The Woman Behind the Vision
“I love that we celebrate these amazing women for an entire year,” Beckwith shares, “when I think about where this is going, I get excited. The outpouring of gratitude and appreciation from women winners and nominators alike is incredible. We are onto something important.”
2020 WOMEN WITH VISION AWARD
Previous Winners Discuss What it Means to Be a Woman With Vision
We asked two winners from 2019 to share their thoughts on this subject. Leora A. Ruzin has found her way to achieving dreamt of goals and success even during COVID. Kerry Fitzpatrick shows us a woman with vision is not necessarily a businesswoman in her warm reminiscence from childhood.
HELPING FAMILIES OPEN NEW DOORS
An Interview with Canadian broker Linda Walters
Have you ever thought about what it’s like to be a mortgage broker in another country? Enjoy this guided tour through Laura Brandao’s interview with Linda Walters, a mortgage broker at Mortgage Architects in Ontario, Canada.
LIFESTYLE IS THE RESULT OF GOOD BUSINESS
At work, we deploy systems, strategies, protocols, and oversights to ensure our business keeps the promises we make to our customers. Every action is a measured act in efficiency, consistency, and profitability. At home, from time to time, we become reactive rather than proactive. If we allow it, the household management, feeding the family, and providing for our children’s, parent’s and spouse’s needs can overrun us.
Vision, Vitality, and Velocity: The V-Factor
Balance Brings Vitality
Have you Googled how to find balance in life? There are over two million results! We let our day run us instead of us running our day. It is time to turn off the noise, find what’s at our core, and focus on what we need most to be fulfilled.
Pandemic Reveals the Need and Power of Teamwork
It’s a huge understatement to say most businesses have struggled since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived. The connection between success and teamwork is crucial. More specifically, successful companies prioritize their people and what they do to maximize the strengths of their team to ensure everyone—including their clients—secures what they need to succeed.
This issue is all about the winners of the Woman With Vision Award. The women with vision featured in this issue are deserving of your acclaim and recognition. I continue to be amazed at both the high-level of accomplishment these women embody and the commitment to serve most of them consider a primary motivator in their own career and life goals. We have winners from all walks of career-life. Some are receiving their first major award ever and others are the grand dames of the industry. We have winners who are changing career lanes and winners who are steadfast with their long-term company connection. We have International winners from India and emigrants from central and south America. We hope you will enjoy reading about these fabulous leaders. Women With Vision is a curated, peer-nominated award. Each of these winners has earned her award and we are proud to feature their stories in these pages.
It is truly fitting that the woman whose vision led to this industry-wide movement is featured on the cover. My friend and colleague, Christine Beckwith, deserves to join the winners of this award. She’s been nominated numerous times and has declined each time. This is a choice we (the team deciding who wins) respect, grudgingly. Truly, it is a joy to include her this year with the winners and to profile both the woman and her vision for women.
In addition to the winner’s profiles, please be sure to check out the fantastic articles presented in this issue from Laura Brandao, Kerry Fitzpatrick, Jenny Mason, and newcomer to our pages, Anne Jablonski.
Written by: Candy (CaZ) Zulkosky
Christine Beckwith is a visionary. This statement is surely not news to anyone who has ever spent more than an evening in her company. In full honesty, although I have spent considerably more than an evening in her company, we have been physically present in the same location only one time, and this was during the days surrounding the Vision Summit in September 2019. This is where I will start our story.
One might expect an event named the Vision Summit to have an element of spectacle about it, and Christine’s vision for this inaugural annual event did not disappoint. From the dramatic show-darkened room setup to the parade of top industry speakers crossing the stage, to the culmination in presenting a major new industry award, the summit impressed attendees and presenters alike.
The entire summit was designed with the Women With Vision Award winners front and center. The recognition of being given a professional award can be a letdown when there’s no fanfare. This award is designed to ensure each of these deserving women are celebrated. Every winner was invited to receive her award on stage. This vision of women crossing the stage grew into life as the memorable inaugural Vision Summit came to an end. Few fledgling companies would host a major industry conference during their first year in business. For Christine, this one-day mega event was in the plan from the day the doors to 20/20 Vision for Success Coaching opened. I can think of no other event that demonstrates the range of her vision.
A Visionary Whose Scope is Epic
Christine (known by many as Buffy) has an invaluable gift; seeing the talents and depths of character in those she champions. Values unrecognized by others. This is a powerfully useful trait to possess. Add to this her ability to help people transition and embrace a new vision of themselves, and you have a snapshot of the kind of coach she is. Perhaps also a glimpse into who Christine is on the private side.
Christine comes from Yankee Clipper stock, born and raised in New England, where she still resides. One of her biggest cheerleaders, and arguably first mentor, is her father, Merle. Family and faith are her core strengths.
As often happens, Beckwith’s 30-year career in banking was launched by accident. Always a passionate sports fan, young Christine set out from her small hometown to achieve a degree and pursue a career in sports medicine. To supplement and support herself during college years, she took a teller job in a bank. It did not take long for Christine’s intelligence, intuition, and keen competitive edge honed by a solid work ethic to be valued by her employers. Her self-vision morphed and grew. No longer focused on being a sports coach, she saw potential in setting her sights on a broader field and turned toward an unexpected yet entirely suitable path. For the next three decades, Christine’s professional journey, filled with success and adversity, balanced by awards and accolades, led her inexorably to executive level corporate leadership (and income) in sales, banking, and mortgage.
Then came the surprising news: Buffy Beckwith was leaving behind the acclaim, position, and financial rewards of being a national officer in the mortgage world!
A shocking professional pivot? Perhaps. Certainly, a surprise to many. For one of Beckwith’s ilk though, it was part of the plan. After fostering multiple businesses from fledgling to huge industry success, she was ready to focus on the irresistible draw of her own vision.
20/20 Vision for Success Coaching and Consulting officially opened its doors in November, 2018. It was a soft launch with a bigger splash in January, 2019 when the first enrollment term opened. Unofficially, company leaders started preparing for business months earlier even as Christine also launched and promoted two best-selling books. As it applies to her writing, Beckwith’s vision is solid. Wise Eyes, her first book, was more than 15 years in the writing and released to award-winning approval, even though it was eclipsed by her second book, Clear Boundaries, launching immediately after. She wrote the core of Wise Eyes on a beach one difficult, challenging summer—in part because she couldn’t sit still and also because she understood her success to that point had been rare and exceptional for a woman in the field and she wanted her 12-year climb to that point to be lessons for those coming behind. The book literally remained on the shelf for another 12 years before being finished to become the award-winning piece of literature it is today, as named by the American Book Festival.
The Woman Behind the Vision
“Pivoting was hard. Anyone in my close proximity saw the years leading up to making the decision to jump into my dream of owning a coaching firm was riddled with emotion, fear, and contemplation over whether I was making the right decision,” Beckwith admits.
After 30 years serving a male-dominated industry, managing primarily male teams, and being managed 99 percent of the time by men, Beckwith thought about who would come when she hung her coaching shingle. Beckwith, although committed to the advancement of women as professional business owners, was at the time, more widely known by men than women.
“In truth, when I made the decision to build a coaching company, I sought advice from several executive level colleagues and mentors. One suggested I coach with a women’s niche. I was against this idea at first, so this story doesn’t lend to a magical start.”
She is a fan of people. She is a woman who is accepted by the guys as one of them. She is also a fan of the girls which is where she chooses to put her power forward to advance the cause of up-and-coming women in the industry. Today, the truth of her decision and plan has proved itself. Her business launched with a non-gender focused marketing plan. This core coaching service continues to grow, attracting men and women in equal measure.
It was a huge step to take. The naysayer’s voices were loud and came from many directions as Christine weighed the cost of pursuing her dream against the security and profitability of staying the course. Starting a company is not for the faint of heart and doing so in a fishbowl while telling others you can help them with their businesses is a trick most people would not attempt.
Certainly, one obvious concern was taking the leap to coaching, to enter a field saturated with strong competition not in favor of another coach entering the game, especially one with the connections Beckwith brought to the table.
Equally high were concerns about starting over from the ground up. Buffy had, for many years, taught the principles of business success she would use to walk her own walk and create a successful business. Of course, she understood grabbing market share from a male-dominated field would be a challenge, and one she did not fear.
And far from the least were the concerns she had about how fair it would be to her family who had supported a 30-year climb to executive level leadership and income. Walking away from a lucrative income was on the table for discussion. Both her partner, Cory Parker, who is also in the mortgage industry, and her son, Jagger, were consulted. Buffy remains close to her parents, Merle and Sandra Stiles, and discussed this major life decision with them as well. A fair number of rides on her 1994 Harley Davidson Sporster 883 were added into the mix of time spent contemplating this massive decision.
She is proud of her bike, by the way. It has been customized twice end to end. Her name is the Black Widow. She has rims from Orange County Choppers and a solo seat, a rear fender from West Coast Choppers, a stretched tank, Bubba bad dob pipes, drag bars, steel lines, and a lowered rear end. Buffy has logged thousands of miles on the Black Widow, including having her shipped to Myrtle Beach once a year where she would meet with best friends in one of her greatest secret escapes from the world of banking. There she could meld into the crowd, be oblivious of massive responsibilities at work and simply get wind in her hair and share a fireball shot and a sprite chaser with friends.
“In the end, intuition made me leap along with two immutable factors: An illness in my immediate family had me considering our fragile mortality and an unresolved strife in my job.”
Beckwith has set out to build, brick by brick, the largest coaching firm in the industry. “I took a run at the wall and began the climb again. I have been telling my story both by living my life to its fullest and sharing it along the way in my books and lessons and speeches. Now I am writing what I consider to be the final chapters of my career. I hope it’s a beautiful mind-blowing ending leaving people inspired.”
“Two years ago, I saw the vision of where we are right now, and it has taken many others by surprise.” Beckwith’s vision saw her creating a scalable platform capable of seating thousands of professionals to provide intricate levels of coaching, including financial forensics, reporting, strategic and growth development, health and wellness, trauma and life coaching, and the entire gamut of the coaching spectrum. Today, 20/20 VCS has a team of coaches, employs more than 30 people, and presents a robust public relations and marketing division providing an edge to help mortgage professionals learn and hone the skills of modern-day marketing. The coaching menu is diverse and the curriculum incredible. Offerings include concierge services to assist clients with scheduling, marketing, social media, and branding at a platinum level.
“My vision has accountability and longevity, and I am playing the long game. We beat our competition’s price dramatically and then we outlast them by four to five times the average length of a coaching student in our industry. I see 20/20 VSC becoming the largest banking, mortgage, and real estate coaching firm in the world. Even my own vision does not yet envision the end game; I just know it’s going to be big.”
Beckwith’s vision was never limited to one coaching model.
The Woman With Vision Brand is Born
“A division for women within my company makes sense,” Christine says. “I saw it having a brand and a life of its own while in lockstep with the 20/20 Vision brand.” About six months into 2019, Beckwith added specialty curriculum for women to the impressive 24-course curriculum available to all coaching students.
“The courses we created for women are like none other in the industry. We tackle the outliers and topics often unspoken. We focus on delivering results in business. We have created an incredible and powerful place for women to thrive. We ask women to embrace their unique differences and show them how to manage and use them as strategic weapons in the fight for elite jobs with equal and greater pay.”
Christine has a big vision for the WWV brand. She predicts dozens, if not hundreds, of women will be leaders within the brand. In the third quarter of 2020 following a short break to adjust the plan for COVID’s interference, Beckwith created director groups, drawing from high caliber, dedicated women who step up to speak and write and lead others. “I see market area events,” Beckwith says, “and growth within the market areas and even international growth. Keep an eye on us because we are executing in this division, and there is much more to come!”
The WWV Award
Simultaneously with the formation of a WWV Coaching division, a partnership started with Mortgage Women News magazine to co-sponsor the inaugural Women With Vision Award. Now in its second year, the WWV Award has changed sponsorship to the Women With Vision Magazine.
[In this very issue, dear reader, you will find 69 outstanding and downright amazing women profiled, the winners of the Women With Vision Award for 2020.]
“I love how we celebrate these amazing women for an entire year,” Beckwith shares, “including giving them a feature in the magazine, a press release, gifts, and even recognition live on stage at our annual conference, The Vision Summit” (slated for 3-31-21). “When I think about where this is going, I get excited. The outpouring of gratitude and appreciation from women winners and nominators alike is incredible. We are onto something important.”
One benefit for WWV Award winners not widely known is the invitation they receive to a retreat being planned in Paris for May 2021. For Beckwith, this too is part of the vision. Paris holds a unique spot in her heart. She sees this trip as an opportunity for women and the men who support us to have a brunch lecture in this mecca world capital known for its ideological embrace of a woman’s true spirit and beauty.
“Women With Vision will show the world we hide no longer. We own the fact we run incredible businesses while being beautiful women who love the things women love.”
A Vision for the Future
“My future holds this story in its balance. I have nothing to prove anymore; all the trophies are in the case now. I am grateful for all the covers of the magazines, including this one. It’s time to lay the last story down on the field for all to see. I hope to be an incredible example for my son, Jagger, to one day look and see what hard work, focus, dreaming, and working towards your dreams can look like. I hope my bank account matches my legacy, my books live on for hundreds of years to inspire a generation of people who find them behind me. I hope to keep writing until I can’t hold a pen any longer and I hope when I reach my end a long time from now I will do so exhausted and exhilarated from travel and accomplishment, a life well lived, and lives changed in the wake of my existence.”
