Mosaic | Discussions on Diversity

Mosaic | Discussions on Diversity


Mosaic | Discussions on Diversity

Crowne Plaza Executive Park, Charlotte
October 8, 2019

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NC REALTORS® is committed to diversity in all facets of the association and with everything we do. Join us for a day-long discussion on how we can effect social change and foster diversity, equity and inclusion in the communities we serve.


James McDuffie headshotJames McDuffie serves as Senior Vice President and Manager of Diverse Lending for Raleigh-headquartered First Citizens Bank. He is responsible for helping the bank create opportunities that increase home ownership across all of the diverse communities First Citizens serves. He also helps cultivate community relationships that are meaningful in the growing diverse marketplace.

McDuffie has more than 16 years of experience in the mortgage industry, with positions ranging from process design in the secondary market, origination and sales management. Eleven of the 16 years have been spent in business development in the Diverse Lending/Community Reinvestment Act marketplace, and he has held key positions supporting affordable housing and meeting the needs of the ever-changing diverse lending environment.

McDuffie earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from North Carolina A&T State University. Prior to joining the banking industry, he spent 11 years in the technical field.

Sandra O'Connor headshotSandra O’Connor was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA.   Sandra earned a Bachelor’s Degree and taught Art in the public schools.  She later moved to Seattle and earned a Master’s Degree in Library Science at the University of Washington.

Sandra first worked as a Law Librarian in Seattle and later in NC.  Since her position in NC was grant funded she secured a real estate license for a “rainy day”.  It rained!  Sandra opened Sandra O’Connor & Associates in 1985, a small boutique firm specializing in historic homes.  In 2005 Sandra joined Allen Tate Company and worked as a Manager and Broker in Charge of a large office in Greensboro.

Sandra has participated in our industry by serving as both Greensboro and State Association President and being named North Carolina’s REALTOR of the Year in 2014.  Sandra served as a Regional Vice President for the National Association of REATORS (NAR) in 2015 and was inducted into NAR’s REALTOR Political Action Committee’s (RPAC) Hall of Fame in 2011.  She serves and has served on a variety of local, state and national committees and was appointed to the NC Real Estate Commission by Governor Roy Cooper in 2017.

Aside from her professional work and volunteer experiences, Sandra is active in her local community.  Sandra was a member and past chair of the city’s Planning Board, supports the Women’s Resource Center of Greensboro, and has served Greensboro’s LGBTQ+ Community since 1998.  She was one of the founders of the Guilford Green Foundation (GGF) and its Endowment and has served multiple terms on the BOD.  Sandra is a member of National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP).

Sandra lives in Greensboro with her partner of 38 years and their rescue cat, Graycie.  Besides travel and reading, Sandra loves to bake and entertain friends.

Tesh Parekh headshotTesh Parekh is a live painter and fine artist living in North Carolina. Self-taught, Tesh learned to draw and paint while growing up in India. Tesh has called North Carolina his home since 1996 and has been capturing this beautiful State en plein air as well as in his studio.

Tesh has explored his favorite subjects- Landscapes, Cityscapes, and Figures in Watercolors, and Oils, and paints in both alla prima as well as traditional manners.

Tesh’s work has received many awards and accolades ranging from being the featured artist for Cary’s Lazy Daze festival, and his award-winning painting in 2016 for Kinston’s annual BBQ festival poster, and being selected as the poster artist for 2017 North Carolina Seafood festival.

In addition to the live painting commissions that Tesh has done since 2009, Tesh also accepts commissions for homes, people, pets, landscapes and just about any subject and style.

Steve Rao headshotSteve S.  Rao, a native of Charleston, West Virginia, serves as a Council Member At Large and Former Mayor Pro Tem for the Town of Morrisville, recently ranked USA Today as one of the top Towns to live in the United States. He is a Senior Business Development Executive at Alphanumeric Systems, a global tech company headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Elected in 2011, Council Member Rao became first Indian American elected official in Wake County and North Carolina and the first one reelected in 2013. Council Member Rao is the longest serving Indian American in North Carolina.

During his past eight years in office, he has led efforts to start a growing Entrepreneurship Program in Morrisville, started an English as a Second Language program, has worked aggressively with the NC Dept of Transportation to successfully bring over 200 million of transportation investment to Morrisville in the next ten years. Recently, Mayor Pro Tem Rao was recently appointed as a Member to the New American Economy, a bi partisan coalition of Mayors and Business Leaders, chaired by Former New York City Mayor, Mike Bloomberg, focused on comprehensive immigration reform in the United States. He also serves as a Co-Chair of the Mayors Crusade Against Bullying and is leading efforts to establish Smart City strategies for North Carolina cities and Towns.

