ORLANDO, Fla. – Aug. 25, 2022 – Florida Realtors® recognized Cheryl Lambert, 2021 Florida Realtors president, as its 2022 Realtor® of the Year. The award – one of several – was presented Thursday during the state association’s annual Convention & Trade Expo at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla.
The crowd of Realtors stood up and applauded as Lambert proudly walked to the stage to accept the award from 2022 President Christina Pappas.
“You just have to work hard and never give up,” Lambert said. “Set your focus and decide what you want to achieve, and work hard toward it. Don’t ever let anything stop you. Thank you all for your support and for being on my journey with me. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with dreaming. Continue to dream big!”
Florida Realtors has presented Realtor of the Year and Associate Realtor of the Year awards for 68 years. Winners are honored as the greatest individual lifetime contributors to their local Realtor board, community, state association and the National Association of Realtors® (NAR).
Over the course of her real estate career, Lambert has passionately worked to make a positive impact on her profession, advance the industry and help her Realtor colleagues. She is a member of the Realtors® Association of Citrus County (RACC).
Wendy Crews Waller, RACC association executive, noted that Lambert “has a lengthy history of service to the Realtors Association of Citrus County and her contributions are invaluable. Cheryl joined RACC in 2005 and either formed, served on or chaired every committee we offer. She became president in 2013 and has continued to help guide and lead this association. Even as she took on responsibilities at the state level, she is always available to lend her time and expertise.”
A leader in regional, state and national real estate organizations, Lambert has served in every officer position for Florida Realtors, leading to being its 2021 president. A long-time passionate advocate for affordable, attainable housing, she currently serves on Florida Realtors’ Board of Directors and the Fair Housing Policy committee. Lambert also has served on the National Association of Realtors®’ (NAR) Housing Opportunities Task Force and participated in its affordable housing workshop.
During her year as Florida Realtors president, while the COVID-19 pandemic remained a national concern, Lambert emphasized the continued importance of Realtors working together to help others, especially during hard times. Florida Realtors’ four charities – the Disaster Relief Fund, Education Foundation Student Scholarships Program, Silent Angels and the license plate “Support Homeownership for All” program – achieved funding milestones in 2021.
In her community, she has served on the Citrus County Planning and Development Roundtable team, the Affordable Housing Coalition and the Inverness Old Town Association. Lambert founded the nonprofit corporation Home Ownership Matters for Everyone (HOME), which was awarded grant funding for container homes to help people in the Florida Panhandle whose homes were destroyed by Hurricane Michael in October 2018. In 2019, the Mid-Florida Homeless Coalition honored her with its Pioneer Award for her local work on attainable and affordable housing.
Lambert continues to make a difference in her community, looking for ways to help others and seeing what needs to be done, whether it’s communitywide or on a smaller, individual scale. Wendy Waller shares an example about her compassion:
“Cheryl is the kind of neighbor you want in your community. One of my favorite stories involves a young lady working at our local Wal-Mart who had recently received a raise that put her in a position to no longer be able to afford her rent, due to losing her financial assistance after her raise. Cheryl stepped in and not only assisted the young family in overcoming that obstacle but helped them become homeowners and get into their first home. This exemplifies who Cheryl is, not only as a Realtor but as a person.”
Throughout her career, Lambert has demonstrated her service, commitment and dedication to her profession, to her fellow Realtors and to her community.
Associate Realtor of the Year
Florida Realtors honored Cynthia “Cyndee” Haydon of the Pinellas Suncoast Association of Realtors as Associate Realtor of the Year for 2022. A real estate professional for 17 years, Haydon has long supported the real estate industry and her profession, and she’s an advocate for homeowners’ rights, especially when it comes to property insurance issues.
Haydon has served on numerous committees, all officer positions and in many other capacities for her local association, which does business as the Pinellas Realtor Organization (PRO). She has been a member of PRO’s board of directors for the past eight years and was its president in 2020. She has been awarded three PRO Service awards for her local contributions, as well as the PRO Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017. A 2015 graduate of the District 6 Leadership Institute, she was recognized with the first Vern Taylor Leadership Institute Hall of Fame Award in 2017.
