NMP’s Mortgage Lending Women of Inspiration, 2021

Professionals that make us want to be better ourselves.

NMP Magazine

In an industry that often runs on swagger and braggadocio, there are times it’s reassuring to step back and pay attention to those in the mortgage world whose work serves as an inspiration to all of us. And given the additional hurdles that women in the workplace have to deal with, we’re especially proud of this year’s selection of National Mortgage Professional’s Inspirational Mortgage Women.

To be inspirational doesn’t mean that someone has achieved all their goals yet. It doesn’t mean, necessarily, that they have achieved the pinnacle of their career. It simply means that when we look at this person’s accomplishments, their philosophies, the way they support those around them, that we can find in them a spark that makes us want to be better ourselves. Can we do more for clients? Can we be better mentors to our colleagues? Can we set goals for ourselves to achieve what others have shown is possible?

The women on these pages each has a personal story of their success, and in those stories each of us can connect to something that can inspire us to be better in some way. And in that inspiration, we can also find its sibling, admiration. Because while we strive to do as well as these honorees, we also realize that they’ve already done it. So please join with us at NMP as we recognize the 2021 class of Inspirational Mortgage Women.

All honorees are listed alphabetically by last name.

 


Patty Arvielo

Patty Arvielo headshot

Co-Founder and President 
New American Funding 

How did you get involved with the mortgage industry? What keeps you motivated to stay?
My first job was an entry-level clerical position at TransUnion Credit at 16. From there, I joined a big mortgage company, rising from a clerical loan opener to assistant vice president.

The mortgage industry is going to see some big changes. Our vision at New American Funding is something that is both futuristic and attainable. It’s still fun to be able to work our magic and build a company that can serve the customers of the future. Beyond that, this industry has provided me with a life that allows me to give back, which brings me a lot of joy.

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
It’s important to make sure they are aligned with companies that have diversity and being included as fundamental parts of the organization’s ethos. It’s not enough to have a diverse workforce. You also have to encourage and allow everyone to share their voice, their thoughts, their opinions, and their ideas, and their vision. 

What is your opinion on the importance of having female leaders in the mortgage industry?
The future is female. I don’t think you own or run a successful company without having female representation. And it’s only going to become more pronounced as we move forward. Single females are driving homeownership more than any other group, outside of Hispanics. Mortgage companies need to be prepared to thrive in our changing environment. 

Additionally, the way women do business is different than the way men do business. It’s critically important to have different perspectives, especially in an industry that’s changing. 

As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career? How did you overcome this barrier?
There have definitely been struggles of acceptance that I have dealt with, especially among fellow leaders of companies. I still deal with them today. There’s still an issue with representation among leadership and it doesn’t give me the sense of belonging that I still yearn for. To get the respect that I need and deserve is still an issue. I’m still dealing with it, but I feel confident that we can affect positive change going forward.

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Michele Buschman

Michele Buschman headshot

Chief Information Officer
American Pacific Mortgage

How did you get involved with the mortgage industry? What keeps you motivated to stay?
I graduated from college, planning to be a biology teacher. A relative worked for a mortgage company. She hired me as a document drawer – that is how it started! Over the years, I held roles in all operational functions, ending up in secondary marketing. It was that role that propelled my career into technology. This is where I found my passion, solving business problems with technology solutions. What's kept me in the industry is the ability to constantly be learning, and the passion to make the dream of homeownership a reality for our customers! 

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
Most women struggle with self-confidence issues. Particularly when we are in the early years of our careers. As we mature, we naturally get better at believing in ourselves. This can impact your career trajectory. So I would say be bold, speak up, and demonstrate what you have to offer. Also, do not be afraid of conflict. Learn how to deal and be comfortable with it, and not shy away from hard conversations!

What is your opinion on the importance of having female leaders in the Mortgage industry?
Having a diverse workforce enables a company to be more successful. Everyone brings a unique set of experiences and skills to the table. Having a broader view of the world only benefits companies and individuals. Having female leaders is critical in the industry's ability to serve the diverse customer base … and to blend in different perspectives, skills and experiences into its strategy, from potentially a different perspective if the leaders were all male. 

As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career? How did you overcome this barrier?
The most significant barrier was self-imposed. It had to do with self-confidence and a natural tendency to want to avoid conflict. You have to be bold and take chances to move up. Doing an exceptional job doesn't mean that the position you want is going to come to you. Use your voice to tell people what you want, and be intentional in your actions to achieve it! I have overcome these challenges through experiences, self-discovery, leadership coaching, and of course mentors! At the end of the day, you own your own success or failure! 

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Rachel Caple

Rachel Caple Headshot

Chief Sales and Revenue Officer
Geneva Financial, LLC

How did you get involved with the mortgage industry? What keeps you motivated to stay?
I was an account executive in another industry in 2001 when a friend who worked for a wholesale lender, introduced me to the account executive opportunity with her company. I was ready for a change and the rest is history! The daily challenges and changes the mortgage industry presents keeps me going. I'm a strategic thinker and appreciate the ability to problem solve. 

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
Create your path by asking questions, studying the industry and learn something from everyone you meet. As women, I believe many of us have been conditioned to be agreeable and support other's ideas even when we might not agree. Challenge ideas and don't assume you have to be agreeable just because you might be less experienced or have a lesser title that the others "in the room." If you have a question about a process, interpretation or idea, others probably do as well. Also, don't burn yourself out and take time to care for your wellness!

What is your opinion on the importance of having female leaders in the mortgage industry?
The mortgage industry is male dominated, plain and simple. I do believe women offer a different perspective, which is critical to rounding out the industry. Increasing diversity in the workplace lends itself to increased productivity and efficiencies, as different perspectives lead to increased innovation. Companies with expanded diversities are proven to outgrow and outperform those with less diverse leadership. 

As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career? How did you overcome this barrier?
Being quiet about my accomplishments. Many times women run around multi-tasking, improving process, scaling pieces of the organization without taking the time to recognize the value they bring to the table. This not only hindered my growth but the value I saw in myself. Each week, I take time to write down my accomplishments for the week, even if they are small. At the beginning of each year, I write down goals for myself. Reflecting on these accomplishments and goals throughout the year has helped me become more confident in the value I bring to an organization. 

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Katrina Cummins

Katrina Cummins headshot

SVP, Learning & Development
Envoy Mortgage, LTD.