Beckwith is not a humble person. That’s not to say she is too proud. Rather, she is a woman who knows who she is, who she is not, and when each role is important. She believes in paying it forward and is hands down one of the most generous and loyal women I’ve ever had the privilege to know, and she’s also the most hard-nosed, dedicated, and committed business owner. My favorite word to describe her is one I suggested she use in Breaking the Cycle, her third book: Dichotomy.
She believes everyone should live their lives fully, be present, be awakened enough in life to receive what it offers consciously. She believes we must unlearn bad habits, put in the work to self-develop, and to stand up for what we believe in most. Her greatest growth has come out of adversity. Her triumphs have shaped her and provided a safety line in life to hang upon when she needed a purpose to keep going. In her own words, “Forget about fitting in. Stand out. Stand up. Stand strong. I have lived by these words my whole life but not as outwardly as I do today. I hope everyone finds purpose and I inspire a generation to be real, authentic, and courageous.”
She is the penultimate Woman With Vision; the keeper and sharer of the vision for all of us who choose to come along for the journey.
CONGRATS FROM YOUR TEAM!
On the publication of this milestone edition of the WWV Mag and simply to give acknowledgment to the woman her co-workers consider to be their Woman With Vision, here are a few comments offering congratulations and appreciation.
“As an executive coach, I work with entrepreneurs and business leaders across the country on a regular basis. Christine Beckwith in one of the most gifted leaders I know in any market or industry. She possesses the kind of rare talent that enables an individual to excel in just about any enterprise she or he may choose to pursue. In this very volatile year of pandemic disruption and her own company’s seismic growth, she is effectively reinventing herself rather than losing herself. Her leadership style combines both unusual vision and self-awareness as well as uncommon compassion and courage. It’s been my privilege to serve as an adjunct member of her team.” ~ Ray Befus
“Congratulations Christine aka Buffy! I was introduced to Christine in July for the position of personal assistant. It didn’t take long to realize she’s a visionary. Her drive, enthusiasm and passion is that of a lighthouse—a beacon of guiding light. When working with 20/20 Vision Your Success, you can feel that guiding light shining from the inside out. Thank you for being you.” ~ Judy Cimino, Executive Assistant
“Christine, today, we celebrate you. You are an exemplary leader and visionary mentor to us all. We adore and love you, Christine!” ~ Michelle L. Poole, Business Development Manager
“When I was referred to Christine to discuss an opportunity to begin coaching other mortgage professionals I was eager to speak to her to learn more. Our first interaction was like talking to one of my best girlfriends. We hit it off immediately and the fact that we had so much in common about our personal and professional lives…well, it was no surprise. As I say when I interview candidates myself sometimes people just have the ‘sparkle’. And Christine definitely did.
As a leader myself, I appreciate Christine’s style of providing direction and support and giving us all the space to perform. She has trust and faith and is truly our greatest cheerleader. Her commitment to the company, the team, the community that she serves and partners with is always present. And Christine is also a thoughtful and compassionate person. It comes across in all of her interactions, talking in groups, social media postings, or even just responses to people. Being a kind human above all is something that she embraces and values.
I feel so lucky to have crossed paths with Christine and to be a part of her team. I hope to become a larger contributor and more valuable partner in the coming years too. I thank Christine for this great opportunity to become part of the team that helps mortgage professionals become more satisfied with their careers, their successes, their business relationships, and most importantly their happiness and balance.” ~ Robin Patzert
“As I think of words to express my gratitude, all I can say is, Thank you, for your loyalty, leadership, and support. Ever since we connected, I admired you and knew you were my kind of gal. You’ve believed in me from day one and have always taken the time to build a stronger relationship. Today, I celebrate you along with all the women who have the blessing to know you and to learn from you. You are my Inspiration. You are a #WomenWithVision.” ~ Anamaria Sanin
“I met Christine two decades ago at a major mortgage company. She was a bright-eyed loan originator at the time. It was there we forged our partnership. We have ridden through many journeys together ever since. I have watched her grow through the ranks to achieve great things and positions she earned and greatly deserved. She always had great vision coupled with strategy and tactics to achieve whatever she planned. I am amazed every time we chat at her knowledge and empathy. She has walked and experienced the same path she now coaches to students. This is what brings her success. Most of all, I have not met a more genuine and loyal person when it comes to love for her students, colleagues, and friends. She shares knowledge, passion, caring, understanding, and uplifting qualities which are unparalleled. To even greater success Buffy!” ~ Andy Tabag
“As I set out to start a new career and chapter in my life last year, I was introduced to Christine and presented with an opportunity to join the 20/20 Vision team. I cannot overstate how big of an impact that decision has made on me. Christine is a powerful leader, both for her knowledge in the mortgage industry and as a coach and mentor. She provided me with the break I was in search of, and more importantly, created a rich and welcoming environment for me to succeed. It is never about Christine, but always about our team, our students, and the mission of 20/20 Vision. I feel privileged to learn from Christine, and find myself motivated every day by her spirit and dedication.” ~ Christine (Cher) Eremita, Executive Manager
“Buffy, congratulations!!!! How fitting, and just dang cool, you’re featured on the cover of the magazine you created. My friend you so deserve this recognition! You asked me to be a part of the 20/20 team this summer, and I’ve enjoyed every moment in the year 2020 that has been one of the most challenging years any of us has faced in our lives. This, I feel, is the genius of Christine Beckwith; during a worldwide pandemic, you’ve grown your business at scale and built simply an incredible team that top to bottom embodies your work ethic, passion, professionalism, and attitude that has made you a successful leader throughout your career. Your students will probably never have any idea how much you truly care about them. It baffles me every time we talk that you know every student’s name, back story, career objectives, and how we can best help them meet their individual career and personal life goals. You’re a true leader with a huge heart who truly cares about others and their well being. This is why 20/20 Vision is the success it is today and will be for years to come. Congratulations again Buffy, we love you!” ~ Tom Pare, National Operations Manager
“Christing, I am punctuating these selected comments from your team with my own addition. This entire magazine is a testament to your vision and to women with vision everywhere. I love the ride we are on. Keep those ideas coming! Your vision is contagious and should be spread as a benign pandemic reaping benefits and positive results for all.” ~ Candy Zulkosky
SOROPTIMIST-COWORKER HOLIDAY GIFT
As a young girl, maybe 6 or 7, I can remember my Mother loading me into my dad’s little red ford ranchero. Mom would drive that giant steering wheel with me sitting right next to her in the front seat! Of course, there were no seat belts, and I sat mid bench seat, smack dab in front of the AM radio with the giant chrome buttons.
Every week my Mom and I would drive to the Women’s Club meetings, in which I observed my Mom and other ladies, discuss the upcoming fundraisers or events they were planning. Everything they did was to help and empower women in need. They gave clothes to unwed mothers, scholarships to young women; they paid the rent for a single mom, they bought Christmas presents for a family in need.
My Mother’s charitable spirit made me aware of the women around me and made me aware of less fortunate women’s unique, individual needs than myself. Now grown, my Mother belongs to a service organization called The Davie Soroptimist’s, and their tagline is “Best for Women.” These WOMEN raise money for WOMEN. Soroptimist raised my awareness and increased my empathy. Most of all, the service organizations that she belonged to during my life helped me understand who my Mother is and what she stands for in our community.
Consider ordering a SOROPTIMIST WREATH for this holiday season, for yourself, co-workers, or corporate accounts. This 22″ Live Noble Fir Wreath looks gorgeous and smells like the holiday’s right out of the box, and it’s shipped directly to your door or the door of your business associates that you want to send a holiday gift.
The best part; the proceeds go to empower, encourage, and support WOMEN in need.
Broker / Owner
Arizona Lending Specialists
I’m truly honored to have been considered and feel blessed to share this moment with those I admire, and who inspired me to make improvements to my business. They have rallied around me to reach my goals.”
Amorette (Moe) Hernandez has been in the mortgage industry for 13 years. She began her career in the banking industry and worked her way up the corporate ladder. During her first home buying experience she was introduced to the mortgage broker side of the business. That connection, Moe shares, led her to her current career path. “My business started to catapult when I decided in 2017 to get out of my own way, was open to every opportunity to learn and be coached, and started to meet amazing people within the broker channel. Even though I started in retail mortgages in 2002 and moved to broker in 2006, I truly feel like I started three years ago.”
As a broker, Moe is there for her clients every step of the way. She has access to a variety of products and services which allows her to meet her client’s needs in a variety of ways, and thus, allows them to reach their goal of homeownership. Moe is also fluent in Spanish, which enables her to offer one more level of service to her clients.
Moe is a wife, a mother, and a mortgage broker and feels blessed to have a career that allows her to be present for her family.
I believe in building solid, long-term relationships and the power of teamwork. There’s a unique fulfillment that comes from serving others – for me, this is the pathway to real significance. My mission is to decrease the number of women who reach the end of their lives regretting the things they never did because of fear and lack of courage.”
Ana Maria’s professional journey has been non-traditional. As a young single mother with little more than her Faith to count on, she discovered her mantra, courage goes where confidence dares not. Since then, Ana Maria Sanin has rocked the nation with her expert branding, helping professionals take their branding to an expert level with great return on investment.
Today Ana runs her own branding company and is one of the many incredible executive coaches at 20/20 VSC. For professionals taking the journey from an unknown social media image all the way to monetary conversion, Ana helps identify with who they are and how they are going to achieve their best in this area.
ANA MARIA SANIN
Brand & Influence Strategist
The Confident Closers
First Option Mortgage
I love what I do and I am proud to receive this award. I truly believe this is the result of teamwork! Every member of our team has contributed to our success and I am proud to be a part of this team. Receiving this award reaffirms my belief in dedication and perseverance to ensure we grow stronger together. This award is my inspiration to keep going and help my team reach the next level.”
When Andrea Rivero was introduced to the mortgage industry in 2014 by a family member working in the field, she had no idea how her career would bloom. After mastering her role as a processor, it quickly became clear her skills were equally strong in operations and she took on a lead role in ops. Today she has partnered with a high-producing loan officer and has started her own branch with First Option Mortgage.
Andrea values women and wants to see them grow and excel as she has. She is dedicated to developing a bigger talent pool in her ops department and to leading them to recognize and exceed their own potential.
Andrea has a wonderful husband and three dogs. She loves to travel and in her free time enjoys a glass of wine.
Those who are lit by their passion are the object of envy among their peers and the subject of intense curiosity. They are the source of good ideas. They make the extra effort. They demonstrate the commitment. And they will be rewarded with the kind of satisfaction that comes with knowing your place in the world. I am committed to helping women and raising awareness for women and the issues they face in society today.”
Ana is the Co-founder of Venus Business Group Pvt Ltd, partnered with RSTCA-Harvard Education. Ana completed her masters study in Australia where she remained for 14 years prior to returning to Kathmandu, Nepal to begin her journey as an entrepreneur. She has a diverse background in business and is currently the chief executive officer and founder of De Maker. Ana also is a board member of the RSTCA Foundation and RSTCA-Education.
In addition to her work with advancing women in business, Ana strives to help youth grow via education and honing their own unique talents through skill development programs.
Ana has been named as one of the 10 Most Influential Women of Nepal in 2020 and is a winner of a 2019 International Women with Vision award (no affiliation with this WWV Award program). “It is an honor,” Ana says, “being an award holder of this most influential 2020 professional women’s award.”
Mortgage Loan Officer
First Option Mortgage
I am passionate about originating loans. Having the ability to change lives for the better is an incredible gift.”
Ashley Filitor is a licensed residential mortgage loan officer with First Option Mortgage in Atlanta Georgia and has been originating loans since March of 2018. Ashley has worked in the mortgage industry for four years, starting out as a servicer and junior processor. Her favorite part about assisting people and their families through the loan process is knowing she’s part of a team improving lives. When Ashley is not working hard, she enjoys spending time reading, taking pictures, hiking, playing with her dogs, and spending time with friends and family.
To be recognized next to some of the most prestigious women in our industry is incredibly humbling, and I am honored to have been chosen. It has helped me stand tall and given me confidence to hold my place in this industry.”
Ashley encourages women to find their strength, use their voice, and stand up for what they believe. In 2020, she co-founded the podcast Blondes Have More Funds, which focuses on empowering women and shining a light on the realities of the female journey.
In more than 10 years working in the industry she has served in various roles ranging from corporate administration to loan origination. She is current the business development manager of GTG Financial, Inc. where she leads a sales staff of 17 members through the work of compliance, recruiting, marketing, and branding.
Ashley is highly involved in local, and online community networking groups, and is passionate about helping others in the industry succeed. In her free time, Ashley enjoys exploring and hiking the Northern California landscape with her two beautiful daughters and energetic pup, wine tasting and dining in gorgeous Napa Valley, and dipping her toes in the beach waters up and down the California coast.
“Professionally, this award has been a boost to restore my drive and given me the fuel to keep going and pushing to constantly improve. Goals can be lofty and overwhelming and you can feel like you’re stuck in a hamster wheel. When your accomplishments are exalted on a well-respected platform, this restores the fire to keep going and level up.”
