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From parole officer to real estate queen

Real estate power broker divas

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It may be a "man's world" in some people's view, but some women know how to turn that notion to their advantage. Michael Saunders, the savvy businesswoman behind the successful independent real estate brokerage Michael Saunders & Co., admits her unusual first name helped along the way. "My name definitely helped," Saunders said. "People thought I was a man and it let me get my foot in the door and I never removed it." Like many real estate titans, Saunders' first career was in a different field. She graduated college with a history and psychology major and worked as a probation officer before entering real estate. "I had a guardian angel that co-signed a $5,000 note for me and gave me the capital to open up the company in 1976," she said. Being a parole officer wasn't exactly an ideal situation for a single mother. "Being chased by folks with butcher knives and broken Coke bottles didn't lend itself to being a single mother," Saunders said. "The pay wasn't wonderful, so I had to...