What inspires you as a President at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Wilkins & Associates, and as a Stroud Township Supervisor?
It’s inspiring to do a job I love – working with people, finding solutions for them, and being involved in our community. I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned.
The positions have similarities. What I learn as supervisor can be brought back to the agents, and vice versa. I’ve always been involved in community activities, and the supervisor role filled that need in me to serve the community.
Talk about your journey as a woman at the top of your field – in both roles – and the challenges you faced along the way.
Being a woman and earning respect was probably my biggest challenge (especially at a young age), but once I gained respect in both fields, my partners in government and business took my ideas with sincerity.
I started in real estate at age 19. I lived in Florida at the time and went to take the exam to get my license. There were about 400 people lined up. I stood in line thinking, “Am I doing the right thing?” The rest of the people were over age 50. But I really loved it and knew I was doing the right thing. I was appointed, then elected, as the first female Supervisor at Stroud Township (the 2nd largest municipality in Monroe County) when I was 44.
I’ve earned respect in both jobs. In my journey, I’ve been very fortunate to have had a lot of support. I’ve always taken my jobs very seriously, and have the ability to put my customers first and to be open to understanding to the needs of our community. Taking the time to truly listen and not jump to judgment is very important.
I’ve always had an optimistic personality and been very passionate in my choices. If something is difficult I just keep trying and working on it until I get it.
Why did you get into real estate, particularly in this region?
I’ve lived here since I was five years old. I was partially raised by developer and resort owner Charles A Poalillo Sr., who was the original developer of Penn Estates. As one of the original residents of Penn Estates, I remember Charles developing the community. I knew many of the sales team, knew the Model Home Village, and the watched roads, lake and amenities being built.
I truly enjoy being outside, with people, and traveling our beautiful area. Real estate offers me those opportunities. For me, it’s been the love of sales, the challenges of property management, managing offices, being a part of my agents’ success, and becoming a Licensed Real Estate Instructor that provided a way for me to pass on my knowledge. Along with my husband, Thomas R. Wilkins, we run one of the largest real estate and property management companies in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Do you sit on any boards?
Yes, on the Stroud Township Board of Supervisors; Monroe 2030 Small Business & Entrepreneurship; Pocono Mountains Association of Realtors Governmental Affairs Committee and Strategic Planning; and the Monroe County Council of Governments.
Why did you get involved in municipal government?
After what I learned from Charles, who served on the Stroud Township Planning Commission, I developed an interest in serving our Township. I’ve always been community-oriented and felt that being part of the Zoning Hearing Board or Planning Commission would fit well with my background and knowledge of real estate.
I went on to serve both boards. It was at that time I was asked about my interest in running for township supervisor. It was an opportunity, a “door opening.” I took on the challenge and have enjoyed being a part of government ever since. More people need to be involved to be a part of a solution.
In what ways have you learned to become adaptable and flexible?
I believe everything happens for a reason. Things will happen in a way we might not foresee. Yet, if you remain focused on what you want to accomplish, it might not be an easy or straight road, but it’s a road that will make you stronger and get you closer to where you want to go.
Not everyone will see eye to eye. Sometimes we need to adapt or give a little to move ahead. Being adaptable and flexible has helped me with my family, my business and in government.
What is your advice to women seeking to rise in their profession?
Rely on the support around you and make it work. Try to balance everything the best you can. You have to work on yourself, work on your profession and work well with other people. Take your job seriously and build a plan. Don’t beat yourself up too much if things don’t go as planned. It’s in those times we learn to do things better. Follow through with what you say you’re going to do, and work with intent.
Keep focused on where you want to go, putting family and doing good first. Your accomplishments will follow. Follow your passion and enjoy life!
How would you define “success”?
Do what you love and love what you do. That is success. Money isn’t going to bring happiness if you’re not happy with yourself and what you’re doing first.
What are your strengths? Are they the same for both roles?
I’m very positive, personable and willing to help anyone; also, a hard worker, very passionate, persistent, focused and goal-oriented. I love taking on new challenges, putting myself “outside the box.”
I like to push myself out of my comfort zone.
How do you develop yourself and continue to improve?
I take on new ventures and learn with an open mind, and avail myself of extra training and motivational seminars. Technology changes literally on a daily basis, so it’s important to learn new ways, better ways, to stay on top of trends and what’s happening around us, and to be a good communicator and understand the issues we face in our business and community.
What are your “words to live by”?
Never give up; do the best you can. Always be positive. Be respectful. Everybody has different needs, and we have to listen to each other. If we all work together we can accomplish so much more. 6