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Successful Sotheby's agent is just latest role for Saratoga Springs woman

Outlook

Successful Sotheby's agent is just latest role for Saratoga Springs woman

She does a little bit of everything
Successful Sotheby's agent is just latest role for Saratoga Springs woman
Dona Federico
Photographer: Left: Photo provided; Right: Marc Schultz/Gazette Photographer

When Dona Frank-Federico joined the country western band The Spurs USA back in 2011, she took on that challenge the way she takes on them all: at full throttle.

“If I’m gonna do something, I’m gonna do it,” she said. “And if I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna be the lead singer. I’m gonna put on a show.”

Frank-Federico not only sang and danced in the band, but found and booked most of its gigs as well. She reminisced about large audiences and opening for big-name acts like The Marshall Tucker Band and The Outlaws.

“It was wild. We made two CDs, we had merch. We were doin’ it,” she recalled with enthusiasm.

At that same time, she was working full time for WAMC Northeast Public Radio, selling real estate and taking care of her family. She said she took the chaos in stride.

“You know what? It’s weird how things just kind of happen. You just find the time. And when those things go away, something else fills up that spot in life,” she said.

At present, Frank-Federico splits her time between Saratoga Springs and Hilton Head, S.C. She works as a real estate agent for Select Sotheby’s International Realty and was named top agent in the Capital Region office for 2018. Her team ranks number two for the entire company, she said.

MARC SCHULTZ/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER Dona Frank-Federico, a top selling real estate agent for Select Sotheby's International Realty sold this home located at 61 Granite St. Saratoga Springs.MARC SCHULTZ/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER
Dona Frank-Federico, a top-selling real estate agent for Select Sotheby's International Realty sold this home located at 61 Granite St. Saratoga Springs.

Frank-Federico said she sold approximately $12 million in real estate last year. She has received the Women’s Council of Realtors Multi-Million Dollar Sales award for the past three years.

She’s also a volunteer, photographer, wife, mother, grandmother and caregiver.

“My mother taught me, and she’s 94, so I listen, that the secret to living a good life is to always be learning, and always be doing and giving back,” Frank-Federico said.

Her mother, Esther Morales, is a lifelong learner who made sure her children were always reading, exposed to the arts and helping those in need. She now lives with Frank-Federico and still practices what she preached so long ago.

“She has discovered Google and Facebook,” Frank-Federico noted. “She’s Googling everything to find out what’s this, what’s that.”

Frank-Federico started her professional career in Oregon as an elementary education teacher. After deciding that was not the career for her, she returned to her home state of California, where she did mentoring and advertising work, and spent a lot of time waiting tables. When a cousin dared her to move to New York City in the 1980s, she took the bait and has been in the Northeast ever since.

Frank-Federico moved to Saratoga Springs in 1988, when she was pregnant with her daughter Olivia, who is now a musician living in Nashville. The following year she took a job as marketing director of Colonie Center, where she led the fundraising efforts for a multi-million dollar renovation.

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During that time she also became somewhat of a local celebrity, hosting Saratoga Scene on WNYT News Channel 13 for about five years. The weekly production highlighted the Spa City’s social scene.

“I went with a camera person to all the fundraising events and the track, and we did some really offbeat features too, on the horses swimming and working out. It was really fun,” she said. “I even interviewed Trump for two minutes, with Marla.”

In 1997 she went to work for WAMC, doing marketing and public relations, eventually working her way up to chief of staff.

“I helped them to build their sales and marketing departments and helped their business department through a pretty substantial increase in revenue, so I was pretty proud of that,” she said.

PHOTO PROVIDED
Dona Federico with her band.PHOTO PROVIDED
Dona Federico with her band.

During her time working for WAMC, thanks to a chance run-in at a party, Frank-Federico became lead singer for The Spurs USA, a band that hails from the Berkshires. She sang with the group from around 2011 to 2017. Exact dates never stick in her head, she said. But she clearly remembers the electricity the band generated.

“We were cookin’,” she said. “We were playing old time, classic, country western – Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, Buck Owens, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton. That’s what we did. It was a great, great band.”

She said she still sings with the band from time to time. 

Nearly a decade into her job at WAMC, feeling the itch to change careers, Frank-Federico obtained her real estate license and started selling property on the side. While the 2008 stock market crash delayed a full time foray into that profession, she jumped in with both feet once she retired from WAMC in 2015.

Since then, she’s become real estate royalty with Select Sotheby’s International Realty. One of her secrets, she said, is to sell at all price points.

“Sometimes people think you need to have a million dollar or more house to be with Sotheby’s but that’s not true at all,” she said. “I have a house listed right now for like $114,000 in Salem. It’s adorable.”

The real estate business, she said, is all about building lasting relationships and going the extra mile for clients. She said she’s made many friends through her work.

Frank-Federico said the most memorable house she’s ever sold is her own.

“It made me more aware of what I should expect and what’s realistic from people,” she explained. “So I’m not the kind of agent that goes, ‘You have to do this and you have to do that and you need to paint and you need to stage.’ No, I’m like, ‘Let’s work with what we have, and if you can, why don’t we try these things too?’”

Louis Izzo Jr., president, broker and co-owner of Select Sotheby’s International Realty, praised Frank-Federico as a real estate agent who combines an exceptional knowledge of the industry with care for her clients.  

“Additionally she is not only tireless, but she is a fierce advocate for her clients and delivers the experience we strive for with every Sotheby’s International Realty client. She makes the complicated easy and the stressful manageable and that is rare in today’s fast paced world,” he said, via email.

During all of her corporate jobs, Frank-Federico has served as a mentor to high school and college students and has stayed in touch with many of them.

“A lot of them have taken the time to tell me they are in a career path because I helped them to learn how to be better at what they are doing or what they wanted to do. It’s really kind of cool,” she said, offering, in addition, a nod to mentors who helped her find her way in her life and career.

In her spare time, Frank-Federico takes photos. In 2015, when she turned what she called “a certain age,” which remained undisclosed, in lieu of a party, she got a camera. Since then she’s come to own three Canons and has a photography website. She said she enjoys wildlife photography and during summer, shoots photos on the backstretch at Saratoga Race Course.

“I’ll go through the paddocks or go through the barns and talk to the people and maybe take their picture,” she said, noting that often she’ll have photos printed up to give to backstretch workers as a gift.

Her photo of a backstretch horse getting a morning bath on a foggy day won best in show at the Saratoga County Fair and she said other shots have been purchased by CNN.

Frank-Federico also volunteers with the Capital District Humane Association, managing the organization’s fundraising efforts.

“I love seeing when they’re having a good adoption cycle,” she said. “They’re 100 percent volunteer. They take in animals that need help and medical attention.”

She said her mother’s advice about always learning, doing and giving back still rings true. But her life journey has compelled her to add one more thing to that motto:

“You’ve got to be joyful about it too,” she said.

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