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Realtors appoint new top lobbyist, chief marketing officer

McGahn to lead association’s advocacy efforts while Gillespie will head up member outreach

McGahn and GillespieMcGahn, left, and Gillespie

Oct. 2, 2018
By Walt Williams

The National Association of Realtors has tapped a longtime Republican operative with close ties to the Trump White House as its new chief lobbyist—one of two new additions to the group’s leadership team.

NAR announced Tuesday that Shannon McGahn has been appointed senior vice president of government affairs. She will succeed Jerry Giovaniello, who is retiring at the end of the year, and will be the first woman to lead the association’s lobbying operations in its 110-year history.

At the same time, NAR announced that Victoria Gillespie has been named chief marketing and communications officer. She comes to the association with more than 30 years of experience in real estate and credit unions and will guide efforts to enhance NAR’s brand and member engagement efforts.

“The addition of Victoria and Shannon's strategic leadership to our already powerful team will help us once again make real estate a topline issue,” NAR CEO Bob Goldberg said in a statement. “Together, they will lead our strategic direction in Washington and around the country to better serve our members’ interests.”

McGahn most recently was staff director for the House Committee on Financial Services. A visible player in Republican politics, the incoming lobbyist was counselor to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and a communications director for the House Republican Conference. She is married to White House Counsel Don McGahn; President Donald Trump announced in August that McGahn would step down from the position sometime this fall.

Shannon McGahn will be the first new person to run NAR’s lobbying team since Giovaniello was elevated to the position in 2001. The group runs one of the largest advocacy operations in the association community.

“Shannon is a proven star in the emerging generation of 21st century advocacy leadership,” NAR’s elected President Elizabeth Mendenhall said in a statement. “Her ability to work across the aisle and develop bipartisan solutions will position NAR as a player able to shape legislation and regulatory policy in a period of upheaval and generational changes in America.”

Gillespie most recently was senior vice president of enterprise marketing and communications for Northwest Federal Credit Union. She previously was senior vice president to Realtors Federal Credit Union and owned and operated her own real estate agency for more than 12 years.

“Victoria’s extensive experience makes her the ideal choice to lead our marketing and communications,” Mendenhall said. “Her strategic vision and commitment to developing innovative concepts will complement our fabulous lobbying and policy team.”