How did you get involved with the mortgage industry? What keeps you motivated to stay?
In high school, a family friend was an loan officer at a small broker shop. I started cold calling for him through a co-op program (before NMLS). I moved into operations, starting in post-closing, and worked my way forward in the loan process: closing, processing and underwriting. Eventually I found my passion in operations management and training. 
Someone once told me if you print a mortgage guideline it will change the next day. I love that each day presents a new set of challenges. Problem solving, finding efficiencies, and learning keep me motivated. Even after 20 years I learn something every day.

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
Work life balance is not always achievable and that is OK. Some days, work will take priority when your projects are behind, and you need to put in the extra hours to get them on track. Other days you will have parent teacher conferences, a track meet, and a dance competition to go to and life takes 100% of your focus. You do not need to be everything for everyone all the time – it is OK. All you can do is your best, and your best IS enough!

What is your opinion on the importance of having female leaders in the mortgage industry?
It is important to have female representation in leadership to show the next generation what is possible. Diversity in leadership brings varied experiences and opinions. This builds stronger teams and ultimately stronger companies.

As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career? How did you overcome this barrier?
Learning how to command respect without being perceived as bossy. It is a fine line and some days it can still be a challenge. I have been fortunate to have great mentors in my career, one I still work with today after 15 years. They have led by example and provided constructive feedback. I hope to be a role model for my children and the next generation. 

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Suzy Djilas

Suzy Djilas Headshot

Enterprise Account Executive
SimpleNexus

How did you get involved with the mortgage industry? What keeps you motivated to stay?
My initial entry was by total fluke. I originally started out as a receptionist for a realty company that also had an in-house lending division. I have been working in the industry ever since. I jokingly say that the mortgage industry is like the mafia; once you get in it is hard to get out. Ultimately, I love playing a role in helping people fulfill their homeownership dreams.

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
My advice to the next generation of female leaders is to be persistent and never give up on your goals of advancing in the industry. When I started years ago it was very much a male-dominated industry. I have strived to set myself apart by staying positive. I also feel it is important to be open and honest in your interactions with coworkers with a willingness to help your peers out when they have a need.

What is your opinion on the importance of having female leaders in the mortgage industry?
Everyone needs a mentor and someone to look up to, especially women who are working in the mortgage industry. Female leaders play such an important role in setting the example and paving the way for a younger generation to not only follow in our footsteps but also build off the path we have paved and ultimately achieve even more within the industry.

As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career? How did you overcome this barrier?
The most significant barrier I have faced in my career is breaking through in a male-dominated industry. It may sound cliché but it is true that persistency and consistency must be part of your daily work ethic to prove that you can make valuable contributions as a woman. Mental strength and continually striving to have an “I can do it” mentality have really helped me throughout my career.

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Sheli Flieger

Sheli Flieger Headshot

Sr. Vice President, Capital Markets and Post Closing
Norcom Mortgage

From Sheli’s nomination:
In 2008, Sheli Flieger joined Norcom Mortgage to manage the direct secondary and post-closing department. Since then, she has played an integral role in the department and company’s growth.
By implementing a lock desk and automating our hedging platform, Sheli streamlined Norcom’s closing process and decreased turn-times enhancing our customers’ experience.
Currently, she serves as Sr. Vice President, Capital Markets. In this role, her responsibilities include secondary and lock desk management, pipeline risk management, setting hedge positions using TBAs, overseeing hedge positions, and managing loan delivery to mandatory and AOT commitments.
Sheli is a member of the Mortgage Bankers Association and serves on the Secondary Market Committee. She has been active in a wide variety of professional and charitable organizations including Norcom Cares.
Phil DeFronzo, Norcom’s President & CEO, says regarding Sheli, “First, Sheli is smart. She is kind, professional compassionate and someone who is valued very much here at Norcom.”

From her company bio:
Her educational background includes attending Clark University, in Worcester, MA, for marketing and new business development. She also earned a bachelor’s degree in design and resource management from the University of Connecticut. In her spare time, she’s an avid outdoor adventurer, enjoying skydiving, scuba diving, skiing and mountain climbing.

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Helen Ghebremichael

Helen Ghebremichael Headshot

Director of FP&A and Treasury
NRL Mortgage

How did you get involved with the mortgage industry? What keeps you motivated to stay?
A career change sparked my entrance to the mortgage industry. When I went back to school for accounting/finance, I was looking for an industry that could marry my love of numbers with my desire for growth opportunities. My brother who works in the mortgage industry suggested I give it a try. Once landing my first job in accounting at NRL Mortgage, I haven’t looked back. I continue to be motivated by the smiles of new homeowners fulfilling their life goals and my fun-loving work colleagues. 

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
Express your opinion. Convey your point of view. Recommend the unpopular idea. Ask for the raise. But, be sure to always provide the research and facts to support it. All of these create a more dynamic workforce and more engaged leaders who are constantly innovating to improve the company. Not all ideas will be “the next big thing,” but the overall culture will be one of passion, energy, and drive. We all want to be around and work with people like that! 

What is your opinion on the importance of having female leaders in the Mortgage industry?
Diversity is an important thing to have in the workplace, whether it is the inclusion of female leaders, various ethnicities/races, or the spectrum of generations. It brings a collection of opinions together and access to a wider range of talent. With the growing number of female homeowners, it is also important to have representation within the industry’s leaders to appeal to the customer base. 

As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career? How did you overcome this barrier?
There is a societal stigma that if you don’t have a family, then your free time is not personal time, but belongs to the company. As an unmarried woman, I felt pressure to work later and harder than those with families. On a vacation I inadvertently ended up without internet service, I felt completely liberated. I realized I needed to prioritize my mental health and learned that work keeps moving when you are gone. I now proactively put a coverage plan in place and set expectations before being away. My advice to everyone - enjoy your vacation time! 

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Julian Grey

Julian Grey Headshot

EVP, Mortgage & Capital Markets Product Management
Black Knight, Inc.

How did you get involved with the mortgage industry? What keeps you motivated to stay?
I landed in the mortgage industry purely by accident. With experience in data and analytics, I joined one of the leading mortgage data providers in 2007 and never looked back. 
What keeps me motivated? I have a deep passion for working in this industry knowing that data and analytics can help drive market liquidity and support the American dream of homeownership, as well as help create jobs for the companies we work with and the industry overall. 

