President of Chicago-based National Association of Realtors quits after reports of sexual harassment

Chicago
By Chicago 5 Min Read

National Association of Realtors President Kenny Parcell resigned Monday amid complaints of sexual harassment from current or former employees and members of the Chicago-based organization.

His resignation comes after The New York Times published accounts Saturday of alleged actions by Parcell, including forced physical contact and sending lewd photos and texts. The newspaper said it interviewed 29 people, some of them quoted by name. And some of those interviewed cited a sexist culture at the association, whose leadership is predominantly male even though Realtors are mostly female.

Jennifer Braun, senior events producer at NAR, said that at a 2018 event, Parcell put his hands down his pants after asking her to help him adjust his shirt, the Times reported. Braun said in 2017, he used a hand motion to simulate masturbation in her presence.

Braun was not available to speak to the Sun-Times.

Parcell, a Utah-based Realtor, had worked his way up the ranks of board positions to become president this year. Tracy Kasper was due to succeed him in 2024 and instead she will assume the role immediately.

Kenny Parcell

Kenny Parcell

National Association of Realtors

Kasper, a Realtor from Idaho, said in an NAR news release, “We have taken everything we have heard to heart. Our commitment to our staff and our members is unwavering, and we will continue to enhance the way we foster a welcoming, safe and respectful workplace.”

Parcell resigned in a letter to association leadership. He denied all the allegations and said he was a victim of character assassination. “I am deeply troubled by those looking to tarnish my character and mischaracterize my well-intended actions,” he wrote. Parcell said his “resignation signifies that I will put the organization’s needs first to move forward above my own personal needs to stay in this position.”

The NAR did not address specific questions about Parcell, but in a statement to the Sun-Times said it “does not tolerate discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. Any incident is one too many.”

“We acknowledge the people who have shared their stories and we are committed to continuing our efforts to foster a welcoming and positive environment,” the statement said. “We follow clear reporting procedures to investigate any issue of concern brought to our attention. We urge people to report unlawful or inappropriate behavior.”

The Times cited others describing how Parcell wanted hugs or “flattery” from females, then retaliated against workers or tried to ostracize Realtors who would not comply. It quoted Stephanie Quinn, former director of business meetings and events at NAR, as saying there was a “culture of fear” at the workplace.

In April 2022, Parcell sent a photo of his crotch to two employees, according to the Times. But Parcell and the association stated the photo was meant to solicit opinions about an NAR promotional belt buckle. It also reported Parcell frequently wanted to meet with younger staff during late hours and once suggested to two workers that they spend the night at his Utah home while they were in town. Parcell denied those allegations.

Former NAR employee Janelle Brevard filed a lawsuit against NAR in June, claiming racial and sexual discrimination and harassment by Parcell. She withdrew the suit last month. Brevard reportedly had a relationship with Parcell, and was fired in 2022 for failing to report the relationship, according to the Times.

The NAR has 1.5 million members who also are involved with any of about 1,200 local associations. It has an office in Washington D.C. and its headquarters at 430 N. Michigan Ave. is also home to the Chicago Association of Realtors, one of its affiliates.

Leaders of the Chicago Association of Realtors did not return calls Monday about interactions with Parcell.

The presidency is a paid job and the top board position at NAR. The nonprofit’s public tax filing for 2021, the latest available, said its president that year was paid almost $300,000 while Parcell, then the first vice president, earned $164,569. NAR CEO Bob Goldberg made $2.5 million in 2021, according to the tax filing.

The Times said that when it contacted Goldberg, he denied sexual harassment is a “problem” at the NAR, then followed up saying that any allegation concerns him.

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