Outstanding REALTORS in the Berkshires!

Last month we were proud to honor local award recipients at our Legislative and Awards Luncheon.  Today we’d like to share with you a brief on each of these deserving individuals and how they’ve helped our industry and you, our members this past year.  Award recipients include:  Franz Forster, REALTOR of the Year, Cindy Poulin REALTOR Spirit, Mark McIlquham Good Neighbor, Nancy Kalodner, Distinguished Service Award, Debbie Dwyer REALTOR Emeritus, Michael Shepard Affiliate of the Year, and community member Paul Austin for Berkshire Housing Hero. Additionally, Berkshire REALTOR Barbara Davis Hassan was awarded the Commercial REALTOR of the Year by the Realtors Commercial Alliance of MA.

2017 REALTOR of the Year: Franz Forster

Franz Forster of FJ Forster Real Estate in Pittsfield has been named the Realtor of the Year, a great honor to recognize his outstanding efforts for our association this past year. As an active and engaged volunteer and Chair of our Government Affairs Committee, Franz has contributed so much time and energy for the betterment of the REALTOR® organization, the real estate industry and our Berkshire community.

He revitalized Realtor involvement in local, state and federal issues that affect homeownership in the Berkshires, including our struggle with broadband, constantly evolving environmental issues, economic growth, and stewardship of our natural resources. Most notably, he inspired others to engage and participate in the process. He personally attends countless association and community meetings and events to make sure we are well informed and on top of the issues.

He serves on the MAR Government Affairs Committee, and was a presidential appointment to serve on the Massachusetts Broadband Sub-Committee. He is also the MAR State Political Coordinator for Representative Pignatelli and helps coordinate Realtor Day on Beacon Hill and the Legislative Luncheon.  Monthly, he contributes to the Board of Directors, is a past president of the Association, contributes to our REALTOR Community service events and is a staunch advocate for the real estate industry, the Board, and the Berkshire community.

He currently serves on the Pittsfield Conservation Commission and is Treasurer of the Lakes & Ponds Association of Western Massachusetts.

With three nominations this year, this is also the second time Franz has received this honor, an unusual but deserving circumstance.  He was first awarded the REALTOR of the Year distinction in 2009 when he led the association as its President.

2017 Good Neighbor Award Recipient: Mark McIlquham

Mark McIlquham of Realty Street in Dalton has been named as the 2017 Good Neighbor award recipient for his volunteer role in local civic and charitable organizations.  Mark states, “I feel that I am quite fortunate to be able to donate the time and give some financial assistance to the programs in my community.”  He is involved in several organizations, including:  Hinsdale Food Pantry, Wahconah Regional High School Girl’s Lacrosse Booster Club, Dalton Benefit Association, 12th Man Football, Dalton Football and Reality Day at the high school.

While the dollars he has raised for these organizations is outstanding, and the number of volunteers he has inspired to participate laudable, it is the hundreds and hundreds of volunteer hours he gives annually that made him stand out as an amazing contributor to his community.

2017 REALTOR Spirit Award: Cindy Poulin

Cindy Poulin of Alton & Westall Real Estate in Williamstown has been awarded the REALTOR® Spirit Award, having received an outstanding six nominations.  In these, she was described as the epitome of REALTOR® spirit, hardworking, helpful, an utter enthusiast in all undertakings from real estate to sports, an incredible positive spirit, a motivator, and an inspiration.  She serves on the MLS Board of Directors, Professional Standards Committee and has been trained by the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® as an Ombudsman.

Cindy is involved with Habitat for Humanity, the Northern Chamber of Commerce and in various cultural activities outside of real estate. Cindy has inspired others to participate and serve the industry and is a strong voice for northern Berkshire Realtors.

Distinguished Service Award. Nancy Kalodner

Nancy Kalodner, of Cohen & White Associates in Lenox has been awarded the Distinguished Service Award in recognition of her dedication to the REALTOR Association and her ongoing service to our industry.  She has been a member of the Berkshire County Board of REALTORS® since 1979.  During this time, she was instrumental on a national level in creating the Code of Ethics we all subscribe to follow, and for her years of teaching those ideals to all new Berkshire members.

