Jergler: New Realtor group president named

November 29, 2011|By Don Jergler
  • Maria Elena Banks is the new 2012 president of the Orange County Assn. of Realtors.
Maria Elena Banks is the new 2012 president of the Orange… (Courtesy DON JERGLER )

Maria Elena Banks has come a long way from when she was a little girl growing up in Caracas, Venezuela, the descendant of a famous general and former president of Mexico.

In the U.S., she's gone from working to eke out a living in real estate as a young woman raising two young boys alone — becoming the first woman Little League coach in Newport Beach and San Juan Capistrano along the way — to becoming president of a powerful Realtor group in Orange County.

Banks, who likes to point out that English is her second language, which she learned to speak in Canada, was installed at the Marriott Laguna Cliffs in Dana Point on Friday as the 2012 president of the Orange County Assn. of Realtors, a professional trade organization representing 12,000 members from Huntington Beach to San Clemente.

The group was established in 1995. Banks is the group's first Hispanic president.


Realtors' associations such as OCAR can be thought of like an auto club for drivers. The group exists to serve as the business partner of its members with products and services like education, member services, professional standards and lobbying. It, like other Realtors' associations in their neighborhoods, can be considered one of the most powerful groups in the county, often playing a role in lobbying the local, state and national government.

For Banks, the leadership trait is inherited. She comes from a diplomatic family — her maiden name is Maria Elena de Santa Anna. Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna, a military leader and former president of Mexico, was her great-great-grandfather.

Banks answered a few questions about real estate, the Orange County market and her plans as president of OCAR.

Q. Your group represents 12,000 Realtors in Orange County. What do you feel is their No. 1 concern, and how do you plan to address that concern?

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