ECAR Election 2023

Watch a special message From

ECAR President, Joe Capelotti

On the upcoming election

Important Dates:

Voting Opens:
September 15, 7:30 a.m.

Voting Closes:
September 21, 11:59 p.m.

Winners Announced:
September 22

To cast your vote:

Login to FlexMLS, Click MENU on the top left, Navigate to SimplyVoting in the second menu column

MEET THE 2023 Candidates for

Board of Directors

Candidates for Vice President

Steve Linahan

Florida Real Estate professional since 2013 all here in this market. Serving as area 17 tour coordinator since 2017 and also as tour committee chair for 2 years. I hold GRE accreditation and also a Brokers license having owned and run my independent brokerage for 4 years prior to merging with Berkshire Hathaway Homes Services Beach Properties of Florida where I mentor new agents and also experienced agents and outside brokers.

Prior to real estate my career was thirty + year electronics industry veteran with background in Supply Chain, Manufacturing Operations, Service and Logistics working as an independent consulting company based in Austin Texas. Previously I have worked for companies such as Quanta Computer, Flextronics, Sanmina/SCI, AT&T, SMTC, 3Com and several start-up high tech computer and networking companies and most recently rugged tablet maker Xplore Technology as VP of Operations. Notable customers include Amazon, Dell, Sun, HP, IBM, AT&T and Schneider Electric among many others.

My education includes a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Texas at San Antonio and I hold many professional and technical certifications from groups such APICS, NAPM, SME, Texas A&M as well as from H.B. Maynard Institute. It should also be noted that I have been credited with numerous published hi-tech business articles and hosted webinars through Venture Outsource.

Melissa Allegretto Skoniecki

My name is Melissa Allegretto Skoniecki a bonafide native – born and raised in Fort Walton Beach. After many years of managing local radio stations in Fort Walton Beach, Panama City and Tallahassee, I decided to step outside of corporate management and step into the world of Real Estate. Licensed since 2014, I have been with ERA American Real Estate from the beginning of my Real Estate career. Through hard work and commitment to my business, I have been in the TOP 10 of my brokerage for the last 6 years.

A constant call for community service has led me to some tremendous leadership opportunities inside of real estate and other local organizations. I am a graduate of the 2017 Leadership Development Program through the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors. From there, I continued as 2018 Program Director for The Women’s Council of Realtors Emerald Coast, 2019 President Elect and 2020 President of The Women’s Council of Realtors Emerald Coast. I was Vice Chair of ECAR’s Leadership Development Program (LDP) in 2021 and Chair of LDP in 2022. Elected by my peers in 2021, I currently serve as your Fort Walton Beach Director on ECAR’s Board of Directors and represent the Emerald Coast as a FR Director. I have served on many committees throughout the years to include Public Policy, Awards Task Force Chair and RPAC of which I am a Major Investor of. I have sat on the board of directors for the Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce since 2018.

I am a Mom to my 4-year-old daughter. I recently got married and was blessed with a bonus son. For fun, I run marathons and have successfully completed 13 marathons over the last 10 years. I live by a mantra and commitment of “Let’s do great things!” both professionally and personally.

Candidate for Assistant Treasurer

Cathy Alley

I am qualified to run for the position of Assistant Treasurer due to my extensive and proven experience in financial management and leadership within various professional and community organizations. Over the past decade, I have served on the Finance committee, both at the local and state levels, bringing a wealth of financial knowledge to the table. Moreover, my tenure as an elected official in the City of Niceville has provided me with invaluable experience overseeing a substantial $61 million budget. My track record of leadership roles within ECAR, Florida Realtors, and the National Association of Realtors, including my presidency in 2016 for ECAR and my role as Florida Realtors District Vice President in 2018, underscores my ability to effectively manage complex financial matters. Chair of Professional Standards for two years, and a Florida Realtors Leadership Academy graduate 2017. I have been an ECAR director for Florida Realtors for the last 8 years, and now serve as a Florida Realtors NAR director. My consistent dedication to fiscal responsibility and unwavering commitment to the highest standards of financial ethics make me a highly suitable candidate for this role. Additionally, my involvement in the Public Policy Committee at the national level showcases my aptitude for navigating intricate financial issues and contributing constructively to strategic decision-making. I am excited about the opportunity to leverage my financial expertise and steadfast commitment to sound financial practices as Assistant Treasurer for ECAR, thereby ensuring the continued financial prosperity of our organization. I humbly ask for your vote and confidence in me as your next Assistant Treasurer. 

