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Tammy Kirkland did not work in the mortgage industry before taking the reins of the Alabama Mortgage Professionals Association. But even if she never processed a loan, she nonetheless brought the right skill set to running the association. National Mortgage Professional Magazine spoke with Kirkland about her leadership of this group.
How and why did you get involved with the Alabama Mortgage Professionals Association? Can you share the track within your association that led to a leadership role?
My background after college consisted of positions in marketing and as an account executive in the banking industry. A friend of mine told me about the executive director position with the AMBA, the Alabama Mortgage Brokers Association, since she was involved in the mortgage industry and with the association and thought it would be the perfect fit for both me and the association. That was 13 years ago, which is hard to believe! At that time, the then-current executive director was running both Alabama and Mississippi, and AMBA was ready to focus just on our state and the growth we were experiencing.
Everyone who experiences the role of executive director knows they perform some tasks within every role of the association. I liked the variety of responsibilities and was more than ready to put my degree in public relations to the test. This job lets me use skills in all areas, so things never get boring.
Why do you feel members of the mortgage profession in your state should join AMPA?
The association recently changed its name to the Alabama Mortgage Professionals Association, AMPA. This name more accurately portrays our membership. Anyone in the mortgage industry or affiliated with mortgage loans will benefit becoming a member.
AMPA strives to be the one that all mortgage professionals turn to for education, legislative updates and questions, marketing ideas and ways to implement them. The best part is having your fellow colleagues there to help you navigate this crazy industry. Our board goes out of their way to be there for any member to ask questions, seek advice or just to encourage. They do this daily as they serve in their leadership roles by e-mail, on the phone and in person.
I often hear that AMPA strengthens friendships and improves networking within the industry and gives members a voice at both the state and local level. We may be a small association, but AMPA works well as a team and continues to have a positive impact in expressing ways to enhance the livelihood of its members.
What role does your association play in the state legislative and regulatory environment, and are there any items on the current agenda you would like to highlight?
Over the years, AMPA has participated in lobby days in Montgomery, State PAC fundraising and in the NAMB Legislative Conference. We work closely with the Alabama State Banking Department and have great allies in both Scott Corscadden and Jeremy Windham. They continue to attend our events to speak to our members and truly care about being there to help navigate through licensing and regulatory issues.
AMPA held a Business Development Day earlier in the year with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau speaking to us. We continue to address everything from compliance and TRID training and software changes for new disclosures at our Business Development Days and our upcoming Convention. Our PAC and Legislative Chair Rod Morris stays informed on upcoming legislative changes and works with our board to get the word out to our members. We share this information on our Web site and in our President’s Letter. Loan officer compensation remains high on our list of items to address.
What do you see as your most significant accomplishments with the association?
I believe just keeping us a viable association in some of the most difficult years and constantly brainstorming on ways to attract members and bring value to our membership. We have watched many other small state associations fold, and by diligently staying focused and keeping an optimistic attitude while implementing cost-saving events, we’ve been able to keep moving forward.
I have seen my share of changes over the years, especially on the licensing, testing and education side. I make it my goal to bring our members the best education, instructors and materials to get their CE hours. I have always been very meticulous in understanding NMLS requirements and keeping our live classes the best education experience for our members. Without top-notch education, AMPA would not have survived the lean years.
I have grown to know most of our members personally and they know I care and have their best interests at heart. They know if I don’t know the answer to their questions, I will find a way to get to the right person to help them.
As a state affiliate of NAMB, how does that affiliation add to your association and toward the overall agenda for the mortgage profession nationwide?
NAMB is our national voice and our members are, in turn, exposed to weekly updates on the industry, lobbying efforts, regulatory changes and overall ways to better themselves in their profession. It is important to AMPA to have the expertise of NAMB’s staff and board giving their feedback, analyzing difficult topics and viewpoints and ultimately keeping our best interests in mind while fighting for us. I am able to help answer my members’ questions with the help of NAMB’s Web site and correspondence.
I have come to see how much easier my job is by using the top leaders in NAMB for their knowledge and skills, and sharing this with my members. My NAMB State Executive Director and Leadership Monthly Calls have been a great source of keeping the lines of communications open from the state level on up to the national level. We all share our goals, accomplishments and concerns, and this, in turn, motivates us.
How would you define the state of housing in Alabama?
The housing market is definitely rebounding. There are more housing developments and construction is all around us. There is increased confidence, especially in the Birmingham area, and sales are strong throughout the entire state. I hear from members that they haven’t been this busy in years. This is certainly exciting news! Single-family home sales are up and home values are experiencing positive growth. Owners are gaining enough equity to create some activity.
Alabama is more affordable than most markets, so this keeps movement in the housing market. It is great to see a renewed faith and energy in our industry.