Meet The 2023 REALTOR® Award Winners!

Jump to the award recipient’s bio below:

REALTOR® of the Year: Antje Gehrken, A.R.E. Partners

The REALTOR® of the Year Award is the highest and most coveted award that can be bestowed by one’s peers. This award is based on the outstanding contributions of a REALTOR® to the Chicago Association of REALTORS®. The recipient must demonstrate what is called “REALTOR® Spirit”, which is embodied by faithfulness to the principles of the REALTOR® organization, professionalism, the Code of Ethics and demonstrated leadership contributions that have significantly impacted the advancement and/or recognition of the profession.

Antje Gehrken likens being a REALTOR® to being a rockstar. And she would know, as she transitioned from a career in music to real estate in the late 2000s. According to her, it doesn’t matter if you are standing on a stage in front of thousands of people or winning the contract on a multiple offer scenario during a seller’s market. It’s all about your passion and how you perform that makes you a rockstar.

Antje brought this rockstar attitude to the forefront in 2022 when she was inducted as the association’s president. During her tenure, she oversaw the association’s first all-woman executive team. As a REALTOR® who works in both residential and commercial markets, she led the association in enhancing its offerings to commercial REALTORS® through tools like Commercial Contracts Pro, among a variety of other initiatives.

Antje also shared the importance of firsts, and how they lead to forevers. When she attended her first Inaugural Gala many years ago, she was inspired that she, too, would one day be president of the association. She has been an enormous advocate for other real estate professionals to get more involved, experience their own “firsts” and welcome their peers into the association community.

Over the course of her career, she has achieved a number of extraordinary accomplishments. She gained the Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) designation, which is held by only 6% of commercial real estate professionals. She also helped to grow A.R.E. Partners to new levels by becoming licensed in Indiana and expanding the company’s presence to the northwest part of the state. She is also an active mentor for the Goldie B. Wolfe Miller Women Leaders in Commercial Real Estate Initiative. In 2014, she was named as the Women’s Council of REALTORS®’ Entrepreneur of the Year. She is also a Major Investor at the Golden R and Presidents’ Circle member.

CommercialForum Achievement Award: Jimena Sayavedra, Newmark

The CommercialForum Achievement Award recognizes the outstanding contributions of a Chicago Association of REALTORS® CommercialForum member who demonstrates positive leadership within their local association and a strong commitment to the advancement of the commercial real estate industry.

Since she changed her career from urban planning to commercial real estate, Jimena Sayavedra has been a leader in the industry. In 2013, she participated in the Project REAP Program, which brings minorities into commercial real estate. She became a CommercialForum member in 2017 and worked her way up to chair of the CommercialForum Committee in 2022. That same year, she also served on the association’s Board of Directors. In 2022, Jimena was also a commercial top producer in the industrial category. Outside of the association, Jimena is a Goldie Initiative mentor, Industrial Women in Real Estate Board member and Association of Industrial Real Estate Brokers Board member.

REALTOR® Community Service Award: Donna Rogers, R’ Legacy Realty

The REALTOR® Community Service Award recognizes the outstanding contributions of a REALTOR® who has gone above and beyond in their local community.

Donna Rogers works to make a positive impact in our communities and uses her talent and success to help our city’s youth and the homeless population. She formerly owned a transition house for young women facing homelessness, and she currently donates rental stipends to young mothers through the Chicago Homeless Coalition. She uses her real estate knowledge to lead a program for youths of color called Who Got the Keys, Building Generational Wealth Through Real Estate, where she teaches and exposes them to the fundamentals of real estate and the importance of homeownership. Her work is dedicated to increasing the rate of black homeownership and wealth.

Affiliate of the Year: DeVontae Brooks, Guaranteed Rate

The Affiliate of the Year Award recognizes the outstanding contributions of a Chicago Association of REALTORS® Affiliate Member to the Chicagoland real estate industry, with a demonstrated and ongoing leadership of at least three years.

As the senior vice president of mortgage lending, DeVontae Brooks is a trusted partner to his clients during the most important financial decision of their lives. He educates clients about loan options and provides them with information to make informed decisions. Just as he is a trusted partner in the mortgage world, he is also a valued volunteer for the association. DeVontae has been a member of the Young Professionals Network Advisory Board since 2019 and supports YPN’s monthly breakfasts as a sponsor. He also co-chaired the 2021 Sales Awards Advisory Committee. He is always willing to share his expertise and help others with the ultimate goal of strengthening our industry.

