Age 39 | Real estate agent, RE/MAX Innovations

You could call Heather Starr a quick learner.

“I’m not someone who had my career all planned out for me,” Starr said. “When opportunities presented themselves, I had the good sense to take them.”

She took them to high levels of success.

As the director of development and communications for the Animal Rescue League of Iowa, she helped raise the final $4 million of a $6.5 million capital campaign goal. She moved on to Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa, where she managed a successful $11 million statewide fundraising campaign.

The role of a nonprofit fundraiser took a toll in terms of hours away from home. Not good for a young mother.

Starr decided to start her own marketing and communications business. North Starr Communications launched in 2007 and landed some signature clients, including Des Moines University and the Blank Park Zoo. The company was an award winner; it also led to her current career as a real estate agent.

She was hired to do some marketing work for a couple of agents, who eventually were so impressed with her abilities – communications and marketing are key ingredients of a successful real estate business – that they encouraged her to enter the business.

Starr obtained her real estate license and last year closed North Starr Communications so she could sell houses full time.

“I was an understudy while helping the other Realtors, so I did hit the ground running, rather than wake up one morning with an epiphany,” she said.

In her first year, she had 42 sales that totaled more than $7 million. Her work caught the attention of the Des Moines Area Association of Realtors, which named her “rookie of the year.”

Keys to her success in real estate are that she is a good relationship builder and she doesn’t focus on one class of property.

“Some Realtors try to home in on who they serve, but I’m not one of those. My smallest sale was $50,000 and my largest was over $500,000,” she said. “I sold homes from Osceola to Ankeny.”

The job allows Starr to be on call for her sons, ages 6 and 2.

“I’m back into working long hours … but I appreciate the flexibility so I can be with my boys,” she said.

Five reasons she’s a 40:

• Launched North Starr Communications, whose clients included the American Red Cross, Blank Park Zoo, Whiterock Conservancy, Des Moines University and several local real estate agents.

• Former executive with the Animal Rescue League of Iowa and Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa, now called Planned Parenthood of the Heartland.

• She was a member of the Iowa Veterinary Rapid Response team during Hurricane Katrina.

• Received the American Advertising Federation of Des Moines’ Addy award in 2008 for public service collateral materials.

• Named “Rookie of the Year” by the Des Moines Area Association of Realtors.

Connie Isaacson, Isaacson Consulting

Fun fact:
She was an extra in the filmed-in-Iowa movie “Children of the Corn.”