Nancy continues to teach new members, serves on the MLS Critical Issues Think Tank, Professional Standards Committee and is a trained Mediator for the Board.  She is recognized nationwide as an authority on the Code of Ethics and Procuring Cause. She has been President of both the Berkshire Board of REALTORS® and its Multiple Listing Service, and named Massachusetts REALTOR of the Year in 1988.

REALTOR Emeritus: Debbie Dwyer

Debbie Dwyer of the Dwyer Agency in Pittsfield has been named Berkshire County REALTOR Emeritus in honor of her 40 years of continuous membership and her tireless volunteerism to the local, state and national boards since joining in 1977.  She has served as Board president, MLS president and on vast number of committees at all three levels of the association.  She was State President, State Realtor of the Year, and was awarded the prestigious national Omega Tau Rho medallion of service to the association.

She currently serves on REACT, Government Affairs, MLS Critical Issues Think Tank and Professional Standards committees.  She is a peer mediator, serves as a MAR state director and is Vice-Chair of the National Association of REALTORS Professional Standards Committee. She will receive her formal national REALTOR Emeritus recognition at the NAR Board Meeting in Chicago IL in November of this year.

2017 Commercial REALTOR of the Year, Barb Davis Hassan

Barb Davis-Hassan, CCIM of Barb Hassan Realty, Inc. in Pittsfield MA has been named the REALTORS® Commercial Alliance of Massachusetts REALTOR® of the Year.   She was the honored recipient of this same award in 2016 and in 2008, Barb was named the ROTY by the Berkshire REALTORS. A member since 1988, Barb has been a Director of the RCA-MA continuously since 2008, including service as the President in 2016. She serves on the Massachusetts Association of Realtors (MAR) Member Services Committee and on NAR’s 2017 Federal Financing and Housing Policy Committee.

Locally, she serves as a Director on the Rental Housing Association of Berkshire County, Inc., is the Chair and Recording Secretary of the DPW Study Committee for the Town of Lanesborough, Chair of the Lanesborough Economic Development Committee and extensviely at her church, New Life Community Fellowship.


Affiliate Of The Year Award: Michael Shepard

Michael Shepard has been named the 2017 Affiliate of the Year. He has been a relied upon affiliate since 2008 and supports REALTOR® members and the Association by volunteering his services to teach classes and new members about industry issues and contracts. Michael currently serves on the Contracts & Forms committee and has been called upon to sit in on Professional Standards hearings. He is frequently found at Board meetings and functions where he stays abreast of all relevant REALTOR® issues and supports REACT at fundraisers.

Over the years, his services as Board Legal Counsel are almost entirely pro bono, including his work on the TRID implementation and contract updates. Michael has been a licensed attorney for more than 43 years and has a practice in Pittsfield on Church Street

 Michael Shepard, Berkshire Realtors Affiliate of the Year 2017
Housing Hero Award: Paul Austin

Paul Austin, President of the Northern Berkshire Habitat for Humanity, has been awarded the Berkshire County Board of REALTOR’s first ever Housing Hero Award.   It is with great admiration that we recognize him for his tireless work for NBHH over the past 15 years, the last 7 years serving as its President.  Paul wears many hats as leader, builder, manager and fund raiser.  He has been involved in countless hours of physical labor on homes, meetings with suppliers and considerable time with contractors and volunteers.  Paul has been integral in providing housing to lower-income families in northern Berkshire, both constructing new homes and renovating homes.  He was instrumental in the recently added new program, ‘A Brush with Kindness’, that provides modest exterior maintenance to low-income homeowners.

Paul is the first on site and the last to leave as a project progresses.  For every project, Paul guides hundreds of volunteers of all skill levels, backgrounds and ages in creating not just a sturdy house, but a home.  He spends time researching latest energy-efficiency techniques, measuring, calculating, ordering supplies, recruiting and coordinating groups to assist.

Paul Austin, Berkshire REALTORS Housing Hero 2017