After two decades, LRRA’s Libby Sheard steps down

March 4-10, 2024

By Jay Edwards

Twenty years after becoming the executive director of the Little Rock Realtors Association, Libby Sheard decided it was time to step down and let someone else assume that leadership.


“I will miss it,” Sheard said from her board room in the association’s headquarters she has occupied since January of 2004. 


“I realized it was time for some new energy at the association. As much as I love this job ...and I’ve got to tell you I love this job, it is time for some fresh blood. The changes that are coming are huge.  I’m talking about over the next decade. Changes are coming and I just felt now is time for someone younger, smarter and enthusiastic that loves this industry.”


Sheard says she feels like the person chosen to follow in her footsteps, Stacy Hamilton, has exactly those qualities, and she admits Hamilton was the first one she thought of to take over for her.


“Stacy will do a great job,” she says.


Sheard started her business experience when she was 12 years old working in the front office for her father at Brandon House Furniture during the summer. At first she just answered the phone and routed calls, but by the time she was 14, she was counting the cash drawer. 


“I learned a lot at a young age,” Libby said. “I learned how a business operates. Our furniture store was among the first to computerize inventory.” 


After graduating from Mount St. Mary’s, she left for Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, but it was a blind date that took place on a visit to Fayetteville when she was a senior at the Mount that would eventually get her to transfer to the University of Arkansas. 


“I remember walking down the stairs at the Pi Phi house and this guy was bent over looking at the composite,” she recalls. That “guy” was her blind date, Greg Sheard. 


“Suddenly I hated the sweater I had on,” she said. “He hadn’t seen me yet, so I turned and started running up the stairs. As I turned, I heard ‘Libby?’ When I turned back to look, I remembered seeing his face. I fell in love with him at that moment.”


“I can remember what he was wearing. I remember his face. His haircut. It was truly love at first sight. I couldn’t run back upstairs. I thought I better just go. We went out and it just took after that.”


After college the couple married and lived in Texas and Hot Springs before finally settling in Little Rock. They had two sons along the way, Brandon and Ben. When the boys were twelve and nine, Sheard decided she was ready to go back to work. 


“I had worked since I was 12 years old,” she says. “Dad would keep me busy.” 


“I had planned to look for a job and one day I ran into Dickson Flake at an after work happy hour. I said, ‘Dickson I am thinking about going back to work.’ What I meant was, do you have any advice for me? But he said, ‘Be downtown tomorrow at 8:30 with your resume.’ I thought, I don’t have a resume. I’m a mom. Our typewriter was buried in the attic somewhere, but I found it and started typing. I woke Greg up at two in the morning to read it to him. He liked it so I finally went to bed and was downtown the next morning by 8:30.” 


“Dickson took me in the boardroom. He said, ‘I want you to meet Dale Cook, she runs our property management department.’ All I could think was that I just wanted him to give me a little advice. I know nothing about real estate but he hired me in property management with Dale as my supervisor. I adored her. I adored Dickson too. Dale’s husband was John Cook. He worked for the FBI.” 


“I did property management for them, and I loved it. As a stay-at-home mom you agonized when the roof has to be replaced or when the plumbing is busted. In that job if the roof needed to be replaced, we had a budget ready to go and I just fixed it. I really got into it because I could fix everything. 


“They also let me work three quarter time so I could still run my carpool. My kids were 12 and 9. That is an age where I needed to know what they were doing.” 


Then one day she received a call from her friend Stuart Mackey, who told her about a job opening up at the Little Rock Downtown Rotary Club (Club 99). She got the job working under Karen Fetzer in administration management. 


Three years later, in December of 2003, another call came from her old friend Stuart Mackey, about another job opening, this time with the Little Rock Realtor’s Association. The longtime AE, Katy Vinsonhaler was retiring. 


“I interviewed here, because you never pass up an interview,” Sheard says. “When I showed up there was a whole row of people waiting to talk to me. It was Katy, Dana Powell, Stuart, Mike McKinder, Martha McCaskill and a few others. After that first round they called me back for a second interview. They offered me the position, because of my experience in real estate with Dickson and association management with Rotary. It was full time but my kids were older then so I told them I’d take the job, but I first I had to go home and tell my husband I had even applied for it. 


So, I went home and said to Greg, ‘Guess what I have done. I have taken a full-time job.’ He said, ‘cool.’”


“Libby added a level of professionalism that exceeded our expectations when we hired her,” says Mackey. “This is part of what has made my work in the REALTORS® association so valuable and fun. It was more fun than professional when she got hustled out of the Nation’s Capital in the middle of a tour.  It’s incredible the work that she’s done to elevate the profile of Little Rock REALTORS® Association throughout the National Association of REALTORS®.”


“Libby was absolutely the perfect person to take the job of Executive Director at LRRA at the time,” says Realtor Kathe Sumbles. “Real Estate was moving into a more technology driven field and needed her ‘get it done right’ ability to transition the Association forward.”


Now, twenty years later, Sheard is stepping down from what she feels has been a satisfying career with many accomplishments, and in a job she’s loved. 


“Throughout my years as AE my goal for the Association was to bring as much information as I possibly could to our membership,” she says. “That included information about the community, the businesses, industry, health and medical facilities, Resources, governmental facilities, and social groups. Of the way we do this is through our government affairs directors. Lucas Hargraves and Amanda Story of Hargraves Consulting we are the only local board in the state to employ our own government affairs directors. Before Lucas and Amanda, we had Myra Jones. They communicate and lobby  for us with our local elected officials on the city and county governments.” 


“Over the past 20 years for each general meeting we had we worked very hard to bring someone in that could inspire, educate, train, and make our local REALTOR community one of the best in our region and we’re very proud of that. Our Realtors are advocates for their community and they stay involved politically. That makes me very proud.”


“My board allowed me to travel several times a year for educational opportunities and training on the state and national level. I was very lucky to have those opportunities, as they expanded my horizons and allowed me to bring them back to my members. We brought presidents of the national association to speak to our members, the NAR’s chief economist and major players on the national level. I was very proud that my executive committees and I were able to make these connections and bring them to our membership.” 


“I’m pleased and thankful that I’m stepping down when we are financially stable. And we have definitely moved along with the times. When we started there were five meetings a year. That was with around 900 members. There were three general meetings, Tabletop and our Awards of Excellence, which was the Million Dollar Club then. Those were the five events a year. We now have about 30 events a year, with 1680 Realtor members. If you count secondary nonmembers and affiliates, that number is around 1800.”


“They are the reason I love this job, those people I get to work with. They remind me of the furniture dealers from my childhood, who worked hard and were fierce competitors, but played together all the time. And that is exactly like this. My members in different offices are fierce competitors but they will step out of their box to help one another on a moment’s notice. When there is a funeral look how many people in real estate come. All their competitors are there.” 


“I am really going to miss it. But I know things are going to be good. I have so enjoyed my members and our affiliates. I won’t disappear. Stacy knows I am a minute away. I told them I will be here for anything they need. I want it to be a perfect transition for her and for her to have everything she needs. She already has the knowledge. The deal about Stacy is she loved the entity. When she was president and on the board, she always loved the entity. So I know it’s in good hands.”


Just like it’s been the last 20 years Libby. 


Photo Captions:


2. Libby and her son Brandon Sheard


3. Libby and Stacy Hamilton



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