Editor’s Note

: Save the dates and join the fun for Rebel Homecoming: Rebels Return October 18-22! Among the many events is the annual Alumni Awards dinner, which recognizes outstanding individuals who represent the ideals of higher education and rebel pride. Here is one of this year’s winners.


Paul Chaffee

’02 BA Communications
Patrick T. Smith Service Excellence Award

With two decades of experience in the real estate world, Paul Chaffee understands the negative perception of professionals in his industry – that they are only interested in themselves and their definition of “giving back to the community” is to sell someone a piece of property ASAP so they can move on and sell the next one.

Not wanting to be painted with that stereotypical brush, Chaffee has worked overtime throughout his career to prove he’s different. He certainly did just that. In fact, it would probably take less time to review and sign the closing documents than it would take to detail all the ways Chaffee has selflessly supported both his alma mater and his community. Some of the highlights:

He has served on the executive advisory committee of the Lied Center for Real Estate; served as the mentoring and internship chair of the Lied Center; assisted in recruiting instructors to teach in the Lied program; developed partnerships with relevant professional organizations with the aim of developing scholarship programs for Lied students; and helped revive the UNLV real estate club by recruiting students through campus events and classroom tours.

Away from campus, Chaffee is State Director of Education and Training for the Nevada Firearms Coalition, Regional Advisor for the National Rifle Association’s “Refuse to be a Victim” program, and a member of Boulder City Mason Lodge # 37. On the Youth Front, he is an advisor to the Boy Scout Merit Badge, he helped start Camp Firefly for children with cancer and their siblings, and he is a past board member of the Candlelighters Childhood. Cancer Foundation of Nevada and the Southern Nevada chapter of Variety – The Children’s Charity.

Beyond giving her time, Chaffee does not hesitate to open her wallet either. Among other charitable donations, he is a member of Scarlet Loyal 2021 and a former donor to the UNLV Foundation.

His philosophy on community service and philanthropy? It’s as easy as setting up a sign for sale.

“I don’t see it as giving back,” he said. “I consider it my obligation.

When did you know you wanted a career in real estate?

A man by the name of Robert Kolesar Jr. sued me to work in the securities / escrow world, so from 2002 to 2009 I worked for Nevada Title Company – then the real estate world moved on. collapsed. It was then that I chose to become a real estate broker because I wanted to help others.

The best part of my job is finding people stuck in certain difficult situations – people who don’t know what to do or where to turn – and help them. Make no mistake: money is good, but stories are better.

Real estate isn’t everyone’s life – you never know when you’re going to get paid, you never know if a deal is going to close – but the thrill is knowing it’s your turn to wake up , to go out there and do something positive happen. I wake up everyday without a job and choose to take over the world.

What is the biggest personal or professional challenge you have had to overcome, and how has this experience shaped you?

Many of us, both inside and outside the real estate industry, were hit hard by the Great Recession. They were difficult years for everyone. But I believe you are creating your own life and reality. So, recognizing that time was an opportunity to create a foundation to build from, I went out and became a real estate broker, did a triathlon, wrote a book, and got married.

Author G. Michael Hopf wrote the Hard Times book Create Strong Men, and I chose to be one of those men. These tough times made me appreciate what I have now and helped me understand that things are always changing, and it’s up to me to evolve over time or risk fading away.

What inspired your boundless community involvement and desire to give back, especially as it relates to UNLV?

I live by a quote that comes from – of all things – the movie Fight Club: “You decide your own level of involvement.”

Here’s the thing: Want a better community? So go out and do something. Want students to have a better college experience? Then get in there and help create that experience.

During my college career, I wish I had had someone tell me how limitless my opportunities were. Now I can be that person for students today – to paraphrase the Starfish story: “I can make a difference for this one!”

If you could turn back time, what would be the one practical piece of advice you could give to your 20-year-old self?

Invest as much as possible in real estate in Las Vegas! All kidding aside, that would be finding a good mentor. Surround yourself with people who will help you achieve your goals, not deter you. And remember: as limitless as the possibilities are, you only have a limited time on this earth, so make the most of it!

What does the expression “rebellious spirit” mean to you?

Be bold. If you want something, go get it and don’t take no for an answer. And when someone says you can’t do something – because someone will eventually do it – take the plunge and show them you can.


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