In 2018, Haydon was part of her local association’s leadership team that successfully negotiated a merger with the Central Pasco Realtor Association and created a model for the chapter system. Currently, she serves as the 2022 president of the Tampa Chapter of the Women’s Council of Realtors (WCR).
On the state level, Haydon serves as Florida Realtors’ 2022 District 6 vice president and is a member of the Executive Committee. A 2017 graduate of Florida Realtors Leadership Academy, she has been a member or chaired numerous committees for the state association and served as one of Florida Realtors’ directors for the National Association of Realtors in 2019. Through that capacity, she also was accepted into the state association’s well regarded NAR Mentee Program. Haydon is active in global activities, advocacy efforts and legislative issues, serving as a key contact for state legislative leaders and is a Golden R and President’s Circle investor in the Realtors Political Action Committee (RPAC). She has a passion for insurance issues, especially flood insurance, and advocates for affordable insurance as well as educates others on the need for affordable insurance.
On the national level, Haydon currently serves on NAR’s board of directors, Insurance Committee, Public Policy Coordinating Committee and several work groups. She graduated from NAR’s Leadership Academy in 2021.
In the community, Haydon volunteers with a number of organizations, including the Clearwater Jazz Holiday Foundation, a nonprofit that supports jazz entertainment and education in Florida; St. Anthony’s Triathlon; John Hopkins All Children’s Guild; and Homes for Our Troops, which builds and donates specially adaptive homes nationwide for severely injured veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. She has worked with Leadership Pinellas for many years, including as president in 2019, and continues to help build the area’s future leaders as part of the 42-year-old organization.
A dedicated Realtor, Haydon leads by example and demonstrates her commitment to her profession and her community.
Realtor Achievement Award
Daniel “Dan” Lopez, a member of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association (ORRA), was named the winner of Florida Realtors 2022 Realtor Achievement Award, which recognizes a Realtor who serves as manager, broker of record or officer in his or her company. The award acknowledges the winner’s previous three years’ contributions to the community, local, state and national Realtor associations.
Lopez serves on the board of directors for Florida Realtors and the National Association of Realtors, and previously served six years on his local association’s board of directors. He also sits on or has chaired multiple professional committees at the local, state and national levels. He is a major investor in the Realtors Political Action Committee (RPAC) and a past member of the board of directors for the Orlando chapter of the National Association of Residential Property Managers.
Lopez is a graduate of the ORRA Leadership Institute 2009, Florida Realtors Leadership Academy 2014, as well as Leadership Seminole 2018 and Central Florida Political Leadership Institute 2019.
He teaches for Florida Realtors, offering CE (continuing education) and GRI (Graduate Realtor Institute) courses, Code of Ethics training, property management and other classes. Lopez also is a faculty member for Gold Coast Schools, one of the largest real estate schools in Florida, where he teaches theoretical, practical and legal aspects of real estate.
In service to his local community, Lopez is a member of the city of Lake Mary’s Code Enforcement Board and serves on the Seminole County Planning and Zoning Board.
Newcomer of the Year Award
Winning Florida Realtors Newcomer Award for 2022 was Allisa Pipes, a member of the Naples Area Board of Realtors (NABOR). The Newcomer Award recognizes someone who entered the Realtor profession within the past three years, and, during that time, made notable contributions to the local and state associations, as well as to his or her community.
As a mother of three, she strives to lead by example to her children. Pipes is dedicated to her career as a Realtor and actively seeks involvement and growth within her local association. She has been working NABOR’s Young Professionals Network (YPN) and its Realtors Political Action Committee (RPAC) since 2021. She was appointed vice-chair of her local YPN in 2022, and when she becomes its 2023 committee chair, her goal is to continue to expand and welcome new members to YPN. As part of her YPN efforts, she helped organize it’s Knowledge is Power sessions, where a speaker comes in and shares their expertise on a specific topic.
Pipes also recently became a major investor in RPAC to support advocacy and public policy issues. She was honored with NABOR’s Realtor Rising Star Award in 2021.
