Press Release: REALTORS® in King County Honor 12 for Special Achievements During 2015

BELLEVUE, Washington. (Dec. 23, 2015) – Twelve individuals, including ten members of Seattle King County REALTORS® (SKCR), shared the spotlight for special achievements at an association event held in December. The occasion also featured the installation of the organization’s 2016 leaders and fundraising for a scholarship program to support outstanding community service volunteers.

The annual event drew more than 200 participants, including members, affiliates and guests of SKCR, its Young Professionals Network (YPN) and the Women’s Council of REALTORS®.
SKCR’s top honor, the Realtor of the Year award, went to Michael Orbino in recognition of significant leadership and support of the organization.

Another special presentation went to Bellevue attorney Alan Tonnon, winner of the association’s Lifetime Achievement award, who was honored for myriad contributions to the real estate industry since his initial involvement with SKCR in 1977.

Other 2015 recipients of SKCR awards include (listed alphabetically by award name)

Affiliate of the Year ……………………………………………………………………… Debbie Cote, imortgage, Kirkland
Government Affairs Volunteers of the Year ………………………………………………. Kathleen & Larry Powell, Windermere Real Estate East, Inc., Bellevue
Instructor of the Year ……………………………………………. Amit Baruch, Guild Mortgage Company, Bellevue
Realtor Achievement …………………………………………………… David Irons, Coldwell Banker Bain, Issaquah
Realtor Community Service …………………………. The CoHo Team of Windermere Agents (Tonya Hennen, Cara Mohammadian and Peter Wolf, Windermere Real Estate/Wall Street, Inc., West Seattle and Will Kemper, Windermere Real Estate/Richard B. Smith, Inc., Boise, Idaho
Young Professional Achievement …………………………………… Jenn Mueller, John L. Scott Real Estate | and Northwest Dream Team, Redmond

In honoring Michael Orbino as the association’s Realtor of the Year, 2014 president Larry Christensen said he was singled out for service to the association as a leader and certified clock-hour instructor, along with his accomplishments as a high-producing broker, and his community and philanthropic commitments. Since joining John L. Scott in 2002 he has earned several professional designations and induction into Forum XXII Seattle, a prestigious alliance of exceptional real estate professionals. He is a managing broker at John L. Scott’s Bellevue Main office.

Orbino is the 2016 VP-elect of Governmental Affairs for Seattle King County Realtors. He has served in various roles with the Realtors at local, state and national levels and is credited with helping launch the association’s widely acclaimed Young Professionals Network. His other commitments include service with Summit Public Schools, the Bellevue Family YMCA, Urban Land Institute, Bellevue School District, and the U.S. Army Reserves.

Lifetime Achievement Award winner Alan Tonnon was recognized in part for his leadership roles in the creation of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research, the Commercial Brokers Association, and the Legal Hotline of the Washington Association of Realtors. The prolific writer has authored several best-selling real estate books.

Tonnon’s dedication and service to the real estate profession includes stints as president for SKCR (1989), the Washington Real Estate Education Foundation and the Commercial Investment Brokers Association as well as multiple terms as a director for the National Association of Realtors. He has also served as vice chairman of the Washington State Real Estate Commission and on real estate education advisory boards for Washington State University, several community colleges and various state agencies.

Debbie Cote received the Affiliate of the Year award for “going above and beyond to help Realtors succeed” in their businesses. A veteran of the lending industry, she currently serves as sales manager for imortgage in Kirkland. As 2015 chair-elect of SKCR’s Affiliate Council and co-chair of its Education Committee, she has been instrumental in developing free quarterly seminars for members. She is a longtime member and former officer of the Seattle Metro Chapter of the Women’s Council of Realtors.

Longtime Realtor members Kathleen and Larry Powell were recognized for their dedicated involvement on the association’s advocacy efforts to promote strong schools, vibrant communities, economic vitality, sensible growth and home ownership for local families. The 2015 Government Affairs Volunteers of the Year have been brokers with Windermere Real Estate/East for more than two decades. They were cited for their enthusiastic participation in government affairs activities at both the local and state levels.

SKCR’s Instructor of the Year, Amit Baruch, was honored for his roles in conducting continuing education classes and developing materials that focus on Realtor safety, not only for SKCR members, but also for brokers around the state. Along with teaching, Baruch is a senior loan officer at Guild Mortgage Company in Bellevue.

In presenting the award, SKCR’s president noted Baruch is a dynamic and entertaining speaker whose personal mission to make selling safer and to empower brokers has helped minimize exposure to dangers within the industry. As an expert-level hand-to-hand combat instructor, Baruch also trains civilians, law enforcement and executive protection teams.
This year’s Realtor Achievement Award went to David Irons for his career of service to the association, including his multiple leadership roles during 2015. He served as SKCR’s VP of governmental and public affairs, president of The Realtors Environmental Council, and chair of an association committee.

Irons, a broker at Coldwell Banker Bain in Issaquah, also plays a key role as a state legislative key contact and as a member of the Realtors’ candidate interview team. Past commitments include leadership positions with the First Citizen Scholarship Foundation and service as a director for Washington Realtors.

A four-member team of Realtors received this year’s Realtor Community Service award. Known as the CoHo Team, they focus their giving on COmmunity and HOusing nonprofits that promote the development of strong communities (CO) and access to housing (HO). During the past 15 years this group has volunteered thousands of hours in support of its mission and raised more than $850,000 for nonprofit organizations and their causes. Team members who were honored included Tonya Hennen, Cara Mohammadian, and Peter Wolf, of Windermere Real Estate/Wall Street, Inc., West Seattle and Will Kemper of Windermere Real Estate/Richard B. Smith, Inc. in Boise, Idaho.

The Young Professionals Achievement Award went to Jenn Mueller from John L. Scott Real Estate and Northwest Dream Team in Redmond. This award, formerly known as the “One to Watch,” is presented to a Realtor who exemplifies growth and opportunity for the next generation of Realtor leaders.

Mueller began her career in real estate in 2007 and is the 2016 chair of SKCR’s Young Professionals Network. She will also serve on the association’s board as the elected YPN director. In addition to involvement in various Realtor activities, she supports various nonprofits as a volunteer and donor. Mueller is a home acquisition and buyer specialist at John L. Scott Real Estate in Redmond. In 2014 REALTOR® Magazine included her on its “30 under 30” list, which recognizes young professionals who exemplify “the ingenuity, dedication, and prowess that’s raising the bar in real estate today.”

As part of the evening’s festivities, banquet attendees participated in fundraising activities to support the Seattle First Citizen Scholarship Foundation., Approx $6,500 was raised through 50/50 raffle, dessert auction and flight simulator ticket sales which are awarded in part for good citizenship and community involvement.
Several companies supported SKCR’s awards and installation event. They included:
Gold sponsors: Banner Bank, First Tech Federal Credit Union, and Tahaleh by Newland Communities; Silver sponsors: Helsell Fetterman, CW Title & Escrow, and Larry Christensen Real Estate School; Bronze sponsor: Commission Express; Flight Simulator sponsors: Opes Advisors, and John L. Scott Real Estate

About the Seattle King County REALTORS®
The Seattle King County Realtors® is a nonprofit professional trade association whose goals include promoting ethical business practices and supporting policies that preserve and expand real property rights and housing affordability. Based in Bellevue, SKCR has around 6,000 members and is a local board of the National Association of Realtors®. The term Realtor® is a registered collective membership mark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of Realtors® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.