The Chicago Association of REALTORS®, the “Voice for Real Estate” in Chicago since 1883, represents over 17,000 members from all real estate specialties including commercial sales, development, property management, appraisal, auctions and residential sales.
Dan Wagner, the 2015-2016 Chicago Association of REALTORS® President, brings a lifetime of leadership and a legacy of altruism to his role.
Born the youngest of seven siblings in Springfield, politics was infused in the culture where Dan grew up. He embraced his leadership qualities early by serving as eighth-grade president, and then going on to be class president in his freshman through junior years of high school. In his senior year, Dan became student body president, and when he arrived at Illinois State University, became president of his pledge class, president of the residence halls, academic senator and the student regent of the Board of Regents.
This early, natural gravitation toward leadership and politics foreshadowed a career in government affairs.
His commercial real estate career began when he volunteered for Lee Daniels, the speaker of the House of Representatives. At a Daniels event, he met the man he calls his mentor, Dan Goodwin, CEO and Chairman of the Inland Real Estate Group of Companies. This meeting set him on the path to Inland, and now, C.A.R.
“Working for Dan Goodwin is like being in grad school every day,” Dan said of his role as Senior Vice President of Government Relations, where he represents Inland at the local, state and national levels. “He [Goodwin] was a teacher before he started the Inland Real Estate Group, and so it makes sense that he is still teaching.”
Dan works every day to bring disparate groups together to further the commercial real estate industry and fight burdensome regulation. It’s his experience in negotiation which he hopes to use to continue to bring groups together in his role at C.A.R., by working with industry partners and increasing collaboration with the National Association of REALTORS® and the Illinois Association of REALTORS®.
He is a firm believer in Benjamin Franklin’s quote, “If we don’t hang together, then we shall certainly hang separately.” This guiding philosophy is apparent in his every involvement with C.A.R. “Our strength is in our diversity,” Dan said. “We must act as a united real estate industry, as one voice fighting for the issues that impact all of us, both commercial and residential.”
In Chicago, these issues include the property tax increase, the possibility of a “cloud tax” targeting data usage, and the Affordable Requirements Ordinance. And, in the background is the budget gridlock in Springfield and threats to the 1031 Like-Kind Exchange and the mortgage interest deduction, as well as internet sales tax collection issues.
With these challenges ahead, Dan’s additional roles as the commercial liaison to the National Association of Realtors, his service on Illinois Association of Realtor’s Board of Directors and Chair of the IAR RPAC Trustees, will give him a unique advantage in helping be a champion for C.A.R. and the Power of R on all fronts.
Also important is his role as a husband and father. “Pivotal” is how Dan describes meeting his wife, Lisa, a political and nonprofit fundraiser who counts Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, ARKive, the Golden Apple Foundation, the National Republican Congressional Committee and U.S. Navy Seals as past and current clients. Together, they have triplets “plus one.”
Highly spiritual and goal-driven, Dan’s role as an advocate for special needs children may have come about regardless, but his family has given it more significance: one of their children has autism.
“The special needs community is so important,” he said. “All kids are created equal, and I’m just one of a myriad of parents who advocate for their kids. You can’t have a park or school district try to program for and teach only 95 percent of kids. You have to have 100 percent of the kids at the table, because it benefits everyone in the long run. And, the earlier you can make an impact, the more success and productivity will be ensured for every child.”
In 2014, he received the Advocacy Award from the Illinois Parks and Recreation Association, for working with his park district fighting for the special needs community. It’s just another way he finds fulfillment in working to strengthen his community.
To that end, Dan’s particularly passionate about the REALTOR® partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. In August, he presented C.A.R.’s 10,000 dollar check to NAR President Tom Salomone, BGCA spokesperson and four-time heavyweight boxing world champion Evander Holyfield, and BGCA Chairman Emeritus Ron Gidwitz.
“Kids are a vital part of our communities,” Dan said. “REALTORS® are the blood and sinew of our towns, providing homes and apartments for millions of people and businesses. And as the BGCA is the second home for so many children, this partnership is totally in line with our REALTOR® values.”
Key to Dan’s success has been traits shared by so many of his fellow REALTORS®: a strong work ethic, driven by the desire to provide for his family; an unwavering optimism, a goal to always see the goodness in people; and a need to help make the world a better place.
“It is so rewarding working with professionals at the top of their game,” he said. “The more you get involved in your Association, the more the REALTOR® family becomes apparent. We’re part of a bigger picture. Being involved in our communities, you can see where there’s a deficiency and a challenge, and REALTORS® are always there, plugging the void.”
Dan’s leadership qualities and altruistic nature will surely help to achieve the many goals set for the coming year. “I look forward to rising to meet the challenge,” he said. “I want to encourage everyone to be our first-line responders, in being watchdogs for affordability and safeguards of the American dream, so that businesses and families have the most opportunity possible.”
Maria Dickman, Communications Specialist