This year marks the 50th anniversary of the National Association of Professional Mortgage Women (NAPMW). Established in 1964, NAPMW was founded by nine women with around 161 years of total mortgage experience among them. The first association meeting was held in Seattle, Wash., with the aim of further establishing and promoting women in the field of mortgage banking. While the original association was predominantly centered around the Seattle area, other parts of the country began expressing interest in joining the then-called Seattle Association of Professional Mortgage Women. Eligibility requirements were fairly simple. If you’re connected to the mortgage industry, either currently or previously, there’s an opportunity for you to join the NAPMW. “I was one of the nine women who got together in February 1964 for a dinner meeting,” said Georgene Peterson Lee, founding member and first president of the NAPMW. “Out of that meeting, the seed for starting an organization to help improve and get recognition for women working in the mortgage lending field developed. I was the first president and was instrumental in setting up the framework of the organization and developing the bylaws for the organization. In October of 1965, we held a ‘bosses’ night to explain to our employers what we were attempting to do.” From there, the NAPMW established an association-wide code of ethics as follows: Members shall recognize the magnitude of the responsibility in accepting this field as a career, and shall engage themselves individually and collectively to further the purposes of the Association and bind themselves to the provisions of this Code. In fulfilling the obligations of our profession we ... ►Shall adhere to the Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws and Standing Rules and accept the responsibility of membership in this Association with integrity and dignity. ►Shall accord just and equitable treatment to all members of the profession in the exercise of their professional rights and responsibilities. ►Shall not misrepresent an institution or organization with which we are affiliated and shall take adequate precautions to distinguish between personal, institutional and organizational views. ►Shall be guided in all our activities by the highest ideals for which the National Association of Professional Mortgage Women stands, and be aware of our commitment to ourselves, the profession and the community. The association’s code of ethics may have been tweaked and refined over the years to have morphed into what it is today, but the aims of the association have always been guided by the following mantra: ►To promote and foster educational opportunities for its members. ►To maintain the high standards of the profession. ►To work for equal recognition and opportunities for women. ►To bring its members together for the exchange of experiences, ideas and interests in all phases of mortgage banking on the local, region, and national levels. ►To encourage women to choose the mortgage banking profession as a career. “NAPMW’s purpose has always been to promote and foster educational opportunities for its members and to bring its members together for the exchange of experiences, ideas, and interests in all phases of mortgage banking on all levels,” said Jill Kinsman of U.S. Bank, current NAPMW national president. “Education and networking continue to bring our members together for these reasons, particularly at a time in our careers when there have been so many changes in our industry.” Women have long been considered underrepresented in the mortgage industry. There are constant pushes for women to take a more active role in various companies across the nation. NAPMW’s goals aren’t to be taken lightly, and those in leadership positions with the association take their duties seriously. “We have transitioned from a fully managed association to a self-managed association over the past seven years, while still trying to maintain our ‘Premier Provider of Mortgage Education’ status. Our membership has declined drastically with the downturn in the industry, but we are a stronger association because of it,” said Laurie Abshier, past national president. “Our membership is also ‘aging.’ We seem to either have difficulty reaching the Gen-X’ers or they don’t get the importance of education. This is something we continue to work on.” “NAPMW works to promote equal recognition and opportunities for women as well as men in our industry today. When NAPMW originated in 1964, those opportunities were not as readily available to women, and I feel that NAPMW made an impact on women’s lives because it gave them the knowledge and the confidence to succeed in pursuing a career in the mortgage lending industry,” said Kinsman. “While today’s market allows for more equal opportunities for women, it is still vitally important to continue to provide both men and women with the tools and skills they need through education and networking to succeed in their careers.” Education and mentoring are some of the cornerstones of the NAPMW. Maintaining educational systems not only for women, but for anyone with a thirst to learn and remain on top of the multiple regulatory shifts facing the mortgage industry today has only added to the value of the NAPMW and its mission since its inception back in 1964. “Mentoring is a large part, and we have always encouraged our members to get involved in the association on all levels,” said Sue Barnett, past national president of NAPMW. “They begin by starting on the local levels and move up. This experience and the training that NAPMW offers carries over into their personal and business lives.” Keeping education at the forefront in the promotion of professionalism, NAPMW also partners with current NMLS providers to assist their members in getting the continuing education both online and in live classroom settings that they need to continue in their chosen professions. For those looking to make a change, NAPMW also offers a career center that allows members to potentially seek employment opportunities within businesses and with recruiters associated with the NAPMW. Members receive access to members-only online content, discounts at national events, and more. The NAPMW also fosters its leadership program, established to help provide