Commercial Realtor Achievement Award
Anthony Gambardella, a member of the Broward, Palm Beaches and St. Lucie Realtors, received Florid Realtors’ 2022 Commercial Realtor Achievement Award, which honors a Realtor’s lifetime of contributions to commercial activities at the local, state and national levels.
A commercial Realtor since 2004, Gambardella has dedicated his time and talents to the industry during his 18-year career. He has served his local association on many committees, task forces and as 2011 president, and he was named its 2008 Realtor of the Year and 2018 Commercial Realtor of the Year. He also has represented the Broward, Palm Beaches and St. Lucie Realtors in numerous commercial property negotiations, obtaining “sublets” of its facilities, reducing overall operating expenses and saving money for the association. He recently became an instructor for his local Realtors Commercial Alliance, presenting commercial real estate classes for local board members as well as his office.
For the past 11 years, Gambardella has been instrumental in working with the St. Lucie County Attainable Housing Fund, assisting with funding needs for first-time homeowners in the St. Lucie and Treasure Coast area. He currently is the 2022 chair of the fund’s board of trustees.
At the state level, he has been an active member of numerous Florida Realtors’ committees, including Commercial Alliance, Building, Legislative & Regulatory Business Issues and Finance, as well as serving as on the state association’s board of directors. He currently chairs the National Association of Realtors’ Commercial Economic Issues and Trends Forum, and is a member of its Commercial and Research committees.
Gambardella is passionate about investing in his profession, contributing to the Realtor Political Action Committee (RPAC) and achieving Golden R, President’s Circle and RPAC Hall of Fame.
Humanitarian of the Year
Proving that Realtors make a difference, Katiuska (Kat) Villamizar, a member of the Naples Area Board of Realtors, was named the 2022 Humanitarian of the Year by Florida Realtors. She has long supported the American Red Cross in all of its efforts, proudly serving as a Red Cross Emergency Disaster Services volunteer for 12 years and receiving awards and recognition for her service. The Florida Gulf Coast Chapter is her local Red Cross organization.
Villamizar has helped families displaced by wildfires and home fires. She has been deployed both locally in Florida and nationally to assist in pre-storm and post-storm evacuation shelters in areas impacted by hurricanes – being deployed involves shelter preparations, logistics coordination, obtaining supplies, food preparation, ensuring the security of the facility and working with local government officials to provide a safe environment for the community. She also has acted as a government liaison within her local county’s Emergency Operations Center during disasters.
Why volunteer with the Red Cross? Villamizar said, as a Realtor, she saw “first-hand how the Red Cross provided immediate assistance, like shelter and other resources, to families who lost their homes in fires. This inspired me to become involved with the organization so I could help others in their time of need.”
She also has served as a volunteer to the Armed Forces within the Red Cross, helping active-duty service members at special events as well as veterans in hospitals in Southwest Florida.
And while Villamizar is passionate about all that the Red Cross does to help others, she also works with other community causes, including providing ongoing financial aid and other support to Destiny Village, an orphanage located in Haiti and helping organize “Un Regalo en Navidad” (A Christmas Gift) by the Una Mano Amiga foundation, which is dedicated to the Southwest Florida community.
Spirit of Advocacy Award
Russell Grooms, the 2004 president of Florida Realtors and a member of the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors, was recognized as the 2022 winner of the Spirit of Advocacy Award.
This award honors a member of Florida Realtors who has demonstrated excellence in advocacy at the local board, state association, national association and community within the governmental or political arena over their lifetime. Monetary donations are not a consideration for the award.
Grooms has invested more than 40 years in the real estate industry as a Realtor Emeritus. He has long been committed to advocacy and doing the hard work needed to support his profession. In fact, he has spent decades inspiring and educating others on key industry issues and asking for their support.
At the state level, since the mid-1980s, Grooms has been a key contact helping to keep many legislators informed about real estate industry concerns and issues, and has served on or chaired dozens of Florida Realtors committees, presidential advisory groups (PAGs) and forums.
At the national level, he has served as a Federal Political Coordinator to members of Congress for the National Association of Realtors and on countless NAR committees, from its Federal Legislative and Political Forum to the State and Local Issues Mobilization Committee.
