RCE, CAE, CIPS, IOM, Chief Executive Officer
Chicago Association of REALTORS®
Ginger Downs’ role as the Comptroller for the Spokane Board of Realtors in Washington marked her first exposure to a real estate association. After six months in this executive position, she knew that she had found her niche as a Realtor Association Executive, and 32 years later, Downs’ enthusiasm for the industry remains undiminished. As Chief Executive Officer of the Chicago Association of Realtors (C.A.R.) for the past decade, she takes pride in the efforts that she and her team make to support Chicago’s thriving real estate industry and the people who comprise it. “My greatest professional achievement is working as the CEO for C.A.R.,” she says. “This amazing opportunity has allowed me to run a complex organization, train and mentor volunteers and staff leadership, while leading C.A.R.’s efforts to better serve our members and create a positive impact on the Chicagoland community.”
An accountant who holds designations as a Certified Association Executive and Realtor Association Certification Executive, Downs oversees the delivery of services to C.A.R.’s more than 12,500 constituents. These members possess expertise in areas such as residential and commercial sales, property management and appraisal as well as in related services like lending, title insurance and real estate law. While she recognizes that the industry is one subject to flux, Downs thrives on the challenges that often come with change. “I constantly encourage everyone at C.A.R. – including myself – to keep up with industry trends. This allows us to continuously enhance our internal operations even as we review and update our services and products to meet the needs of C.A.R.’s members.” Also characterizing herself as a “problem solver,” Downs credits her innate organizational skills for her ability to oversee multiple projects concurrently.
She and what she calls C.A.R.’s team of “consummate professionals” provide myriad services for the city’s real estate experts. These include creating the kinds of tools and services that received more than one million views last year on the organization’s website, such as over 60 Forms & Contracts, 50-plus unique classes, including continuing education and pre-licensing, market statistics, industry news and legislative advocacy on behalf of Realtors and homeowners. C.A.R. also recently strengthened its relationship with numerous other real estate associations like the Asian Real Estate Association of America, National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, Dearborn Realtists, FIABCI, Realtors to the Rescue and Women’s Council of Realtors. As Downs explains, “C.A.R. is committed to growing future leaders for our association through this collaborative effort, so we provide leadership and program training, advocacy outreach, cross-promotions and staffing resources to our partners.”
Downs’ awards and honors are nearly innumerable, but highlights include recognition among the 2015 Swanepoel POWER 200 in residential real estate, 2014 ranking among Bisnow’s 50 most influential women in Chicago commercial real estate and the 2012 Illinois Association of Realtors’ Rhino Award for outstanding service. She remains grounded despite her many achievements and credits husband Bruce for inspiring her by triumphing over cancer. “He’s an amazing man who faces every day with positivity,” says Downs. “His attitude helps me keep the small annoyances of life in check!” She adds that C.A.R.’s staff and volunteers serve as another source of regular motivation that makes her career worthwhile. “They inspire me and making coming to work a pleasure!”