Candidate for Crestview Director

Kimberlie Griggs

I have grown up in the Fort Walton and Crestview area and love our military community. I love the ability to help military and corporate clients feel comfortable and taken care of in the purchasing/listing process. I want the home search or sale to be seamless. I am motivated, determined, well educated, experienced, and I want to make sure my clients are prepared for every step in the process. Their success is my success.

  • Began Real Estate career in Residential Property Management
  • Graduate of Ft Walton Beach High School and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Advertising from the University of West Florida
  • Florida REALTORS Military Specialist Certification
  • CCIM Commercial Certified
  • Member of National Association of REALTORS, FL Association of REALTORS, Emerald Coast Association of REALTORS, Building Industry Association of Okaloosa and Walton Counties, and Board Member of Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce and Emerald Coast Association of Realtors (Crestview Director)
  • NW Florida Native, lived in the area for over 30 years

Candidates for Niceville Director

Tammy Summers

Hello! I’m Tammy Summers, and I am deeply honored to once again seek your support as your choice for Niceville Director. Since becoming a licensed Realtor® in 2016, I have proudly dedicated myself to both my community and my profession. Serving as your Niceville Director has been a privilege, and I take my responsibility to represent you and fellow agents and brokers very seriously. My active involvement with our local association and Florida Realtors® has allowed me to stay well-informed about the issues that impact homeownership, especially those unique to our area. I am committed to remaining engaged and advocating for our profession. In addition to my current role as a director with ECAR, I have taken on several other leadership positions:

  • MLS Chair in 2022
  • Chair of the Community and Military Outreach Committee in 2021
  • Named the 2020 Niceville Realtor® of the Year
  • Graduate of the 2019 Leadership Development Program
  • Member of Fair Housing Committee in 2023
  • Contributing member of the Awards Task Force in 2023
  • Active participant in the Building Homes for Heroes Task Force in 2023
  • Serving on the MLS Committee in 2023

Beyond my professional involvement, I am deeply engaged in military affairs, dedicating my most valuable commodity, time, to projects like the Field of Valor through the Niceville Exchange Club. I am also proud to be a part of the Niceville-Valparaiso Rotary Club, the Okaloosa County Code Enforcement Board, Seniors Serving Seniors, Inc., and I volunteer as a transport coordinator for Italian Greyhound Rescue. Additionally, I am a notary public.

In recognition of my dedication, I was honored as the 2020 Key Spouse of the Year for the 919th Special Operations Wing.

Thank you for considering me as your choice for Niceville Director once again. I look forward to continuing to serve our community, our profession, and you with the same passion and commitment that I’ve demonstrated throughout my tenure. Your vote and support mean the world to me.



Ben Ward

I’ve been a licensed real estate broker for a total of 29 years and have been a resident of Niceville for 7 years. This has provided me invaluable insight into the various neighborhoods and communities here.

I am a resident in Rocky Bayou and an HOA board member as well as a member of Rocky Bayou Country Club. My son attends Rocky Bayou Christian School and is active in tennis and soccer here in Niceville.

I’ve received both my CRB and GRI certifications and continue to serve on multiple local and State level real estate committees, currently holding a Director’s position within the Florida Realtors Education Foundation. As laws continue to change and communities continue experiencing exponential growth, I understand how these factors affect our community and am committed to keeping updated on changes that can affect Niceville.

Thomas Canada

A proud HUSBAND and Father of Five. Thomas is a native of Whipple, West Virginia and a Real Estate Agent since 2019, Thomas Canada consistently demonstrates a deep commitment to exceeding his clients’ expectations. Leading a team of 11 agents, Thomas and his team have earned recognition for their exceptional performance in the North West Florida region.

Prior to entering the real estate field, Thomas Canada served with distinction in the United States Air Force for 22 years, ultimately retiring as an Aircrew Flight Equipment Superintendent. He completed multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning numerous commendation medals for exemplary service.

Beyond his military career, Thomas Canada actively engages with the community, devoting time to coaching youth sports and providing support to transitioning veterans through the local Transition Assistance Program. This unwavering dedication to service and community is the foundation of Thomas Canada’s professional and personal life.

Candidates for Ft. Walton Beach Director

TJ Cobos

TJ is a retired military veteran with 22 years of service in the Army and Air Force, receiving his real estate license shortly before retiring in 2019. He has lived in the Fort Walton Beach area for 12 years (collectively) and chose this beautiful area to settle down and raise his family.

TJ is firmly committed to his development as a Realtor, as evidenced by obtaining his MRP and GRI designations. He also currently serves as a member of the Professional Development Committee.