Business Development Manager
First Option Mortgage
Receiving this award has impacted my professional and personal life in ways I had not imagined. Being recognized among my peers is eye opening. I am more aware of the possibilities in my career and as a woman. Knowing my achievements are seen and appreciated is a rewarding feeling. I am proud to celebrate this with my family.”
Carolina Vergara began in the mortgage field as a processor in 2000. In a short period of time she embraced her career path and moved on to originating where she specified in helping bilingual clients achieve the dream of home ownership. As a bilingual woman, she understands the power in building strong relationships with clients to ensure they achieve their personal goals of buying a home.
Today she is oversees her own branch and manages a team of loan officers. She wants to help other women build a successful career in mortgages and gain independence the way she has. Most importantly, she wants to be a positive role model for her two amazing daughters who keep her busy between cheering, soccer, and tennis tournaments.
Receiving this award is extra special for me, especially in 2020. Being self-employed for 15 years, I haven’t had the opportunity to earn shiny-glass semblances of achievements and I’ve always wanted one on my desk. I will show it off with pride!”
Chasity Graff is owner and mortgage broker of LA Lending which she opened in 2007. She is a member of several industry groups including the Association of Independent Mortgage Experts (AIME) where she serves with the Women’s AIME Affinity Group. Chasity also acts as the administrator for two high-level mortgage societies across the country. Her true passion is helping families own their piece of the American Dream and her enthusiasm is contagious.
Chasity will pass her knowledge on to anyone who needs guidance and has been a voice for women in the industry. In addition to being a mortgage broker, she also hosts training sessions for real estate agents on how to increase their social media presence and build their individual brand.
Chasity has been published in The MReport Magazine, NextAdvisor (featured on TIME.com), and National Mortgage Magazine (NMP) in 2020. She is also the two-time recipient of NMP’s 40 Most Influential Mortgage Professionals under 40.
Owner, Mortgage Broker
CHRISTINA HARMES, CRMP
C2 Reverse Mortgage
It is such an honor to have been chosen as a woman with vision, especially in what is a very transformational year for me and many others, 2020.”
Christina Harmes is a dedicated certified reverse mortgage professional with 17 years of experience in the real estate and mortgage lending industry. Christina is the youngest person who has earned the Certified Reverse Mortgage Professional designation. For the last eight years she has focused solely on reverse mortgages where her expertise and passion has driven her to become the top producer of reverse mortgages at C2 Financial Corp.
Christina has a passion for helping seniors, especially senior single women, and widows, retire with the right type of reverse mortgage. She is on a mission to change the landscape and thinking behind reverse mortgages where this misunderstood loan can help seniors secure their independence, enhance their financial security, and enjoy their retirement years. She has mentored hundreds of loan officers to identify the needs of seniors in retirement and how a reverse mortgage can provide seniors a solid financial foundation.
Christina is active in the mortgage lending field. In July 2020, she spoke at the National Reverse Mortgage Lender’s Association regarding bringing the reverse mortgage sales process online. She is regularly interviewed for her expertise on national reverse mortgage news in publications like HousingWire, Reverse Mortgage Daily, and Reverse Mortgage magazine.
“Being a woman with vision winner makes me feel like I am having the impact on the world I know I am meant to. I am committed to my vision and I am so honored to be among amazing leaders who demonstrate what it means to be a woman with vision.”
Being recognized as a woman with vision in our industry is super exciting and humbling. This recognition illustrates how our team and our values are impacting and paving the future of valuation in 2020 and beyond.”
Cindi Harris currently serves as the Senior Vice President of Innovation and Specialty Teams for Class Valuation. In her role as SVP, Cindi is crucial player in the growth and operation of Class Valuation. Before joining Class Valuation, she led a consulting business focused on organizational culture and leadership strategies.
With more than 27 years of experience as a certified appraiser, she brings valuable knowledge and experience with her to the job. Throughout her career, Cindi has performed thousands of appraisals, led teams of fee and review appraisers, acted as a due diligence manager, and co-founded a national appraisal management company where she served as chief operating officer.
Cindi’s experience includes working for Bank of America, Washington Mutual, Fremont Investment and Loan, Quality Valuation Services, Computershare and Solidifi US. Cindi has clearly only scratched the surface in terms of her potential and what her impact will be in the mortgage.
SVP, Innovation and Specialty Teams
Receiving the Woman With a Vision Award is truly an honor; I am humbled to be among the women in the mortgage industry recognized for this prestigious award. Being recognized in 2020 is particularly notable as our world faces unprecedented challenges and changes.”
Stephanie, the chief operating officer leading the operations’ team at Class Valuation, is passionate about providing an exceptional customer experience for every client on every order by providing strong communication, transparency through the fulfillment process and credible valuations.
As COO, Stephanie Holdsworth leads an operations team comprised of appraisal operations, training, development, client on-boarding and information systems. Her nearly 20 years in the mortgage industry has enabled her to lead Valuations Teams with big banks and AMCs supporting originations, home equity servicing and default. Over the course of her career she has been responsible for standing up Staff Appraiser Teams, leading Fulfillment Teams, managing the quality assurance process, working with Regulators to ensure compliance with industry standards, managing client/vendor and partner relationships, training and development, leading mentor programs, and managing risk and controls.
Stephanie has been crucial in helping to hire, train, and manage her team with Class Valuation. She clearly will continue to play an important role as one of the premier female leaders in the mortgage industry for many years to come.
Chief Operating Officer
CMS Mortgage Solutions
Receiving this award reminds me about how hard ladies fight to be equal in the financial world and makes me want to work harder and achieve even more.”
Corrina Carter is an entrepreneur and a motivator at heart who created CMS Mortgage Solutions in 2004 to provide affordable mortgage financial services for consumers. Corrina is a fully licensed mortgage broker who works with families to ease the stress of buying a home and educate them about how to save thousands of dollars a year on their home purchase or refinance.
In the mortgage industry, Corrina is known as a person who is sincere, honest, and knowledgeable. She puts her all into everything she does. Corrina believes in giving a helping hand and is willing to take chances on people. She is passionate about acting as a teacher and mentor towards the success of others. Corrina wants everyone to thrive and to be as successful as they can be in this industry.
In speeches she gives at events throughout the country, Corrina says, “The more tools you have in your toolbox, the better you’ll be. If you don’t have all the tools, how can you service your clients? My live classes allow me to do what I love—to motivate and to encourage loan officers on their path to success. I make learning fun.”
Corrina saw the need for quality mortgage education and created a 20-hour course for new loan officers. The course, described as the mortgage reference book from A to Z, has become a required part of mortgage loan licensing.
“I am excited about expanding my reach to include the education of new professionals into mortgage lending. Online learning is exploding, and I am fortunate my company is on the forefront,” Corrina shares. “It’s never too late to see the fruit of your hard work. There were many say nay sayers during my career and now the tide has turned; there are many more who say, I knew you would achieve more.”
The Women With Vision Award is a terrific way to recognize innovative and forward-thinking women in the mortgage industry. I’m proud to be acknowledged alongside all of the other well-deserving women on this year’s list.”
Over a 25-year career in marketing, including 23 years with Embrace, Dana has shown herself to be an extraordinary leader who encourages innovation, collaboration, and curiosity in the team she leads. She has an ability to inspire and develop the best in people, perhaps related to her passion to continually learn, improve, and explore new things, noting, “perseverance in the face of failure is true problem-solving.”
Dana Fortin was the first woman on the senior leadership team at Embrace Home Loans and during her time has worked to add more women to the team and in other leadership roles within the company. She is an International Coach Federation (ICF)-Certified Coach who has been described as one of the most forward-thinking and progressive people. She stays ahead of the curve in terms of the latest innovations in technology, as well as what’s happening in the world of digital and analytical marketing.
Dana is one of only two people to receive Embrace Home Loans CEO’s Excellence Award. She has also been named as National Mortgage Professional Magazine’s Most Powerful Women of 2019 and was a recipient of the 2019 Women With Vision Award.
Dana says, “It’s a challenging and exciting time in the mortgage business and the time is ripe for innovation. I encourage all women, as well as men, to be a part of it.”
Chief Marketing Officer
Embrace Home Loans
CEO and President
Women in the Housing and Real Estate Ecosystem (NAWRB)
Desirée Patno is considered by many to be the Grand Dame of the banking and real estate industry. The list of her credentials, accomplishments, and prolific endeavors is lengthy and impressive. As publisher of NAWRB Magazine and Women’s Housing Ecosystem Report (WHER), she curates dozens of resources and reports the expertise of key players in the economic ecosystem to build a dynamic resource platform for future generations.
Leveraging significant communication resources, Desirée provides women-owned and veteran-owned small businesses specialized coaching and financial literacy training, including innovative ways to access capital, obtain government contracts, and secure one’s resources.
She is the CEO and president of Women in the Housing and Real Estate Ecosystem (NAWRB) and Desirée Patno Enterprises, Inc. (DPE). She serves as an advisor for AmicusBrain Innovations Inc., CSO of Zulu Time and is a national speaker. Through her relationships with senior leadership executives, government officials, and industry experts, Desirée and her team assists the development and strengthening of small businesses for sustainability with Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) training, as well as financial literacy for consumers.
Desirée hosts the Know the Rules of the GameⓇ podcast, featuring invigorating and open discussions with key executive leaders and experts on recent trends and developments in the housing and real estate ecosystem, as well as intimate discussions with peers, family, and friends, that make listeners feel a part of the conversation.
Desirée has been recognized throughout the MBA and mPower community for her contributions in our industry. The list of awards and honors conferred on Desirée is lengthy. Suffice it to say, if there is an award given in the arena of banking and real estate, Desirée has received it or likely will.
Desirée has founded a community built on leading, highlighting, promoting, and educating female professionals. In these highlights of her activities and affiliations, a clear picture is drawn of a true leader and dedicated supporter of women; a Woman with Vision worthy of following and emulating.
First and foremost, I am honored. I have a true passion for mortgage and to change the industry one family at time. Truly blessed to do what I do and to be a part of this great organization.”
Dixie Sanders is an incredible leader and innovator who has consistently risen to the top of the real estate industry over the past 25 years. She operates and originates in a branch doing tens of millions of dollars in originations monthly. Even after achieving what many might call the height of success, Dixie continues to be on a mission. She knows what she wants, and she knows she wants to be aligned with people who push her.
In addition to loan originations, Dixie has dedicated herself to a life of coaching both for The Core and now for 20/20 Vision for Success Coaching. The importance of coaching and being coached in business and life are core principles for Dixie, “Most of the time we cannot see the forest through the trees and that is what a coach will do for you.”
Dixie is a trendsetter and a go-getter who delivers high service. Proudly partnered with Homebridge, she wakes daily to serve her partnerships, to lead her team, and to perform with the strong work ethic she has had for her entire life. She has served and continues to serve with the same advice she gives mortgage professionals seeking knowledge, with integrity and with passion.
Mortgage Loan Originator
Get Credit Healthy
I accept this on behalf of the many people in my company whose effort has made this possible. Our vision continues to be Honesty, Trust, Integrity, and Professionalism in all we do. Your recognition of our efforts is why this award is so special to us.”
Elizabeth Karwowski is the CEO of Get Credit Healthy, Inc., a technology platform bridging the gap between the consumer and financial institutions, non-profit HUD counseling agencies, and any organization relying on credit quality for their business decisions. Elizabeth began her career in the corporate sector but opened her own mortgage company in 2004. While running her company, she saw firsthand the pain points of lenders and their consumers. This led her to develop the platform on which Get Credit Healthy operates, GCH360.
In the historically male dominated mortgage industry, recent years have seen a growing number of successful women in this sector. Elizabeth is a firm believer that the more women who step into positions of prominence, the more it will encourage others to strive for that same level of success. She leads by example having built her company from the ground up and is making major inroads with the largest lenders in the space. “Increasing the number of women stepping into managerial and c-suite roles will propel the companies for which they are employed,” Elizabeth believes, “and the industry as a whole.”
To develop the GCH360 platform, Elizabeth and her team of advisors worked with a wide range of professionals across technology and financial industries. This platform works with consumers to make sound financial choices and has helped their lending partners create over $200 million in new loan opportunities in the last year. Her experience with HUD counseling has increased efficiency by approximately 400 percent.
Within a few days of the publication of this award announcement, Elizabeth will add published author to her credits with the release of the book, Win or Learn: The Naked Truth.
As a recognized credit expert, Elizabeth has been featured on NBC and Fox News and published in Scotsman’s Guide and Today’s Chicago Women, Mortgage Women’s Magazine, and National Mortgage Professional. Over the last two years, Elizabeth has received the Progress in Lending Innovation Award, was named One of Mortgage Banking’s Most Powerful Women 2019 from NMP, the 2020 NAWRB Consumer Advocate Leader Award, and she is a proud recipient of the Women With Vision Award.
The mortgage business is ever-changing and will pass you by if you can’t change with it. My vision for the future of women in the mortgage space is to stay focused on human interaction while embracing technology that prioritizes the client experience.”
Erin Carvelli is an experienced mortgage lending professional, having worked within the industry for over 22 years. Her career has led her to touch nearly every facet of the industry including processor, underwriter, and manager. This expertise has earned her the nickname, Erin the Expert.
