Wichita Realtors choose St. Louis woman as CEO

Tessa Hultz, an official with the St. Louis Association of Realtors, has been named the new CEO of the Wichita Area Association of Realtors and the South Central Kansas Multiple Listing Service.

Hultz, 35, will join WAAR effective Feb. 1. Her hiring wraps up a 4-month search for the replacement to outgoing director Laura Raudonis, who left in August to become CEO of the Fort Wayne, Ind., Association of Realtors.

"It's the city and the people," Hultz said Wednesday. "That (WAAR) is a dynamic group in a beautiful and growing city."

Hultz served as vice president for education and staff liaison for the forms and contracts committee for the St. Louis group.

She has earned the Realtor Association Certified Executive and technology certifications from the National Association of Realtors and is working toward a Certified Association Executive designation from the American Society of Association Executives.

Tim Holt, the 2010 WAAR president, said the group's search committee voted unanimously to hire Hultz.

"What impressed us was her research. She's exceptionally thorough," Holt said. "On her first interview, she had researched Wichita, the board and all of us on the search committee. She even went so far to research the political issues WAAR is involved in. She's so thorough and so full of energy."

Lonn McCurdy, the 2009 WAAR president, said Hultz's track record as a consensus-builder is a good fit for the organization.

"She understands the needs and uniqueness of each size of the company," he said. "She will work hard to bring those companies together, because she has a history as a consensus-builder."

Hultz attended the University of Missouri and William Woods University in Fulton, Mo.

"I came to St. Louis from Columbia, Missouri, and I love the college town atmosphere," she said.

"There is a vibrance and an energy that is overwhelming. Wichita is exactly my sort of place. I am a Midwestern girl and I love big cities that feel like small towns."

Holt described Hultz as a "problem diffuser" with strong communications skills.

"In our final interview with her, we came up with several scenarios — potential problems — and she had immediate logical answers on how to handle them," he said.

"Another thing I really liked was how strongly she believes in being in the individual (real estate) offices around town. She'd been in every office in the St. Louis association at least once a year and often twice.

"Going out, getting in the offices and reaching out to the membership is very important to us."