Jackson Hole Realtors honored one of their own and also an ally during a lunch meeting last week.

Jill Sassi-Neison was named the Teton Board of Realtors’ Realtor of the Year. Longtime restaurateur, public official and Democratic Party leader Mike Gierau was named the board’s Businessperson of the Year.

Sassi-Neison, also the current president of the board, was credited with an overhaul of the board’s office procedures after the retirement of executive officer Barb Garrett after 30 years and her replacement by Carma Miller. Board president-elect Mack Mendenhall said Sassi-Neison “changed everything about how the organization is run.”

Sassi-Neison played down the effort.

“I just worked hard on the transition and worked to streamline our practices and procedures at the Teton Board of Realtors and make it as efficient as possible,” she said.

She said she has also emphasized public relations for the organization.

“Realtors do a lot of great things for the community,” she said, “and I wanted to work on our community outreach.

“Sometimes we’re the first face people meet here, so it’s important that you’re as professional as possible,” she said. “It gives all of us a good name.”

Sassi-Neison has been a Realtor since 1999 and has been with Jackson Hole Sotheby’s International Real Estate since 2005. Her main interests are residential and resort properties. She served as secretary for the board from 2006 to 2010.

Before coming to Jackson, Sassi-Neison earned a Bachelor of Science degree in English and education from East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania.

She is married to Scott Neison, and the couple have a son, Rocco.

Gierau won the board’s Businessperson of the Year honor for his more than 30 years of involvement in the community. After arriving in Jackson in 1980 he opened Jedediah’s restaurant on East Broadway and ran it until it closed in 2009. He now runs Jedediah’s at the Airport.

Gierau has served as a Jackson town councilman and Teton County commissioner. He has also been head of the Wyoming Democratic Party and is Wyoming’s delegate to the national party organization.

Gierau is also well known as one of the drivers of Jackson Hole Air Improvement Resources, or JH AIR, the semipublic group that works to improve air service to Jackson. Realtor Ed Liebzeit, introducing Gierau, said that “his successes benefit all of us directly.”

Jackson Hole Airport will have direct flights from 13 U.S. cities this winter and anticipates 12 percent more seats available than last year. Gierau said that kind of service “is important to all of us in this community.”

Gierau’s brief comments focused on the importance of attitude in making Jackson Hole successful. Recalling his years running the popular Jedediah’s, he said, “We never served the best food in Teton County … but we made sure when people walked through the door that they knew they had a friend in Teton County.”

He also encouraged people worn down by recent political turmoil caused by growth and housing shortages.

“There is not a problem in this community we can’t solve,” Gierau said. “Never let anybody tell you that the best years of this community are in the rearview mirror.”

Contact Mark Huffman at 732-5907 or mark@jhnewsandguide.com.

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