In the Jacksonville area community, Grooms has personally worked on numerous local, state and congressional candidate campaigns. His advocacy efforts over his long career include successfully fighting a proposed sales tax on services in Florida – twice – as well as calling for changes in the guidelines for PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) programs in the state.
Grooms is a dedicated advocate for private property rights, a strong voice for Realtor engagement and investment, and represents the real estate profession at its best.
Environmental (ENVY) Award, residential category
Florida Realtors ENVY award for 2022 recognizes a residential development that showcases green practices and features designed in harmony with Florida’s natural resources: SweetBay in Panama City.
In 2007, St. Andrew Bay Land Company acquired Panama City’s original airport, which was located on the beautiful coastal waters of St. Andrew Bay and ranged over 700 acres. Developers had a vision of creating Florida’s largest adaptive reuse and infill development with this project – and SweetBay was the result.
The project’s master plan includes shared community spaces, a walkable neighborhood and thriving mixed-use areas. Framed by over five miles of unspoiled bayfront waterways, the project’s planning and development paid careful attention to the preservation of, and impact to, natural areas.
More than 1,500 native trees have been planted, transforming the former bare commercial site, with more 140 acres set aside as conservation areas. In a space that was once an airport, wildlife abounds and native habitat like seagrasses around the bay and bayou areas is preserved. In fact, a rare and unique Panama City Crayfish species was identified on site during SweetBay’s development, and a habitat has been designated especially for the species’ preservation.
Once the development is completed, almost one quarter of SweetBay’s acreage will be green space, canopied parks, conservation areas and wetland preserves.
Education Volunteer of the Year
The Education Volunteer of the Year Award recognizes members who volunteered their time and energy to advance professional development for Realtors. This year’s Education Volunteer of the Year winner is Gwen Davis-Gideon from the Naples Area Board of Realtors.
A small business owner who has managed her own investment properties for 30 years, Davis-Gideon is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati with a degree in business management. She is active in her community and numerous real estate organizations. Currently a member of the NABOR Leadership Academy, she also serves on her local board’s Professional Development, Professional Standards and Membership committees. Davis-Gideon is a member of Florida Realtors’ Professional Development and Global Business committees and serves on the National Association of Realtors Professional Development Committee.
She is a member of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals and the Southwest Florida Real Estate Investment Association, as well as a member of her area Women’s Council of Realtors.
Davis-Gideon teaches several Florida Realtors-approved courses under CE Express, including “Be the Change, Fair Housing and You,” and “How to Make the Most of Your Property Management Business.” Helping fellow Realtors grow their knowledge is how Davis-Gideon gives back to her industry.
Educator of the Year
This year’s Florida Realtors Educator of the Year is Denise Oyler, a member of Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee (RASM). A Realtor for 17 years, she is licensed in three states: Florida, Georgia and North Carolina.
Oyler has served on the board of directors of RASM and Florida Realtors, as well as a member of several committees for both her local association and the state association. She was named Realtor of the Year in 2019 by the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee in recognition of her dedication and all the courses she has taught over the years, sharing her knowledge and expertise with her Realtor peers.
During the past two years, Oyler has taught more than 125 classes as a real estate instructor at the local, state and national levels. Courses include several GRI (Graduate Realtor Institute) topics; SRES (Seniors Real Estate Specialist); and, under CE Express, Code of Ethics, Core Law, Contracts, Residential Investors and more.
One local association leader recognized Oyler for her “passion for teaching” and added, “She appeals to all different types of learners. Her firsthand experience and stories she contributes to the classes really drive home the topics and help our students understand on a deeper level.”
Florida Realtor magazine awards
Florida Realtor Magazine Best Article: Kristen Conti, Englewood Area Board of Realtors, for the article, “A (Not So) Bird-Brained Idea,” July 2021, Florida Realtor magazine
Florida Realtor Magazine Editorial Excellence: Booker Pickett, Greater Tampa Realtors, for the article, “A Path to Homeownership,” June 2021, Florida Realtor magazine
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