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
Our industry has a long history and rich traditions. But the next generation can and should take the mortgage industry to the next level by embracing diversity and transparency. Helping more American borrowers understand how the mortgage ecosystem works would help the industry overall. My sincere hope is that the next generation will be bold, do the right thing, and innovate with honesty, ethics and curiosity.

What is your opinion on the importance of having female leaders in the mortgage industry?
We need more female leaders in this industry, especially at the C-suite and board levels – and we need more overall diversity in the mortgage industry. I have been fortunate in my career. The leaders who have mentored and sponsored me have been committed to diversity – they simply valued talent, hard work and impact. I work to consistently build diverse and capable product management and analytics teams, placing women in quantitative and technical roles, and we hold each other to high standards.

As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career? How did you overcome this barrier?
My most significant barriers have always come from within. I am naturally introverted, so I have worked tirelessly throughout my career to feel comfortable letting my voice be heard. There were times when I just had to take a deep breath, take a chance and speak my thoughts. I remember many years ago, during a meeting shortly after starting out in my career, a female leader said, “I disagree.” I thought to myself, “What? Surely we females can’t say the words ‘I disagree". That was a very important and powerful moment for me.

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Marcia Griffin

Marcia Griffin Headshot

Founder and President
HomeFree-USA

How did you get involved with the mortgage industry? What keeps you motivated to stay?
My husband started the first African-American owned mortgage-servicing company. I had a marketing firm. I understood, from him, the critical need of not only putting people into homes, but also keeping them there. My marketing experience enabled me to connect with potential homebuyers in a positive way, showing the value that people would gain through homeownership. That is how HomeFree-USA was born. As an entrepreneur, you always seek bigger and better things. That's really what keeps me motivated. I see ongoing opportunities and I'm always trying to reach them. 

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
Find and interact with other women who you feel are doing positive things – people who are not only successful in their careers, but also people who you know are giving back and are deeply committed to their communities. What a lot of young women don't know is that many accomplished women are happy to interact with and give advice to the younger generation. It's just a matter of asking them. 

What is your opinion on the importance of having female leaders in the Mortgage industry?
Having female leaders is critical. There's a sensitivity that female leaders bring. In order to be successful, you need to have new ideas and women have a unique perspective. Also, we've got to remember that people gravitate toward people like themselves, which is why diversity in the mortgage industry is so critical overall. 

As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career? How did you overcome this barrier?
When I started HomeFree-USA, every person that I introduced myself to in the mortgage industry was a white man. That was 27 years ago. At the time, they did not see the value of nonprofit homeownership providers. They did not see the value of partnering with community organizations, and they did not see the value of strengthening relationships in underserved communities. I grew in my own confidence, stature and determination to a point where I became very comfortable with getting them to understand our work and its value to them in terms of closing the racial wealth gap. 

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Carrie Gusmus

Carrie Gusmus Headshot

President, CEO
Aslan Home Lending Corporation

How did you get involved with the mortgage industry? What keeps you motivated to stay?
I started out as a financial advisor. A friend was in the mortgage industry and was presented with an opportunity she didn't want to accept. It was serendipity. The role was a great fit for me so I called, interviewed for the position, and got it – even though I had no mortgage experience. I love this business. The purchase of a home isn’t only the most significant financial investment a person will ever make; it's also their sanctuary, their financial future, their college education funds, their retirement plan. There’s so much rolled into this transaction.

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
Find a female mentor that is genuinely interested in your success. There are so many young women in my company who have the potential to be better than I’ve been. I'm "on the back 9" as I heard one of my male counterparts say. I’d look to follow those young leaders on the first tee. 

What is your opinion on the importance of having female leaders in the mortgage industry?
Having women in leadership positions throughout our industry makes the industry better. Stronger. We need more caring, nurturing, collaboration, switch-tasking, and non-linear thinking. Those are all characteristics that come naturally to women. For years we've tried to behave like men for our chance to get a seat at their table. But now, we have amazing women in leadership roles who have earned their positions by leaning into their unique feminine qualities. 

As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career? How did you overcome this barrier?
It's become a cliché, but it’s true: People in power select people like themselves for leadership roles. If everyone at the leadership table is a white man, they’ll select other white men. For me, a woman, to advance in this male-dominated industry, I’ve had push myself well beyond my comfort zone, risk being unpopular, and do everything I could to far outperform male counterparts just to access the same opportunities. All this while running a household, serving as the home’s primary care-giver, the taxi driver, the cook, the nurse. 

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Tara Healy, CMB

Tara Healy Headshot

Chief Compliance Officer
Cherry Creek Mortgage, LLC

How did you get involved with the mortgage industry? What keeps you motivated to stay?
Like many others, I stumbled into the industry. The person who hired me took a chance with me as I had zero mortgage experience. Being relatively new to the U.S and a new homeowner, I understood how confusing the jargon was, how tedious the process was, and could relate to the stress of obtaining a mortgage. This experience is what still drives me today. To help others, whether directly or indirectly, pursue their own American dream of homeownership is honorable and something I cherish being part of each and every day.

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
I would advise a few things in no particular order: 

  • Surround yourself with mentors (men and women). Having men and women mentors provides unique perspectives that are so beneficial. 
  • Take risks. Although it can be daunting and sometimes uncomfortable, there is value in it. Even if you fail, you still gain a lesson. 
  • Practice resilience. Learning to bounce back from difficult situations is a skill set that can be carried throughout your lifetime.

What is your opinion on the importance of having female leaders in the Mortgage industry?
I think it is important to have a balance of men and women leaders. I think both provide different perspective and leadership styles. While it’s not true for all women, generally female leaders are more self aware, emotionally attuned, and practice humility. I think the up-and-coming workforce is looking for these types of qualities in their leadership team. 

As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career? How did you overcome this barrier?
The most significant barrier I've had in my career has been myself. Earlier in my career I often held back, did not take risks, and accepted what I was given and not go for what I truly wanted. Like many women, I've also battled with imposter syndrome. Surrounding myself with mentors, and coaches is what has ultimately helped me overcome these barriers. 