Erin is a proponent of a high-tech and high-touch model. She leverages technology to create a seamless client experience while focusing on maintaining a human connection with her clients. This model allows her clients to feel empowered and make the best decisions for their home financing. Erin’s guidance makes an otherwise overwhelming situation as smooth and stress free as possible.
Despite male dominance in the industry, she has always been able to thrive and steadily gain momentum by having a solid base of knowledge, a keen sense of what clients need, and prioritizing their experience. Erin knows mentorship is the best way to press her vision forward and has always taken an interest in the women she’s been able to influence, from processors to loan assistants and aspiring loan officers. Erin always takes the time to explain things from the perspective of what she’s learned over the years and hopes her guidance and expertise will propel the women of mortgages forward.
Erin Carvelli is a top producer that heads a sales team at Greenway Mortgage, a boutique correspondent lender.
Senior Loan Officer / Team Leader
Edumarketing CEO, Best-Selling Author,
Award-Winning Producer & Speaker
Being included alongside so many impactful women in our industry inspires me to continue to strive to help others learn and grow. There are so many opportunities available within our industry for women and this award showcases examples of those offerings. I applaud Women With Vision for pioneering a focus on excellence, vision, and women!”
Ginger Bell is a best-selling author, an Emmy award-winning producer, speaker, and training specialist. With Edumarketing Agency she helps companies and entrepreneurs create educational campaigns and strategies to grow their business.
Ginger develops a variety of training, marketing, and online education programs and creates video marketing and branding strategy for her clients. She has worked with numerous companies such as Arch MI, Total Expert, Finance of America, First American Title, FirstFunding, Re/Max, Motto Mortgage, Tovuti, Windermere and countless entrepreneurs and small business owners across the US.
Ginger has won numerous awards and accolades. She has been named as one of Mortgage Banking’s Most Powerful Women, one of the 50 Most Connected Professionals, and an Elite Women of Lending. For her commitment to training and education she was awarded the Professional Woman of the Year award by the National Association of Professional Women.
I align my success with those around me, and I am humbled to receive this award and excited because it’s received because of who I am and not because of where I’m associated. Receiving this, especially being nominated by those I respect and admire, gives me hope, strength, and encouragement to stay on my course and to keep pushing other women in our field to grow and succeed.”
Hilary Passo has spent most of her professional career looking for ways to improve and expand the companies where she works and those she believes in. Hilary is the vice president of HR and personnel development for First Option Mortgage. Her career endeavors focus on bringing technology into the workplace, expanding inclusion and diversity efforts, and creating a transparent and safe environment for growth. Not one to shy away from opportunities, Hilary has spent her life on harnessing human talent, challenging the status quo, and creating change.
Hilary loves music, her friends and family, reading, and exploring the world around her. She admits to having a fun side, “I enjoy telling (hopefully) funny stories and going on adventures with as many people who will join.” Hilary believes in women empowering women and setting a stage for marginalized people to have a voice. She credits the 20/20 Vision for Success Coaching program for guiding her to stand proud of her experiences and be open about her skills and accomplishments, both professionally and personally.
Throughout her 10-year career in human resources, Hilary has raised $400K+ in grant money towards education, technology, and accessibility enhancements. She has opened eight businesses under a holdings company with an 87 percent success and retention rate, and in 2019 she received the MBA Small Business Award for Diversity and Inclusion. Hilary holds a B.A. in Commercial Music, a B.S. in Computer Science, and an M.S. in Instructional Systems and Learning Technologies from Florida State University. She is a published poet, wine enthusiast, and all-around nerd for knowledge.
Vice President of HR & Personnel Development
First Option Mortgage
Next Generation Home Loans
The Mortgage Calculator
Winning this award has validated years of hard work. It also heals the personal side that for so long stayed small from shame of being a teenaged mom. As a 20-something female in mortgage I suffered from imposter syndrome. Today at 42, I can see how life’s tragedies and challenges have shaped and prepared me to be the woman business leader I’ve become. I am honored to be recognized as a rising professional in mortgage.”
Jackie is on a mission to bring new faces into the mortgage industry and help mortgage professionals overcome common growth pitfalls. Jackie brings 15 years of experience in the male-dominated mortgage finance world mixed with a lifetime of overcoming obstacles to success. Her journey has ranged from teenage mom to a million-dollar mortgage brokerage. She continues to follow her vision, launching an online training company, The Mortgage Calculator, LLC.
Jackie is passionate about pulling up chairs to the table to show women how the skills they already possess will make them valuable and successful components of teams in the mortgage community.
My number one mission is to see more women surviving and thriving both in their professional and personal lives.”
Jaime Trull is a financial literacy coach and speaker focused on helping entrepreneurs feel more confident about the numbers side of their businesses. She is committed to helping women understand the financial side of their business and use the knowledge to transform both their professional and personal world. Her goal is to set a course for financial success through the implementation of new processes and a renewed excitement about your business!
Financial Literacy Coach and Profit Strategist
CEO and Founder
As women our strengths come from learning from one another, supporting each other, and always following our passion. As an innovator and woman in tech, overcoming obstacles with self-confidence rather than self-doubt becomes routine. Success comes from tapping into the strength that comes from listening and trusting one’s inner voice to push and persevere.”
Jane Mason has earned a reputation as an industry visionary beginning with her first foray into the mortgage and banking arena. In 2008, Jane left a successful career with a local law firm and set off to build and deliver a new way for companies to do business. Armed with a vision to automate processes and develop workflows in a multidirectional manner, Jane packaged her concept, the innovative workflow application known today as CLARIFIRE®, and pitched it to a large multinational financial services corporation.
With confidence and raw passion for change, Jane won her first major client and developed an enduring relationship with the financial services corporation. Jane has repeatedly shown herself to be a groundbreaker, pushing the CLARIFIRE® application to the forefront of technology breakthroughs in the mortgage, banking, and healthcare industries.
Throughout her career, Jane has exhibited a capacity to push the industry envelope and evoke real change, earning her a reputation as a pioneer of process. Beyond achieving success as an inventive trendsetter, Jane exemplifies how passion can become reality through persistence, diligence, and dedication to one’s vision.
Jane sees that the future of women in our industry is vast, and she knows it is not accomplished alone. She continues to promote and mentor women professionals from both inside and outside of her industry, including within her community and her college alumni, and she is committed to fostering the advancement of women in the workplace.
Jane regularly publishes articles and blogs on thought leadership and shares her personal story at industry conventions, virtual conferences, and other forums. By seizing every opportunity to share her experiences and her passion, Jane continues to encourage women to achieve their dreams, no matter how small, or how difficult the journey.
A year ago, I attended the Vision Summit where I saw the 2019 Women With Vision Award winners recognized on stage. It was impressive, memorable, and impactful. Fast forward to today when the goal I set that day became a reality! Receiving this award in 2020 has impacted me in my personal and professional life, boosting my confidence, and broadening my connections.”
Janet Pagan has been a relentless crusader for 22 years, dedicated to helping families obtain the American Dream of homeownership. Her focus on building relationships and contributing within the community has enabled her to both achieve her own goals and help others reach their dreams, whether it is for homeownership, referral business, or small business growth. Janet is active in her community as a volunteer and in women’s networks where she mentors, encourages, and promotes growth for women coming into the mortgage industry.
Planet Management Group
I believe in mentoring and building leaders. My vision is to provide opportunities for women to learn from each other and grow themselves and our industry together.”
Janina (Gigi) Woods has over 30 years of experience building organization excellence through the development of people, business processes, and diverse technology platforms. Gigi has built executive-level relationships in default management special servicing, client services, and transaction management. She also manages the private client services organization for Planet Management Group. Over the last three years, Janina has raised Planet’s portfolios into the billions of dollars.
Gigi recognized an opening in the market to serve investors whose portfolios were not receiving the attention they deserve. Her vision was to create a client-focused portfolio management unit offering high-touch, customized servicing protocols and cutting-edge sub-servicing technology. She has gained a reputation for her superior asset management which attracts clients with credit-sensitive loan portfolios.
Gigi also provides superior results in contract negotiations through due diligence, creating streamlined loss mitigation processes, servicing conversions, execution of asset management strategies, tracking and reporting performance results to investors, and REO management.
I’m honored someone would nominate me for a Women With Vision Award. It means by pursuing my passion to help others, I’m making a difference in businesses and lives.”
Jen Du Plessis is a female icon in our industry who has done amazing things for all women. She is an educator, author, teacher, trainer, and speaker. She has led by example in the trenches of originations, as is evident in the numerous industry awards she’s won, as well as her leadership in management over several decades. Jen continues to be at the forefront of all things that lead women with her incredible vision spread across the industry through podcasts, retreats, speaking, and teaching at conventions and private events.
America’s Mortgage Mastery Mentor, Jen Du Plessis, is passionate about empowering mortgage and real estate professionals to achieve professional and personal breakthroughs so they can stop the daily chaos. She works with mortgage and real estate professionals who are overwhelmed in their daily routines and feel like they are sabotaging their personal lives for the sake of their business success.
Jen is a recognized influencer in the industry. She is an Amazon #1 best-selling author, the host of two podcasts, and a highly sought-out, charismatic speaker. Jen has shared the stage with several well-known motivational and industry speakers, including Tony Robbins, Barbara Corcoran, and Jack Canfield.
Jen regularly contributes to Mortgage Executive Magazine and Mortgage Women Magazine and has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. She has also appeared on Good Morning America, Voice America, and Mortgage News Network.
Married to her high school sweetheart for 37 years, Jen is a mother of two, and glamma of three. She is a competitive ballroom, latin, and swing dancer, competitive markswomen, and loves to play tennis. Often you will find Jen with her family baking, traveling, or wine hopping at the more than 47 wineries near her home in northern Virginia’s hunt country.
JEN DU PLESSIS
Author, Speaker, Coach,
Chief Operating Officer
To receive this award is layered for me. My love, admiration, and appreciation for Christine Beckwith is not to be described in a few words. Christine embodies a woman with a vision and, with this award, has created a true category in this space that no one has done before. It is an extraordinary feeling to receive this award. I will forever be grateful. I am encouraged to continue my efforts to progress the vision and culture of the company I work for and with. To the women who have received this award and who will receive this award, it is an honor to stand with you.”
Jenna Silverman is the chief operating operator of Culture Matters, a high-level coaching company working with companies to establish (or re-establish) their core values and build training platforms. She is an advocate for change because she believes without change there is no growth and without growth, there is no education. Jenna brings a strong background in psychology, hospitality, and marketing to the job, along with leadership skills to create organization out of chaos. Jenna is a brand ambassador who can produce an incredible story into videography and an executor and an influencer of incredible magnitudes.
When Jenna is not working, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, and traveling.
Since our first event in January 2018, I’m proud to say we’ve helped forge hundreds of new business relationships resulting in millions of dollars in technology sales, salary increases, and career advances.”
Jeri Yoshida is a co-founder of the mortgage industry’s first and only technology summit for women executives. NEXT Mortgage Events brings hundreds of C-suite and high-ranking mortgage lending executives together to exchange intel and learn what’s NEXT in industry technology.
Jeri brings 15 plus years of mortgage industry experience primarily focused on public relations for mortgage lenders and their B2B product and service providers. She is committed to assuring a continued platform for women to grow their visibility and career opportunities in the mortgage industry. Yoshida provides access to intel and individuals women mortgage executives need to succeed.
When not bringing top executives together or finding ways to provide them with intel that gives them a competitive advantage, Jeri says she’s likely to be found traveling in Europe, playing with her dog, watching local theatre, or in a kitchen ruining a perfectly good recipe.
NEXT Mortgage Events
Nationwide Appraisal Network (NAN)
This award is truly an honor. To be in the company of such pioneers, risk takers, and innovators motivates me to do more, take action, and be the best I can possibly be for myself, my team, and my family.”
Joni Pilgrim is the founder and CEO of Nationwide Appraisal Network (NAN). Since founding NAN in 2004, the company has grown into one of the nation’s most trusted AMCs for residential and commercial appraisals. Pilgrim’s passion for the industry is exemplified in the successful business she has built from the ground up, in a garage with no AC during the summer in Florida. Over the years, NAN has implemented cutting-edge processes to revolutionize the appraisal process. NAN uses advanced data and analytics and performance-based appraiser incentives to optimize the selection of appraisers through key performance indicators, allowing NAN to select the best appraiser for every assignment.
Joni embraces diversity in the workplace. She believes there is no one-person-fits-all and differences among each employee at NAN fosters the long-standing relationships with their clients. Pilgrim truly believes change is the only constant, and you must always plan ten steps ahead and stay hungry. Pilgrim is truly a leader who creates leaders.
Joni Pilgrim is highly involved with her local community. In 2013, Joni created Backpacks 4 Kids, providing backpacks filled with school supplies to 21 different Title 1 schools in Pinellas county. Last year alone the program raised over $15,000. Since 2012, she has also worked to collect and donate hundreds of pounds of food for Feast Food Pantry. Joni is an active supporter of the Children’s Cancer Center and their Holiday Adopt-A-Family Program.
I am thrilled that mortgage women are being recognized for their achievements and that a new generation of mortgage women will be carrying the torch, enlightening the world to the contributions they make to the industry.”
