Kelly Davids named president of The Appraisal Foundation

The Appraisal Foundation this week named Kelly Davids, former superintendent of the Ohio Division of Real Estate and Professional Licensing, as its new president. The hiring comes after the foundation has faced criticism in recent years for its industry standards, which some say do not go far enough in rooting out appraisal bias.

Davids, who has been a foundation staff member since 2013 as a senior vice president, is also a former foundation trustee and has served various roles in Ohio politics over the past 40 years. She served as mayor of LaRue, Ohio from 1982 to 1991; as director of constituent inquiries in the office of Former Gov. Bob Taft; and in other roles for the state’s Department of Education and Department of Commerce.

Davids’ appointment occurred less than two weeks after Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Rohit Chopra called out The Appraisal Foundation in a hearing with the CFPB’s Appraisal Subcommittee (ASC), suggesting that it is not responsive to recent issues surrounding the real estate appraisal industry.

Kelly Davids, incoming president of the Appraisal Foundation.
Kelly Davids

“Over a year ago, the ASC kicked off a series of hearings focused on appraisal bias,” Chopra explained in his remarks to the ASC on March 18. “Over the course of four hearings, we examined the governance framework and integrity of The Appraisal Foundation, given its outsized impact on the appraisal market for residential real estate.

“Throughout those hearings, the witness testimonies point to an insular and contorted governance structure that all but guarantees that the profession and practices remain out of tune with the needs of the housing market, and much less likely to address appraisal bias.”

Chopra also said that the foundation’s search for a new president “lacks transparency,” adding that ASC members stressed to the foundation the importance of reviewing a wide field of candidates, including those not currently a part of the foundation.

“During this meeting, ASC board members and staff stressed the importance of a broad search that included consideration of external candidates,” Chopra said. “The Appraisal Foundation gave no response to this feedback and has not given the ASC access to deliberations or any role in reviewing candidates.”

As an SVP of The Appraisal Foundation, Davids already served to manage the organization’s day-to-day operations and has helped to lead special projects.

“We are thrilled to have such a qualified person as Kelly Davids to lead the Foundation’s next chapter,“ board of trustees Chair Tracy Johnston said in a statement. “With Kelly’s thoughtful and inclusive vision for the organization, I have complete confidence that Kelly will meet and surpass the Board of Trustees initial expectations.”

The selection of Davids as president serves as the culmination of a search for a new leader that began in 2022, according to the foundation. At that time, outgoing President Dave Bunton informed the foundation that he would be retiring at the end of his current contract.

“The Board of Trustees brought in the outside CEO search firm, Association Strategies (ASI), to interview stakeholders, including the Appraisal Subcommittee, board members, and staff, and develop a candidate profile to identify the next organization president,” the foundation said when announcing Davids’ appointment. 

The trustees formed a CEO search committee in the summer of 2023, but explained that it decided to first consider internal candidates for the position.

“[The internal selection process was chosen] first to determine if any candidates met the criteria laid out in ASI’s candidate profile,” the foundation said. “Following background and reference checks, three rounds of interviews, and a presentation, the committee voted unanimously to advance a recommendation to the full board of trustees to name Davids as the next foundation president,” the organization said.

The foundation called the ultimate selection of Davids the product of “a comprehensive process” according to CEO search committee chair and Immediate past chair Dayton Nordin.

Bunton’s contract with the organization expires on Dec. 31, 2024. Davids is set to assume the role of president on March 31, at which point Bunton will transition into a new role as a senior adviser. He will, however, “remain an available resource to foundation boards and staff on an as needed basis through the end of his contract,” the foundation explained.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional details about the foundation’s differences with the ASC and the CFPB’s criticism of its presidential selection process.

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