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Lusharn Heastie

Lusharn Heastie Headshot

Chief Diversity Officer
Newrez

How did you get involved with the mortgage industry? What keeps you motivated to stay?
As a human resources specialist for a leading PEO, I experienced various HR-related responsibilities and realized my true passions were people and company culture. I then joined Newrez’s Shellpoint Mortgage Servicing division in HR and helped lead and develop a management training program. Traveling to the company’s locations to provide employee instruction on topics like employment law, disciplinary action, and effective coaching afforded me a holistic understanding of our culture and inspired new ways to further it. Today, my core focus is on ensuring diversity and inclusion are embedded in our culture through management trainings, inclusive hiring practices and workplace initiatives.

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
We often allow setbacks in one area to make us doubt ourselves in other areas, which can affect our contributions and potential success. Avoid that by mastering the concept of pivoting vs. preserving. Take time to reflect on what is working and what isn't, and make a quick, calculated decision to pivot to course-correct or preserve to see it through.

What is your opinion on the importance of having female leaders in the Mortgage industry?
It’s imperative to the success and evolution of the mortgage industry to see more female leadership. In 2020, 19% of first-time homebuyers were single women. To serve homebuyers with the best level of service, more female leadership and representation is needed. We’ve made a lot of progress in closing the gender parity, but collectively still have a long way to go. It’s important that the profiles and diversity in our industry reflect the communities in which we serve. 

As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career? How did you overcome this barrier?
The fear of failure. While it still lingers at times, I've learned to rely on my strengths and work harder to develop my weaker traits. I've also learned the importance of surrounding myself with people whose strengths compliment my weaker traits. It's important to work on projects that test the boundaries of your comfort level. 
My advice: ​1) Do your homework and be open to critical feedback. Take the time understand what you do not know and ask questions to grasp a deeper understanding of processes. 2) Ask for critical feedback. What you do not know, you will not notice.

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Kelli Hodges

Kelli Hodges Headshot

Chief Operating Officer
Mortgage Coach

How did you get involved with the mortgage industry? What keeps you motivated to stay?
I got my start in the mortgage industry as an administrative assistant at a female-led wholesale mortgage company. A natural-born information sponge and problem-solver, I thrived on the opportunity to learn the many angles of the mortgage industry, which led to me being entrusted with more responsibility. Eventually, I found my calling on the tech side of the business. 
Two things keep me motivated day-in and day-out. First, I am passionate about developing solutions that help financially empower more people through homeownership. And second, this ever-evolving industry never ceases to need a fresh perspective to meet its challenges.
 
What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
To the rising generation of female leaders, I’d say don’t be afraid to speak up, lead, share your ideas and provide your unique perspective. Be proud of your voice and project it front and center. It’s equally critical to invest time in learning the business and being brave enough to ask questions and make yourself heard. 

What is your opinion on the importance of having female leaders in the Mortgage industry?
As it stands, women are woefully underrepresented in executive leadership positions, and this is especially true in the mortgage industry. How our industry conducts business has the ability to influence the housing and long-term financial outcomes of every person living in this country – men and women alike. As such, it’s important that we invite more women into what can be a very rewarding career path and promote more women into leadership positions.

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Michelle Jacinto

Michelle Jacinto Headshot

Branch Manager/Loan Officer
Direct Mortgage Loans

How did you get involved with the mortgage industry? What keeps you motivated to stay?
I had a good friend that entered the mortgage business and had me join her company. After a few weeks I knew there would be nothing I'd rather do. I love helping people, the constant changes, and being able to continually grow.

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
Always do more than is expected and never give up.

What is your opinion on the importance of having female leaders in the Mortgage industry?
Leading with compassion, and giving caring guidance is needed in our industry. Setting an example for young ladies and showing them it is possible to be in charge, be successful and have a family all at the same time is important.

As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career? How did you overcome this barrier?
At times, I allowed myself to be pushed around and talked over and didn't speak up when I should have. Through practice, worked on having a stronger presence and also becoming more assertive when it's needed. My struggle was being too nice which became a weakness in the wrong situations. Once that was realized, I made sure to be stronger when the situation called for it.

From her nomination:
Since joining the #DMLfamily, Michelle has helped over 1,400 families with their mortgage needs and continues to give back to the community by supporting the following organizations: American Heart Association, NWI Food Bank, local police departments, Toys for Tots, Paws for Cause, Lake Central Hockey and the local American Legions.

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Ashley Koon-Edwards

Ashley Koon-Edwards

Producing Branch Manager
Supreme Lending

How did you get involved with the mortgage industry? What keeps you motivated to stay?
When I started in the mortgage business, I was only focused on refinances, which taught me the groundwork for mortgages and motivated me to pursue a long-term career as a loan officer. My favorite part of what I do is guiding my clients through the home financing process and seeing the positive impact homeownership brings to people's lives. I'm fortunate to have the best team in the business supporting me and working with me to help people achieve their homeownership dreams.

What is your opinion on the importance of having female leaders in the mortgage industry?
Successful women in the mortgage industry are resilient, hardworking, dedicated, ambitious, innovative … the list goes on. They become true mentors and serve as great examples for any mortgage professional– male or female. They know the importance of setting goals and working hard to achieve those goals—whether it’s competing to be the best in the industry or being there for family and friends. Empowering women in this career will take the industry to new heights. 

As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career? How did you overcome this barrier?
I was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after starting my career in the mortgage industry. I firmly believe that being immersed in getting people into homes helped sustain me as I battled this disease while undergoing treatments. Through overcoming this health challenge, I became a stronger person, with an even stronger commitment to helping and inspiring others. 

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Jasmine Krnjetin

Jasmine Krnjetin Headshot

Sales Manager
Waterstone Mortgage

How did you get involved with the mortgage industry? What keeps you motivated to stay?
As a teenager, I emigrated from Europe to the U.S. I soon became interested in the mortgage industry and offered to work for a mortgage brokerage for free so I could learn the business. Now, 20 years later, I still enjoy helping homebuyers make smart financial decisions. I spend most of my day in client consultations – using software analysis and my own knowledge to find the smartest move for each client’s mortgage financing. For me, it isn’t just about the mortgage – it’s about helping someone create a long-term financial strategy to improve a family’s wellbeing.
 
What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
Don’t underestimate your ability to succeed – even if you’re in an industry that is traditionally dominated by men. There is a need for your expertise, skills, and individuality. I have many female clients who prefer to work with a female lender; when they are working with another woman, there’s often a unique connection and level of trust that makes them feel more comfortable and confident. 

