Two organizations that emerged out of chaos at the country’s largest Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender real estate trade group both have taken steps this month to formalize their existence.
The two organizations are the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance and the RealPride Network. Both groups emerged in June after members of the LGBT real estate community raised questions about Jeff Berger, who founded and led the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP). The controversy over Berger’s leadership eventually led to mass resignations from NAGLREP, and it was those departing members that formed the two new groups.
This week, the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance announced that it had filled a number of leadership roles in anticipation of an official Oct. 1 launch. Firstly, John Thorpe — a regional vice president with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate — will serve as the group’s president, according to a statement. Alex Cruz, a Berkshire Hathaway agent, will serve as vice president and Patrick Ruble, a manager at a Coldwell Banker franchise, will serve as secretary.
The statement adds that the organization’s board also includes Sean Frank, founder and CEO of Mainframe Real Estate; Dave Gervase, an agent with Keller Williams; Jackie Garber, an agent with Cummings & Co. Realtors; Austin Rowe, an agent with Capital & Co.; Val Scinto, a Keller Williams agent; Octavius Smiley-Humphries, who leads The Smiley Group; and Thorpe.
A 53-member steering committee chose the board members, and the Alliance’s statement notes that it currently has more than 1,400 members on its Facebook page.
In the statement, Thorpe also hinted that the group should have more news in the near future.
“We are integrated with numerous non-profit organizations, have had incredible
discussions with potential corporate partners and have dozens of chapters ready to go,” he said.
Meanwhile, the RealPride Network also recently announced that it was debuting its official website. The website launched in early September and sends visitors to a landing page that promises to help make “LGBTQ2+ real estate connections.”
The seeds that grew into the RealPride Network and the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance were planted in May. At the time, members of NAGLREP noticed controversial Facebook posts from Berger. When they confronted Berger about the posts, their comments were deleted — leading to accusations of censorship. Some NAGLREP members also said Berger kicked them out of the organization.
Ongoing concerns then led NAGLREP members to dig deeper into Berger’s leadership, which led to more concerns about the organization’s board, bylaws, finances and other issues. Eventually, a number of NAGLREP members and leaders pushed Berger to step down. When he refused, they resigned en masse.
At the time, one of the local leaders who had hoped Berger’s resignation would save NAGLREP told Inman the organization instead ultimately “imploded.”
Both the RealPride Network and the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance have since positioned themselves as heirs to the legacy of NAGLREP, which Berger founded in 2007 and eventually turned into a major advocacy organization and referral network. However, despite the rise of new organizations, NAGLREP does still exist and, on its website, claims to still have more than 2,800 members.
Berger still leads NAGLREP as the organizations founder, president and CEO. Asked Thursday for comment, he said that “all is well” and declined to weigh in on the the RealPride Network and the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance.