Some of the Women Movers and Shaker of Real Estate |

Some of the Women Movers and Shaker of Real Estate

Nina Janowsky-Snegg
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

It has been said that there are approximately 130 real estate offices in Nevada County.

And while it appears that they all seem to be making money, they also give some of it, as well as their time, back to the community in displays of great generosity. Three women, who with partners own their own real estate companies, tell their stories.

Nina Janowsky-Snegg

Partner and Marketing Director for Coldwell Banker Grass Roots Realty (CBGR), Nina Janowsky-Snegg tells of how her company buys advertising space to help promote nonprofit organizations in the community.

Three organizations that have benefited from this attention are the Center for the Arts, the Neighborhood Center for the Arts for developmentally disabled artists, and Child Advocates of Nevada County.

But they aren’t the only ones. Some yearly fund raisers – Moms on the Mountain, a group of several hundred women who hike to raise enrichment program money for the Nevada City School District, is one whose cause is advertised by CBGR as well.

Even the company’s name reflects this sense of social responsibility. “We named it Grass Roots Realty in 1979,” says Janowsky-Snegg “because of our commitment to the community.

We wanted to always keep in mind the importance of doing what we can to help improve the quality of life here. In 1983 when we affiliated with Coldwell Banker we created the perfect combination of being part of a strong national company with deep roots in the community.”

Trained as a Public Health Educator, Janowsky-Snegg believes that the ads her company takes out in The Union are a good medium for creating more awareness about how important these worthy organizations are to the health of the community.

Janowsky-Snegg works with a local graphic designer, Michael Anderson, of A Designs, whom she praises for making eye-catching ads with a heart. A recent ad was credited with helping Child Advocates of Nevada County remain open when its funding dried up by eliciting an outpouring of support from the community.

Ads aren’t all they do either. In its 22 years in business, CBGR has supported about 50 such organizations with money and time as well.

Many of their agents serve on local boards, including husband Mike Snegg who has been on the board of directors of Pride Industries for the past 15 years.

The company has even guaranteed loans, as with the Neighborhood Center for the Arts when they recently lost their funding. Due to this kind of support the center was able to reopen its doors within four days of closing and put 59 disabled artists back to work.

Janowsky-Snegg directs praise to co-owners Rick and Debbie Dejesus, who became partners in the company six years ago and the agents who work at CBGR, saying, “They are an amazing group which has a wonderful spirit of giving.” This “can do” attitude is reflected, she says, in work as well.

“We are highly selective about who comes to work with us and our on-going training pays off. We have the highest per agent productivity rate in the county. With 50 Realtors, we’re not the largest real estate company in town but our agents sell the most real estate. Out of the 3,000-plus Coldwell Banker offices nationwide, we rank in the top 50 for volume and the top five for per agent productivity.” Janowsky-Snegg said.

It may be obvious by now that Janowsky-Snegg doesn’t much talk about herself. This isn’t false modesty, rather it is simply a matter of wanting to discuss what she truly values. Her enthusiasm for the work her company is doing showed eloquently when she suddenly blurted out “I love my company!”

Coldwell Banker Grass Roots Realty

Nevada City, Grass Valley, Lake Wildwood

On the web: (residential)

Mimi Simmons

Highly energetic Mimi Simmons, 45, somehow finds the time from her growing business, Cornerstone Realty Group, to volunteer like crazy: Board director of both the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Resource Council, regional chair for the Standards Forms (contracts) Committee, state director for the California Association of Realtors, and the list goes on.

A broker who is also a fifth generation native of Nevada County, Simmons feels it is her responsibility to give back to the community she grew up in and loves dearly. Her philosophy: “You get by giving.”

She believes strongly in the golden rule, so she says she endeavors to treat her 32 agents as she’d like to be treated. “If they are successful and happy, so am I.” Her industry recognized her with Realtor of the Year in 2001 and a community service award the year before.

Simmons seems to be running a business empire if you count up all the branches of her businesses: A couple of real estate offices, a property management firm, a mobile home sales division, and sales development for Eskaton.

Her husband and partner, Phil Ruble, runs Olympic Mortgage, which is off and running too. Indeed, the figure of one hundred million dollars in closed sales in real estate in 2001 shows the extent of things. And all this in only a decade.

In addition, Mimi and Phil are major contributors to Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital. Other organizations they routinely support include The Friendship Club, the Imaginarium and Nevada Union High School.

Most recently, Cornerstone Realty Group hosted its annual Nevada City Chamber of Commerce mixer/chili cookoff. This year’s raffle proceeds were donated to the Senior Foundation of Western Nevada County.

Simmons is active in ways that go beyond the home front. She’s even gone international. One of only 1,900 agents in the United States who are members of a national association that lists and sells properties in 41 countries around the world, she is able to do some intense, high level networking.

Her goal? It’s no wonder she says, “I’m living it now. I’m excited the minute I jump out of bed in the morning to go to work.”

Cornerstone Realty Group

Nevada City, Penn Valley

Mimi’s direct line: (530) 265-7940


Web site:

Kathy Papola

Kathy Papola and her husband of 25 years, Bill, started Network Real Estate in 1981 with 10 agents. Their business has now grown to 95 agents and staff in four offices and a 20-30 percent market share, which, she says, “is large for a relatively small number of people.”

Broker Papola loves listing and selling properties, with estates and ranches being her specialty. In fact, she and her husband own a ranch of their own, where they breed, raise, and show champion Morgan horses and employ a staff of seven. By the date this story is published, Papola will already know if their world class stallion won First in Oklahoma City over 1,500 other horses from as far away as England.Loving her work (“I give it 200 percent), she attributes her considerable work ethic to the inspiration of her late father and to her husband, whom she credits with being able to look down the road and make correct decisions for the business – a good thing because the Papolas are responsible for the financial well being of a lot of people and their families. “We take that responsibility seriously and think about it daily,” she said.

In addition they are big financial supporters (and often members) of a variety of local organizations, including both chambers of commerce, Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, the Nevada County Land Trust, the county Law Enforcement Council, and the Economic Resource Council.

It’s no surprise that she is a member of the Masters Club of both Placer County and Nevada County, the former requiring production of more than $2 million dollars in a year, the latter, $4 million.

Her advice to people coming into real estate is to be a self-starter, one who pushes herself to make things happen. The industry, she says, is good for the freedom it allows to excel as well as the freedom to come and go – something that appealed to Papola ever since she tried a nine-to-five office job.

“Real estate can be a 24/7 business that’s very demanding. It sure puts your life into a spontaneous mode,” Papola said. That’s OK with her though. Even when away from the office, she’s ready to conduct business. “I always take my cell phone and laptop.” She’s fully adapted to this after 25 years in the business. Besides, she says, she has “a great staff” – to cover all bases.

“We love Nevada County and are here for the long haul,” concludes Papola, “continuing to build the business and helping those we can.”

Network Real Estate

Grass Valley, Nevada City, Lake Wildwood

Kathy’s phone: (530) 271-3815

On the web:;

Kathy’s site:

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