Illinois REALTOR® Magazine  | October 2012
By Stephanie Sievers | Associate Editor
There are many ways to describe Terese “Terry” Penza: innovative association executive, dedicated industry advocate, tech gadget guru.
But another word that pops up just as often is mentor.
The president and CEO of the North Shore-Barrington Association of REALTORS® is a leader in association management, but she is also a trusted mentor willing to share her knowledge and time to better the industry. Those qualities earned her this year’s William R. Magel Award of Excellence honoring association leadership and achievement from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).
“With more than 30 years of service to the real estate industry and Realtor® associations, Terry Penza exemplifies the commitment and dedication that is a hallmark of William R. Magel Award recipients,” said NAR CEO Dale Stinton. “I know the North Shore-Barrington Association of Realtors® members and staff, as well as her colleagues across the Realtor® family, all join me in congratulating her for this well-deserved recognition.”
Penza’s ongoing commitment to the REALTOR® organization is what prompted Claire Shahzad, director of REALTOR® services for the MetroTex Association of REALTORS®, to nominate Penza for the award after years of working with her in the Association Executives Institute.
Penza has long been an association executive that others look up to, said Shahzad. Always willing to lend a hand or field a question, Penza has donated countless hours to the REALTOR® organization at every level.
“I felt like it was her time. You reach a certain point in your career when you have given years of service and dedication and it comes time to be recognized,” Shahzad said.
Penza got her start as a REALTOR® in her father’s real estate business in Jacksonville. After her election as secretary of the local REALTOR® board, she discovered she preferred management to selling and began her career in association management. She worked throughout Illinois with stops in Danville, Alton, Belleville and finally the North Shore-Barrington area, where she has been the association executive for 26 years.
Among her proudest accomplishments was earning her Certified Association Executive (CAE) designation from the American Society of Association Executives in 1986 and in 1991 being in the first class to earn the REALTOR® Association Certified Executive (RCE). She was in the first class of inductees to the Bud Smith AE Leadership Society in 1998, and she received IAR’s Distinguished Service Award in 2005.
Penza describes her leadership style as informal, inclusive and transparent. The association is the members’ organization so it is important to have an open door policy so that members know what is going on and why, she said.
She also is deeply committed to education and believes there is always something more that she can learn to better serve her members. It’s vital that staff members understand the issues affecting members and the changing market, whether it be short sale trends or technology, she said.
“How are we going to be able to provide any services to members if we don’t even understand their core business,” she said.
Technology is a driving force in the real estate industry and Penza and her staff are always looking for ways to incorporate the technology members need in the most cost-effective way.
With so many things competing for a member’s time and money, the biggest challenge facing associations today is staying relevant, she said. That means constantly talking to members, gauging what they need and disseminating and delivering the information and tools they need for their business.
“We must stay relevant so members say, ‘This is a resource that I’m happy to be a member of and I’m glad is there so I can get an answer.’”