Karen Deis is a pioneer for women in the mortgage industry. As owner of her first company she was the first woman closing agent, loan officer, branch manager, and she ran the first women-owned mortgage company with an all-female staff in her small town. As a result of a family tragedy, Karen and her co-owner sister chose to sell the company. It was Karen’s desire, following the loss of her sister, to mentor other women and share with them how they could grow their own mortgage businesses. Understanding how women conduct business differently than men, Karen realized women needed a place where they could receive peer advice and network with other women in the mortgage business.
While attending mortgage industry events, Karen noticed a lack of women speakers. Recognizing opportunity and embracing how filling this need fit her vision for women in the mortgage field, she created the Mortgage Women Speakers Bureau. MWSB is a platform where top women experts in the mortgage industry can be discovered and hired to speak. Karen continues to work toward fulfilling her vision for women in mortgage and is succeeding in her goal to make sure more women are hired as speakers at industry events.
Mortgage Marketing Strategist,
Author, Speaker, Mentor
Coach for Women Mortgage Loan Officers
Executive Vice President of Strategy
Association of Independent Mortgage Experts. (AIME)
Katie has quickly risen to become a strategic leader and innovator in the mortgage industry. Her experience in all aspects of the mortgage industry including, consumer direct, correspondent, and wholesale, have given her the insight to be a key voice for the Association of Independent Mortgage Experts (AIME) and the entire broker community. Her proven team leadership skills, focused on encouragement and positive reinforcement, allows for her teams’ consistent growth and is central to their success. Prior to entering the mortgage industry, Katie worked in healthcare with a focus on competitive intelligence and supply-chain management, developing extensive behavioral profiles. Katie has held leadership positions since early in her career. Her sound approach to leading teams and building relationships has consistently been directly reflected in the results she brings to the table.
Katie Sweeney is currently the Executive Vice President of Strategy for AIME where she oversees the day-to-day operations. Under Katie’s leadership, AIME has taken a data-driven approach to all facets of operations. Her industry knowledge has also helped guide AIME’s member education efforts. Katie has successfully brought to market an innovative, all-in-one platform and custom lender portal for the wholesale mortgage channel, managed new customer acquisition and portfolio retention for a top-10 government lender, and formalized partnerships with over 50 leading lending institutions and service providers.
Receiving this award has been a humbling experience. There is no greater feeling than being given the opportunity to serve, connect, and give back the leadership that has been given to me.”
Kelsey Rauchut is an industry leading national business development manager and growth coach with AnnieMac Home Mortgage. Kelsey possesses determination and kindness and is all about helping others grow. She is a mortgage and real estate connector who takes an innovative approach providing new solutions for increasing monthly transactions and balancing quality of life for mortgage and real estate professionals nationally to thrive in today’s market. Over the past seven years, her approach has paid off; she has acquired close to $1 billion in mortgage production.
Kelsey was Mortgage Banking’s Most Powerful Women Award Winner in 2019 and featured in National Mortgage Professional Magazine. She is also a two-time President’s Club winner, in both 2019 and 2020.
Kelsey has a vision of growth and collaboration for women in our industry; a vision for women to come together and dominate the Mortgage world.
National Business Development Manger
AnnieMac Home Mortgage
Chief Operating Officer
The Women With Vision Award’s significance cannot be overstated and has affected the way my business life intersects with my family life. At work, I am the Boss! I make the tough decisions and face the real conflicts of the day. When I say JUMP, there are (in fact) a few people who respond, HOW HIGH? There is specific power, a tenure, and respect I have earned in my work life, which I enjoy and feel proud of.
At home, I am Mom! I do the laundry, cook the meals, clean the kitchen, and genuinely act in service to my guests, husband, and children. Even my parents lean on me as (one of) the primary caregiver(s) in their life. My family life doesn’t enjoy the same prestige that I do in business. When I was honored as an industry leader and acknowledged as a Women With Vision Award winner, my parents and children were taken aback! They posted about it. They told their friends and, they continue to acknowledge my achievements at work. Thank you, Christine, and the entire Vision 2020 team for giving my loved ones a glimpse into their Mom’s Bad-Ass work life!”
Kerry Fitzpatrick has been blazing trails her entire life, as a realtor and broker owner and later when she developed real estate education. In 2009, Kerry launched a subscription-based online education center known as Associate Worx. Today, Kerry runs AnnieMac Worx, The My Worx Suite Technology Solution for Realtors centered in education and pass-me-down best practices in residential Real Estate.
Kerry is a mover and a shaker. As an incredible mother and wife, homemaker, and woman, she sees a future where women lead from the stages and helms of their organizations.
As a professional in the mortgage field, it is my greatest pleasure and honor to work with clients to tailor a loan solution to meet their needs.”
Kimberly Kissane opened her first mortgage company in 2006. Although she was young, only 23 years old at the time, she knew this to be what she wanted to do and believed she would be successful. She partnered with Premier Choice Mortgage, first as the senior loan adviser then as an owner when she purchased the company. Kimberly believes in the broker model in relation to origination and prefers the one-on-one contact brokers enjoy with clients.
Kimberly has been a force in this business for many years and has proven that even during a pandemic, she will not be stopped. Since surviving the crash of 2008, she has remained a successful broker and is an involved member of the Association of Independent Mortgage Experts (AIME), serving with the AIME Women’s Affinity Group.
Kimberly continues to inspire her team with a strong work ethic and willingness to help others. She is a mentor to her staff and leads them to their own success in the mortgage business. Her dedication to her team, family, and clients is pure excellence at its finest. In addition to serving her clients well, she is actively serving her community and raising two growing kids. She enjoys watching her son play competitive baseball as well as spending time with her family and friends entertaining at her home.
Premier Choice Mortgage
First Option Mortgage
Receiving this award is truly an honor! I have had the privilege to meet some fantastic women in our industry and I hope I am able to inspire other women the way I have been inspired. I am proud of what my team and I have accomplished and excited to share this honor with them. I hope to leave behind a legacy and this recognition is definitely the step towards building my legacy!”
Kiran Shah is a natural leader as is evident in both her personal and professional life. She is motivated and driven by achievement and has a heart of gold. She cares about her people and aspires to help them grow and achieve their dreams.
Kiran’s 10 years in the mortgage industry, starting as a processor and culminating today as area president managing more than 50 people, has proven to be her professional passion. In 2008, she launched an insurance agency and happily returned to mortgage in 2014 when she joined First Option Mortgage.
Kiran recently celebrated 13 years of marriage and has two boys. She enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her family. Kiran strives to maintain a work-life balance and makes sure her business and home are both cared for and valued. At the end of the day, she is committed to helping other women grow and succeed in leadership positions within her company to find the same satisfaction and success she enjoys.
I’m truly honored to be recognized with the 2020 Women With Vision Award. I wasn’t expecting it and it makes me feel like I’m going in the right direction. Thank you so much!”
Laila is a trailblazer. Eloquently spoken, incredibly focused, and brilliant with marketing, she is exceptional in her expertise. When she speaks, people listen. Laila is well connected and networked within our industry, followed by many of the mover and shakers. She leaves people inspired. She has a vision for women to progress, rise through the ranks, and hold positions that help us evolve well past our current state.
Laila Khan currently serves as the assistant vice president of marketing and communications for Guidance Residential. Laila is active across the industry in organizations, as a contributor to publications, and as a speaker. Laila has been recognized with the Top 20 Sales, Marketing, and PR Trailblazer Awards and was a Mortgage Banker Association Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship Recipient.
“I’ve always been reluctant to pursue or accept recognition for my accomplishments”, Laila shares, “because I’m always looking ahead as to what more is needed. It’s a mindset–unless it’s perfect, there’s nothing to celebrate and I, by my own standards, have a ways to go. As a Muslim American woman and the mother of 2 daughters and a son, I believe in purposeful work and legacy building. While these are weighted words, each of us harnesses the ability to contribute and improve upon our own spaces. I need to do my part and open these doors so the next time someone who looks like me or sounds like me comes around, it’s a familiar feel. In that effort, I feel building bridges is imperative because as we get to know one another, we develop more of an understanding for each other and recognize that our similarities heavily outweigh our differences. I’m grateful to work for a company with such great leadership that I learn from all the time. Every day is an opportunity to be your best, do your best, and recognize that in all that effort, we are just beginning.”
AVP, Marketing and Communications
American Financial Resources
I am proud to be among the Women With Vision honorees, recognized as part of a community which is fanning the flames of women’s progress in our industry. It is exciting to meet and learn about so many other exceptional women who exemplify a forward vision of leadership and growth.”
As president of American Financial Resources, Laura Brandao is a magnetic leader who has launched a needed networking organization for women in the mortgage industry while cementing AFR as one of the nation’s leading specialty lenders, including manufactured homes and renovation programs.
Laura is an industry veteran who started her career as a telemarketer helping families refinance their high-rate mortgages. After gaining experience learning as much as she could about loan processing and working her way up to management for other lenders, Laura launched the wholesale channel for American Financial Resources as director of operations. She quickly become an AFR partner, followed by ascending to executive vice president, then chief operations officer, and now serves as company president.
Laura advises women who are afraid to be who they truly are: “Your authenticity is your superpower. There is only one you in the world, and your traits and your instincts will help you succeed.”
Laura is especially excited to be involved in a few industry groups developed specifically to connect and empower women from day one. The AIME Women’s Mortgage Network, for example, is a community for women in the wholesale mortgage industry to influence conversations between industry leaders and wholesale mortgage professionals across all levels.
Laura has been invited to appear on a number of podcasts and Facebook Live events and is a regular contributor to the industry’s professional journals. She is frequently asked to speak.
Recognizing her growing audience, as a public figure, Laura is also personally committed to consistently providing inspiring content for others through her SayYesEveryday.com blog, PositivelyCharged.biz podcast, and #MotivationalMonday videos shared on social media.
Laura’s vision is clear: empower the next generation of women to lead the industry. When women support other women, we all succeed.
Being named the first Women With Vision Award Winner for 2020 was a complete surprise! I have watched other leading women receive this award, and I am humbled to be a part of such a successful group of women leading the way in our industry.”
Laura Kay has been in real estate lending, sales, and leadership for over 20 years and in 2018 she was named in the Top 40 Under 40 by National Mortgage Professionals Magazine. Laura Kay is a coach for lenders and real estate producers on how to grow their business. In 2019, she served as president of the Iowa Mortgage Association. She teaches secondary markets and warehouse lending for the Mortgage Bankers Association.
For many years, Laura Kay has seen herself as the Keeper of the Flame for all the strong women leaders who taught her along the way. As a Women With Vision Award Winner, she looks forward to continuing the legacy by helping others along who follow her path.
LAURA KAY SHEELY
Arch Mortgage Insurance
VP of Strategic Growth and Business Development
First Option Mortgage
Receiving this award has allowed me to see my worth. I have worked hard in the industry for 20 plus years making a name for myself. This award validates my efforts. I am humbled and blessed to have been recognized.”
Laurie is a creative, persistent, agile business professional who brings a strong focus to the table when nurturing relationships with existing clients and developing new business opportunities. Her expertise lies in creating penetrative marketing strategies to help fulfill a business’ potential. On an individual level, Laurie is committed to personal development and progression, taking an enthusiastic approach to direct sales. Her proven track record of achieving targets in a competitive environment speaks for itself.
I am humbled and amazed to be a two-time winner. This award has opened doors for me I never thought could open. The world is at my feet, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds!”
Leora Ruzin, Certified Mortgage Banker, is an advocate for common-sense mortgage lending practices and is passionate about advances in first-time homebuyer and low-to-moderate income lending programs. Leora holds degrees in accounting and business management. A veteran of the United States Army, she lives in Merced, California with her husband, daughter, and two cats.
In addition to helping evolve and streamline the wholesale experience for brokers at Equity Prime Mortgage, Leora was named managing editor of Mortgage Women Magazine at the beginning of 2020.
“It has been an amazing experience,” Ruzin says, “to be the steward of a publication that has been a part of my career since 2015, and I am lucky to be in a position to open doors for other women who want to share their passion through words.”
Ruzin, a 14-year veteran in mortgage, believes it is important for women to advocate for themselves. Recent events in our industry have proven women with the skills and tools to be successful and work together to rise make this industry stronger.
LEORA A. RUZIN, CMB
Senior Vice President-Wholesale Operations
Equity Prime Mortgage
LESLIE WATERS HEIMER
American Liberty Mortgage
Thank you again for this humbling recognition. I am honored and can’t wait to see the magazine!”
Leslie Heimer proudly embraces her heritage as a third-generation lender. She has more than 18 years of experience in the mortgage industry where she is currently the agent/owner of American Liberty Mortgage. She is known as a lending influencer and enjoys a vast array of connections within the industry. Leslie works tirelessly to bring a spirit of collaboration within the industry to enhance the experience for the client and maximize their value.
Leslie is passionate about the mortgage industry and partnerships through education. In an often-segmented industry, the spirit of collaboration can easily be missed. This diminishes the experience for the client and reduces value. Leslie works tirelessly to change this scenario ensuring client and associate alike work together.