insight for future mortgage industry leaders and those seeking a career in the profession. “We have made great strides in furthering the development of our ‘Choose to Lead’ program under Candace Smith, CME, CMI, past national president, and Jeanne Evans, CME this year," said President Kinsman. “We have had an entire new section added to our Web site devoted to leadership and training. We have presented and sponsored some terrific Webinars, and have added a resource library and forum to connect and have your questions answered. We want to encourage and provide our members with the skills and confidence they need as they take on leadership roles within NAPMW going forward.” “It makes us better loan originators and better leaders,” said Abshier of the association’s leadership initiatives. “Unfortunately in today’s immediate environment where everything is seemingly available at the click of a mouse, individuals in our industry are moving away from general knowledge of the business which puts them at a disadvantage of seasoned loan originators that learned most of what they know over a long period of time through osmosis and through learning from their own mistakes. It is so hard to hear a new loan officer say ‘You are so lucky’ … no … not lucky.’ I pounded the pavement for years to make myself ‘lucky enough’ to work off my referral base.” There is strength in membership for the NAPMW. While there has been a downtick in actual membership numbers in the years since the economic crisis began, there is a surging level of pride and excitement within the organization. “The most profound impact the NAPMW has had on the industry is its support of its members and the communities they serve during the chaotic times we all went through from 2007-2011,” said Ken Perry, president and CEO of The Knowledge Coop and NAPMW VP of the Northwestern Region. “NAPMW continues to meet and provide support, education, and encouragement to the industry at a time when each person was going through difficult times allowing members to rebuild and grow their businesses.” Many of the individuals interviewed for this feature highlighted the importance of the organization, while also praising how intensely loyal those who weathered the storm have been. “For the members and the companies that have invested time and energy into NAPMW, the impact has been a more professionally developed employee and exposure for those companies,” said Kim Rozell of CFCU Community Credit Union, Central NY President and National Vice President of the Eastern Region. “The saying, ‘You only get out of something what you put into it’ comes to mind here. The more you invest and participate within NAPMW, the more it will allow you to grow within areas such as leadership and being educated in industry topics.” There has also been an exciting stimulation of ideas and concepts created by those in the association, at all levels. “One thing about NAPMW is its loyal core of members, who have devoted countless hours to keeping NAPMW alive. They should be applauded,” said Barnett. The NAPMW also has a foundation-arm called the APMW Foundation. The Foundation is a corporation, with a principal office in Washington. Not directly part of NAPMW, APMW Foundation is able to give grants and scholarships to NAPMW members, and since its inception, the Foundation has awarded more than 80 scholarships totaling more than $75,000. “The APMW Foundation was formed in March of 1992 with the purpose of providing scholarships to mortgage finance students, thereby providing financial aid to all facets of mortgage finance education,” said President Kinsman. “Funding may be used for university or community college coursework, as well as other educational coursework that may be available, but must be in the area of finance, mortgage banking or its related fields.” Kinsman reflects on her time as president of the NAPMW and whether or not the dip in membership has proven a stumbling block or not. “Serving as a leader of NAPMW has been a great source of joy to me, dedicating my time to something I truly am invested in and believe in,” said President Kinsman. “That being said, some of the issues we have all struggled with in our industry for the past several years has affected NAPMW as well. Due to regulatory changes, many of our jobs look very differently than they did a few years ago. Many people have left the industry or changed to new positions. While continuing to stay educated is important in order to know how those changes affect us, many of our employers are not as supportive as they were at one time. Membership and marketing our association are the two areas that have been a challenge because of this. We are working toward marketing NAPMW through social media and other avenues and hope to continue building our membership by providing a value to our members that is vitally important.” The NAPMW is an association with a history of values, confidence and education. It is firmly grounded in the notion of advancing women in the mortgage industry, while also promoting education for all, male or female. The NAPMW ‘s values are incredibly important to the industry, as a whole and for the continued progression of the mortgage professional in today’s regulatory-laden environment. “Those values are quality education, great networking opportunities, long-lasting relationships and growing your personal and professional skills,” said President Kinsman. As the NAPMW returns to its roots of Seattle, May 15-17, enjoying its “Golden Celebration in The Emerald City,” one must note that the association over the past 50 years has adhered to its original goals and pledges of promoting and fostering the mortgage profession. Fifty years later, the association is still going strong in today’s mortgage marketplace, one riddled with regulation at every turn in a tumultuous economic and U.S. housing market. However, the NAPMW remains true to its roots and mortgage professionals nationwide can attest to the power and benefits of membership in the organization. Robert Ottone is executive editor with National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by phone at (516) 409-5555, ext. 314 or by e-mail at [email protected]. This article originally appeared in the April 2014 edition of National Mortgage Professional Magazine.