For Pat Villani, charitable giving and family are as important as selling houses.
Villani started her career as a sales agent in 1978 at a small real estate agency in Hingham. Six years later, she and three partners purchased the firm and tripled its sales within four years.
But her career – and her life – was derailed in 1988, when her son Stephen died suddenly, two weeks before his 21st birthday.
Villani sold her shares in the agency and took time off before joining DeWolfe Co.’s Hingham office in 1991.
As manager, she said, “We brought that office from rock bottom to number two in sales.”
Over the next several decades, Villani’s career thrived, despite a spate of industry mergers. She joined Hunneman, which became Coldwell Banker Hunneman; then, in 2002, Coldwell Banker Hunneman and DeWolfe merged, forming Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.
Villani served as sales manager of Coldwell Banker’s Hingham office, and then as regional vice president for the company’s Central South region.
In June 2011, she was promoted to senior vice president and general sales manager. In January, Villani became the first woman president of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in New England. She oversees the daily operations of the company’s 86 real estate offices and more than 4,000 sales associates and employees in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Maine.
‘Home’ Is Where Her Heart Is
For the past 10 years, Villani has been a steadfast supporter of The Home for Little Wanderers’ Plymouth campus, a residential day and summer school for academically and emotionally challenged adolescent boys.
“I went for a cookout and had a cheeseburger with a boy who was 10 years old,” Villani recalled. “He told me, ‘Mommy got a new boyfriend and they wanted to move to Florida, and they packed the car, and there wasn’t room for me. So they left me on the corner.’”
Each year, Villani personally donates hundreds of toys and gifts to the residents. In June, she hired an ice cream truck and scooped ice cream for the boys on their last day of school.
“I do a lot of it in memory of my son,” she said. “I think he would be proud of me.”
Villani supports several other nonprofit organizations, including the Perkins School for the Blind. She oversees the advisory committee of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Cares, the charitable arm of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in New England.
Villani’s husband, Steve, an executive at Boston-based construction management firm Walsh Bros., and daughter, Tiffany, 36, have supported her throughout her career, she said.
Her grandson, Logan, 4, is also a big booster of his grandmother, whom he calls “Boo-boo.”
On the day she was appointed president of the company, Logan greeted her with a cake that said: “Congratulations, President Boo-boo.”
While the residential real estate market has been rough, Villani said she sees improvement “in pockets.”
She stressed, however, “There are agents in this company where the market never matters to them. They just continue to list and sell.”
To show her appreciation, in April Villani hosted an agent appreciation gala at the Museum of Fine Arts, attended by 1,600.
Aware that the home-buying process has changed, the company recently updated its website to make it more consumer-friendly – a project Villani described as a massive, but successful, IT effort.
“I’m very proud of the employees and agents in this company,” she said. “I’m so grateful to make a difference in the lives of our agents, and our charitable work is very important.”