What is your opinion on the importance of having female leaders in the Mortgage industry?
It’s essential to have leaders from all walks of life, and with all types of experience. Homebuyers like to have a choice when working with a mortgage professional, so we need strong female leaders who can relate to female homebuyers, especially. Growing up in Eastern Europe, I had a close-knit family; so I believe it’s important to create a strong sense of belonging and stability – through homeownership – for each client I serve. 

As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career? How did you overcome this barrier?
Earlier in my career, I was heavily focused on refinance business. In 2009, I integrated my company’s origination platform with a digital pricing engine to automatically quote rates and fees online, which helped me originate $97 million in loan volume that year. 
But as the market changed, I knew I needed to shift from refinance to purchase. Many people (including those I respected) told me I could never maintain that level of loan volume in a purchase-focused business, but I proved them wrong. I now average about 85% purchase business each year, originating upwards of $100 million. 

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Leah Lanier

Leah Lanier Headshot

Chief Operating Officer
Lenderworks

How did you get involved with the mortgage industry? What keeps you motivated to stay?
I began my career in retail banking, where I had my first exposure to the mortgage industry through loan officers in my financial center. I was immediately drawn to the fact that the LOs were helping clients accomplish their dreams of home ownership. 
The pace and complexity of the industry also provided the challenge I desired. Within a year, I was working in the role and striving to learn all I could. I am proud to work in an industry that helps borrowers navigate a daunting and complex process, helping them to undertake perhaps the most important transaction of their lives.

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that there is no difference between male and female leaders; there are simply successful and unsuccessful leaders. Focus on your education, maintain a voracious appetite for knowledge, hone your skillset, seek out talented mentors and don’t be afraid to ask questions. 

What is your opinion on the importance of having female leaders in the Mortgage industry?
Buying a home is the most important transaction of many people's lives. So, it's important that our industry look like the people we serve. Women bring a unique perspective and drive to the table, and can be a source of innovation and progress for our industry. I'm thrilled to see an increasing number of women rising into the ranks of leadership, and hope to see the trend continue.

As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career? How did you overcome this barrier?
Throughout my career, especially early on, I was constantly underestimated. I chose to view the barrier as an advantage and strived to consistently outperform my peer group. In every case I was soon recognized and promoted due to my dedication and evident skillset that quickly set me apart. I also found that my performance and management skills were questioned much more commonly than my male counterparts. Again, I used the barrier to my advantage and utilized the more common and more rigorous review of my work to showcase the indisputable quality and competence in my efforts. 

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Megan Marsh

Megan Marsh Headshot

Co-Founder
Keystone Alliance Mortgage

How did you get involved with the mortgage industry? What keeps you motivated to stay?
I become involved over 16 years ago after leaving my job as an accountant. I joined a small mortgage brokerage shortly after as a processor but quickly realized I wanted to originate. I loved sales and helping people. It wasn’t long before I was the top producer in my office. Today I’m still motivated by helping borrowers who have been turned down for mortgages.

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
The next generation of female leaders needs to be open about their goals, dreams, and aspirations. They can’t be afraid of failure or allow others to hold them back. They need to feel confident so that they can command the same respect as their male counterparts. They need to be able to speak their mind in all situations. The opportunities for them are endless if they are willing to believe it and fight for it no matter if they are climbing the corporate ladder or building their own business.

What is your opinion on the importance of having female leaders in the mortgage industry?
Diversity is key and studies have shown that diverse teams are more productive. Part of that diversity must be placing women in key positions at both large and small operations. More female leaders are important for the industry if it is going to continue to grow, expand and innovate because women bring a unique perspective and approach to challenges. We also need women in leadership so that younger women have access to relatable mentors and also feel there will always be someone who has their back. 

As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career? How did you overcome this barrier?
In life and in business there will be challenges. I have faced several. I’ve been fired, had a business partner gamble our money away, there have been lawsuits, and I’ve worked for a company with a culture that didn’t want me to succeed because it was so male-dominated. I have overcome all of this by sheer motivation, determination, and refusing to accept others telling me “No”, because for me that’s not an option. I’ve always continued to pursue my dreams and goals and when you focus on just that – great things can be accomplished. 

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Laura Martell

Laura Martell Headshot

Executive Vice President
Mountain West Financial, Inc.

How did you get involved with the mortgage industry? What keeps you motivated to stay?
I was born and raised in the mortgage industry, but I never thought I would end up here. What keeps me motivated and driven every day to stay here is the impact we get to have in our communities. So much of what we do can have a direct influence on the people we get to spend our time with and the people we serve.

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
This industry finds ways of attracting some of the best and brightest from all backgrounds, take what you can from everyone who you have the opportunity to come into contact with and lean on others around you. We all have stories of getting to where we are today, or having the courage to take the next step because of the other incredible women and men who have been a part of our journeys.

What is your opinion on the importance of having female leaders in the mortgage industry?
Female leaders bring a different perspective to our industry, and we're phenomenal compliments to our male counterparts. As a woman leader we offer a slightly different type and approach to connecting with fellow team members and other industry partners. More than anything I believed that a strong leadership team comprised of females and males of different ages, backgrounds, and ethnicities breeds a strong environment for success.

As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career? How did you overcome this barrier?
I believe everyone can struggle with finding ways to continue advancing without just stepping on others, to grow together and build a strong network of connections and a legacy that you can be proud to look back on. 

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Tabitha Mazzara

Tabitha Mazzara Headshot

Director of Operations
MBANC

How did you get involved with the mortgage industry? What keeps you motivated to stay?
My mother was one of the first female loan originators in New York in the 1980s -- and one of the best ever. When I was 13 years old, I needed money, and I decided to take calls and applications for mom's clients. 
What keeps me motivated is the ability to help change people's lives – and also our staff's lives. What I mean by that is I helped a single mother become a homeowner and I helped some of our other staff purchase homes. I'm not just a mother to my children; I'm also a mother to my staff. 

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
Make sure you do what you love, do it with dignity, and give it your all. Don't half-ass anything. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't do anything, especially in the mortgage industry, which is heavily male-dominated, but over the years has become less and less so. 

What is your opinion on the importance of having female leaders in the mortgage industry?
I think it's invaluable. Women have a different perspective than men, and that different perspective is important to have, especially when you have a family that's purchasing a home for their life together, that you have female representation. 

