educational ones.
“My broker was our local board secretary and she suggested I serve on a committee,” she said. “I started on one committee, but quickly turned to the advocacy side, with RPAC and legislative. That’s what I was focused on when I came to PAR as a director.”
“Shortly after I started in 1994, there were some significant changes to capital gains rules and it had an effect on our industry and clients,” Skumanick said. “I remember in my early involvement, our local federal political coordinator handed out printed letters, which we were asked to sign, then those letters were sent to our congressman. That was the original Call-to-Action, which is a lot different than our easy few clicks on the computer to send a message to the capital.”
“Pennsylvania is such a unique state, with larger cities to the rural regions and they face different issues. When we get engaged in our local, state and national associations, we can make our issues known to lawmakers and it helps ensure that we have a seat at the table when decisions are made,” she added.
Skumanick believes being involved helps members become more educated about the issues. “I have a better understanding of how regulations and legislation affect our industry and consumers,” she said. “I especially saw that when I worked with a developer who was building townhomes and single-family homes and the state had adopted the uniform construction codes, which mandated that sprinklers be installed in all new home construction. PAR worked on repealing the mandate but until it was repealed, it cost thousands of dollars extra to have the sprinklers installed and sometimes a second well drilled.”
The most recent female to serve PAR as president was Kathy McQuilkin in 2017.
McQuilkin got involved in her local association when someone asked her to. “Like many people, I took that first step at my local association because someone said I provided valuable input and asked me to become involved,” she said. “Then my desire to get things done propelled me to continue.”
McQuilkin believes woman can and have made a difference in the industry and the association. “As women, we didn’t want the same practice and we wanted to help foster change,” she added. “We want to make things better for our members and their practices and make our industry better in service for consumers.”
To that end, McQuilkin is proud to have been president when the governor signed the Municipal Code and Ordinance and Compliance Act amendment.
“PAR had worked on MCOCA prior to my year as president, I just happened to be there when it crosses the finish line,” she said. “So many municipalities were taking advantage of MCOCA and withholding occupancy permits for minor issues prior to this legislation. In the southeastern part of the state, many Realtors® and their clients were having a lot of issues with this. This law made a huge difference.”
One of her fondest memories as PAR president, was visiting each of the 40 local associations at the time. “I’m proud to have been able to visit every local association in Pennsylvania during my leadership time to meet with members and local leaders to learn about their markets, understand how PAR could best support them and encourage their participation at all levels of our organization.”