Leslie was recognized as National Mortgage Professional Magazine’s 2018 Most Powerful Women in Banking, 2015’s Woman of Distinction by the Girl Scouts of Orange County and as a Rising Star for her proven leadership and commitment to the community, by the Orlando Regional Realtors Association in 2019. In 2020, Orlando Family Magazine recognized Heimer as one of the Top 50 Real Estate Professionals.
This award gives me an opportunity to share my experience and knowledge, and empower women to be independent, to be bold, and help their dreams become reality. I took a leap of faith 30 years ago. This award validates the vision of a powerful mind. I see no color, I see no gender.”
Lil Lacson Abee has over 30 years of experience within the mortgage industry. She began as a real estate salesperson but with the encouragement of an account executive she made the decision to open her own mortgage brokerage. Over the years, she has mentored other women looking to open their own brokerage firm. Even with all the challenges 2020 has presented, this year has allowed her to focus on building her business and she has exceeded her own goals for the year.
Lil’s life is focused on service. She defines herself as the mother of her household, a role unlike the typical mom. Lil provides support to our military troops overseas. After 9/11, her husband was deployed several times as a U.S. Marine in Iraq and Afghanistan. When he was home, he was also serving as a Police Officer. Her two oldest sons also joined the U.S. Marines and after their military service, one son pursued a career in law enforcement while the other pursued a career as a firefighter. And her youngest child is to join the Air Force ROTC program in college. As the mother of military service members and first responders, she found her niche in serving those who served! Serving the people who she knows; her family.
Her vision for women is to have courage and take a leap of faith just as she did in 1990 when she opened her Mortgage Brokerage and as she’s doing now in 2020. Without action, it’s just a dream. It is up to each woman to do everything in her power to make dreams become a reality.
LIL LACSON ABEE, MLO
Broker / Owner
LA Mortgage Lending
First Option Mortgage
This is my very first award! I am happy I was nominated for this award and proud of the work I have done. I will continue to educate borrowers in our community and help them become homeowners!”
Mara Prestes, who joined the mortgage industry in 2016, is of Brazilian decent. From her starting role as a junior processor, Mara soon recognized her highest and best value was in origination and she set out to receive her LO license. Today, as a loan originator, one of Mara’s strengths is her trilingual language skills which enhance her ability to help many people from different areas of the world. She loves what she does and proudly enjoys helping people achieve the dream of home ownership. In her free time, she spends as much time as possible with her baby daughter and enjoys hanging out with her friends and traveling. “I am at the start of my career,” Mara says, “and I look forward to growing in this business and spending many years helping people.”
Through the mPower Community, I have met many amazing women who have helped me every day. It’s how I met Christine, and we continue to work together to support women in our industry. I am honored to be an award recipient.”
Marcia M. Davies is chief operating officer for the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA ) where she has numerous responsibilities, including, but not limited to, ensuring cross-organizational alignment, facilitating the implementation of strategic initiatives, and maintaining oversight of key organizational priorities. She is also the lead strategist for MBA’s external activities including public affairs and the marketing division and provides leadership to several other divisions throughout MBA.
Marcia is the founder of mPower – MBA Promoting Opportunities for Women to Extend their Reach—MBA’s networking platform for women in the real estate finance industry. Under her leadership, mPower has grown into an engaged community of more than 24,000, providing best-in-class conference and webinar programming, networking events, and online opportunities to stay engaged. Through mPower, more women are positioned to achieve leadership status and are well represented in all segments of the industry. mPower is the largest women’s group in the industry.
Marcia also serves as a board member for MBA’s Open Doors Foundation and is a member of several industry organizations including the NAWRB Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council (NDILC) and the Women in Housing Finance and the International Women’s Leadership Association.
Marica has been awarded numerous awards throughout her career including: the Silver Stevie Awards for Women in Business 2018 Maverick of the Year, the Five Star’s Laurie A. Maggiano Legacy Award, the NAWRB 2018 Industry Revolutionary Award, and the CIFS Diversity & Inclusion 2018 Trailblazer Award. In 2015, she was named as one of HousingWire’s 2015 Women of Influence.
MARCIA M. DAVIES
Mortgage Banker’s Association
MARIE HALEY MIDEIROS
First Option Mortgage
Receiving this award make me feel special. It’s a recognition that I’m on the right path.”
Marie Haley Mideiros can be found most days serving the clients of First Option Mortgage. She is a private individual, married with children and grandchildren, who has been working in the mortgage business since 1983. When asked about her career, she said simply, “I love doing what I’m doing, I love the mortgage business.” Marie’s passion for the industry is evident in her daily interactions and along the path she’s taken to reach her current position. She has been a loan opener, a processor, a conventional underwriter, and a loan officer, all leading her to her current success as a branch manager.
Receiving the Women With Vision Award has felt like a milestone in the community of hardworking and amazing women. I am honored to be in this group and will cherish it for always.”
Maria Quattrone founded Maria Quattrone and Associates in 2005 and has owned her own real estate firm for the last seven years. Her firm provides a private banking model to her clients across the country.
“As a real estate firm,” Maria says, “we’re hired to get a job done no matter how challenging it is. We look for the solutions instead of the problems and create a better foundation. Communicate; if you do not ask, you will not receive. Be a problem-solver. Be the Solution.”
Through Maria’s leadership, her company has grown into one of the most successful real estate companies in Philadelphia. In 2020, Maria launched Be the Solution, a live show and podcast distributed across the country.
Maria has numerous awards and accolades. She has been exclusively endorsed as the recommended agent in the Greater Philadelphia Metro
Marketed by Barbara Corcoran, the real estate mogul on Shark Tank and ranked the number two agent in Pennsylvania by America’s Best. Maria is active within her community and supports numerous organizations such as Big Brother Big Sisters, Haven Women, and The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention.
Maria Quattrone and Associates and RE/MAX @ HOME
Full Circle Home Loans
This award was a surprise to say the least. This community of women in the mortgage field have become sisters in arms, a shoulder to cry on or lift me up. These women are the people in my corner. My kids and husband, Chris, are thrilled that I am being honored for all my hard work. I am showing my kids what it means to hustle with heart and never back down when you are told you can’t or are not enough.”
Mary has been told by many along her fifteen-year journey she would never succeed solo, never help more than one family a month, never be able to provide for her own family. It was in saying no to these naysayers that Mary realized a great passion to be the best for herself and her kids, and be the best for her clients, serving them with honesty and integrity in every aspect of their transaction.
Mary began her career in 2005 in the mortgage and real estate industry, first focusing on real estate and then falling in love with the mortgage side. In 2009, focusing on her family, she worked with clients on a referral basis. She was eventually approached to be a loan partner and this is where she found her footing, running a team of five, originating for the broker, and handling client relationships. In 2017, Mary earned her NMLS license and ventured out on her own.
Integrity is at the core of what Mary does, as she describes here, “I am still a new broker in terms of being out on my own. I am still building relationships with my community and network, serving my clients and community in the best way I know how by treating them as my best friend, brother, parents; never anything less than. My clients are incredible and the reason I am here, doing what I love every day.” Mary focuses on building relationships with her clients and learns about them and their families and takes all the information into consideration when she is working with them. She always has her client’s best interest at heart. One of her life-long goals is to help as many women as possible become financially independent.
Mary spends her free time enjoying the outdoors with her husband, kids, and dogs. She is an avid volunteer for several non-profit organizations serving local law enforcement and their families, as well as at-risk single mothers.
New talent breeds innovation. Women have an enormous opportunity to help the mortgage industry overcome its challenges and reshape its future. Greater representation of women throughout the industry will ultimately lead to increased collaboration and integration between segments, creating greater efficiencies, lower costs, and improved customer service.”
Over a 20-year career, Maylene Tan Khieu has emerged as a knowledgeable and trusted expert in the mortgage banking industry. Her skills and perseverance led her quickly to the C-suite, where she currently serves as chief administrative officer, responsible for all aspects of New Day USA’s quality control, vendor management and servicing, and customer service programs. As she has risen up the ranks at NewDay, Maylene has made time to mentor other future leaders, both male and female.
“From the day she joined our company, May has been a key contributor to our growth and success,” said Rob Posner, CEO of NewDay USA. “Her deep expertise in FHA and as a VA underwriter have been critical to building NewDay USA’s reputation as one of the nation’s leading originators of government mortgage loans. We would not be the company we are today without her.”
Throughout her career, Maylene has been a strong proponent and supporter of developing programs that attract and train young, capable, innovative, and driven women professionals to the industry. While the mortgage industry as a whole is still primarily run by older professionals–and mostly men–who have struggled to attract new talent into the field, Maylene is confident current and future talented women leaders have already begun expanding the industry.
Prior to joining the NewDay in 1999, she was operations manager at Federal Funding Corporation. Maylene has a BS in Accounting from the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines. Pooja Bansal, NewDay USA’s chief human resources officer said, “She’s a hardworking and motivated leader. Her work ethic is off the charts, and her perspective carries enormous weight because she has literally worked in every part of the mortgage business.”
MAYLENE TAN KHIEU
Chief Administrative Officer
Chief Executive Officer
Synergy Mortgage Group
Melanie Stuckey, often called the miracle worker, is chief executive officer of Synergy Mortgage Group LLC and a huge contributor to financial literacy in her community. A graduate of Florida A&M University, Melanie has traveled around the U.S. teaching consumers how to successfully navigate real estate by obtaining A+ credit.
Melanie Stuckey embodies every quality of this award. She is a leader, a community advocate, and an educator. She enjoys singing and uses her vocal talents to lean into the scholastic community and educate younger generations and real estate professionals on financial literacy. She spreads love, light, graciousness, and charm to everyone she meets.
Melanie operates with the model of givers gain and is a force to be reckoned with as she continues to lead her team with passion, dedicate time to teach community wealth building, and to create limitless success in the mortgage industry.
This award has helped me to achieve more recognition within the industry. I am sincerely grateful for this honor!”
Melanie Walburg has over 20 years of experience within the mortgage industry. In 2005, she started her own mortgage brokerage, Destiny Mortgage Lending. She is extremely hardworking and continues to be a top producer in the broker channel, being one of the top 100 producers in the country and in the top 1 percent in Georgia. Melanie has taken the time to help and coach others who are entering the industry. Melanie empowers women to be strong leaders, work hard, and build an empire for themselves.
Broker / Owner
Destiny Mortgage Lending
Nexus Mortgage Lending
My vision is to prove to the world success doesn’t have to look a certain way or fit into a particular mold.”
A mortgage broker since 2004, Melissa has always been an outside-of-the-box thinker. She is extremely tenacious, often reciting the famous movie quote, “Goonies Never Say Die” when she encounters a roadblock or unique situation in her industry.
Melissa’s greatest gift is the ability to connect and find commonality with everyone she meets. It doesn’t matter if they are a multi-million-dollar CEO or a first-time homebuyer, to Melissa they are equally important (just ask her to tell you her conveyor belt theory). She firmly stands by her motto, Authenticity Wins. Every Time.
When Melissa made a particular conscious change in her mindset, she was able to more than double her business and give herself a raise from making $30,000 to six ﬁgures in one year. A notable public speaker, she can inspire, energize, and encourage others to discover and utilize their inner strengths to propel their lives and careers to greater heights.
Being an award winner and having the ability to help influence other women along their own journey means the absolute world to me. Sharing this prestigious award with some of the most talented and inspirational women in our country is so very humbling and contributes to shaping my own vision of doing more and being more every single day.”
With over 15 years of experience in the mortgage industry, Michelle Dugan opened MS Lending, LLC, a boutique mortgage brokerage in Mississippi. Michelle also helps to co-lead several online masterminds for mortgage loan originators with a combined membership of over 500. During 2020, Michelle and her best friend, Ashley Miller, launched the Blondes Have More Funds podcast. The podcast focuses on empowering women by shining a light on the realities of the female journey. Michelle volunteers with several organizations on a local level.
Michelle has been recognized with several awards including being named Top 40 under 40 by National Mortgage Professional Magazine, one of the Top 50 Leading Business Women of Mississippi, and the 2019 Women With Vision Award.
NEXT Mortgage Events & Conferences
Winning this award has brought me many new relationships with powerful women. I have met so many new friends who I truly admire! Thank you, 20/20 Vision for Success Coaching!”
Molly is an incredibly selfless leader who has set herself apart in ways few women ever have. She is the co-founder of NEXT Mortgage Events and NEXTMortgageNews.com with Jeri Yoshida.
Molly has nearly 20 years’ experience marketing the most successful technology brands in the real estate and mortgage industries. She has been awarded Most Powerful Women in FinTech by PROGRESS in Lending and named a HousingWire Woman of Influence. She leads the industry, ensuring women entrepreneurs and executives will be highlighted and showcased at their events.
Molly has an amazing vision for the future of women. She is in the driver’s seat, holding numerous annual events nationwide, potentially allowing her to push the needle further than any other woman in the business. Hers is truly a vision of women empowered.
Winning is about having the right attitude, determination, and learning from our failures. It is exciting to be recognized by such a successful organization!”
Neena Vlamis is the president and founder of A and N Mortgage. Since founding A and N Mortgage, is licensed in eight states, headquartered in Chicago. Neena and her team work with her borrowers to find the perfect mortgage for their unique financial circumstances.
Neena enjoys working with her team of lending consultants and educating her real estate partners on new lending and mortgage products.
Outside of her business, Neena loves being mother to her three children.