As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career? How did you overcome this barrier?
There's a stigma that men do finance better, but I broke through that barrier by working harder and showing them otherwise. 

From her nomination:
Employing her combined expertise in both software and mortgages, one of the innovations Tabitha spearheaded is MBANC’s proprietary income calculator software, a cutting-edge tool that allows underwriters to quickly analyze several years of bank statements – not in the standard 72 hours, but in minutes. 

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Sue Meitner, CMB

Sue Meitner Headshot

President
Centennial Lending Group

How did you get involved with the mortgage industry? What keeps you motivated to stay?
I always say I am crazy lucky, and it started from the beginning. My father referred me to a family friend to get into the mortgage business after I graduated from college. I started as a post closer and worked my way up from there, by knowing the ins and outs of every position it has allowed me to lead by experience. I love this industry because every day brings something different: new people to meet, new puzzles to solve, and new dreams to deliver. This keeps me motivated daily. 

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
Being a leader takes hard work and determination. Accept the challenges and tackle them head-on. Everyone strives to have balance. I would recommend you work to achieve being present when in every situation. Draw on your inner strength to make room in your life for all that is important to you. 

What is your opinion on the importance of having female leaders in the mortgage industry?
Female leaders are important in every industry, but in a dominantly male environment like the mortgage industry, it is paramount. I am excited for what the future has to hold in the mortgage business and I love being a role model for my daughter and other young women. I am grateful to have led by example how women can work hard toward their goals and succeed. I believe success truly is when hard work and opportunity meet – plus a little luck.

As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career? How did you overcome this barrier?
One significant barrier was at the start of Centennial Lending Group. In 2010 the economy was in a very troubling place and people thought starting a company was crazy – especially as a woman in the mortgage business. I did not give up this dream even after losing investors and key staff who pulled out at the last minute. I doubled-down and worked even harder: making our success even sweeter. Centennial Lending Group quickly became one of Inc magazine’s fastest growing companies and we have continued to grow and win many more awards by not looking back but embracing the future. 

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Katy Parsons

Katy Parsons Headshot

Mortgage Broker 
Advantage Mortgage

How did you get involved with the mortgage industry? What keeps you motivated to stay?
I got involved with the industry because I love helping people and solving puzzles. As a lender I am able to do both, and I truly enjoy the process. Since jumping in head first in 2012 I have gotten involved in hosting events, and I can't wait to be able to bring back Mortgage Revolution in 2022! There is nothing quite as beneficial as a room full of loan officers collaborating, and sharing ideas. It has also been a great way to connect with newer women in the industry and see how we can all give them a hand up. 

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
Don't be afraid - just jump in and you will quickly see how accepting the industry is. If you're unsure - just ask questions! This entire industry was built on the random questions we all need to ask to move forward. 

What is your opinion on the importance of having female leaders in the mortgage industry?
In any situation there is tremendous value in having the leadership be diverse. The unique perspectives and dynamic questions are a huge value-add to any conversation. 

As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career? How did you overcome this barrier?
From my experience, the mortgage industry is a level playing field. As long as you produce, and add value, only a fool will get in your way. If you run into that, change companies. There are a countless number of companies that would give anything to bring another producer to the table. Find a home that supports you and allows you to thrive - and take full advantage of the opportunities that this industry brings to the table.

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Melinda N. Payan

Melinda Payan Headshot

President
The Truth About Lending 

How did you get involved with the mortgage industry? What keeps you motivated to stay?
I was a vice president for an investment banking firm for several years. One of my clients owned a mortgage company and recruited me. That was in 1997 and here we are 24 years later. What keeps me motivated is knowing how many people we are helping. Behind every loan we do there is a significant difference we make in that homeowner's life. Whatever their goals are we help make it happen.

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
The best advice I can give is always to go after your dreams. You must envision your success first and then you will find a way to make it happen. This is the best possible time to be in this industry. There is a tremendous amount of support out there. I have raised four children and still grow a mortgage company. I have always made sure I spent time with my family. Remember indecision is a decision! Make lists of short-term and long-term goals and break them down into smaller steps. This will help you reach your goals.

What is your opinion on the importance of having female leaders in the Mortgage industry?
When I started women were mainly processors. There were very few "women-owned" mortgage companies. Fortunately for me, my mother raised my sister and me to always believe that we could achieve anything we wanted to do. There is still a critical shortage of high-producing women. Sadly, this is still a male-dominated business but that is changing. Little by little, we are making a dent and making a difference. The next generation has the opportunities they have today because of the women who paved the road for them to this point. 

As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career? How did you overcome this barrier?
I like to believe that there are no such things as barriers. I have had challenges with industry professionals who may have been more respectful to me if I had been a male. However, I will let my success and continued growth speak for themselves. Never let anyone make you think there is any barrier because there are never problems only challenges. It is how we respond to these challenges that define us. 

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Jill Portilla

Jill Portilla Headshot

VP of Borrower Engagement
Finance of America Reverse

How did you get involved with the mortgage industry? What keeps you motivated to stay?
I began my career as a loan officer in sales. I was looking for a career change when a friend of mine who was working at Finance of America Reverse told me I just had to work here and that it was a great company! He was so right, and I am so happy I started my journey here.
I am extremely self-motivated and have a powerful internal drive to succeed in this career. Most important, though—I love helping people, and my leadership within FAR and this industry allows me to do what I love.

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
Don’t give up! Becoming a leader will take work—hard work.  However, in the end it’s an extremely fulfilling and amazing role. Having the honor to lead a team here at FAR has been an exciting, challenging, and rewarding experience, and I love being part of this purpose-driven company.

What is your opinion on the importance of having female leaders in the Mortgage industry?
Historically, the mortgage industry has been male-dominated.  It’s exciting to see women rise to the challenge of leading in an ever-changing and volatile space. It’s important to have men and women in equal leadership roles, sharing ideas, and working together to improve the experience for borrowers and employees. Men and women tend to approach life differently, so it’s important to have both points of view.  Great things can happen when great people collaborate. #TeamRetirement

As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career? How did you overcome this barrier?
Juggling motherhood with a demanding career has been my biggest challenge. As I rose in my career, so did my work obligations and responsibilities.  Finding the right work/life balance was hard — it still is! I am fortunate to have family support close to home. The saying, “It takes a village” is extremely accurate. The struggle is real, but I believe working hard to find the balance is actually a huge factor in my own success. 

