Mary Frances Burleson, the longtime CEO and president of Ebby Halliday, is stepping down to assume a new role as chairman emeritus as she focuses on the company’s philanthropic efforts, per an announcement this week. Chris Kelly, who formerly served in senior leadership roles at HomeServices of America will take over as CEO.

“I am proud of everyone at Ebby Halliday and what we have achieved,” said Burleson, who has been with the company since 1958 and was appointed president and CEO in 1989. “Honoring Ebby’s legacy of service to the client, service to the industry and service to the community has always been a top priority for me.”

The Dallas-based brokerage, founded in 1945, has grown to nearly 2,000 agents in 35 offices and finished 12 on the Real Trends rankings of top brokerages by sales volume and number 15 on the Swanepoel Mega 1000 rival ranking.

In a release, Burleson praised her replacement, saying that Ebby Halliday, the founder of the namesake company who passed away at 104-years-old in 2015, would agree the future is bright with Kelly at the helm.

“[Kelly] has shown himself to be a leader with impeccable business ethics, personal sincerity and a deep understanding of the real estate business – all values that align with our heritage while pointing to an exciting future,” Burleson said.

Kelly has previously worked for ReeceNichols Real Estate, a HomeServices’ wholly-owned company based in Kansas City, where he served as corporate legal counsel before he was promoted to chief administrative officer of ReeceNichols Real Estate, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Kansas City Realty, Kansas City Title and its other affiliated businesses and services.

In 2017, he was promoted to senior counsel of HomeServices of America, where he supported the company’s acquisitions and technology initiative. One of those moves was the acquisition of Ebby Halliday, earlier this year.

In his new role as CEO, Kelly will be tasked with shaping company strategy and direct operations while driving future growth and preserving the company’s historic legacy.

“[Burleson] and her exceptional leadership team set an incredible level of excellence for the company,” Kelly said. “I am thrilled to join this team of immensely talented agents, sales managers, employees and lending and title professionals. The opportunity to help lead this iconic company to its next level of growth and performance is both humbling and exciting.”

The Ebby Halliday foundation, which was announced in September, honors and continues the namesake’s legacy of philanthropy in North Texas. The organization supports charitable and educational activities that serve women and children in need in the greater North Texas region.

In her lifetime, Halliday’s philanthropic legacy included, according to the company: Juliette Fowler Communities’ The Ebby House; the WiNG’s Center at Ebby’s Place and Ebby Halliday Library at Happy Hill Farm in Granbury.

Email Patrick Kearns

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