‘Pay it forward’ pays off

The Southern Indiana Realtors Association has announced lifelong Indiana resident and Jackson County native Kathi Combs-Byrd of Schuler Bauer Real Estate Services has been named Realtor of the Year for 2017.

She will receive her award at 7 p.m. Dec. 8 at Horseshoe Casino in Elizabeth.

Unlike many Realtor awards that celebrate only sales volume, this award is multifaceted. It recognizes a Realtor on Realtor spirit, civic activity, business accomplishments and involvement in local, state and national Realtor associations. Recipients are not only top performers on the job, but they also give back to both their colleagues and their community.

Combs-Byrd attributes her motto of “Pay it forward” to the amount of support she has received from others. She credits her entrance into the real estate field to one of her former bosses, Kenny McKeand, who she worked for in his optical shop as salesperson and store manager after coming back to Seymour following college graduation.

He encouraged her to get her real estate license after he noticed her easy, natural ability to listen well and relate to the customers.

Today, she has accumulated more than 20 years of success in real estate sales, new construction, property management, residential appraisals and commercial sales and leasing.

One of her first real estate brokers was the late Donn Bishop of Century 21 Donn Bishop Real Estate in Seymour. He was a significant role model for her as a leader.

Under his mentoring, Combs-Byrd went on to become a consistently top-producing and award-winning agent at Century 21, Coldwell Banker and now at Schuler Bauer Real Estate Services in New Albany and Seymour.

With so many people who demonstrated their belief in her and who contributed to her success, she now looks for opportunities to pay it forward.

In addition to helping train new agents at the various real estate offices where she has worked in the past, she particularly enjoys assisting new buyers to find their first home.

Combs-Byrd wants everyone to find a home, not just people. She has been active in animal rescue all of her life, including previous volunteer activities with the local Humane Society and Red Sky Rescue.

“I am a huge animal lover and try to help pets find ‘forever homes,’” Combs-Byrd said. “Adoption of a rescue is one of the greatest gifts you can give. ‘Adopt, don’t shop!’ is my motto.”

She follows in the footsteps of Donn Bishop and most of all her parents, America and the late Vernon B. Smith, as an active participant and leader in many civic and professional organizations. From them, she said, she learned her strong work ethic and Christian values, especially integrity and dedication.

Combs-Byrd committed that dedication to serving on the boards of many associations over the years, such as the local American Red Cross, Girls Inc., Jackson County Board of Realtors, Chamber of Commerce, United Way, Red Sky Rescue, Leadership Jackson County and Phi Beta Psi sorority, which raised money for cancer research.

She continues to help and lead by participating in the Xi Beta Alpha sorority, serving on the board of directors of the Southern Indiana Realtors Association and volunteering at Northside Christian Church in New Albany, where she is a regular attendee. She has held memberships in the Indiana Association of Realtors and National Association of Realtors since 1992.

Combs-Byrd and her husband, Travis Byrd, live in Sellersburg with their two children, Alexis, 21, and Camryn, 17, and her rescue Yorkshire terrier, Bozkat. She commutes daily to Seymour, where she helps run the Schuler Bauer Convenience Center that she helped open in April.