President and founder
A and N Mortgage
PAOLA P. COLINA
First Option Mortgage
Being given this award is proof I love what I do, who I work for, and I am at the place where I belong. Receiving this recognition affirms my desire to keep growing professionally and within the company and to motivate others to achieve the same.”
Paola Colina started as a loan officer assistant at First Option Mortgage in October of 2019. A few months later, she became the branch’s loan processor. Most recently, she was named the processing supervisor across several branches within the company. Paola has outstanding customer service skills as well as strong interpersonal and management skills. She really enjoys training new processors in her team and wants them to be the best in the company. Paola wishes to be part of the success and continuous growth of the business and men and women leaders who trust her oversight saying, “I am truly grateful to have the opportunity to work for First Option Mortgage.”
I feel proud to have received the 2020 Women With Vision Award! I accept this award in honor of all women unseen in the mortgage industry. My own vision of powerful women running independent mortgage companies is something I will work tirelessly to achieve until I retire from this industry that has offered me many blessings!”
Patty is an award-winning entrepreneur and the co-founder and president of New American Funding. A first-generation Latina, she leverages more than 39 years of experience in the mortgage industry to lead the company’s sales and operations efforts. In addition, Patty created the company’s Latino Focus and New American Dream initiatives to improve the home lending experiences for Latino and Black home buyers.
Patty is also a popular keynote speaker for mortgage events across the nation. She is on numerous committees for organizations such as the Mortgage Bankers Association, the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP), and the Housing Counseling Federal Advisory Committee (HCFAC). She frequently visits Washington, D.C. to lobby for the industry and homeowners. Ernst & Young recognized Patty as 2016 EY Entrepreneur of The Year® Orange County.
New American Funding
Retail Sales Manager
Planet Home Lending
I believe I’ve made a difference in people’s lives by helping them achieve homeownership. During my tenure, the industry has changed a lot, but one thing remained constant – creating a great customer experience builds lifelong relationships. This remains the core of my professional philosophy.”
Over the past four decades, Paula Pozzi has built a flawless reputation as a highly respected mortgage loan officer. Throughout her career Paula has worked with some of the most well-known companies and today she is a top loan originator and retail sales manager for Planet Home Lending, LLC.
Paula is committed to helping others within the industry which has led her to be considered the go-to mentor for countless local professionals, helping them gain the skills needed to be successful in sales and operations. Pozzi, who has a deep footprint of industry service and problem-solving, has made a tremendous difference in the lives of thousands of homeowners in San Diego.
Paula is deeply involved with the mortgage industry. As a member of the National Association of Professional Mortgage Women she was a part of the group which looked to improve industry workflows. Paula also is an affiliate member of the Pacific Southwest Association of REALTORS® board where she assists with industry events, trainings, and fundraising.
Being recognized for something that I truly care about is an honor and a privilege, and I am humbled to be amongst the other dynamic female recipients.”
As a Business-to-Business sales professional, Rhiannon Bolen is a trusted advisor in the mortgage industry where she has served in various roles for over 20 years. As an enterprise level sales executive her focus is to support her clients’ initiatives and help them navigate through the challenges lenders face in the mortgage industry. Rhiannon is dedicated to creating opportunities for women from all industry backgrounds so they create success for themselves.
Rhiannon is actively involved within the industry. She is a board member of the Texas Mortgage Bankers Association where she has served as the committee chair on various committees for the past 10 years. She is also the founder of Texas Women Mortgage Bankers, a group within the Texas Mortgage Bankers Association. In the past she has served as the president for the Dallas chapter of NAPMW and is a past president of the Dallas Mortgage Bankers Association.
Within the TWMB group, she works to provide industry panels, women leadership keynotes ,and Open Forum Roundtables–an opportunity for members to engage and candidly interact about navigating challenges and sharing best practices for women in the mortgage industry. The program she is most proud of is the Mentor Matching program where mentees are matched with mentors and are provided an opportunity to engage and offered guidance and advice.
Rhiannon summarizes her experience as a Women With Vision Award winner thusly, “As an involved industry advocate, I think it’s important to engage and learn from peers and colleagues constantly. I have been fortunate to work for companies supportive of my involvement in industry associations and my desire to advance my knowledge and career and to take on roles in a leadership capacity. I am passionate about helping to support others in their career growth and trajectory. As this has evolved into volunteer work for women’s groups, I was eventually led to Women With Vision and saw the value being an active participant could bring for my personal growth.”
RHIANNON BOLEN, AMP
Regional Sales Director
Mortgage Capital Trading
First Option Mortgage
This is the first prestigious award I have received recognizing me for my hard work and dedication. This award encourages me to focus and accomplish my goals.”
Sabina Chowdhury used her degree in business administration for 15 years pursuing a career in human resource and management. Her experience across diverse industries held her in good stead when she made a career pivot in 2017 to take on the challenge of a career in the mortgage industry. Sabina is currently a processor with First Option Mortgage, building a base and platform for continued career growth.
“It makes me proud that someone recommended me for this award,” Sabina says. “Recognition of efforts put forth always makes a difference and encourages me to do better in the future.” Sabina is an avid traveler who enjoys exploring new countries, cultures, traditions, and foods.
Receiving this award has reinforced the importance of setting the right example to lift other women around me up to be confident, compassionate, and driven to achieve their maximum potential.”
Sarah DeCiantis leads United Wholesale Mortgage’s marketing, public relations, social media, and internal communications. Since joining UWM in 2014, Chief Marketing Ofﬁcer, Sarah DeCiantis, has built the marketing effort from a small group to a team of 50 people. This team provides strategic direction to support the growth and success of UWM and their broker network. Her focus has been on branding UWM as the best mortgage company in the nation as well as providing tools and resources to mortgage brokers to help grow their business and the wholesale industry market share while helping borrowers purchase their dream home.
Sarah is a true visionary when it comes to helping brokers enhance their marketing and business capabilities, creating greater visibility for brokers so they can offer lending solutions to more borrowers. As a leader, Sarah prides herself on truly being in the weeds in all aspects of UWM Marketing. She meets with clients to help assess their goals from a marketing perspective so UWM can help them grow their business, stressing the importance of building a strong social presence and driving business through content. Sarah provides clients with the knowledge to leverage marketing tools and technology. She works tirelessly to educate consumers and realtors that independent brokers are the best partners to work with when it comes to obtaining a mortgage.
Sarah is a HousingWire Vanguard Award winner, a part of the MPA Hot 100, and NMP Magazine’s 40 under 40. She has a vision for the industry to continue its growth, opening opportunities for more women to join the wholesale channel in a variety of positions including mortgage brokers, realtors, processors, and underwriters.
EVP, Chief Marketing Ofﬁcer
United Wholesale Mortgage
HousingWire Editor in Chief
I’m truly honored to be counted as one of the Women With Vision award winners.”
Over the last seven years, Sarah Wheeler has left her impact on the housing industry. In 2013, Sarah joined HousingWire where she has served as sponsored content editor and the magazine editor. Earlier this year Sarah was named the HousingWire editor in chief where she oversees the newsroom, sponsored content, premium content, and event content departments.
Sarah leads by example, and the example she sets for women in the housing industry is one rooted in hard work, dedication, focus, creativity, coaching, and mentorship. Sarah sees the power and influence of female role models and seeks to celebrate the women-in-leadership roles in the industry.
Through HousingWire’s Women of Influence program supporting growth and opportunity for women, Sarah has grown her career by lifting others up, recruiting and developing some of the best journalists and leaders in the housing industry.
Sarah sees the power and influence of female role models and seeks to celebrate the women in leadership roles in our industry while working hard to create more opportunities for the next generation of leaders.
This is the first award I have received. It is privilege to be recognized as a woman leader and it makes me proud to see how the work I do is appreciated and recognized. I’m honored that someone recommended me for this award. Validation of efforts put forth always make a difference.”
Shelly-Ann Campbell brings close to 10 years of experience within the real estate industry as a business development vice president and realtor. Most days Shelly-Ann directs First Option Mortgage in developing and maintaining business within the Atlanta area. Always in attendance at Atlanta’s top industry events and often fondly proclaimed the life of the party, Shelly-Ann builds and maintains solid relationships everywhere she goes. Her opinions are highly valued and people trust and respect her judgment. She has a proven knack for persuading and influencing high-ranking individuals. Shelly-Ann’s goal is to live a life of faith, service, and empowerment of others.
VP of Strategic Growth and Business Development
First Option Mortgage
SVP, Capital Markets and Loan Operations
The Mortgage Firm
I believe it is vital to always look for ways to increase efficiencies while at the same time providing the most competitive pricing and products to help our sales team grow and win more deals.”
Sheri Nedley has worked her way from being The Mortgage Firm’s first closer in correspondent lending in 1999 to Senior Vice President of capital markets and operations today. Through her self-assurance, knowledge and financial background, Sheri has led the company to over $2.5 billion a year in production. Even throughout unpredictable times within the industry, Sheri has implemented changes within the company to increase profitability and allow the company to execute at a high level
Sheri continues to find new ways to operate that allows her teams to do more with current staffing. She responsible for implemented outsourcing, AI/Robotics, additions to the company’s tech stack, as well as improvements in Lender relationships and product offerings.
Sheri holds herself with great dignity and integrity, enjoys a solid work ethic and is admired by her colleagues as a steadfast, solid, manager who garners respect from the operations and sales teams alike.
Receiving this award is especially meaningful because it is a direct recognition from my colleagues. Being recognized as a leading woman in the Mortgage Industry, among the other incredible women who won this award, is an honor. As a WWV Award winner, I’ve gained recognition in my community and social media network.”
Skylar started with Acadia Lending Group in 2011 as a loan officer Assistant. She worked her way through the company, rising to become a full-time loan officer in 2015. Skylar currently is a Top 100 and Top 1% loan originator in the country, as well as the Top Originator in the State of Maine. She provides affordable, reliable, lending options to people looking to purchase property. Her main focus is to make the process as smooth and easy as possible for the client, while making it a great, personable, and memorable experience.
In the opinion of coworkers, Skylar “is truly a woman to be admired. Not only can she originate and close 50 plus loans per month, but she is also raising three young children! She is one to watch and to look up to.” She was presented the 2018 and 2019 Scotsman Top Originator Award, as well as the Scotsman Top Women Originator Award.
Senior Mortgage Broker
Maine Pointe Lending
Director of Business Development
Polunsky Beitel Green LLP and eClosePlus
I am honored to be in the same category with so many amazing women in the industry.”
Stacey Maisano has more than 25 years of experience in nearly all aspects of the mortgage industry. Throughout her career she has served in several executive level positions including serving as a lending regional sales manager, vice president of mortgage production, and lending managing director. Currently, she is the director of business development for Polunsky Beitel Green and eClosePlus where she manages and expands their business portfolios.
Stacey’s leadership style is one of collaboration and empowerment. She is passionate and committed to inspire others. Through her vision, she empowers and mentors women in and out of the mortgage industry to be successful in career advancement and in life. She contributes within the industry through chairing and serving on several committees within industry associations such as Mortgage Banker’s Association’s mPower, and Texas Mortgage Bankers Association (TMBA) Texas Women’s Mortgage Bankers.
Stacey is a Next Powerhouse Award Winner in 2020 and was a top producer in 2019 and 2020.
To be a two-time winner of this award means a lot to me. The past few years have been challenging to me personally and professionally. Receiving recognition by the esteemed group making this winner selection is a boost to my confidence and affords me new vigor to find ways I never dreamt of to give back to other women.”
Stacie Rankey has served for 20 years delivering a broad base of skills, including sales, client relations, marketing, human resources, and operational management, to a range of companies. Focusing in recent years on the mortgage industry, she has specialized in title and compliance roles as well as offering a range of solution-based services through her company, Full Circle Solutions.
Stacie brings her excellent communication and presentation skills into focus to promote ideas to individuals and groups at all levels in an organization. She is a fighter who steps up to the bar and beyond saying, “Going through breast cancer taught me that I am stronger than I thought. It prompted me to develop Survivors Voice, a new YouTube channel for women to share their stories. There is a need for this kind of resource for women and men fighting breast cancer, as well as their caregivers, to have a voice.”
Stacie exemplifies the premise of the Women With Vision Award by showing how, when the vision changes, she continues to make an impact ensuring betterment and growth for the next generation of women with vision.
Full Circle Solutions
Cherry Creek Mortgage Co
I am more comfortable being the person behind the scenes. Receiving this award makes me recognize I do have influence and I need to use it wisely, and most importantly, I owe it to the people who have helped me over the years, to pass the baton and help others achieve their own professional success.”
Tara has a forward vision to see more and more women at the helm of mortgage business and leading the charge. Tara acts as a mentor for those looking to do the same. Healy has over 20 years of experience within the mortgage industry with special focus in the areas of origination, operations management, and compliance. She currently serves as the vice president of compliance for Cherry Creek Mortgage Co., Inc.
A true advocate for the mortgage banking industry, Tara serves as the youngest female president of Colorado Mortgage Lenders Association (CMLA), a member of the CMLA Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Committee, past chair of the CMLA Education and Events Committee, and a member of the Mortgage Bankers Association Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Committee. Tara was awarded the prestigious Certified Mortgage Banker designation in 2018 and is one of only 11 women in Colorado to have this designation.
