Taking a leap of faith to begin a new career or reconnect with a lost loved one isn’t always easy. But if you can find that missing piece or person and fill a void in your life, it’s worth it. This is what happened to Michele Dugan and Trish Morgan-Tilley (both 51 years old), sisters that were separated as children.
Three years ago, the sisters reconnected after being apart for 40 years. It was a transformative experience, both personally and professionally. “I was feeling depressed and hopeless when I found out that I may have a sister living here in town,” Morgan-Tilley says.
Today, the women are known as the Las Vegas–based real estate duo “Sisters Selling Vegas” with Realty ONE Group — and they share their story with Woman’s World.
Born to the same father but different mothers, the sisters went their separate ways at an early age — although not by choice. “My brother Michael and I were taken away from my mom when I was six months old, Michael was two. I am told we were living in various cars and places, with no place of our own.” Dugan says.
Morgan-Tilley remained with their father and her birth mother, while Dugan and her brother were raised in various foster homes. “This went on for about three and a half years, apparently while our mother tried to get herself on the straight and narrow and be able to have a home to have us in,” Dugan adds.
After years of moving around, the siblings were adopted by a warm and loving family — an adoption that was finalized when Dugan was seven. “I remember the judge asking us how we liked the family and if this is where we wanted to live, and we said, ‘Yes,'” she recalls.
Dugan notes some of the challenges she and her brother faced while growing up, such as getting accustomed to a new school.
“We went to regular school, and then were picked up [by our adoptive family] and taken to Hebrew school, where we learned to read, write, and speak Hebrew, as well as the culture,” she says. “That was a challenge as well for two kids just trying to blend in after not blending with anything up to that point, but we made the best of it.”
Dugan says their parents taught them the importance of hard work and prioritizing family, a lesson that stayed with both siblings. Dugan’s brother is now retired from his military career, which included serving in the Army and joining the Austin, TX fire department as a reservist.
Dugan attended college and worked in accounting for several years before finding her true passion: real estate.
“During a real estate transaction, the clients rely heavily on the advice and expertise of their agent…I was determined to learn everything I could to be the best realtor I could be,” she says.
Dugan earned her real estate license at age 28 and began making a name for herself in the Las Vegas real estate scene, where she’s now worked for over two decades.
A Reunion At Last
Having settled into her career, Dugan decided that it was time to learn about her family background. So, three years ago she signed up for Ancestry.com and began tracing her lineage.
It didn’t take long before Dugan received a message from a woman named Trish, who reached out to her believing they were sisters. The two women met for coffee and quickly formed a sisterly bond, as they had several things in common.
First, both of their sons were the same age and attended the same high school. Second, they had both been living in Las Vegas for 30 years (and didn’t even know the other was there).
Third, they both had a background in real estate. Dugan was already a real estate guru, while Morgan-Tilley had started school but was yet to receive her license. Dugan decided to share her two decades of real estate expertise with her sister — and helped Morgan-Tilley earn her own license.
“When I met my sister and found out that she has been in real estate for over 25 years, I knew that we were destined to meet and work together,” Morgan-Tilley shares. “She immediately took me under her wing, I got my license, and we became Sisters Selling Vegas.”
Sisters Selling Vegas
Going into business with a sibling or loved one can be risky. But these sisters have the time of their lives working closely with one another.
“We have so much fun working together. It’s a different adventure every single day. We are both dedicated to the business and our clients. Our work ethic is exactly the same which is why we are such a good team,” Morgan-Tilley says.
Along with their professional success, both women have experienced personal wins after reconnecting.
“Since we have met, I am rebuilding my relationships with my two older daughters. I have paid off creditors, IRS, and back child support. I have recently purchased my first home and bought a new car,” Morgan-Tilley says. “We have only known each other for three and half years and she has helped me accomplish more in that time than most people could accomplish in a lifetime.”
Dugan notes that meeting her sister and forming such a close bond has made her feel complete.
“I thank God for bringing us together finally, I could not imagine my life if I did not get to know her and am even more thankful that we hit it off the way we did,” Dugan concludes. “It’s just like we’ve known each other our entire life, not missing anything from day one.”