Managing Broker of the Year (1-50 Licensees): Sherri Jordan, Suite 527 Realty Group, LLC

The Managing Broker of the Year Award (1-50 licensees) recognizes a Chicago REALTOR® who has gone above and beyond their day-to-day obligations within their brokerage, such as outstanding service to clients and licensees within the brokerage, mentorship, innovative training programs and more.

As CEO and managing broker of Suite 527 Realty Group, Sherri Jordan leads a team of seven REALTORS®. In her role, she provides her clients and colleagues with resources and support to thrive. Sherri knows there is not a one size fits all approach to leadership, and she has taken advantage of a variety of different opportunities to become the most effective leader possible. Sherri served as a mentor in the Foundation’s ELITE program in 2022 and was named the ELITE Coach of the Year. She sits on the Professional Advisory Group and is the representative of Englewood for our Diversity Committee, “The 77.” Tonight, she is also being honored as a Leadership Accelerator graduate. She is a Sterling R Major Investor.

Managing Broker of the Year (51+ Licensees): Eve Benton, EXIT Strategy Realty

The Managing Broker of the Year Award (51+ licensees) recognizes a Chicago REALTOR® who has gone above and beyond their day-to-day obligations within their brokerage, such as outstanding service to clients and licensees within the brokerage, mentorship, innovative training programs and more.

Eve Benton has always kept an open-door policy for the 275 REALTORS® she works with at EXIT Strategy Realty. She considers herself not just a leader, but also a confidant, and uses this knowledge to tailor her leadership to the individual REALTORS® she works with. She not only partners with and mentors new brokers, but she also stresses the importance of professionalism, ethics and exemplary service through the training she provides to each broker. Eve is also the first person many prospective REALTORS® meet during their journey to gain their real estate license, as she teaches pre-licensing courses through the association’s affiliated school, the REALTORS® Real Estate School.

Industry Partner Member Award: Elizabeth Goodchild, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Starck Real Estate

The Industry Partner Member Award recognizes the outstanding contributions of an Industry Partner member within their industry partner organization, and to the Chicagoland real estate industry.

In her 34 years in the real estate industry, Elizabeth Goodchild made it her mission to drive positive change and growth. She has been able to achieve these goals during her time with the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA), where she served for many years on the Board of Directors and as President in 2013, 2014 and 2022. Throughout her involvement with AREAA, she committed to positively impacting its mission to increase sustainable homeownership in the Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities. She helped create educational events supporting this mission and worked with members and partners to develop an understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing the AAPI community in the real estate industry.

Political Advocacy Award: Tommy Choi, Keller Williams ONEChicago

The Political Advocacy Award is based on the outstanding contributions of a Chicago REALTOR® or affiliate member in the public policy, political and/or legislative advocacy area who demonstrated extraordinary volunteerism and/or service in governmental affairs and in keeping with the REALTOR® Party spirit to “Vote…Act…Invest.”

Current Illinois REALTORS® treasurer and Chicago REALTORS® past president Tommy Choi has an unwavering commitment to real estate advocacy. He has many years of service amplifying the REALTOR® voice and priorities at the local, state and national levels. He previously served as the State Legislative Contact for Illinois House Majority Leader Greg Harris and currently serves as Federal Political Coordinator to Congressman Mike Quigley. Tommy also worked to reform the structural integrity questionnaire used by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which has promoted consumers’ ability to purchase condos in the city of Chicago. He is also an RPAC Hall of Fame member and a Major Investor at the Golden R and Presidents’ Circle level.

Rising Star Award: Alice Weinert, Haven & Loft Realty

The Rising Star Award recognizes an emerging leader within the Chicago Association of REALTORS® whose early accomplishments distinguish them as a future leader in the industry and beyond through their service, commitment, leadership, responsibility and impact.

For as long as Alice Weinert has been in real estate, she has also been working her way towards leadership roles. She started her real estate career in 2017 and sat on her first committee in 2018. During this time, she learned the importance of being involved so she could help create positive solutions for our industry. She became Vice Chair of the Member Care Task Force in 2022 and played an integral role in creating the association’s Open House events, where new members can learn about the association. Alice was also a graduate of the inaugural cohort of the Leadership Accelerator program and served as a mentor for this year’s class.