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Nykia Wright, previously CEO of the Chicago Sun-Times, is set to replace Goldberg as interim CEO on Nov. 20 while the nearly 1.6 million-member trade group conducts a “comprehensive search process to identify a permanent CEO,” NAR said in a press release Thursday.
Goldberg had been set to retire at the end of his current contract on Dec. 31, 2024. The search for his replacement was already underway. The trade group reportedly held emergency meetings of its Executive Committee, leadership team and staff Thursday morning and later confirmed Goldberg’s departure in the release.
Goldberg had been under fire for the past several months for his handling of sexual harassment allegations within the trade group and for his handling of bombshell commission lawsuits known as Moehrl and Sitzer | Burnett.
NAR had thrown its support behind Goldberg as recently as two months ago amid calls for his resignation. However, on Tuesday, Oct. 31, the Sitzer | Burnett trial wrapped in Kansas City, Missouri, with a historic jury verdict against NAR and major real estate franchisors in favor of the homeseller plaintiffs. The jury awarded the plaintiffs $1.785 billion in damages, which, under the law, will be automatically trebled to $5.356 billion.
“After announcing my decision to retire earlier this year, and as I reflected on my 30 years at NAR, I determined last month that now is the right time for this extraordinary organization to look to the future,” Goldberg said in a statement Thursday.
“Nykia’s strategic expertise and forward-looking perspective are exactly what NAR needs to continue advancing its mission in an ever-changing world. I am grateful for the privilege of leading NAR and confident that the association will continue delivering incredible value to its members for generations to come.”
Wright will be stepping into her new role right after NAR’s annual conference, NAR NXT, which will take place in Anaheim, California, this year.
“NAR advocates for and empowers people who help families across America realize the dream of homeownership,” Wright said in a statement.
“I am honored to join the organization at this important moment, when the opportunity to make a difference in the evolving real estate landscape has never been greater. I look forward to getting to work and partnering closely with NAR’s talented staff in the months ahead.”
Jason Haber, founder of the NAR Accountability Project, which sprang up after the trade group became mired in scandal and once again called for Goldberg to resign after the Sitzer | Burnett verdict, told Inman the group wishes Wright “the best of luck” in her new position and hoped she would work to release women who have come forward with sexual harassment allegations from non-disclosure agreements prohibiting them from talking about their experiences.
“Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen the worst of NAR,” Haber said in a statement.
“It is our hope she can bring out the best of it. At the NAR Accountability Project, we set forth four demands. Aspects of three of them have now been met. But one remains and we will continue our advocacy until women are released from their NDA’s.”
In its announcement, NAR touted Wright’s “breadth of executive leadership and strategic advisory experience,” noting that she led the Chicago Sun-Times “through a sweeping digital transformation” over her more than five years there.
Wright was “singlehandedly responsible” for making the venerable newspaper a viable business in the digital age by helping to prepare it for its subsequent acquisition by Chicago Public Media, a Sun-Times employee told Inman. She was known for her “zero bullshit” approach featuring “no flowery words or lies.”
According to her LinkedIn profile, in February, after her stint at the paper, she became co-founder of SonicMESSENGER, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) startup that helps broadcasters with their advertising campaigns. Between 2013 and 2018, she owned a franchise brokerage company, Franchise Brokers International, and before that she was a strategic advisor and consultant to Fortune 500 companies and private equity firms.
NAR also boasted — twice in the same release — that Wright sits on the board of the American Cancer Society and the Better Government Association and is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council at her alma mater, Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business.
In a statement, NAR President Tracy Kasper said the trade group was “delighted” to welcome Wright as interim CEO.
“Her deep experience driving organizational transformation positions her well to advance our strategy, vision and culture initiatives,” Kasper said.
“I look forward to working with her, in partnership with our Leadership Team and staff, to continue strengthening our organization.”
Kasper added that NAR was “immensely grateful” for Goldberg’s “leadership and decades-long service to NAR.”
“It has been a privilege to work with him in expanding and strengthening our organization, and we congratulate him on his well-deserved retirement,” Kasper said.
“His contributions to our association and our industry have been tremendous.”
Most recently, Goldberg was the voice of NAR at the Sitzer | Burnett trial, where he testified about what NAR does as a trade organization, and said that the national, state, and local Realtor associations have common membership but not common control. He also said the state and local associations are “all independent of NAR.”
When asked whether NAR trains its members what commissions to charge their clients, Goldberg told the jury, “We don’t touch that. That’s taboo.” He also pushed back against a suggestion from the plaintiffs’ lead counsel, Michael Ketchmark, that NAR’s incentive in the conspiracy with major real estate franchisors was to maintain its dues revenue. “That’s preposterous because we are commission benign,” Goldberg said on the stand. By that, he meant NAR gets its $150 in annual dues per member regardless of what that member charges or how much they make.
Goldberg also delivered one of the funnier moments during the trial while Ketchmark was cross-examining him in a testy exchange.
Ketchmark made an analogy between chicken producers inflating prices and what NAR was doing and Goldberg said he couldn’t say whether what the chicken producers did was against the law, to which Ketchmark asked, “Do you need me to explain antitrust law?”
“No,” Goldberg replied. “I need you to explain to me the chicken law.”
Editor’s note: This story has been updated.