Above all, TJ strives to foster a sense of “collaboration over competition” with his fellow agents and believes in the importance of being involved, both in our local communities and the Association in which we serve.

Jutta Schneider

As a Realtor®/Member of the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors for the past 9 years, it has been my privileged to work and serve our community, our membership, and our leadership.  Serving in the capacity for the following: 
–  LDP Graudate 2020 
– RPAC – Committee Member and Vice Chair
– Fair Housing – Chair 
– Public Policy – Committee Member 
– MLS Committee – Committee Member
– LDP Taskforce – Committee Member
– CAMO – Committee Member
Additionally, participating and founding the Friends of Bikes or Bust, which brought  together  all of our real estate community from: Agents, Lenders, Home Inspectors, Appraisers, Title companies and all/any vendors real estate related. Friends of Bikes or Bust raised funds for and donated 1,500 bikes to kids in need in our community. 
Prior to entering Real Estate, my educational and professional talents were forged in:
– Legal Assistant
– Non – Profit Management/Grant Writing
– Fire Department Administrator  
– Multi-State Sales Manager in the Mid – Atlantic region 
– Educational background
– Bachelors in Fire Science Management from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale. 
– NAR certificates in:  AHWD, MPR, MPRFL, PSA, C2EX, CHLMS


Candidates for Property Manager Director

Rosanna Padova


My name is Rosanna Padova, I am originally from East Boston, MA. In 2005, I moved to Santa Rosa Beach to raise my two children. I am a proud Nonna(grandmother) of 3 beautiful grandsons. This area is my home and nothing brings me more joy and satisfaction than being able to share it with others. In 1999, I began my property management career. My Real Estate License has been active with ECAR since 2009. In 2019, we opened Property Management on the Panhandle. Although the company may be new, I have provided professional long-term property management services for more than two decades. Participating in this election allows me to assist shaping the future of the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors and our mission statement to assist the members in achieving an exemplary level of professionalism, integrity, and fair business practice and to enhance the REALTOR® image to the public by providing its members with the best available education, products, and services they need to succeed.  To protect private property rights, influence legislation, and to be recognized as involved citizens of the community. 

  • Graduated from Leadership Okaloosa 2014 
  • Graduated from Destin Forward Leadership program 2012 
  • Member NARPM for 10 years 
  • 2009 Emerald Coast Association of Realtors 
  • ECAR Committees-Residential Property Manager/YPN 
  • 2009 Member NAR  

Thank you for considering me as your choice for Property Management Director. I look forward to continuing to serve our profession, community and our Association.  

Dana Topel

My name is Dana Topel and I am the broker/owner of NextHome Cornerstone Realty. I have had

the pleasure of living and working in the Emerald Coast since 2007. While I am not a “native” of this area, I can say we chose Niceville to live and raise our two boys because of the people. Prior to getting my real estate license, I worked as a paralegal and also have owned several businesses. I believe housing is for everyone and that is what eventually brought me to real estate and ultimately opening up my own brokerage.

Community is everything to me and I believe service to those around you speaks volumes to what you believe in and who you are as a human being. Some of my service efforts have allowed me to volunteer for the following:

● Plew Elementary and Ruckel Middle School, PTO/PLA, 2008-2017
● Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Huddle Leader, Ruckel Middle School, 2010-2018
● Mentor Program (She’s Called) for teenage girls which turned into a non-profit organization, Seniors Serving Seniors, Inc., 2011 to Present

Committee Level: Community Affairs and Military Outreach (CAMO), Public Policy and Grievance, Present Chair, CAMO, 2022
Broker Task Force, 2022
ECAR’s Leadership Development Program, Graduate 2020
Florida Realtors® Instructor, 2023

● Niceville Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, 2020 to present
● Niceville Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce, Chair, Membership Division
● Alternative Living, Inc./Elder Services of Okaloosa County, Board of Directors, 2022 to present

I seek the Property Management Director position because I want to be part of the solution to affordable and accessible rentals in our community. I understand the daily challenges of our tenants as it pertains to finding housing and then the lack of good information on what the process looks like to transition them into homeownership. I also understand the challenges our owners face with regard to rising insurance premiums and taxes. I am hard working, educated and committed to our profession and bringing the best resources and information to our area. I am committed to ECAR and its mission when it comes to housing and in particular fair housing.

Since becoming a Realtor in 2007, I have obtained the following NAR designations and certifications: GRI, CRS, ABR, SRS, AHWD, MRP, C2EX, and e-PRO. It would be my honor and pleasure to serve as your Property Manager Director.

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