Getting Into Full Swing in New Orleans

new orleans

Hope you’ve got your Mardi Gras masks and some beads because the party is starting in New Orleans for this year’s REALTORS® Conference & Expo!

We’re expecting about 17,000 attendees to flood the Morial Convention Center in the Big Easy this week; 400 exhibitors on the expo floor; and 100 education sessions to help you further your business. Everything officially kicks off Friday, but REALTOR® Magazine is popping in early to get coverage of the convention started so you know what’s going on as you arrive.

We already have a ton of talking points you might want to catch up on before you land in New Orleans. There are a wealth of heavy-hitting speakers that will be on hand, plus the REALTORS® Relief Foundation will be holding a silent auction on site, and, of course, our esteemed 2014 Good Neighbor Award winners — this is the 15th year for the awards program — will be honored. Take a look at all our pre-conference coverage.

Meet the Very Special Guests

mark kellyMark Kelly
On the Other Side of Adversity
Kelly always assumed his career was riskier than his wife’s. Today, he and Gabrielle Giffords, the former Arizona congresswoman who was critically injured in a shooting spree three and a half years ago, are triumphing in the face of the unthinkable.

jackieJackie Joyner-Kersee
Going Home to Inspire
Though she retired from athletic competition in 2000, Joyner-Kersee, a six-time Olympic medalist, is still all about winning. The former track-and-field superstar is focused on helping young people in her long-struggling hometown of East St. Louis, Ill., be the best they can be, regardless of the obstacles. She recalls her own hurdles vividly.

candyCandy Chang
Stirring the Dreams of a Community
Chang’s public art projects solicit community interaction and commentary on civic issues. Her 2010 “I Wish This Was” project gave New Orleans residents the chance to use fill-in-the-blank stickers and place them on vacant storefronts. Messages read: I wish this was a home, a community garden, a safe place for my kids to play, a bike shop, a grocery. Chang has advice for real estate pros who want to influence how public spaces develop.

john beshJohn Besh
One Meal at a Time
After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, restaurant maverick and chef Besh had his doubts about the city’s revival. Slowly but surely, the damage and suffering receded, and a commercial and cultural revitalization is now in full swing. Today the city has 500 more restaurants than before the storm, and six are owned by Besh. He is proud of the role he’s played in the turnaround, which extends far beyond his entrepreneurial successes.

Sara Critchfield
Know Your Online Audience
In a world that puts increasing value on provocative posts that could be characterized as “click bait,” Critchfield is busting myths about what makes successful online content. Critchfield, the editorial director of Upworthy, a media company with the mission of curating and sharing content that addresses social and civic issues, says it has a lot less to do with punchy headlines and short videos and more to do with providing relevant information that’s interesting to viewers.

What to Pack for NOLA

If you’re in the same boat as we are, it’s probably going to be a long flight from home to New Orleans. We have great suggestions for reading material to pack for the trip — things that will also get you more informed about the people you’ll be seeing at the conference. So here’s a list of a few of books written by authors who will be presenting, along with a link to where they’ll be appearing in NOLA. (That way you can go pester them to autograph your copy.)

Do Good for the World While in New Orleans

When tornadoes, earthquakes, and wildfires shatter communities, onlookers wrestle with the terrifying images and stories. But those disasters can also appeal to the best impulses in humankind, triggering America’s caring sprit and igniting action. The REALTORS® Relief Foundation stands ready to provide help in a crisis, but it depends on the generosity of REALTORS® to continue that mission. During the REALTORS® Conference & Expo, RRF is holding its second annual silent auction to raise funds and increase awareness about its efforts.

Celebrate Good Neighbors

Get inspired by the amazing work this year’s Good Neighbor Award winners do for their communities. (And don’t forget to congratulate them in person when you see them at the General Session.)

triciaTricia Carlisle-Northcutt
Restoring Smiles
Carlisle-Northcutt makes sure that financial barriers do not keep children from receiving the health care they need.

janeJane Locke
Renaissance Woman of the Lowcountry
Locke saw few local charities in her South Carolina community. So began her legacy of multitalented service, now stretching into its third decade.

pompeianEdward Pompeian
A Place to Call Home
A two-time kidney transplant recipient, Pompeian has dedicated his life to creating a home away from home for Mayo Clinic transplant patients.

rosemaryRosemary Tran Lauer
Bridging the Child Care Gap
When she immigrated to the United States in the 1970s, Tran Lauer struggled to pay for child care. Today, she’s helping others break the cycle of poverty.

paulPaul Wilson
Hearts Running on Full
Wilson created an ultramarathon to benefit sick children after his own son was near death, and now his effort is saving lives.

Graham Wood

Graham Wood is a senior editor for REALTOR® Magazine. He can be reached at

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