GATEWAY PERSPECTIVES: Celebrating Diversity
Richard Haggerty | January 2017
As I write this article it is Martin Luther King Day, a national holiday honoring an individual whose singular eloquence, passion, and determination did so much to bring to an end legal segregation in this country. In the nearly 49 years since Dr. King’s assassination we have certainly made progress in improving race relations and creating economic opportunities for all of our citizens, regardless of race or ethnicity. However, all we have to do is look at the daily news headlines to recognize that we still have a very long way to go.
This week HGAR will inaugurate Dorothy Botsoe as the association’s 101st President. Dorothy is a native of Ghana, West Africa and will be the association’s first black president. It should be noted that Bill Thorne, an African American, served as the president of the Rockland County Board of Realtors prior to its merger with the Westchester-Putnam Association of Realtors, now doing business as the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors. However, Dorothy is the first black president of HGAR and its predecessor organizations, the Westchester County Board of Realtors, etc. that began operations in 1916.
Some might argue, “What’s the big deal, race and ethnicity shouldn’t matter.” However, in a world that still politicizes race and ethnicity every day, I would argue that it is a very big deal. In her first article as President in this publication, Dorothy talks about the importance of inclusion and diversity, and I couldn’t agree more.
HGAR covers a very diverse geographic area from the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan to the farms in western Orange County. Our geography is diverse, our styles of real estate are diverse and our population is diverse. In my mind this is one of our greatest strengths, but it also presents challenges. It’s not just enough to recognize and acknowledge diversity, we have to embrace it and we have to ensure to the best of our ability that our leadership represents that diversity.
Dorothy also touches upon another theme in her article that I think is vital, the concept of respect—being respectful of other people’s points of view and welcoming new ideas and perspectives. That is how we will continue to grow and improve this association; embracing diversity, creating an inclusive and welcoming environment and respecting the many voices of our membership.