Kenny Parcell accused of sexual harassment, creating toxic culture at NAR

Several women have come forward with accusations against real estate trade group’s president

National Association of Realtors' Kenny Parcell (Getty, National Association of Realtors)
National Association of Realtors' Kenny Parcell (Getty, National Association of Realtors)

Three women employed at the National Association of Realtors headquarters in Chicago have accused Kenny Parcell, the organization’s president, of sexual harassment and fostering a culture of fear within the institution. 

The NAR, a nonprofit powerhouse with assets exceeding $1 billion that oversees access to a vast majority of American home listings, is facing claims of a pattern of inappropriate behavior, including improper touching and explicit texts and photos, by its highest-ranking executive, the New York Times reported.

The three women who stepped forward detail a pattern of inappropriate behavior by Parcell, according to the outlet.

One woman reported that Parcell placed his hands down his pants in front of her, while another woman received unsolicited lewd photos and texts from him, including a picture of his crotch. A third woman disclosed a consensual relationship with Parcell that turned sour, resulting in alleged retaliation once it ended. 

Janelle Brevard, one of the women who had a relationship with Parcell, filed a lawsuit alleging racial and sexual discrimination and harassment against the organization.

“It is our practice to fully investigate all claims that are brought to our attention and take action, as warranted,” NAR vice president of communications Mantill Williams told Inman in June. “We reject the claims filed in this lawsuit and we will vigorously defend against them.”

Despite a history of complaints of sexual harassment, discrimination, and retribution by Parcell and other leaders, the NAR allegedly failed to address the issues effectively, with dozens of former leaders and employees within the organization corroborating the claims to the Times.

Several women detailed an alleged culture of intimidation within NAR that discouraged reporting and speaking up against harassment. 

Stephanie Quinn, the former director of business meetings and events, claimed that Parcell often sought physical contact, including late-night meetings with younger colleagues, and questioned her authority when she resisted his advances.

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In another instance, Amy Swida, the NAR’s director of business meetings and events, filed an internal complaint of sexual harassment or gender discrimination by Parcell, saying he was cruel and condescending to her after she became pregnant.

“I’m scared every day coming to work,” Swida said.

Parcell denied all allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior, asserting that he has never reached out to anyone younger or late at night. The NAR team responsible for investigating such matters reported never receiving a complaint from Quinn. The accusations, however, have led to scrutiny of the organization’s leadership and its handling of harassment claims.

The NAR, with 1.5 million members, holds immense influence over the American housing industry. However, its leadership structure has faced criticism for being predominantly male, despite the industry’s majority female demographic. Even its guidance on harassment appeared to place the onus on victims, recommending they address colleagues’ inappropriate language themselves.

Despite the widespread allegations, NARs current CEO, Bob Goldberg, stopped short of framing the situation as a problem but acknowledged the challenges organizations face with inappropriate conduct. His response further fueled concerns about the organization’s commitment to addressing the pervasive issues.

Last month, an anonymous letter signed by a coalition of 37 “Realtor leaders” was sent to more than 20 NAR past presidents, called for Parcell to resign.

“This is an intimidating process. None of us are willing to put our names on anything,” the letter says, according to the Times. “We are in a crisis management situation, and the members MUST speak out.”

Another female employee who complained about Parcell put it bluntly.

“If people don’t speak up, it’s never going to end,” Jennifer Braun, NAR’s senior events producer, told the outlet.

— Ted Glanzer