NETAR awards recognize the local best of the best

Kristi Bailey 2020 NETAR President

A high point at the recent Northeast Tennessee Association of REALTORS® membership meeting was helping present the association’s top awards to some outstanding members. Watching Donna Sartin and Manuel Steffey receive the Mark Keesecker Good Neighbor Award was especially poignant. 


Mark was killed in an automobile accident in 2007. The award that bears his name is a living reminder of his determination, purpose, and kindness. His too-short life was an example of the total REALTOR® package.  

After graduating from East Tennessee State University, Mark made remarkable achievements in real estate sales and was an example of professionalism for his colleagues. He attained some of the highest awards in the nation for his work, which included the Century 21 Corporate Centurion Award. 

Throughout his successes, Mark was humble and gracious. He was renowned for giving supplies to local schools and his donations to various charities. He left a positive impression on those he encountered in his professional and private life. His friendship and dedication were greatly appreciated, and he is deeply missed by all who knew him. 

Among the things that garnered the award for Donna Sartin is her constant care of the homeless in Johnson City. If you are in her sphere of influence, you will be asked how you are doing and if you need anything. Nothing is for show, she’s about genuine love and concern for others.  

The citation for Manuel Steffey highlights the story of a woman who lived alone without living relatives who needed some help. Manuel took action. He found and installed a range in perfect condition to replace one that didn’t work – at no charge. He also bought and contracted with a plumber to install a water heater for the woman. When the plumber went into the basement, he discovered the sump pump had quit, and a foot of water was standing.

Manuel got a new pump. After the new water heater was installed, the woman called Manuel in tears to thank him. She said she hadn’t had a hot shower in three years. 

These are single examples of the good deeds of both of Good Neighbor Awards. And they illustrate some of the best of the best at NETAR who go well beyond the call of a real estate professional to make the lives of others and their communities a better place to live. 

Speaking of the best of the best, two other top awards are the annual REALTOR® Of The Year and the Rookie of the Year. 

Sharon Duncan is the current REALTOR® Of The Year. She has been a tireless advocate for buyers and sellers for 15 years. She’s a consistent top producer and has earned numerous awards. She has served on NETAR’s Board of Directors, the MLS Board of Directors, and is a former NETAR President. She was also a Division Vice President for TN REALTORS®. Her commitment to helping be a voice for real estate and helping make our area a better place to live and invest in real estate is constant. 

The Rookie of the Year Award went to Kayla Janeway. This service award recognizes new NETAR members who have made outstanding progress. It’s limited to the first 24 months of membership and is designed to encourage participants to be more active and better educated about NETAR and their new profession. So far, Kayla has completed over 70 hours of continuing education, earned an At Home With Diversity certification and the Commitment to Excellence.  She’s a busy person with a bright future. 

Jerry Petzoldt was recognized for his 50 years as local real estate professional. Jerry says he had committed to his TCI associates and those at NETAR to another 10 active years. 

A photo tribute to these award winners and the 16 recipients of the REALTORS® of Distinction Award can be found on the NETAR website at 

NETAR is the voice for real estate in Northeast Tennessee. It is the largest trade association in the Northeast Tennessee – Southwest Virginia region representing over 1,500 members and 100 affiliates involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. Pending sales, Trends Reports, and the regional market analytics can be found on the NETAR websites at   

NETAR is the voice for real estate in Northeast Tennessee. It is the largest trade association in the Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia region, representing over 1,800+ members and 100+ business partners involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. Weekly market reports and information for both consumers and members are available on the NETAR website at