Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day are both celebrated in March. In honor of these events, Appraisal Buzz sat down with three women who are leading the appraisal profession in the 21st Century. Our first interview is with Leila Dunbar. She is vice chair of the Board of Trustees for The Appraisal Foundation, a member of the Appraisers Association of America (AAA), the International Society of Appraisers (ISA), and is certified in sports memorabilia, entertainment memorabilia and wine appraising. In 1996, Leila was one of the first appraisers chosen to participate in the television series “Antiques Roadshow,” which averages 10 million viewers a week, and is PBS’s highest rated show. Before she started her own appraisal practice, Leila was a senior vice president at Sotheby’s Auctions.
Buzz: What drew you to the appraisal profession?
Leila: I love the appraisal profession because it combines my journalism skills with my experience and expertise as a memorabilia dealer, collector and auctioneer. Every project is a unique learning experience in accumulating and analyzing history and market data and then writing the report. I am never bored!
Buzz: How does your work with appraisal organizations benefit the profession?
Leila: My work with other volunteer leaders and staff at The Appraisal Foundation benefits the profession as we have made strides in promoting awareness of when and how to hire a qualified appraiser. We have also promoted the standards and qualifications consumers should be aware of when it comes to their particular valuation needs. This is especially important when having personal property appraised since the government does not license or certify personal property appraisers. This awareness is important to both the public and other appraisal users, such as attorneys, financial institutions, courts and insurance companies, as it promotes trust in our profession.
Buzz: What advice would you give women who are entering the appraisal profession?
Leila: The advice I would give anyone entering the appraisal profession is to first educate yourself in the area you are interested in. For example, work at a gallery, auction house or museum. Second, build on your passion by taking courses to help expand your knowledge base. “Of course, personal property appraising isn’t only about book knowledge. You need to handle items up close to really understand differences in quality and value. Third, apply to join one of the major appraiser member organizations, such as the AAA, ISA, or ASA. They offer training and courses on methodology, report writing and the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP), as well as connoisseurship in specialty areas. And, they all have mentoring programs for new appraisers. Another benefit of associations is the increased opportunities to engage and network with your appraisal colleagues. In a profession where we often work by ourselves, interacting with fellow appraisers about our shared experiences and concerns is a vital asset.