Multifamily’s Anne Sadovsky: The Queen of Fair Housing
Anne Sadovsky still has game. The widely recognized multifamily housing speaker and trainer – the queen of Fair Housing – keeps a torrid pace. Stopping for deep breaths just isn’t in the routine.
Her energy and passion for her work keep her calendar booked weeks ahead and a seat waiting on the next plane leaving Dallas. As a youngster, she imagined a more serene lifestyle in her golden years. Maybe a regular chair for a danish and speaking in hushed tones at the ladies social hour.
“My girlfriend, who is 72, she recently said to me, ‘Didn’t you think that when we were this age we’d be playing bridge with our girlfriends, going to lunch and volunteering a little?’ And she’s a Realtor so just like I am, going 90 miles an hour,” Sadovsky said. “The world has really changed from that perspective. I look at when my grandmother was this age, she was old. Even my mom, when she got up in her 70s. It’s a different world. They say that 70 is the new 50, and I’m just tickled pink about that.”
The secret to Sadovsky’s longevity involves an enthusiasm for sharing her knowledge and experiences. Most of all, it’s the drive to make a difference.
From rags to riches through real estate
We interviewed Anne Sadovsky at her North Dallas home one afternoon shortly after her housekeeper had left for the day. In the weeks prior, Anne promised to make hot tea to complement our chat in the living room (an elegantly furnished space that would rival a spread in House Beautiful). In the next hour I would learn about a woman who has been fully vested in real estate and multifamily for almost 50 years.
Sadovsky’s story is one of rags to riches, of overcoming an alcoholic father who forced her to escape her McKinney, Texas, home at age 15, of the car wreck that severely injured her husband, of the hearing disorder that left her partially deaf. She has little formal education, instead earning her GED several years after dropping out of the ninth grade to get married and leave home.
She ran with the Dallas movers and shakers at the same time that women in power began to emerge with Annette Strauss’ election as the city’s first female mayor. Good income rolled in from Sadovsky’s consultant training company, enough that in 1987 she could live in a $400,000 home (about $800,000 in today’s money) and drive a European luxury car.
Her credentials fill a long list, and Money Magazine, Ladies Home Journal, Women’s Wear Daily and Texas Business have highlighted them over the years. Mirabella, a women’s magazine published from 1989-2000 under the former editor of Vogue, listed Sadovsky as one of the One Thousand Women of the ’90s, along with Mother Teresa and Oprah Winfrey.
Multifamily’s most experienced sales trainer
Sadovsky is the longest tenured trainer in the multifamily housing industry, coming from a small group of entrepreneurs who laid the groundwork for fair housing and industry practices not too long after the civil rights movement. She recalls in 1968 as a recruiter for developer I.C. Deal in Dallas seeing the need for training at a time when hot pants and swinging singles were popular and familial status was 20 years from being protected.
One afternoon her workday was interrupted by a visit from the Feds, who inquired about the company’s hiring practices. Several white applicants were seated in the waiting room.
“They started asking me if I interviewed any black people,” she said. “ ‘No, now that you mention it, I haven’t seen any apply.”
The agents asked her, if presented with qualified African-Americans would the company interview them. Of course, she said, but she told them that she didn’t make the final decision.
“One of them looked at me and said very plainly, ‘If you don’t find,’ and I think he said black people, ‘to interview and consider for jobs, we will be sending you some.’ ”
About that time, she suggested to her boss that the company institute a training program to keep up with the times. Ten years later, after serving as vice president of marketing and education for Lincoln Property Company in Dallas, Sadovsky launched her career as a speaker and trainer. Sadovsky doesn’t mind acknowledging that she has trained a generation of industry professionals and that those who possess fair housing knowledge probably were trained by her students or those of industry icon Gene Chamberlain.
“There were two or three of us about the same time who started speaking and training on the road,” she said, pausing to note that she had yet made that tea. “(Gene Chamberlain) and I went from apartment association to apartment association putting on training classes and did some private company work. I look back, and it’s not ego and I don’t look for any accolades, but I hear people training and speaking today and I know that if they didn’t get it from me they learned it from somebody else who learned it from me.”
The career may or may not have taken a toll on her personal life. Randy Sitzman is her fourth husband, and she said she still follows the advice of her third-grade teacher: Keep practicing until you get it right. “So I kept on practicing, and I’ve finally gotten it right!”
A multifamily mission to motivate others
Her mind is sharp, the hearing has been restored, and she normally puts in 12-hour days, some longer. After dinner with her husband, she usually works at the computer until 9 or 10 o’clock.
She maintains a common-sense approach, one she described in Mission Impossible, a motivational book published in 2006 by Insight Publishing Co. “Common sense has played a critical part in my life because my formal education is very limited,” she says in the book. “It is therefore through life’s lessons and the school of hard knocks that I have arrived at my opinions.”
She seldom gets rattled, although she recently spent some sleepless nights after losing her daily planner. About the same time, she realized after attending a seminar that she’s moving too fast.
“Big surprise,” she said with a laugh. Now she keeps her schedule in her iPhone.
Sadovsky also keeps an eye on baby boomers that are winding down careers but have a lot of living ahead. She recognizes that even though they’re getting older they still lead active lives and are prime multifamily residents and candidates. Many will require more accommodations, and property owners and managers should be sensitive to their needs, especially when it comes to everyday things like parking.
“As the baby boomers are aging – they’re turning 60 at the rate of 8,000 to 10,000 a day – we’re getting this huge population of boomers, and more and more of them are getting handicap parking permits. There’s something magical about turning 60. If our toe hurts, we ask for accommodation. That’s not going away.”
Making an impact that can’t be measured
Leaving a mark on the multifamily industry keeps Sadovsky young. She yearns to be remembered but realizes that one day she may fade into the woodwork, out of sight for a newer generation of multifamily leaders.
Anne Sadovsky remembers a tribute a few years ago at an industry function for Chamberlain, who suffered then with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. As he often did to close a speech, he offered a poem. His voice shaky, he had to stop to remember his line.
As tears flowed in the audience, Sadovsky heard one young woman at the next table ask about the man on stage.
“She asked, ‘Who was he?’ Not who is he today, but who was he? Why was he up there? And that will be the same thing for me, and probably all of us, unless you’re Steve Jobs, the president or the pope. We’re not all going to be remembered.”
But Sadovsky is reminded daily that multifamily industry professionals are speaking the language that she helped craft, so she believes her work will live on. That’s what gets her out of bed every morning and keeps her going.
“I think what helps, is good health and you are energetic,” she said. “More to me than anything is that you feel like you still have a contribution to make. I think it’s leaving my footprint and knowing that I still, today, have an impact and touch people’s hearts and help them learn how to do better at not only this job, but how to live a better life.”
With that, she cut the interview short. She had a conference call from Pittsburgh. “I’m sorry,” she said, looking at the clock, “but I was going to make tea for you, wasn’t I?”
That’s okay, Anne. In the big scheme, the conversation was so much better.
Anne Sadovsky today
This coming January 2018, Anne Sadovsky will mark her 50th year in Multifamily Housing. Five full decades of practice, teaching and training the apartment professionals of today. Although she’s surpassed the age of retirement, Anne is still driven with the will to make contributions that will far outlast her. When you’re driven by passion, it’s hard to put out the flame.
Keep up with Anne on Facebook, where she actively posts about causes she’s passionate about, content she’s publishing and keynotes she’s speaking in.
Long live, Anne Sadovsky, the Queen of Fair Housing.