Mutiny inside NAR as staffers call for resignations of top executives

Publish Date: September 19, 2023

Written by Andrea V. Brambila

- Originally published at Inman News - Andrea V. Brambila

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National Association of Realtors employees on Monday called for the resignations of the trade organization’s CEO, president, chief attorney and head of human resources in a new letter to leadership obtained by Inman.

Staffers sent the letter demanding the resignations of NAR’s leaders ahead of a meeting of the group’s Executive Committee on Monday, according to people familiar with the contents of the missive, in which its authors allege NAR’s leadership protected those accused of creating a toxic work environment.

“We represent all levels of management, in both DC and Chicago,” the unidentified authors of the letter state. “We are men and women, some tenured and some new to NAR. The one thing we all have in common is our belief that change cannot happen, and healing will not begin, until there is accountability for those who allowed NAR to get to the place it is today.”

Shannon King

NAR Regional Vice President Shannon King also presented the letter to the committee at the meeting, which was held over Zoom, according to a member who listened in. The member said the letter was penned by about a dozen NAR staffers, but the member could not say who due to the “retaliatory environment there.”

Kenny Parcell

The call for resignations is the latest shot across the bow from critics, and it marks an escalation in the ongoing rift between leadership and members now that employees are adding their voice to a growing choir calling for change. The letter comes on the heels of revelations that executives at the highest rungs of NAR were aware of alleged misconduct at the 1.56 million-member organization, including sexual harassment complaints against President Kenny Parcell, who resigned in August following a New York Times investigation.

“All we want, and all we have ever asked, is to be allowed to do our jobs, in a respectful, healthy, and productive environment,” the letter said.

“That has not happened, and our leadership has failed us.”

In an emailed statement, NAR spokesperson Mantill Williams told Inman, “Although we do not understand these views to be representative of the majority, we take the issues raised seriously and we will continue to engage with all employees as we take action to further strengthen NAR.”

Jason Haber

On Monday, the NAR Accountability Project held a rally outside of NAR headquarters in Chicago that was sparsely attended, but project founder Jason Haber nonetheless declared victory after learning NAR was stripped of its “Great Place to Work” designation on Thursday.

“It’s remarkable to read how bold this letter is,” Haber told Inman. “It clearly shows a revolt is underway inside NAR.”

Bob Goldberg

The letter calls for the “immediate removal” of NAR CEO Bob Goldberg, NAR’s senior vice president of talent development and resources Donna Gland, and NAR Chief Legal Officer Katie Johnson.

Katie Johnson

If these individuals must be retained for the “impending trials” — likely referring to the bombshell commission lawsuits NAR is currently battling — the letter asks that they are retained for that purpose only “with no leadership or staff management responsibilities, nor role in the selection or hiring of the new CEO” or the new chief marketing and communications officer.

Staffers demanded that John Pierpoint, NAR’s chief financial officer, be appointed as interim CEO of NAR while a new CEO search begins.

The letter also calls for the resignation of NAR President Tracy Kasper, who took office shortly after Parcell’s resignation and whom the letter alleges is “a primary contributor to the hostile work environment.”

Tracy Kasper

“We hear Tracy, and we also ask ourselves how she ‘missed it,’” the letter said. “The truth however is she didn’t. Nor did those internal leaders who are in positions of power that did nothing to protect staff, namely Bob Goldberg, Donna Gland and Katie Johnson.

Donna Gland

“And while Tracy shames the individual(s) who leaked an internal memo and those who expose(d) its contents — versus those who tried to bury it but got caught — keep in mind that the only reason that memo exists is because staff had no one they could go to whom they trusted in TDR [Talent Development and Resources], Legal, nor our CEO.”

‘Just do what they want’

Staffers expressed feeling betrayed by the association after reading a letter obtained and published by Inman written by attorney Denise Drake of Polsinelli Law Firm, the third-party firm hired to investigate misconduct allegations in 2022, in which she expressed support for Parcell.

“It was disheartening to read in Denise Drake’s letter that she was retained to protect NAR and Kenny Parcell, not staff, and our personal stories which we believed were shared in confidence informed their strategy,” the letter said.

“They protected the abusers, while staff was directed to create strategies to ‘get to yes’ and deliver on the outrageous demands of member leaders. We were counseled on how to ‘be liked’ by the LT [Leadership Team] — the epitome of success at NAR, not actual job performance. And told ‘just do what they want,’ this is what it’s like to work for a member organization and if we didn’t like it, we could leave.”

The letter demands that NAR retain an independent human resources firm for the staff, as well as outside legal counsel “that staff chooses, solely for the purpose of reporting claims, when and if they continue, or until trust is regained.”

‘Committed to taking action’

Kasper, in an email reportedly sent to all of NAR’s staff on Monday, replied to the staffers’ letter by saying she was “committed to taking action to strengthen” NAR and that the Executive Committee was “evaluating potential additional actions the organization could take.”

The member who listened in on the Executive Committee meeting said some staffers were disappointed by the lack of action at the committee meeting Monday and therefore they may take further action before the next committee meeting in two or three weeks.

“We are tired of watching our talented teammates walk out the door,” the letter said. “We are tired of being patronized with empty promises and insincere apologies.

“The buck has to stop somewhere.”

Inman reached out to King for comment. We will update this story if and when a response is received.

Read the full letter and Kasper’s response:

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a comment from NAR.

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