Join us in congratulating our inaugural class of Policy Ambassadors who will help take our ABoR Advocacy efforts to the next level! These 11 Policy Ambassadors will help further strengthen ABoR's relationships with the Austin City Council members and amplify our voice at City Hall. Take a moment to meet our policy changemakers.
At ABoR, we see advocacy as our responsibility as REALTORS®, and our Policy Ambassador Program plays a vital role in our advocacy efforts by fostering strong relationships with local elected officials. Our Lead Policy Ambassadors are a vital extension of ABoR's advocacy efforts. The Advocacy Team will work to connect elected officials with specific Central Texas REALTORS® and provide local elected officials with their unique perspectives on real estate and public policy issues that affect Central Texas REALTORS®.
2021 ABoR Policy Ambassadors are:
Mayor Steve Adler - Theresa Bastian
Natasha Harper-Madison, District 1 - Kimbrough Gray
Vanessa Fuentes, District 2 - Chandra Simms
Pio Renteria, District 3 - Willie Cecil
Greg Casar, District 4 - Ashley Jackson
Ann Kitchen, District 5 - Dillar Schwartz
Mackenzie Kelly, District 6 - Amanda Garcia
Leslie Pool, District 7 - Chelsea Kotrla
Paige Ellis, District 8 - Rafael Llorente
Kathie Tovo, District 9 - Isaiah Tibbs
Alison Alter, District 10 - Hem Ramachandran
Get to Know Your Policy Ambassadors
Mayor – Theresa Bastian
Theresa Bastian began her activism by volunteering with the school district but has since expanded into advocacy on the city and state levels. In 2019, Theresa led a local campaign to help pass a $1 billion school bond that would fund local schools in ways that would impact students for decades to come. Theresa serves as the AISD representative on the board of the Travis County Appraisal District. She has assisted in lobbying at the state level in favor of the Krystal Jean Baker act (HB 1399), which became law in 2019.
District 1 – Kimbrough Gray
Kimbrough Gray founded and manages the brokerage Vox Real Estate. With his wife, he also founded Kiligray Homes, a home building company focused on building small houses in central Austin with style similar to that of homes built in the 1930s and 1940s (but with more oversized closets).
District 2 – Chandra Simms
Chandra Simms has dedicated her professional life to serving others. She served as a nonprofit executive working with education and healthcare-focused organizations for 12 years before becoming a full-time Realtor in 2015. Chandra continues to serve the community by volunteering at R.O.C.K. in Georgetown and working with children and veterans with physical and cognitive disabilities. She also serves as a Travis County Election Judge and holds positions on the board of several alumni organizations.
District 3 – Willie Cecil
Willie Cecil is a former entrepreneur, policy wonk, and campaign professional that arrived in Austin in 2009. Starting his career as a Field Director for everything from bond elections to Congressional elections, Willie pivoted into real estate to utilize his passions and knowledge to find residents and transplants alike a place to live, work, and play. Combined with his experience in the Texas Legislature, Willie has an intimate knowledge of the ever-expanding City of Austin. An avid networker and serial volunteer, he has been active in several local organizations and professional cohorts.
District 4 – Ashley Jackson
From South of the river to North of 183, Ashley has lived all over Austin. She has called the City of Austin home since 1983. Ashley holds a BA and a master's degree from St. Edward's University. Before pursuing Real Estate, she spent 11 years working in the non-profit and IT industries. Ashley's passion for Austin and real estate is fueled by her love of exploring the city's homes and neighborhoods, as well as her commitment to working with people to help them fulfill their dreams. Ashley's current volunteer work includes serving on the Board of Directors at the Austin Board of Realtors. She has also served as an executive with several neighborhood associations and was a commissioner on the Building and Standards Commission with the City of Austin from 2015-2017.
District 5 – Dillar Schwartz
Dillar Schwartz is a Realtor, Real Estate Coach, and Investor who works as a solutions-oriented leader for her clients and colleagues. Her innate talent for leadership, coaching, production, and business development has helped her train more than 500 agents and top teams, inspiring them, and supporting them to build their successful businesses. She is among the exclusive top 10% in the nation for Keller Williams Realty. Dillar was also nominated as an 'industry giant' by the Austin Business Journals' 2018 and 2020 Profiles of Power, which spotlighted female professionals in Austin.
District 6 – Amanda Garcia
Amanda Garcia was born and raised in Austin, Texas. Amanda is a successful Entrepreneur, Broker Associate, and property manager in Austin & Houston markets. Through hard work, educational training, and learning, she has what it takes to get the best results for clients, investors, and most importantly, the residents/tenants at managed assets. Amanda does her part to impact our community positively and consistently through her brokerage, Sunshine Realty Group, by staying involved with the community.
District 7 – Chelsea Kotrla
Chelsea Kotrla is a broker and owner of a boutique real estate firm serving the Austin area. Her true passion is helping people, and she sees her purpose as discovering a person's needs and finding a place where they can flourish. When she isn't working with the fine folks of Austin, she can be found helping various animal advocacy and rescue groups.
District 8 – Rafael Llorente
Over the years, Rafael Llorente has led a life full of diverse experiences. After graduating from Kansas State with degrees in Business and Spanish, Rafael headed to Los Angeles to take on the Hospitality Sales industry. During this time in the L.A. and Orange County areas, he created and operated Relic House, a vintage furniture store. On arrival in Austin, he first flexed his hospitality know-how to bring 5x growth to numerous prominent Austin-based venues. Now, he pulls his experiences altogether in Real Estate.
District 9 – Isaiah Tibbs
Isaiah Tibbs has been a REALTOR® for nearly 20 years and a designer and remodeler for almost 15. Isaiah is also the owner and broker of Allure Real Estate, a 40-agent boutique with headquarters in midtown Austin. Isaiah brings to this role many years of policy and housing experience from serving on neighborhood and planning groups as well as experience in housing and development.
District 10 – Hem Ramachandran
Hem Ramachandran has a combined work experience in various areas for 30 years. After graduating from UT Austin, he worked at Applied Materials for six years until the economic downturn in 1998. He ventured into IT and ran a division of an IT company for five years. He challenged himself to a new career path in Real Estate and started a Real Estate company. As a broker, he has many years of experience in customer services and has honed his sales and people management skills. Later, along with the real estate company, he started a mortgage company (Indus Loans) and a tax preparation company (Tax Time).
Advocacy at the Local Level
Participating in advocacy at the local level helps to build relationships and develop valuable knowledge that will be shared across the membership. The more we know about our community and its diverse segments, the stronger our community becomes. Reach out to these changemakers who will represent you as the Austin Board of REALTORS®.
Up Next: Property Rights Policy Team – Exploring Austin’s Budget and Taxes
Are you curious about what’s driving property taxes? Or do you have questions about how the City sets their budget? Join us for a discussion with the City of Austin’s top two financial officers – Ed Van Eenoo, Chief Financial Officer, and Kerri Lang, Interim Budget Officer – exploring the City’s proposed FY 2021–22 budget and property tax rate.
Ed and Kerri will give us a look into the City’s proposed budget and how it could impact your property taxes. Hear about the financial impact the pandemic has had on the City’s financials, how the City has used the federal COVID-19 funding, and what the City’s financial health might look like for the next year—and participate in a conversation about general budget and tax issues.
Register here for Property Rights Policy Team – Exploring Austin’s Budget and Taxes on July 14 at 10:00 AM.
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