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Jan Preslo

Jan Preslo Headshot

Executive VP, Retail Production  
New American Funding 

How did you get involved with the mortgage industry? What keeps you motivated to stay?
I started in the mortgage business in college when a female sales manager in the construction lending department at a small regional bank that hired me for an entry-level position. I did whatever was I asked to do from being the receptionist to driving around construction sites to sign off on work completed for construction draws. 
Helping people buy their dream homes or providing better terms on a refinance is what drives me every day. What we do at New American Funding in all departments is important in providing the American dream of homeownership.   

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
Always allow yourself to be a creative thinker in bringing solutions to your manager about how the company can improve. Don’t wait for them to ask you for ideas. Be confident in presenting solutions. Look for ways to increase your knowledge. If your company provides mentorship programs, enroll in them. If your company does not provide these types of services, there are lots of free programs provided by vendors and other organizations. If you aspire to advance, ask your mentor, your manager, or your HR department how to advance in your career.

What is your opinion on the importance of having female leaders in the Mortgage industry?
I was hired by a female sales leader: very rare at that time in the 1980s; she saw grit in me and made an exception to work around my school schedule while I was still in college. I don’t know if a man would have made that exception for me.   

As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career? How did you overcome this barrier?
There wasn’t a specific barrier I had to overcome in my career. However, once I moved into sales from operations (sales was very male dominated at the time) I always pushed to make sure myself and other female peers had a seat at the table. My goal was to make sure we were included in whatever discussions or decisions were happening at the time.  Although I was not always comfortable doing this, I pushed myself to go beyond my comfort zone of staying under the radar because it is important for the female voice to be heard. 

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Aimee Quinn

Aimee Quinn Headshot

President
Nations Direct Mortgage

How did you get involved with the mortgage industry? What keeps you motivated to stay?
I was a database engineer at a software company that specialized in loan origination software. What keeps me motivated to stay? The ever-changing landscape keeps it challenging and I love a challenge.

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
Lead with your mind, rise to occasion and actively seek out opportunities

What is your opinion on the importance of having female leaders in the Mortgage industry?
At the end of the day we are here to serve a need to borrower’s mortgage financing which is arguably the largest financial decision in one’s life. It’s important to have leaders that can relate to all borrowers in order to meet their needs. 

As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career? How did you overcome this barrier?
It’s sad to say, but other female leaders were the most significant barriers. Women are harder on each other. How did I overcome this barrier? Proved myself with results and exceeded expectations. 

From her nomination:
For more than two decades, Aimee Quinn has been recognized for her leadership in sales, operations, and accelerating change. 
In 2020, Aimee championed NDM’s “Work from Anywhere” initiative. She shares, “I am very excited for this to be the new normal, it’s an opportunity to attract and retain an even more diversified talent across the nation. It’s been so rewarding to hear from our associates, especially parents, enjoying the flexibility and getting to spend more time with their families versus battling long commutes.” 
Under her leadership, Nations Direct Mortgage has quadrupled in size, expanded its footprint from 14 to 35 states, originated over $22 billion in loan volume and built an $8 billion servicing portfolio.

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Diana Rice-Wilkerson

Diana Rice-Wilkerson Headshot

Senior Loan Officer
Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation

How did you get involved with the mortgage industry? What keeps you motivated to stay?
My first job with mortgages was in the late ‘70s. A local bank hired me to replace the retiring mortgage representative. I took applications, gathered documents, ordered credit reports and mailed verifications. Applications were hand written, verifications were typed and loan committee was held once a week to approve loans. Eventually, I became the underwriting manager and asked to join a task force created to develop a special loan program to serve families with low/moderate incomes. This allowed me to test new ideas and concepts, such as 100% financing and expanded debt ratios. This was the hook!

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
My advice for the next generation is to decide what you want to accomplish and invest in yourself 110% to become the BEST at whatever it is. Many females are breaking glass ceilings. Learn from these smart, courageous women. 
I'd also advise our female leaders to connect with other awesome female leaders and develop solid, supportive relationships. These relationships are priceless, especially when going through a tough time.

What is your opinion on the importance of having female leaders in the mortgage industry?
Having female leadership represented in the mortgage industry, in all capacities, is very important. It communicates a strong message about the value placed on women in the workplace. It shows other women they can aspire to a management/leadership role. If women are not represented in all leadership positions, it's communicating a message of "inequality," "we're not good enough" or "we don't have what it takes." Additionally, women bring a unique set of skills and perspectives to the workspace which are critical in creating a healthy work environment.

As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career? How did you overcome this barrier?
As a female leader, the most significant barrier in my career has been being African American. I came along when affirmative action was passed so oftentimes I was the first and only person of color in the department where I worked. My amazing parents taught me to be prayerful, kind and respectful, even when dealing with a racially charged situation. This turned out to be excellent advice and more often than not, the situation worked out to my advantage.

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Nicole Steiner

Nicole Steiner Headshot

Director, Digital Product Management
Rocket Mortgage

How did you get involved with the mortgage industry? What keeps you motivated to stay?
I was drawn to Rocket Mortgage because of the great work being done in the City of Detroit. I was looking to move back to my home state of Michigan after living in California. Quicken Loans drew me in with the culture. 
I am coming up on my 10-year anniversary with the company. I love the work I do every day – making an impact on our organization, helping consumers realize their dream of home ownership, revolutionizing the experience we deliver to mortgage brokers and developing my team. I have an opportunity to make a difference every day!

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
Pull up a chair! That seat at the table is yours. Do your homework, voice your ideas and perspective, and believe in yourself! 

What is your opinion on the importance of having female leaders in the Mortgage industry?
Diversity in perspective is critical for any industry. New ideas are brought to the table when you have people who have different experiences in life. The more we not only welcome and encourage but demand that, the more innovative we will be. Our industry, and our clients, will be better for it. 

As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career? How did you overcome this barrier?
I have been fortunate to build a career at an organization that supports intelligent, strong team members, regardless of gender. As I look at the people I work with daily, I have many strong female role models. I hope that I, too, can set an example to help other women in this industry understand that barriers will present themselves, for all sorts of reasons, but can be overcome with hard work, perseverance and ignoring the noise.

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Sam Verma

Sam Verma Headshot

CEO
Peoples Processing, Inc.

