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Fannie Mae Chair, CEO To Resign May 1

David Krechevsky
Apr 08, 2022
Fannie Mae HQ

Board elects Wells Fargo exec Michael Heid to succeed Chairwoman Sheila Bair; President David Benson will serve as interim CEO.

Fannie Mae will soon have a new chairman of the board and a new chief executive officer.

In a news release Friday afternoon, the government-sponsored enterprise announced that both board Chairwoman Sheila C. Bair and CEO Hugh R. Frater, who also is a board member, have chosen to resign effective May 1.

According to the release, the board has unanimously elected Michael J. Heid to succeed Bair as chair, while also appointing Fannie Mae President David C. Benson to the additional roles of interim CEO and board member. The appointments would take effect on May 1, subject to final approval by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).

Bair was appointed chairwoman in November 2020, and has served in the position for a little over 16 months. She had joined Fannie Mae’s Board of Directors in August 2019, and during her tenure served as a member of the Community Responsibility and Sustainability Committee, the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee, and the Risk Policy and Capital Committee.

“I’ve been privileged to serve this institution and its dedicated employees as we have remained relentlessly focused on the needs of homeowners and renters through a pandemic, tumultuous market conditions, and a transition in Administrations,” Bair said. “Unfortunately, I have found it difficult to meet the substantial time demands of this position while fulfilling my other board and advisory responsibilities.”

She added that she is proud of the “organization’s many innovations to promote sustainable homeownership, including streamlined refinancings for low-income households, use of rental data in underwriting, and a more progressive fee structure.”

She thanked Frater, and praised Heid, whom she said “will be outstanding as the next Chair of Fannie Mae.”

“Sheila has distinguished herself by her hard work, intelligence, and above all else her passion for Fannie Mae’s important mission,” Frater said. “We thank her for her dedicated service and wish her well in her future endeavors.”

Frater also praised both successors. “I also want to welcome Mike Heid as our new chair and Dave Benson as my successor,” he said. “Mike brings unrivaled knowledge of the mortgage markets, and commitment to our mission, vision, and leadership as we continue to provide equitable and sustainable access to affordable homeownership and rental housing.”

He continued, “When I became CEO in 2019, I committed to the board (that( I would remain for three years, and it has been the privilege of a lifetime to lead this organization. Given the strides we have made on so many fronts, this is the right time to transition to a new CEO.”

Heid said he is honored to be chosen as the new chairman. “This is a pivotal time for Fannie Mae, and I look forward to working with Dave, the exceptional Fannie Mae team, and with my colleagues on the Board in service of homeowners and renters across the country,” he said.

Heid served as executive vice president, Home Lending, of Wells Fargo & Co. from 1997 to his retirement in January 2016. He served in a number of positions at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, the mortgage banking division of Wells Fargo, including as president from 2011 to September 2015; as co-president from 2004 to 2011, and earlier as chief financial officer and head of Loan Servicing. Heid was employed by Wells Fargo or its predecessors since 1988. He also currently serves on the board of Roosevelt Management Co. and the Advisory Board for Home Partners of America and Promontory MortgagePath.

Benson currently serves as Fannie Mae president, responsible for leading the development and execution of its strategic plan, as well as leading the Single-Family and Multifamily businesses; he will continue in that role. He previously has served in a number of executive positions during his 20 years at Fannie Mae, including as executive vice president and CFO. He also serves on the Board of Managers of Common Securitization Solutions, a Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac joint venture.

Fannie Mae’s board of directors said it plans to conduct a national search for a permanent CEO.

Separately, Fannie Mae also announced the resignation of Antony Jenkins from the board, also effective May 1. Jenkins also cited time commitments as the reason for his departure. 

Bair is a former chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and assistant secretary for Financial Institutions at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, who serves as a board member or advisor to several companies and nonprofits. Jenkins is the founder and executive chair of 10xFuture Technologies, after having served in top banking positions, including CEO of Barclays PLC. He joined the board in July 2018.

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