"SP 200 2024 Top MLS/Assn leaders" and a collage of headshots of MLS and association leaders.
Illustration by Lanette Behiry/Real Estate News

MLS leaders rising in the ranks of industry’s most powerful 

As organized real estate grapples with game-changing court cases and turmoil at the top, MLS execs are movin’ on up in the 2024 Swanepoel Power 200.

January 15, 2024
3 minutes

Key points:

  • CRMLS and Bright MLS leaders cracked the SP 200 top 25 for the first time.
  • NAR leadership, on the other hand, remained outside the top 25 after a tumultuous year, with more turnover to start 2024.
  • Bob Hale, CEO of HAR, is the most powerful association leader, coming in at No. 29 on the SP 200.

Whatever a post-lawsuit future may hold for multiple listing services, one thing is clear: Its leaders are becoming increasingly influential in charting a path forward for the industry.

CEOs of major brokerage firms typically top the Swanepoel Power 200, but the just-released 11th edition of the rankings has two MLS CEOs — Art Carter of California Regional MLS and Brian Donnellan of Bright MLS — in the top 25 for the first time.

Both rose seven spots in the rankings, with Carter landing at 21 and Donnellan at 22. And both are at the forefront of significant initiatives designed to increase the cooperative power of MLSs across the nation.

NAR executives are usually represented in the top 25 of the SP 200, but a year of turmoil for the association that included the resignation of president Kenny Parcell and the early departure of CEO Bob Goldberg shifted the balance of power.

Tracy Kasper, now the former president of NAR after her surprise resignation on Jan. 8, came in at No. 42 overall. Note that the list is a reflection of 2023, a year when Kasper led the association through a particularly tumultuous time and before new president Kevin Sears took the reins in early 2024. Nykia Wright, who took over as interim CEO of NAR in November, debuted on the list at No. 190.

"Organized real estate had one of its most challenging years with the legal challenges and scandals impacting the association side of the industry," said Jack Miller, CEO of T3 Sixty. "At the same time, we recognize that MLS leadership has become stronger over the last five to seven years."

(Note: T3 Sixty and Real Estate News share a founder, Stefan Swanepoel.)

Bob Hale, longtime leader of the Houston Association of Realtors, is the most powerful association executive on the list (rising one spot to 29th).

Hale oversees the second-largest Realtor association in the nation, as well as HAR.com, one of the most popular real estate websites in the industry. In 2023, Hale marked his 50th year at HAR and 35th as CEO.

"My main goal has been to make HAR the most innovative and member-valued association," he told Real Estate News. "I get credit for all this stuff, but without a visionary leadership team, if they didn't believe in what we're doing, it wouldn't happen."

A wide range of leaders represent organized real estate in the top 100

Merri Jo Cowen of Stellar MLS jumped 34 spots to 52nd, making her the highest-ranking female leader in organized real estate after Kasper.

Cowen, who recently marked her 15th anniversary as CEO of an MLS that covers Florida and Puerto Rico, has taken the organization through a period of tremendous growth. Stellar is the third-largest MLS in the U.S., with membership increasing from 30,000 to more than 84,000 during her tenure.

Other MLS and association leaders making it into the top 100 overall (and top 10 for organized real estate) include:

  • Jeremy Crawford, CEO of First MLS (54)

  • Teresa King Kinney, CEO of Miami Association of Realtors (60)

  • John DiMichele, CEO of the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (66)

  • Katie Johnson, NAR general counsel and chief member experience officer (70)

  • Shannon McGahn, NAR chief advocacy officer (75)

  • John Sebree, CEO of the California Association of Realtors (82)

  • Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist (89)

  • Margy Grant, CEO of Florida Realtors (90)

  • Dionna Hall, CEO of BeachesMLS (96)

  • Rebecca Jensen, president and CEO of Midwest Real Estate Data/MRED (99)

  • Matt Consalvo, CEO of Arizona Regional MLS (100)

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