This is New NAR President Leslie Rouda Smith’s Journey to the Top

The path of Dallas Realtor Leslie Rouda Smith to today was seemingly determined long ago, as the daughter of an Ohio residential real estate brokerage owner and one-time National Association of Realtors (NAR) president. On November 11, Smith followed in the footsteps of her father, Harley E. Rouda, Sr., while also forging a new path. 

Before the start of the annual Realtors Conference & Expo on Nov. 12 in San Diego, Smith was installed as the seventh female president of the largest trade association in the world, two-thirds of whose members are women – now the majority of the seven-member leadership team for the first time in its almost 115-year history. 

Smith holds her license with Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate, an Ebby Halliday Company, though she rarely lists a property in her name these days. As she stands on the cusp of her presidency, her devotion to this business is evident. For one thing, these roles are not paid but rather volunteer positions. Yet they are vital to industry members and consumers alike. 

Smith wants everyone to be aware of the commitment required for what are essentially full-time jobs. 

“This underscores just how passionate I am – all of us are – about our profession, homeownership, and private property rights,” Smith says. “I wish all my local Realtor friends knew and understood the importance of investing in their business through the Texas Political Action Committee, also known as TREPAC in our state.” 

On a national level, she is also proud of NAR’s work on Capitol Hill. 

“Everything we’ve passed or defeated in our favor, legislatively, has benefited agents and homeowners,” Smith says. “Our Chief Lobbyist is one of the 20-most influential women in Washington, D.C. We are fortunate to have her.”

“For the first time in our history, independent contractors were included in 2020’s stimulus package. The work to achieve that happened while Realtors were listing and selling homes. It wasn’t magic – it was a lot of hard work! The connections we’ve made over the years in Washington are why we are so successful when it comes to legislative, policy and regulatory issues,” Smith says.

Smith’s ascent to her current role has been a gradual one. Growing up in Upper Arlington near Columbus, she never actually imagined that real estate was going to be her career. Still, she’s been able to use her degree in Communications from Ohio State University, albeit in different ways than she originally planned. 

Over the years, Smith has held a variety of committee service and leadership positions at NAR, the Collin County Association of Realtors (CCAR), Texas Realtors, and the Women’s Council of Realtors (WCR), including:  

  • 2009 – NAR Liaison
  • 2011 – RPAC (Realtors Political Action Committee) Liaison
  • 2012 – President of CCAR 
  • 2013 – Vice President of NAR
  • 2014 –  ​​Secretary/Treasurer of TAR, received Texas REALTORS® Distinguished Service Award
  • 2015 – Chairman-Elect of Texas REALTORS®
  • 2016 – Chairman of Texas REALTORS®
  • 2017 – NAR Region 10 Vice President
  • 2018 – Texas ‘REALTOR of the Year’
  • 2019 – Elected 2020 first Vice President of NAR  
  • 2020 – Elected 2021 NAR President Elect 

“Observing my dad in his leadership roles inspired me to get involved and to give back to the profession that means so much to me,” Smith says. “I think we should all strive to leave it better than we found it.”

Personally speaking, Smith’s family is as invested in the industry as she is. Her husband Brian is a Farm & Ranch real estate specialist, and they are in a group with their two children Kristin and Austin, as well as Jody Hargus, Josh Vernon, and assistant, Debbie Pounds.  

For more information about Smith, visit

Kristin Smith Lauded For Her Energy and Insight During Leadership Summit

Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate agent KrisKristin (1)tin Smith stayed busy during the National Association of Realtors Leadership Summit in Chicago last week. As a member of the NAR Young Professionals Network advisory board, Kristin led a discussion about “Overcoming Objections from Leadership and Staff,” and she also participated in a panel regarding “Planning for Retirement in Real Estate.” Additionally, she was interviewed by the Real Estate Today radio show on the topic of “Why Millennials Should be Buying Homes.”

All of that activity made quite an impression on Denise Schultz, CEO of the Lakes Area Realtors Association in Wisconsin. In a blog post wrapping up the Leadership Summit, Schultz highlighted four speakers who inspired her, including former heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield, former Blue Angels pilot John Foley, and National Association of Realtors CEO Dale Stinton.

