He may be “the new guy,” but David Belew is already a familiar face around town.
Belew, RAM’s newly minted chief staff executive, moved from Chicago to Maui in November, a few months after his predecessor, Terry Tolman, announced his retirement. It’s safe to say that Belew has acclimated quickly: In the space of two months, he has met hundreds of people, joined a congregation, become a member of two board game clubs, and signed up to volunteer at the Maui Humane Society. Oh, and he also landed a role in Maui OnStage’s production of “Cabaret,” which opens at the Historic Iao Theater on March 2. “I’m not a sit-around kind of guy,” he laughed.
Born in Missouri and raised in Texas, Belew studied music at the University of Texas at El Paso, and later, earned a degree in information technology. In 1999, he was hired as a help desk analyst at the Chicago-headquartered American Bar Association (ABA) and swiftly scaled the ladder—from analyst to help desk manager to senior project manager to division director of marketing services. After 16 years at the ABA, he became the director of member services for the Alliance of Merger and Acquisition Advisors, a Chicago-based association of 2,000 merger and acquisition professionals. There, among other things, he supervised staff and oversaw all membership programs and activities.
Last summer, Belew spotted RAM’s job posting on LinkedIn and was instantly intrigued. “When I started reading the job description [for chief staff executive], I said to myself: ‘That’s everything I do,’” he recalled. “It was my job description.” Belew figured it could be a long shot (he knew there would be a flood of applicants excited by the prospect of working for a reputable organization on Maui), but decided to toss his hat in the ring anyway. Turns out, it was a very wise decision. After a flurry of phone calls, a Skype interview and a whirlwind, 24-hour trip to Maui to meet with RAM’s selection committee, he packed his things and waved goodbye to the Windy City in early November.
Apart from awaiting the arrival of his dog, Yakko, Belew says everything has fallen neatly into place over the past two months—and he attributes much of that to the warm welcome he’s received from RAM. “The members, the staff and the board have been very supportive,” he said. He also credits Maui’s thespians for making him feel at home. “The theater community has been so welcoming,” he said. Belew developed a passion for the performing arts at a young age, and over the years, he’s directed and acted in stage plays and musical productions in Texas, Missouri and Illinois (and now he can add Hawaii to that list). He didn’t waste any time signing up to audition for Maui OnStage’s production of “Cabaret;” he will also put his vocal chops on display during the “RAM’s Got Talent” show at the Historic Iao Theater on Saturday, Feb. 10.
In the days to come, Belew said he plans to explore Hawaii, hone his golf game, learn how to windsurf, and most importantly, continue to help RAM members be more successful in their careers. “I’m very happy to be here and to be a part of this organization,” he said. “This is my home now; I am so taken with this place.”
Belew succeeds Terry Tolman, who gave his time and talent to RAM for more than two decades. “Terry was instrumental in guiding RAM into the 21st century in terms of internet access, programs and applications designed to make business easier and more effective for the membership,” said 2015-16 RAM President Jeannie Wenger. “His contributions over the 20-plus years are astounding. Besides maintaining an office staff, he made sure to be the voice of RAM within the community, as well as the Hawaii Association of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors. The membership owes him a debt of gratitude for his many years of service to Maui Realtors.”
By Sarah Ruppenthal
The Maui News – January 13, 2018