GATEWAY PERSPECTIVES: The Power of Relationships
Richard Haggerty | November 14, 2022
As my days as CEO of HGAR wind down, I can’t help but look back over my career and focus on those factors that truly made a difference to me and to the organization. One of the factors at the top of the list is the power and rewards that stem from forming meaningful relationships with allied organizations whose goals and mission align closely with HGAR.
I’ve had the good fortune of working with incredibly talented people in allied organizations, forming friendships and relationships that in some cases have spanned decades with individuals who have taught me so much about the bigger picture of successful collaborations to achieve common goals. I’d like to touch upon just a few of those relationships that demonstrate the power of collaboration.
One of the first partnerships I forged after joining the then Westchester County Board of Realtors in 1984 was with Ann Seligsohn, the long-time Fair Housing Director for Westchester Residential Opportunities. Many fair housing organizations around the country have confrontational relationships with the Realtor community. Ann helped set a different tone, which continues to this day, which is that the more we work together to educate and promote fair housing, the more successful we will be.
Soon after meeting Ann, I met Kim Jacobs, the former Executive Directive of Community Capital New York (originally founded as the Westchester Housing Fund, which my predecessor, Gil Mercurio, was very active in). I served many years on the Board of CCNY, whose dual missions were to provide funding for affordable housing projects as well as offer small business loans to underserved communities. In addition to immersing me in the labyrinth involved in creating affordable housing, which still persists today, Kim exemplified someone who did good work for the sake of the work itself, and not for personal reward.
Another early friend was Marsha Gordon, President and CEO of the Business Council of Westchester. Marsha epitomizes the strength of relationships when it comes to advocacy, building coalitions for such efforts as the construction of the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge and other initiatives that are vital to the economic well being for Westchester County. Marsha is a true matchmaker, bringing together countless industry leaders to forge synergies that benefit not just Westchester County, but the entire lower Hudson River Valley.
The last partnership I want to touch on is the most recent, having occurred when the Westchester Putnam Association of Realtors merged with the Rockland County Board of Realtors and the Orange County Association of Realtors to create HGAR in 2012. That’s when I first met Maureen Halahan, President and CEO of the Orange County Partnership. Like Marsha, Maureen is a zealous advocate for the county which she represents, and also like Marsha, she has a tremendous talent for creating coalitions, like the one she spearheaded advocating for the expansion of Route 17.
This is just a small sampling of the partnerships that have meant much to me during my tenure with the Realtor family, and all of these relationships have taught me the value of collaboration. We will always accomplish more when we work together as a team. I want to thank all of the partners who have helped me learn that lesson during my tenure at HGAR.