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    William S. Harps DEI Award

    Recognition of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

    The William S. Harps DEI Award recognizes an Appraisal Institute Professional who exemplifies the value of diversity, equity and inclusion in the valuation profession, and has contributed to making the profession reflective of all the communities we serve.

    William S. Harps, MAI, was the first African American to earn the MAI designation (1960). He was a past president of American Institute of Real Estate Appraisers (1981) and a leader in breaking racial barriers in the appraisal profession. Harps passed in 2009.

    Akia Smith portrait

    Akia Smith


    William S. Harps DEI Award 2023

    Akia Smith is the owner and founder of Salem Valuation Solutions, in partnership with Four Corners Valuations. She has more than 20 years of experience in real property consultation and valuation. Her expertise encompasses various property types including multi-family, office, retail, industrial and government facilities. As a fee appraiser, she has been engaged by individuals, government agencies, banks and attorneys.

    Akia has expertise in federal government compliance and appraisal review, serving as the Lead Review Appraiser for GSA’s Fair Annual Rent program. Additionally, she brings expertise in audit compliance and real property valuation, as well as expert witness testimony.

    Akia holds the MAI designation awarded by the Appraisal Institute and is currently serving as the Vice Chair of the University Relations Committee, Chair of the URC Diversity Workgroup, Regional Representative for Region VIII and Vice President of the Houston Chapter. Akia initiated and led the African American Appraiser Roundtable at the 2021 and 2022 AI Annual Conferences and was a member of the Bias Research Solutions Project team. She is the first recipient of the William S. Harps DEI Award, which recognizes AI professionals who exemplify the value of diversity, equity and inclusion in the valuation profession.

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    Submit a Nomination

    Ready to nominate yourself or a colleague?

    Nominations are annually due July 31.