Council Member  Rao serves as aa political commentator on  Choice FM,  serving a listening audience of 1.2 million citizens in nine cities in North Carolina, and also hosts a show,  Leaders and Legends, on Radio Mirchi, the Triangle Regions’ Largest South Asian Radio Station.

He received a BA from Emory University in Political Science where he played collegiate tennis and a JD from the West Virginia University College of Law and resides in Morrisville with his wife. Dr. Komal Parekh and children Sonia and Rayan.

Schedule of Events

Monday, October 7, 2019

7:00pm – 8:00pm:  Mosaic Welcome Reception
Sponsored by: Wyndham Capital Mortgage | Women of Wyndham
Charlotte Regional Association of REALTORS® Office

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

9:00am – 12:00pm:  Registration Desk
Grand Ballroom Foyer

9:00am – 10:00am:  Coffee with Exhibitors
Salon CDE

10:00am – 10:15am:  Welcoming Remarks
Emcee: Anthony Lindsey, Coldwell Banker Charlotte
Asa Fleming, 2019 NC REALTORS® President
Brenda Hayden, 2019 Charlotte Association of REALTORS® President
Salon AB

10:15am – 11:30am:  Opening Keynote
Michael Fosberg, Incognito, Inc. – Incognito: Who are you? What do you see in “others”?

  • Michael’s uniquely refreshing approach utilizes methods of interpersonal contact theory, storytelling and enjoyably engaging interactive methods in challenging people’s preconceived perceptions about difficult issues. Whether it is issues of cultural competency, uncovering biases, defining the harmful effects of micro-inequities, or simply giving people the space to discover all the ways in which we have similarities, Incognito succeeds where others don’t.

Salon AB

11:30am – 1:00pm:  Lunch with speaker Steve Rao, At Large Member, Morrisville Town Council – We are Champions of the World: Why Diversity is so Important for our State’s Future

  • Steve will discuss how global diversity is currently impacting our economy here in North Carolina, and why it’s so important for us celebrate and leverage the international connections we have to move our local economy forward.

Invocation 11:30am – 11:35am | Lunch 11:35am – 12:00pm | Speaker begins at 12:00pm

1:15pm – 2:30pm:  Diversity Panel (Panelists will discuss what diversity means to them, and how it’s impacted their individual businesses within our industry.)

  • James McDuffie, Moderator, SVP & Manager of Diverse Lending, First Citizens Bank, Raleigh
  • Wendell Bullard, Panelist, Bullard Properties, LLC, Durham
  • Angela Fumo, Panelist, SVP of Human Capital, Wyndham Capital Mortgage, Charlotte
  • Sandra O’Connor, Panelist, Allen Tate Green Valley, Greensboro
  • Mumtaz (TAZ) Ameen, RE/MAX Champions, Greensboro

Salon AB

2:30pm – 2:45pm:  Break with Vendors
Salon CDE

2:45pm – 3:45pm:  Closing Speaker
by Fred Underwood, Director, Diversity and Community Outreach Programs, National Association of REALTORS®
Willy E. Stewart, CEO & Chairman, Stewart

  • Willy will share his unique approach to successfully implement diversity and inclusion programs into you company. He will focus on team building where subtle differences in behavior, beliefs, gender and backgrounds all come together to create amazing outcomes within the company.

Salon AB

Presentation of Original Artwork by Tesh Parekh, Cary – An Artistic View of what Diversity Means within NC REALTORS®

  • Tesh will be painting his interpretation of what diversity means within NC REALTORS® throughout the event. His finished piece will be presented at the end of the event.

3:45pm – 4:15pm:  Wine down with Diversity Committee & Exhibitors
Salon CDE


Like a tile in a mosaic, this event is only one small part of a bigger picture. This year we’re highlighting the diversity of our members, showcasing our commitment to the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, encouraging discussions on diversity and inclusion in our communities and working together to be ambassadors of social change.

Join the movement and help us by #buildingthemosaic.


Want to get involved on the Diversity Committee?

Join other NC REALTORS® to develop programs and recommend policies to help manage risk in the area of housing discrimination and to help provide equal professional services to all. Learn more and apply for a position on the 2020 committee here.



Be Epic. Be an NC REALTOR®.