The Residential Real Estate Council removed Pam Ruggeroli from her position for reasons the trade group will not disclose, prompting an outpouring of support for the ousted president.

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The president of a National Association of Realtors affiliate has been ousted under circumstances shrouded in mystery.

The board of directors of the Residential Real Estate Council (RRC) removed Pam Ruggeroli from her position as president of the trade group last week, according to a statement Ruggeroli posted on the private Facebook group “We Are CRS.”

RRC, which runs the Facebook group, has conferred the Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) designation on more than 34,000 agents and has 28,000 members. RRC has named Tricia Nekota, formerly RRC president-elect, as its new president. Nekota will serve out Ruggeroli’s term, which began in November, in addition to her own as 2024 RRC president.

The trade group’s website crashed over the weekend and had not been restored as of Tuesday afternoon.

RRC countered several of the statements Ruggeroli made in her post with its own statement.

Pam’s version

In her statement, Ruggeroli said she did not know the reasons behind her removal and that the organization had asked her to lie and say she had resigned her post.

“On March 27th I received a letter from Tricia Nekota stating ‘the Board voted today to remove you as an officer of the Residential Real Estate Council effective 5 p.m. Central on Tuesday, March 28, 2023. Removal as an officer will end your Board service,'” Ruggeroli said in her statement.

“The letter did not give a reason why. The letter went on to say ‘The Board is open to using a reason provided by you in the announcement, within reason. For example, you may ask RRC to state that you have resigned for personal, family or business reasons. We ask that you limit the reason to a word or two. This will not be an opportunity for a personal statement.’ I refuse to lie to our Members. I never have and I never will! I did NOT resign!”

Ruggeroli had signed a confidentiality agreement “so I am not able to discuss what has transpired,” but she was unaware of exactly what happened, she said in her statement.

“A lot of it transpired behind my back, secret meetings with RRC Counsel and the 2022 Leadership Team, behind closed doors and in ‘Special Meetings’ so even I don’t know what transpired or the reasons I was removed,” she said.

“I have retained legal counsel and will do my best to challenge the Board’s decision.”

The news has affected her personally and she hasn’t done anything wrong, she added.

“What I am able to tell you, is that I have done nothing wrong and I do not deserve this,” she said.

“I have not violated the RRC Bylaws, the RRC Policies & Procedures Manual or the CRS Rules & Regulations. This situation has taken a personal toll on me. I am devastated and heartbroken to know that the people I loved, trusted and thought were my friends took this action against me.”

Ruggeroli’s post prompted an outpouring of support from RRC members, some of whom said they would cancel their memberships or demand their dues be refunded. They also peppered their comments with the hashtag #IStandWithPam.

“We know your ethics, values, and intentions,” wrote one supporter. “Thank you for explaining what happened now we need to hear from the (Supposedly) MEMBER-driven organization with a complete explanation as to what happened. We stand with you. #IstandwithPam.”

RRC’s version

On Monday afternoon, RRC released a statement saying that Ruggeroli’s removal was a unanimous decision from its board of directors and intentionally not announced immediately to give Ruggeroli time to consider the decision and give her the opportunity to resign before the transition became effective.

“Unfortunately, some members have interpreted the Board’s decision as not being transparent, which was never the intent,” the statement reads.

“The Board has an obligation to protect the confidential information of its members, staff, and third parties and to allow appropriate discourse on sensitive matters. This follow-up message and related Q&As are in response to misinformation being circulated and a sincere effort to be as transparent as possible regarding the process while respecting the privacy of those involved.”

RRC said there was no “secret” meeting but rather the decision was made during an executive session of a properly called meeting in order to keep the discussion confidential.

“Ms. Ruggeroli was present with her legal counsel and given an opportunity to question a witness and address the Board as she and her counsel desired,” RRC said.

“No limitations were placed on Ms. Ruggeroli or her counsel. Ms. Ruggeroli was then, by a properly approved motion, recused from deliberations because the matter concerned her actions, and she had a conflict of interest in its resolution.

“The Board then deliberated the matter fully and unanimously decided to make a change in leadership in the best interest of the Council. Ms. Ruggeroli was fully informed of why this action was taken and was offered the courtesy to resign before it took effect and to help shape a public announcement of the transition, neither of which she chose to do.”

The trade group added, “The Board respects Ms. Ruggeroli’s choice but remains firm in its position that it is not appropriate for the Board to share the details of the impetus for its decision, given the involvement of Council staff and non-members. As such, there will be no additional statements at this time regarding the reasoning behind its actions.”

In a phone interview, RRC CEO Jeff Hornberger declined to comment on the reason behind Ruggeroli’s removal other than to refer to RRC’s statement, which does not give a reason. When asked if the reason for the removal had to do with Ruggeroli violating a directive concerning her romantic partner of 12 years, Jeano Savard, as a source close to RRC has alleged, Hornberger once again declined to comment and referred to RRC’s statement. (Savard is also a member of Ruggeroli’s agent team.)

Asked whether Alex Milshteyn, RRC’s 2021 president, was the “witness” referred to in RRC’s statement, as alleged by the source, Hornberger gave the same answer.

Ruggeroli and Savard did not respond to phone calls, emails, voicemails or text messages seeking comment. Milshteyn did not respond to a phone call and text messages seeking comment. Holli Woodward, RRC’s 2022 president, who also allegedly knew about the directive, did not respond to a phone call and text messages seeking comment.

Hornberger confirmed that RRC had received a handful of requests from members to cancel their membership. He added that the cause of the CRS website crash is under investigation and he expects the site to be restored by end of business on Tuesday.

Nekota declined to comment for this story.

Email Andrea V. Brambila.

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