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Meet The Directors

Posted by GCAR on January 11, 2019
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Jason Christiana, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Blake

Jay serves as President of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Blake, REALTORS® with 9 branch offices in Upstate New York. He was recognized in 2012 as one of the Albany Business Review’s 40 under 40 and received the small business leadership award from Workplace Dynamics and the Albany Times Union in 2015 and 2018. Jay is proud of his company’s achievements over the past several years, which include recognition as a Top Workplace for 2016, 2017, and 2018 and Best Places to Work in 2018.


Tom McGroder, Thomas J. Real Estate, Inc.

Thomas J. McGroder, ABR, GRI, SRS, PSA, Broker/Owner of Thomas J. Real Estate, Inc. began a career in real estate after retiring from law enforcement. Tom is an active member of the Greater Capital Association of REALTORS® and the Fulton County Chamber of Commerce. Tom formerly served as the President of the Fulton County Board of REALTORS®, and in 2011 received their REALTOR® of the Year award. Tom formerly served as the NYSAR Regional Vice President for the Capital District.


Jeffrey Decatur, RE/MAX Capital

Jeffrey Decatur is a Broker Associate with RE/MAX Capital in Albany, with 25 years of real estate experience. In 2017, Jeffrey was honored by  GCAR as the Realtor of the Year.  He is known for his sense of humor and interactive teaching style at GCAR’s School: The Real Estate Professionals’ Institute. Jeffrey is a graduate of the NYS Association of Realtors Leadership Academy, is a Graduate of the Realtor Institute (GRI) designee and a graduate of the Instructor Training Institute (ITI).

He has been involved with GCAR since the early 1990s where his committee work started with the Make A Wish Monopoly Tournaments and the Habitat for Humanity Bachelor Auctions.  Jeffrey headed up what is now the GCAR Community Outreach fund. His passion is advocating for real estate laws through GCAR’s REALTOR® Political Action Committee (RPAC) where he has served for many years organizing events and surpassing goals.

Jeffrey has served on the New York State Association of REALTORS® Board of Directors and Delegate body as well as RPAC Trustees, Executive, Nominating, Professional Standards, Global, Resort & Second Home Market, and Multiple Listing Service Issues as well as Policy Committees. He was trained in Chicago by the National Association of Realtors to be a Mediator for NYSAR.  He currently chairs the Legal Action Committee.

On a National level, Jeffrey has served as the state representative for the RPAC Participation Council for 2017– 2018.  In his spare time, he can be found traveling, writing real estate classes, or working on one of his other charities.

He resides in Latham with his husband of 14 years Ross and their two rescue Italian Greyhound Dogs Romeo and Hermes.


Susan Sommers, Better Homes and Gardens Tech Valley
Past President

Susan is a Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker with Better Homes and Gardens Tech Valley Real Estate with 30 years of experience and is a consistent multi-million dollar producer. Susan currently sits on the Board of the Albany Boys and Girls Club and has also held numerous posts in the field of real estate including former President of the Albany Chapter of the Women’s Council of Realtors, Board of Directors Member for the Capital Region Multiple Listing Service, and Grievance Committee Chairperson for the Greater Capital Association of Realtors. She has served on numerous committees for NYSAR including Vice Chair of Professional Standards, Fair Housing and Cultural Diversity Committee, and Housing Opportunity Foundations and the NYSAR Board of Directors. Susan holds the following designations, Accredited Buyers Representative (ABR), Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), Graduate Realtors Institute (GRI), and Certified Home Marketing Specialist (CHMS).  Most notably, Susan was honored by GCAR as the 2014 Realtor of the Year.



Kendal Baker, Octagon Realty

Kendal Baker is the broker/owner of Octagon Realty with 14 years of experience in real estate. An active member of GCAR, Kendal has served on the Professional Standards Committee, the Strategic Planning Committee, and is currently a GCAR and an NYSAR Director. Kendal is a past president of the Washington County Board of Realtors and was active on that Board for nine years. Kendal holds an MBA from Columbia University and was financial advisor with CommVerge Solutions, a telecom integration company based in Hong Kong. Prior to that, he was a Senior Credit Officer with the Bayerische Vereinsbank, based in Munich.

Janet Besheer, Equitas Realty

Janet Besheer is the broker/owner of Equitas Realty, the largest independent woman-owned real estate firm in the Capital region with offices in Saratoga Springs and Glens Falls. In 20018 Janet served as President of the Greater Capital Region Women’s Council of Realtors and was awarded WCR Entrepreneur of the Year in 2012. In addition to the GCAR board and committee chair of the 2016 Realtor Day Trade Show, she is a multi-year Director on the Southern Adirondack Realtors MLS. Janet is an Accredited Member of the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing and Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist.


John Bevilacqua, Exit Realty

John Bevilacqua is the Broker/Owner of EXIT Realty Capital’s Choice. He has been a licensed real estate broker for more than a decade.

John began his real estate career in New York City at the beginning of the millennium, specializing in investment multi-family housing. John quickly won the elite “National

Pace Setter” award at Marcus & Millichap. In addition, he secured a position of the exclusive “Rookie Club” through being consistently ranked in the top 10% of his office in Manhattan. Since opening EXIT Realty Capital’s Choice just a few years ago, he’s seen similar success. He serves on the Young Professionals Network committee.


