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NLR Spotlight: Ann Gaffigan, CTO

May 18, 2017
NLR Spotlight: Ann Gaffigan, CTO
Our #NLRSpotlight series kicks off with, Ann Gaffigan, an American record holder and winner in the 2004 Olympic Trials. (Photo courtesy of Eric Naslund)

Ann Gaffigan’s interest in programming began at a very young age. As a second grader, Ann remembers one of her favorite things to do at school was play Logo, a fun computer game that taught very basic programming.

She said she also recalls another defining moment as a child when her sister won a science award at school and brought home the grand prize, an HP graphing calculator. When her sister gave it to her, she was determined to figure out how to use it. So, she read the entire user’s manual – from front to back – and began to program on the calculator.

Ann’s interest in programming continued into high school. As a senior, she selected a computer science class as an elective. She was the only girl in the class, but Ann said she didn’t really think anything of it. That same year, she also took a career aptitude test. For other students in the class, the test provided several different answers, but Ann only got one: computer science. She said seeing those results reinforced her decision to continue her career in technology.

Ann went on to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she selected computer science as her major and competed on the cross-country and track and field teams for the university.

Ann Gaffigan competing in the women's 3000 Meter Steeplechase Final on July 15, 2004 in Sacramento, Calif. (Photo courtesy of Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Ann Gaffigan competing in the women’s 3000 Meter Steeplechase Final on July 15, 2004 in Sacramento, Calif. (Photo courtesy of Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

As a senior at the university in 2004, Ann earned All-American status in the 3000m steeplechase and was named the 2004 Nebraska Female Student-Athlete of the Year. She went on to win that same event at the U.S. Olympic Team Track & Field Trials later that year where she set the then-American record of 9:39.35 and was ranked fifth in the world.

Ann after winning the women's 3000 Meter Steeplechase Final at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2004. (Photo courtesy of Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Ann after winning the women’s 3000 Meter Steeplechase Final at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2004. (Photo courtesy of Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in computer science in 2004, Ann wanted to keep training, but knew that balancing her passion for running and a full-time job would be difficult. So, she took a brave step and started her own business.

While she grew her web and systems development business, Gazelle Inc., Ann continued to train, competing for New Balance. And after her second Olympic Trials in 2008, Ann retired from professional running. That same year, Ann and I started working together after a mutual friend told her I needed a website for my land real estate company, Land Pros Realty, and introduced us.

After meeting with Aaron several times, we realized he not only needed a new website, but a comprehensive system that would help manage everything his company and his agents were trying to do. We started building that system and soon saw how much more business could be generated with the right technology in place. We became business partners and committed to expanding that system to be better than anything else available in the industry. A few years later, here we are, merged with National Land Realty, and using this system to empower our agents and customers with tools no one else has,” Ann said.

As NLR’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Ann assesses the company’s current operations and develops strategies to streamline them. Her expertise lies in finding bottle necks where people are doing things manually, prioritizing these issues and creating ways to work more efficiently.

I’ve done my job well if our agents get the right tools and our customers walk away more prepared and equipped than before,” Ann said. “I wanted a challenge, and I got it. I’ve learned a lot in the past year and half and I just love what I do.”

When Ann’s not working on the company’s technology components, she’s outside playing with her daughter, Jaelyn. While Ann says she’s not really concerned with computer science just yet, Jaelyn is mostly interested in ways of conserving the earth’s resources.

Ann also serves on the USA Track and Field Athletes Advisory Committee and volunteers with Code for America. She is a motivational speaker and serves as a volunteer instructor for Girls Who Code.

In the land brokerage business, most companies are doing the same things,” said Jason Walter, NLR CEO. “But Ann’s part of our special formula that sets us apart in the industry. She provides that difference for our company and our clients that gives us the edge. She’s very competitive, driven and just the kind of person you want to have on your team.”

About the Author
Aaron Graham is the President of National Land Realty (NLR) and the Managing Broker for NLR's Midwest Office located in Gretna, NE. Aaron oversees the activities of NLR's licensed associates in Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa & Missouri, and he also works closely with NLR's Broker/Partners across the United States. Aaron entered the real estate business in 2004 after retiring from a successful NFL career where he played for the Arizona Cardinals, Oakland Raider and Tennessee Titans. Since that time, Aaron has brokered over $250,000,000 of land transactions throughout the Midwest; mostly in the farm, ranch and recreational market sectors. Aaron has earned the esteemed designation of being an Accredited Land Consultant with the Realtors Land Institute (RLI), which only the best in the land business achieve. Aaron serves on the Board of Directors for RLI and also as the Chair on the Future Leaders Committee. Aaron was awarded the 2015 "Rising Star Award" from RLI in March 2016. He lives in Gretna, NE with his wife, Kim, and their 4 children, Cooper, Baylen, Landrie and Nash. View Aaron's Listings and Reviews on