Tough transitions: Carmel realtor specializes in helping women going through divorce, widowhood 


From left, Nancee Dowler and Ruthie Schelonka hold the keys to Schelonka’s Carmel home, which Dowler helped her purchase in the spring of 2017. (Photo by Ann Marie Shambaugh)

By Desiree Williams

Nancee Dowler had a goal when she entered the real estate business to make a difference in women’s lives. As a woman who experienced divorce, she felt there was a gap in education for others going through that experience or widowhood.

“I knew that I had had a very catastrophic life-changing event, and I knew that I didn’t get the best coaching through it when I was going through it,” Dowler said. “I really felt strongly that there was a gap in this area as I was meeting people really not understanding options, not being informed and really not knowing what to do first. I knew that I could actually fill that gap and make a difference for people, and that’s what I’m all about.”

While researching all areas of divorce, she found the Wildflower Group, a national network of professionals that aims to inspire and educate women going through the transitions of divorce or widowhood by means of events, podcasts, videos and other resources. Dowler joined in 2014 and is now the director of the Indianapolis chapter.

The Wildflower Group hosted the first “National Celebration of Women” event last year, and Dowler is ready to bring a similar experience to Indianapolis. She will host the free event from 9 to 11 a.m. Sept. 16 at Coast to Coast Imports. It will provide first-time car buying tips and information. The event will feature a keynote address from a Coast to Coast employee, a brief real estate presentation and an informational handout for guests.

“I’m real proud to be a part of this platform to make sure Indianapolis has got a resource as well,” she said.

The transition

Dowler is from Indianapolis but moved to Wisconsin when she got married. She raised three children and ran a financial planning business with her now ex-husband. When the divorce was finalized in 2010, Dowler said she wasn’t sure what to do next with her career.

“I was feeling really lost and confused,” she said. “The unknowns are so incredibly overwhelming when you’re going through these life transitions, and I didn’t know where to turn.”

From left, Nancee Dowler and Ruthie Schelonka display a sold sign in front of Schelonka’s Carmel home, which Dowler helped her purchase in the spring of 2017. (Photo by Ann Marie Shambaugh)

The dean at a local college became a lifeline and encouraged Dowler to return to school to finish her degrees. She graduated from Lakeland College with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and a masters in business administration.

“It was an experience that made me feel very empowered, but more importantly, I know I was an incredible role model for my children,” she said.

Dowler’s sister and sister-in-law are involved with real estate in Indiana, and both encouraged her to return Indianapolis after college. An opportunity with F.C. Tucker in Carmel opened up, and Dowler found real estate to be a great fit.

But she didn’t want to be just another realtor. She wanted to stand out.

The next horizon

Dowler is the only realtor in Indiana to be designated a Certified Real Estate Divorce Specialist and a Seniors Real Estate Specialist. She is uniquely qualified to help women and men trying to determine what to do with the home, a shared asset, when going through a transition.

Dowler began as an independent agent but now leads a team of two other women that share her passion.


“(Nancee) was a great support, more so than just a really good realtor,” said Claudette Gancarz, a former client. “She’s great as a realtor, but she just was able to say, ‘OK, what are the issues you are facing, and let me see if I can point you in the right direction.’”

Gancarz was seeking financial advice while going through a divorce in 2015. She met with Valerie Brennan, a certified public accountant and member of the Wildflower Group, who referred Gancarz to Dowler for real estate advice.


“(Nancee) kind of would knock my socks off in the respect of how she would go so out of her way, because to me, that’s not what a realtor does,” Gancarz said.

Dowler said her goal is to listen to a client’s story and then offer suggestions on where to turn, whether that is to a mortgage broker, financial advisor, attorney or other expert using her resources or those of the Wildflower Group.

“When I was going to school and I was researching and learning and growing and developing, I knew that something bigger than me was going to happen. With my whole heart, I think I found it,” Dowler said.

For more information or to register for the event, visit the Nancee Dowler Realty Group Facebook page.

Tips during transition

1. Don’t sign anything until you are fully informed

2. Be your own advocate

3. Be aware of red flags

4. Educate yourself on every option

5. Talk to trusted professionals before seeking legal action

National Celebration of Women in Transition

When: 9 to 11 a.m. Sept. 16

Where: Coast to Coast Imports, 9445 Threel Road, Indianapolis

Cost: Free

More info: To learn more or register, visit

Or email


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