The Appraisal Foundation Highlights Appraiser Trainee Jessica Brown
The Appraisal Foundation is focused on shaping the profession of tomorrow. Nothing exemplifies the future better than highlighting a trainee with big plans for her career and the profession. Jessica Brown represents the future and the importance of diversity to the long-term success of the appraisal profession.
Ms. Brown’s road to the appraisal profession has not been a straight one. She grew up in Atlanta and attended Spelman College, one of the nation’s preeminent historically black colleges and universities (HBCU). After graduating in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in history, Ms. Brown pursued several options, including graduate studies, and working as a historical guide at the U.S. Capitol, as well as the home of famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass. “After a while, I wanted something more,” Ms. Brown remarked about her early post-college pursuits.
She began working in the oil and gas industry in mineral title work. This led Jessica to right of way acquisition for utilities. She started her own title and right of way company, serving utilities, state departments of transportation, and municipal governments. As a right of way agent, she assisted clients in easement acquisition negotiations. It was here that Jessica realized she appreciated the impartiality and objectivity of valuation.
At this time, Jessica was also a member of the National Urban League Entrepreneurship Center in Baltimore. The Urban League partnered with Fannie Mae, the government-backed mortgage company, to increase diversity in the appraisal profession. Jessica attended an appraisal workshop. Here she learned that appraising is a viable career path, though she found it odd that the workshop had no appraisers of color on the panel. “It speaks to the current lack of diversity in the profession,” Brown said. “But it also offers an opportunity for change. I want to be involved in making that happen.”
The Urban League and Fannie Mae partnership offered a scholarship program to fund appraiser education classes. Jessica applied for the scholarship, and next thing she learns is she is the winner. The education classes were offered by McKissock Learning, which is the exclusive national online partner for The Appraisal Foundation’s USPAP courses.
After completing her course, she found it difficult to find a supervisor. Demonstrating that she had a skill for marketing, Ms. Brown posted on the Maryland Association of Appraisers website saying, “Fannie Mae Scholarship Winner Seeks Appraisal Supervisor.” The tactic paid off when the Treffer Appraisal Group in Arnold, MD reached out to Jessica with a trainee position.
Ms. Brown believes her training as a historian is a good basis for being an appraiser. “As a historian, I am trained to tell the story without bias,” Ms. Brown said. “Look at the facts and tell the story from there. An appraiser does that with every appraisal.”
One of Jessica’s ideas to diversity the profession is to reach out to HBCUs to set up real estate programs, and include appraisal training so that more people of color are exposed to the profession during their formative years.
She also says that programs such as the Fannie Mae and Urban League partnership should be expanded so that more people of color outside of higher education are aware of the benefits of a career in appraising.
Ms. Brown also believes that the Foundation, as a leader in the industry, plays an important role in diversifying the profession. She recommends that the Foundation work with HBCUs in helping to set up real estate programs. “People of color will understand that the Foundation is committed to diversity, especially as they are starting their careers. People of color will begin their careers not only aware of the Foundation, but also respecting it for reaching out and building trust.”
While Jessica is reluctant to call herself a trailblazer so early in her appraisal career, she is committed to giving back to the profession. Her plan is to eventually become a supervisor, and continue to expose more people of color to the industry. “Spelman College instilled in me the idea that we must all give back,” said Ms. Brown. “The appraisal profession is where I am supposed to be. I will do everything I can to help others the way people have helped me.”
Appraisal Foundation is the nation’s foremost authority on the valuation
profession. The organization sets the Congressionally-authorized standards and
qualifications for real estate appraisers, and provides voluntary guidance on
recognized valuation methods and techniques for all valuation professionals. This
work advances the profession by ensuring appraisals are independent,
consistent, and objective. More information on The Appraisal Foundation is
available at www.appraisalfoundation.org.
Media Contact: David Greer
Director of Communications
The Appraisal Foundation
direct phone 202.624.3048