How did you get involved with the mortgage industry? What keeps you motivated to stay?
I've worked in the mortgage industry for over 25 years, and it wasn't easy for me to start a career as a woman of Indian origin in a male-dominated sector. However, I was extremely fortunate and blessed to work closely under the direction of my boss, a feisty woman CEO. She helped me navigate the tricky landscape of my career. What has motivated me to stay focused is the opportunity to help entrepreneurs succeed while fulfilling hundreds of thousands of dreams of home ownership. This industry fuels my need for change and keeps me coming back for more.

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
I have noticed that far too many women work in isolation, sometimes because they do not have the right mentors. This is why I am a firm believer in female leaders mentoring other women. We need to have a voice, claim our rightful spot on stage, and publicly demonstrate our interest in mentoring while promoting more female representation at the leadership table. 

What is your opinion on the importance of having female leaders in the mortgage industry?
Female leaders hold a distinct advantage since more organizations want a workforce with the expertise and experience to deliver what consumers need and want most. I believe that women can have tremendous leverage on the social and emotional aspects within teams and can truly lead them by setting an example. I feel that all women in leadership roles must ensure that their team knows they are happy to mentor any women who need it.

As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career? How did you overcome this barrier?
It wasn't easy for me to break into the mortgage industry as an Indian woman in a male-dominated industry. I cannot emphasize how important it is to strike the proper balance between work and family life. Thankfully, for me, a large part of the way my career has taken shape is due to the unflinching support I received from my husband and my daughter. Without the right family support, it can get very difficult to take leadership positions in organizations. 

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Neena Vlamis

Neena Vlamis Headshot

President and CEO
A and N Mortgage Services

How did you get involved with the mortgage industry? What keeps you motivated to stay?
Growing up, my mother worked in the mortgage industry and I spent many weekends working with my father helping manage rental properties. My dad was a refugee from India. He taught me early on the value of hard work and that building wealth is a gift. I have always had an entrepreneurial mindset and was able to focus my energy into starting and growing A and N Mortgage Services over the last 20 years. I love helping people, whether training my team or helping clients, I truly love what I do so it doesn’t feel like work. 

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
Having collaboration and mentorship between the women running the businesses is an important factor of success. When you have an open mindset, stay positive, lead by example, support each other and never stop learning, there is no limit to what you can achieve.

What is your opinion on the importance of having female leaders in the mortgage industry?
Women can balance tough decisions while remaining compassionate and communicate with their teams to help instill confidence. It was only 45 years ago that women couldn’t do many things without a male co-signer. Now we have female leaders across every industry helping to make a positive change and continuing to impact the future of business. 

As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career? How did you overcome this barrier?
There are always plenty of challenges that will come but it is a matter of how you handle them. I have been faced with sexism, racism, various aggressions, but I chose to be positive, and I don’t hang on to negativity. I don’t have time or energy to waste on negative thoughts, so I let them roll off. I stay focused, do the work and help make the change I would like to see in the world. 

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Kimberly Winters

Kimberly Winters  Headshot

Senior Mortgage Banker
Movement Mortgage

How did you get involved with the mortgage industry? What keeps you motivated to stay?
After the birth of my second child, I wanted to enjoy flexibility when I returned to work so I focused on mortgage planning exclusively. Assisting folks with home buying is truly one of the most rewarding jobs. Guiding both clients and referral partners is energizing and keeps me engaged. I also love the tangible impact of seeing someone build wealth through homeownership. Repeat clients are a testament to this process.

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
As a female leader, I would share that people value authenticity, strategic thinking, and expertise. Work hard to empower other women around you. Sit at the table! As women we have superpowers due to our ability to show empathy, to be nurturing and passionate. Giving back by mentoring and elevating people around you builds influence, raises the level of play, and creates a ripple effect of change. Make sure people know they can rely on you and always strive for consistency.

What is your opinion on the importance of having female leaders in the mortgage industry?
Female leaders bring different backgrounds and perspectives. This diversity of thought brings forth new ways of thinking about things. That different perspective often brings innovation and disruption of how we doing business and creates opportunity for increased profit. It also encourages women in other industries along with young professionals, to pursue a mortgage career. We still have a long way to go; women still make up less than 20% of the highest-level jobs that have profit-and-loss responsibility in American banking, insurance, and mortgage companies.

As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career? How did you overcome this barrier?
One of the most significant barriers has been mindset and leverage. Growing in your career while being a mom is like walking a tight rope. Gender bias is real. Women are much more likely to avoid delegating. I struggled working excess hours after bedtime so that I could outperform my male counterparts. Once I surrounded myself with mentors, I was able to hire folks to support my business. I do feel that women are constantly left to prove their worth and until we shift the institutional mindsets in our corporate world, we will continue to face this. 

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Brandie Young

Brandie Young Headshot

Chief Marketing Officer
Candor Technology

How did you get involved with the mortgage industry? What keeps you motivated to stay?
I began my career with a start-up that intended to solve big industry issues. Candor Technology has a similar mission so it seems my calling is to solve the complex problems faced in mortgage manufacturing. 

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
I will share what I would tell myself a couple decades ago: 

  1. Never stop challenging yourself. You are more competent and confident than you think. 
  2. Seek many role models. 
  3. Make decisions that are aligned with your values, and most importantly: don’t spend too much time worrying about the future. Not only will it all work out, it will be better than you could ever imagine.

What is your opinion on the importance of having female leaders in the mortgage industry?
Women make bold and wise decisions as leaders. This helps make a team environment more cooperative and creative, and builds a strong culture. For an industry that's been steeped in legacy thinking, this is a crucial part of innovation.

As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career? How did you overcome this barrier?
I think barriers are more often self-imposed than gender-imposed. 

From her nomination:
Considered a “secret weapon” and kept on speed dial by industry notables, Brandie has racked up more than 20 years in the industry. No stranger to emerging technology, Brandie cut her teeth at IMX Exchange, and then went on to join the team that brought Encompass 1.0 to market. Brandie joined Candor two years ago following 13 years as Managing Partner with Marketing TBD, whose client list includes noteworthy industry firms, tech startups, a global Information technology solution provider, and an AdTech giant.

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This article was originally published in the NMP Magazine November 2021 issue.
NMP Magazine
Published on
Nov 30, 2021
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