The Council of Multiple Listing Services, a nonprofit trade group whose mission is to be the top forum and resource for MLSs, has hired its first-ever CEO: real estate finance and nonprofit veteran Denee Evans.

Evans, whose first name is pronounced “Deh-NAY,” was hired in mid-November and her first day on the job was Dec. 1. She is tasked with implementing CMLS’ strategic plan, including its sourceMLS initiative and recently released CMLS Best Practices white papers.

CMLS is currently working with the National Association of Realtors to refine the latter and may teach classes on the subject at NAR’s AE Institute conference for association executives in March, said CMLS President Art Carter.

CMLS began the hunt for its first CEO in May and interviewed dozens of candidates. Evans was found to “be uniquely suited to lead this increasingly complex organization into the future,” Carter said in a statement.

Founded in 1957 with three members, the trade group now has 234 members — 163 of them MLSs representing 977,509 subscribers.

“(Evans) brings a pretty extensive level of past experience and abilities to the job that perfectly fit what CMLS and the hiring committee were looking for,” Carter said.

“We really believe that she’s the dedicated type of individual that’s going to take CMLS to the next level.”

Before Evans’ hire, CMLS had been an all-volunteer organization. Now she is CMLS’s first and only employee, taking pressure off of the trade group’s annually elected president, Carter said. Given that he already has a job as CEO of the largest MLS in the nation, California Regional MLS, the duties of both got to be overwhelming, he said.

“I took on the additional task of running the (CMLS) conference this year and it got to the point where it was a little bit too much on one person’s plate,” Carter said.

Evans will work remotely and manage CMLS’s relationship with the association management company that handles day-to-day activities for CMLS.

She will also serve as a public face for CMLS. “(She’ll do) everything from doing interviews like this to speaking engagements. It gives another voice for the organization,” Carter said.

Previously, Evans had been executive director of nonprofit EnergyFit Nevada for three years and is currently a board member for the organization, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Before that, she was a program specialist for nonprofit Green Chips, also in Nevada, and held various roles at banks, including three years as a home loan consultant for Wells Fargo Mortgage and five years as a senior loan officer for Bank of America.

She holds a degree in finance from the University of Nevada in Las Vegas and was featured as a “Fearless Female” in Las Vegas Woman magazine earlier this year. She also holds a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Associate certification.

“In addition to having experience on every side of a real estate transaction, she has a proven track record of leading organizations into unchartered waters and having them emerge as industry models that others want to emulate,” Carter said.

Evans’ father was a homebuilder and she bought her own first home before she turned 21. She has had a passion for the real estate world for “as long as I can remember,” Evans said.

CMLS President-elect Shelley Specchio has known Evans for a couple of years — both serve on the EnergyFit Nevada board and have a mutual interest in “greening the MLS” — highlighting energy-efficient and environmentally friendly homes in the MLS.

In that time, Specchio learned that Evans is a “very detail-oriented” administrator and that she’s an “extraordinarily good” relationship builder.

“She’s very good at seeing potential and bringing the right people together to serve an objective,” Specchio said.

In a presentation to the CMLS interview panel in mid-November, Evans laid out her plans for her first 100 days on the job and her overall goal: “facilitation of practical information and cutting-edge management ideas to empower members (and their constituents) to meet the challenges of changing technology, legal issues and organizational structures.”

While the goal will remain essentially the same, the plan itself will be updated now that she’s officially been hired and does not represent the path forward for CMLS, Specchio said. But the plan did help the interview panel understand how Evans thinks and contributed to the decision to hire her, Specchio said.

Slide from Evans'

Slide from Evans’ “100 Days” presentation

The plan represents about three weeks of intense research after an arduous interview process, according to Evans.

“It was worth it because it really prepared me. I’m jumping in really ready to go,” she said. “There will be some tweaking and fine-tuning, but it’s really going to allow me to hit the ground running, which is great.”

The plan noted that at the end of the 100 days, she hoped to have identified revenue-generating programs for CMLS, among other goals. CMLS is a dues-driven organization, but part of the CEO’s job will be to oversee the development and execution of training plans with an aim of self-funding CMLS, according to the job description. Currently, CMLS runs CMLX, a three-year designation program to certify MLS management specialists.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated.

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