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PYSK: Lee Terry-Russel

Lee Terry-Russel

CEO, Columbia Board of REALTORS


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Job description:

This is a people-oriented job. As CEO, I am responsible to more than 450 REALTOR members for daily management of all association functions including vendor relationships, office operations, volunteer coordination and communications. I provide guidance to volunteers who serve on our board and leadership for many special projects; I monitor association policies, bylaws and operating procedures and facilitate changes as appropriate; and I oversee the Multiple Listing System database management system. The position also requires attendance at regular industry meetings both locally and out of state. Involvement with local government issues is a must.

Original hometown:

As an Air Force brat, I’m a child of the world. I was born in Tampa, Fla.


Auburn University

Community involvement:

Columbia South Rotary Club, City of Columbia Task Force on Sewer Rates and the Columbia Chamber of Commerce (Government Affairs Committee, 40 on 40 Task Force, 2011 Leadership Columbia Graduate, 2012 Leadership Columbia Steering Committee)

Professional background:

I was formerly a USAF wife, which meant many different jobs, mostly in the health care industry. When I settled in Columbia, I first worked as assistant manager of admissions at University Hospital, then moved to patient accounts and registration manager at Ellis Fischel Cancer Center for 10 years. I retired from the University Hospital System to take a job as a consultant installing computer systems in hospitals all over North America for First Consulting Group. After retirement from consulting, I joined the Columbia Board of REALTORS as the MLS administrator.

A favorite recent project:

Professionally, we just completed an almost flawless lockbox system exchange for our entire membership. Personally, my favorite project was planning our wedding. Wow!

A Columbia businessperson I admire and why: Dave Griggs for his commitment to this community, his mentoring of new leaders and his devotion to his family all while running a successful business.

Why I’m passionate about my job: Have you ever met Realtors? Realtors are on the clock 24/7. Not many other careers require the special breed of giving and hard-working individuals who are Realtors. Realtors volunteer all over Columbia. They care about the community, they vote, and they are the only group that advocates for homeownership and property rights, both locally and nationally. Helping this special group with their careers: What’s not to be passionate about?

If I weren’t doing this for a living, I would: I would like to give back to the community by volunteering for charitable organizations such as the Food Bank or Rainbow House. But most certainly I’d be spending more time with my grandchildren and traveling with my husband.

Biggest career obstacle I’ve overcome and how: Losing my spouse to an illness and my job with University Hospital due to huge layoffs within two weeks of each other. After the shock and with support from close friends, I was able to stay focused and eventually go back to work at University Hospital.

What people should know about this profession: A CEO position with a trade association is interesting on its own; add the real estate industry to the mix, and your hands are into just about everything. It’s not just the market and the MLS system; it’s being involved in the politics revolving around that market. But most importantly, it’s the people who make the days both challenging and satisfying.

What I do for fun:

I love Auburn football, and I’m an avid sports fan. I really enjoy cooking — especially pies — working out (yes, sometimes it is fun) and hanging out with my family. Oh, and did I mention Auburn football?


Husband, David Russell; four sons: Russ Buckwalter, Erik Buckwalter, Travis Terry and Dallas Terry; seven grandchildren: Tyler, Alex, James, Hailey, Austin, Reagan and Parker.

Favorite place in Columbia:

Really, my favorite place is our home — and Murry’s, of course.

Most people don’t know that I:

I’m addicted to Days of Our Lives, Survivor and Game of Thrones.

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