The fourth inspiring speaker was Kristin, whom Schultz described as “confident, charismatic, driven, and fully aware that she has something to say worth listening to.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Photo by Steph Grant Photography

Leslie Rouda Smith Helps Thousands Via Work With Realtors Associations

Texas Association of Realtors Chairman Dan Hatfield presents the Distinguished Service Award to 2015 Chairman-elect Leslie Rouda Smith at the Texas Realtors Conference in San Antonio. (Photo courtesy of the Texas Association of Realtors)
Texas Association of Realtors Chairman Dan Hatfield presents the Distinguished Service Award to 2015 Chairman-elect Leslie Rouda Smith at the Texas Realtors Conference in San Antonio. (Photo courtesy of the Texas Association of Realtors)

Real estate is a family affair for Leslie Rouda Smith, as she, her husband, and their two children are all Dave Perry-Miller associates. But Leslie’s interest in Realtors extends beyond her own household.

Through her leadership of Realtors associations at the local, state, and national levels, she has adopted an extended network of real estate professionals, looking out for their best interests as if they were members of her family.

On Tuesday, voters in Texas and across the nation will elect new legislators, governors, and members of Congress. And when those officials take office, they’ll be hearing from Leslie and her colleagues.

Lobbyists for the Texas Association of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors read thousands of bills to look for things affecting private-property rights and homeownership. The Texas association has also lobbied against taxes on services — such as Realtors’ commissions — among many other issues.

“We’ve saved the average Realtor tens of thousands of dollars in ways they never aware of,” Leslie says.

lesliesmithleadershipOnly 30 percent of Realtors donate to the Realtors Political Action Committee, the only federal PAC that lobbies solely for private-property rights in homeownership. But, Leslie says, 100 percent of them reap the benefits.

“If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu,” she says of the lobbying efforts. “Unfortunately, we’re at the table at all levels, but we’re still on the menu. That’s just the world we live in.”

Leslie’s involvement in Realtors associations comes naturally. The Ohio native’s late father, Harley E. Rouda Sr., was the president of the National Association of Realtors in 1991. (He also served as president of the Ohio Association of Realtors and the Columbus Board of Realtors.)

After moving to Texas in the 1980s, Leslie got a job in the relocation division of Ebby Halliday Realtors. It was there — literally at the corporate headquarters on Sigma Road — that she met Brian Smith, during an “Ebby School” coffee break. Three years ago, the couple’s children – Kristin Smith and Austin Smith – graduated from the same course.

Leslie rarely lists a property in her own name, opting for a behind-the-scenes role in the family business. But, through her leadership positions, she also plays a behind-the-scenes role in thousands of Realtors’ businesses. Her contributions led the Texas Association of Realtors to honor her with a Distinguished Service Award in September. Only one or two of these are doled out each year; recipients must have made significant industry contributions throughout their career and are also judged on their participation in local activities and civic organizations.

“I love the people I meet,” Leslie says of her work with the Realtors associations. “I love what I learn, and I love helping people.”

This is one in a series of articles about interesting aspects of our associates’ lives. The previous installment was about J.L. Forke’s work with Stand Up 2 Cancer.

Brian Smith of the Country Connection Makes Connections in Another Country

Brian Smith and Leslie Rouda Smith
Brian Smith and Leslie Rouda Smith

The global community grew more united last month when the World Cup soccer tournament began in Brazil. But Brian Smith, a Realtor with Dave Perry-Miller & Associates, got a jump on the competition when he visited Argentina.

Smith, who was appointed a President’s Liaison to Argentina by the National Association of Realtors, spent June 3-7 in the capitol city of Buenos Aires, meeting with industry leaders from all 13 of the South American nation’s provinces.

“It went really well; very good rapport, very relaxed,” Smith said. “We invited them to our November NAR meeting in New Orleans to continue our relationship. And I got invited back to go fishing, so it was a success!”

Anyone who knows Smith will recognize the importance of that invitation. He bills himself as the Country Connection, because he specializes in selling ranches and other rural properties. Consequently, Smith was a little out of his element in Buenos Aires.

“It was all concrete and steel. It was killing me,” he said. “I just wanted to get over to Patagonia or Bariloche, but those are three-to-four-hour flights. It’d be like me wanting to go to California because I was going to meetings in Washington, D.C.”

Smith, a Certified International Property Specialist, said the real estate business is much different in Argentina. There’s nothing like the Multiple Listing Service there, so properties are primarily marketed via word of mouth. But the bigger culture shock is that there’s no financing; all purchases are made with cash.

“There are U.S. dollars in the mattresses down there,” Smith said with a laugh.

This was not Smith’s first international business trip of 2014. In May, he and his wife, Leslie Rouda Smith, were part of a 25-person delegation that visited Cuba. The idea, Brian said, was to build relationships in advance of the potential warming of relations between the United States and the Communist island.

“If they lift the embargo,” he said, “there’s a lot of real estate to be developed down there.”