Kirsten Nachbar Blanchard, Coldwell Banker Prime Properties

Kirsten Nachbar Blanchard has been a REALTOR® since 1988 and became an associate broker in 1997. She holds the following designations, Graduate Realtors Institute (GRI), Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager (CRB), Certified Buyer Representative (CBR), and Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES). Kirsten has been involved in various GCAR committees including, community relations (chair), RPAC (co-chair), trade show, grievance, and education.


Christopher J. Culihan, Coldwell Banker Prime Properties

A lifelong resident of the Capital District, Christopher has been a Licensed Real Estate Sales Associate for 11 years and has spent his entire career at Coldwell Banker Prime Properties. He is an avid fundraiser and promoter; involved with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Upstate New York-Vermont Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as well as with Catholic Charities. He also participates with The Toys for Tots annual holiday drive.


James McClenaghan, Howard Hanna

James is a lifelong resident of the Capital Region and has been working full-time in the real estate industry since 1985. He is a Sales Manager with Howard Hanna Real Estate Services in the Greenbush and Troy/Brunswick Offices. James was a member of the Rensselaer County Board of Realtors Top Producer Club 1985-1996.


Rory O’Connor, Saratoga Real Property

Rory O’Connor began his real estate career in 1985, after a successful corporate career in consumer marketing, as well as running his own consulting. Beginning with a small firm, he soon moved to RE/MAX in Saratoga, where he was a top agent, and earned his GRI designation.

In 1996, he founded Saratoga Real Property, Inc. Specializing in personal, one on one service to his clients, the firm grew and was selected as the marketing and construction management firm that built “The Village at Saratoga”, one of the most successful sub-divisions of its time.

Rory has served actively for years on various GCAR Committees, including the Grievance, Professional Standards, as well as Education. He also served on the CRMLS Board for several years. After completing his ITI Designation Course, he now enjoys teaching for GCAR’s school. He currently serves as a GCAR Director and was recently named a NYSAR Director by GCAR.


Michelle Poccia, Keller Williams Capital District

In 1989 after being a successful “For Sale By Owner”, the real estate bug bit Michelle. She got her license in 1990 to help others. In 1993, after having the basics down, Michelle became a licensed associate real estate broker.

GCAR committee work has included…technology, education, Realtor Day, and an assortment of project-oriented ones…strategic planning, nominating, review of rules and regulations, as well as professional standards. She has also served as an NYSAR Director. Michelle is well versed in our Code of Ethics and NYS real estate law. One day she hopes to be an instructor.


Cindy Quade, Signature ONE Realty

Cindy brings over 30 years of experience to the real estate profession. Broker/Owner of Signature ONE Realty Group, a small boutique style brokerage specializing in new home sales as well as resale. Cindy has served as Director of the New York State Association of REALTORS® and serves on the Committee for Professional Standards with the Greater Capital Association of REALTORS®. She is also past president of the Women’s Council of REALTORS® and is Commodore of Harris Bay Yacht Club in Lake George serving as the first (and only) female Commodore in the region.


Kathleen Sullivan, Keller Williams Capital District

Kathleen is an associate broker with over 35 years of experience in buying and selling real estate. She has been a member of the GCAR Board of Directors for 4 years and has been elected to the NYSAR board of directors. Kathleen has extensive sales and marketing experience. She is a certified Buyer Representative specializing in residential, new construction, and condo sales. Kathleen is a life long resident of Delmar.


Melissa Woodcock, Staged Nest Real Estate

Melissa is the Broker/Owner of Staged Nest Real Estate, a full-service boutique real estate firm servicing the entire Capital District and beyond. She began her real estate career in 2005 as an agent and worked for two national brokers for over 10 years. In January 2016, Melissa opened Staged Nest Real Estate.

Melissa received the Home Staging Expert (HSE) designation in 2013 as well as the Accredited Staging Professional (ASP Professional Home Stager) designation in 2008. She also holds the CBR (Certified Buyer Representative), Certified New Home Sales Professional, and (ABR) Accredited Buyer Representative designations. She is an active member of the Greater Capital Association of Realtors and has volunteered for several years on various committees including the Professional Standards Committee, Realtor Day Committee and the Broker/Owner Committee.


Linda Yetto, R.L. Yetto Real Estate

Linda Yetto has had a variety of challenges and responsibilities all where she was able to use her skills, abilities, and learn in rewarding positions to create RL Yetto Real Estate.

Prior to becoming a real estate agent she worked in strategic business and agent development, sales, and marketing for several companies in management positions. Her 43 combined years of experience in real estate management, sales, property management, mortgage consulting, and marketing has given her the opportunity to work with agents, clients, tenants, investors, vendors, receiverships for the courts, city officials, and government programs. Some of her major clients have been working with veterans through the VA Hospital and Siena College’s Vista Programs. She has been recognized as the Volunteer of the Year twice by the City of Albany.

For several years she has served on the GCAR Education and Membership Services Committee as well as chaired the Broker, Owner and Managers Committee. She has served on the GCAR Board of Directors for the past 2 years.