I appreciate my husband for thinking highly of what I do and that I deserve this award. He was impressed by the organization when he attended a training and nominated me for the award. It is gratifying to know he thinks of me as a woman with vision!”
Tracy Tragesser is a leader within her market. She has led her branch through consistent community involvement and has increased small business success. This has led her to consistently grow revenue in small business loan revenue, Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) revenue, and depository accounts. Tracy has received the sales leader award in 2018 for leading in the 2017 fiscal year.
Tracy believes strong women in banking will climb the ladder to senior management positions.
Assistant Vice President/Retail Market Manager
Executive Vice President, Taylor Morrison
President, Financial Services
Being honored and chosen for an award acknowledging the success I have achieved through my career is a validation of how my efforts have impacted others and the industry I care so much about. An award like Woman With Vision opens my influence in a positive way.”
Tawn’s progressive journey in the mortgage industry, begun 35 years ago, has taken her from entry level through entrepreneurial success to leading from the C-Suite. Today, Tawn Kelley is the executive vice president of Taylor Morrison and president of its financial services division.
Tawn’s years of serving families from origination to managing pipelines and builder needs has given her a unique understanding of the business. As a leader, her passion for using finance to sell homes and leading customers to their new front door is evident in the performance of team members who are always willing to Shift, Tawn’s favorite word, and push the company forward with new technology, implementing new ideas to achieve excellence.
In 2011, Tawn established a free qualification improvement program to better position families for home purchase and today her proprietary program—Able, Ready, Own—has educated and improved qualification for over 2,500 families. Fast forward to today’s climate and the mortgage industry is facing a different kind of crisis in the coronavirus pandemic. This has been one of the toughest leadership tests and Tawn has tackled the tough challenges head on –from the implementation of a remote workforce, to personally reaching out to every team member, ensuring her leadership team is practicing empathy and compassion when it matters most, Tawn has provided inspiration.
In addition to being a winner of both the 2019 and the 2020 Women With Vision Award, Tawn has been recognized throughout the industry with numerous awards, including the Vanguard Award by HousingWire in 2015 and 2017 and HousingWire’s Women of Influence award in 2015 and 2020. Most recently, she has received the Vanguard award for 2020 as well as becoming a recipient of National Mortgage Professional’s Women of Inspiration for 2020!
Receiving this award, in particular, makes me proud to represent women in the industry and hopeful I can inspire young women to make great strides and aspire to join executive ranks. I appreciate recognition for my dedication to the industry in which I have built a career, the company for which I work, the teams with whom I collaborate, and for the communities we serve.”
Twyla Hankins is the executive vice president of operations for American Financial Network, Inc. (AFN). Twyla possesses a big-picture vision allowing her to oversee and direct operations personnel in best practices. As a sage operations executive with nearly four decades of experience in the mortgage lending industry, she is unflappable in the face of an ever-changing landscape and rapidly shifting regulations. As the industry navigates its way through unprecedented circumstances and operations personnel are working remotely from coast to coast, her steady guidance and leadership demonstrate her skills as a consummate professional, even under extreme circumstances.
With nearly 40 years of experience in the mortgage lending industry, Twyla has worked as an underwriting supervisor, underwriter, and loan processor and has served as a mortgage-operations executive for more than 27 years. Twyla aided in growth and prosperity with each industry advancement in technology and has ensured all operations departments, from loan processing through post-closing, have kept pace with these expansions. In many ways, Twyla has led the charge to a more automated mortgage loan.
Twyla has been awarded numerous industry awards including: NAWRB Leadership Award for Women in the Housing & Real Estate Ecosystem in 2020, National Mortgage Professional Magazine Most Powerful Women in Mortgage Award for 2018 and 2019, HousingWire Magazine Women of Influence Award in 2017. She was also named as a finalist for Mortgage Professional America’s Woman of Distinction Award.
As a relax-in-the sun enthusiast, Twyla enjoys dining al fresco, weekend getaways to San Diego, and vacationing in the lush and beautiful Hawaiian Islands. She took Tai Kwan Do lessons along with her youngest son and earned black belt status.
Family is important to Twyla. She treasures spending time with her husband and their two sons, daughter-in-law, and their young grandson, who Twyla loves to indulge and entertain.
EVP of Operations
American Financial Network (AFN)
Written by Jenny Mason
No time? Exhausted? Living on autopilot? Unsatisfied? Constantly behind? Burnt out? A to-do list bigger than Santa? Lost your direction? In a daily struggle to finish it all? If you are nodding yes, your life may be out of balance, and you are not alone. In a recent survey over 96 percent admit to a feeling of living on autopilot. Priorities, responsibilities, and even our own desires compete for our attention pulling at us until we feel like a Stretch Armstrong doll about to rip.
Have you Googled how to find balance in life? I did. There are over two million results! We let our day run us instead of us running our day. It is time to turn off the noise, find what’s at our core, and focus on what we need most to be fulfilled.
Can you remember riding your bike when you were younger and being dared to take your hands off the handlebars? The feeling was intense. Excitement mixed with fear and the thrill of breaking the rules. You knew the risk and did it anyway. One finger, one hand at a time, you released your grip on the handlebars. Higher and higher, your arms raised and your back straightened to keep your balance. Then you put both feet out! Woohoo! It felt amazing, like you were flying. It was exhilarating and you never wanted it to end.
And then you ran into the guard rail.
Sorry, I had a flashback. I did that. I looked away from where I was going, lost balance, and hit the guard rail. Boy, I had a goose egg the size of a baseball for a few weeks, and I learned my first lesson about balance. Since then, I’ve come to understand living a life in balance is not about how much you do or what you do, or even where your focus lies, it’s about how you feel about what you are doing. As a wife, homeschooling mom, and self-employed business owner, having balance is essential for my, and my family’s happiness and well-being.
Balance offers a tremendous boost to productivity as well as generating all kinds of happiness endorphins. Aligning priorities with our core system enables us to feel balanced rather than guilty and stressed. When we have balance in our lives, we have the same sense of freedom as if we were riding our bikes with no hands.
I have an exercise for you to experiment with. Stand on one leg, raise to your tiptoes, then tighten your core and focus on an object in front of you. Now move your head to look at something else, then move your head the other way. How’s your balance? Did you wobble? Did you fall over? Most likely, yes. Focus is a key component to balance.
The best example of this is taught in sports. Think about swinging a golf club or a baseball bat. Pick up the bat, feel it in your hands. Set your feet and get ready to swing at the ball you know is coming toward you. Tighten your grip, cinch it. Hold the club or bat in a death grip. Now swing!
What were the results? Did you miss the ball? Did it feel a little out of control?
Now relax your grip. Take the club or bat lightly in your hands. Keep your grip firm but loose. Relax your shoulders and release the tension in your muscles. Focus your eyes on the ball and swing.
What were your results this time? If you want to continue with this, swing the club or bat as you move your head to look where you think the ball is going. Focus on the ball through your swing going where you expect. What were your results? I don’t need to be there to know the answer. When we lighten our grip and keep our eye on the ball, we are in balance and no matter whether it’s a foul, a homerun, or misses the hole by inches, swinging from a place of balance brings satisfaction.
As it is true with those exercises, so it is in our lives. When we focus on our core, the things truly making us and fulfilling us are at hand. When we avoid putting a death grip on everything we’re doing, we live fuller lives and achieve greater outcomes personally and professionally.
Tips for Gaining Balance
Balance in life is personal. Yes, it involves interacting with the world and the people around you, so both impacts and requires cooperation with others. Yet, it begins and continues by understanding what is at your core. Here are a few questions to consider and explore:
- What are your core values?
- What’s at the center of your life?
- Where does your strength come from?
- What does a balanced life look like to you?
Once you can clearly visualize your balanced life, drill down a bit deeper with your self-assessment:
- Is what you are doing lining up with living a balanced life?
- Does the company you are working for have the same core belief system?
- Has something taken you off track? Changed your focus?
- Are you juggling things that really don’t belong to you?
Once you start operating from your core you will find balance and be more fulfilled. Clarity on your core values will result in igniting your passion. Build your foundation on your core values and beliefs to stay grounded and rooted in them, so when everything starts spinning out of control or winds of pressure blow, you remain firm, strong, and balanced.
Make a choice to find balance. Success comes by continuous, conscious effort to change, then to be disciplined, determined, and persistent. It’s a daily choice, sometimes minute by minute. Here are a few tips to help:
- Set goals in every area of your life.
- Take small steps. It’s counterproductive to change everything at once.
- Assess your priorities regularly.
- Regularly. Whether for a few hours a day or on the weekend, make time to disconnect.
- Say no to nonessentials. Ask and assess how tasks and events add value to your life. Ensure what you do is in line with your core beliefs and values. Be relentless about this.
- Take care of your health physically, mentally, and spiritually.
- Minimize negative influences around you.
- How you start your day will dictate your day. Before anything else, take 30 minutes for you. Write in your gratitude journal. Exercise. Enjoy loved ones. Read or listen to a positive podcast. It’s your morning. Control the start of your day with a habit to make you feel fulfilled and is aligned with your core.
- Set boundaries for the workday. Make a starting and stopping time. Have a process.
- Lessen your grip. Hand off tasks to others.
- Tackle the toughest tasks in the morning. Turn off the noise and complete what you need most to feel satisfied.
- Set realistic expectations.
- Incorporate your core values and beliefs into your work at any aspect you can.
- Finish the day with time for yourself. Reflect and reassess. Spend quiet time to unwind. Let your mind rest so your body can.
- Make time for hobbies and fun outlets.
Remember our old friend Ebenezer Scrooge? At one time in life, he had fun with family and friends. He was in love. Then he became consumed in his work and making money. He took advantage of people, looked down on them, and eventually was far from his core beliefs. He became a lonely, miserable miser. One night, he was shaken to his core and remembered what living a fulfilled life felt like. He was given a second chance. He chose balance. He chose to make time and enjoy his family and loved ones. He chose to use his resources and truly help people, thus changing him from a miserable, unfulfilled, out-of-balance miser into a happy, fulfilled, balanced man full of vitality.
Written by Anne Jablonski
Executive Managing Director, Head of Commercial Real Estate for SitusAMC
It’s a huge understatement to say most businesses have struggled since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived. Thousands of companies have gone under. Survivors continue to face enormous challenges, including the transition to remote working, and for most of them, business growth has become a distant priority to just staying alive.
These challenges aren’t going away soon, either. The pandemic is lasting longer than anyone expected or hoped. It’s unlikely we will return to any kind of normal in the coming year. And yet, we’ve also found it’s possible to grow a business even in a pandemic. In fact, many companies have overcome the obstacles of today’s business climate and are doing quite well.
One truth has become incredibly apparent. The connection between success and teamwork is crucial. More specifically, successful companies prioritize their people and what they do to maximize the strengths of their team to ensure everyone—including their clients—secures what they need to succeed.
Take Care of Team Needs and Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Like many firms, my own company faced challenges with adapting to the business realities brought on by the pandemic. Having assumed my current role right before COVID hit, I was immediately tasked with overseeing our company’s transition to remote operations. While I had led and been a part of remote workforces before, this scope and scale was an entirely new situation.
Fortunately, we have an amazing IT team. They worked around the clock to make sure everybody had the systems and technologies needed to maintain business continuity. Thankfully, the team had previously developed what-if scenarios, including the possibility of widespread remote working. When the pandemic hit, we had a head start on how to make the necessary shift.
While our initial focus was on the fundamentals–solid internet access, the right equipment, an effective working space–our attention quickly turned to communication. We had to create new standards of communication to keep our team motivated and focused on serving our clients.
Communication has never been more important than it is today. As I’ve quickly discovered during this time, there’s no such thing as overcommunication. This single understanding has been critical in helping our team maintain a sense of community and immensely helpful in ensuring our clients feel heard and supported.
As an example, I hold a 30-minute call two times a week, on Tuesday and Thursday, at nine o’clock, with our business leaders. During this call, it is understood if you have something to say, you say it, and if you don’t, we move on. Everybody has a chance to talk about what they are seeing, what challenges they’re having, or introduce new opportunities and celebrate wins. In the past, we would operate in our own silos and focus on our own clients. These calls have given us an opportunity to break down silos, ensure everyone is up to speed, and maintain a singular focus on how to best serve our clients in the current environment.
Keep Pushing for Growth
Although we’ve always had a contingent focused on new business, since moving to a remote workforce in mid-March, we had to establish a new framework for working together before we could really focus on growth. It was a good few months before we reached a point where we felt the market and our teams had stabilized enough to shift our focus toward growing business. The big question was how?
Meeting with current or prospective clients is not easy in today’s social-distanced environment. Our industry remains relationship driven, regardless of pandemic. Typically, business development activity takes place in person, oftentimes at industry conferences. When conferences were canceled, we lost a huge connection. For us, as with most businesses, the obvious response is to cultivate the relationships you have.
One great way to do this is through roundtables where people get together virtually to talk about things going on in the market. If you can stay abreast of industry news, you can be proactive. And if you have great services and a great story to tell, these things work in your favor, too.
Another way to build business is relying on word-of-mouth introductions. Of course, this is predicated on doing a good enough job for your clients so they want to recommend you to others. It’s not enough to provide an average level of service. To grow business today, you must be great and always have the A-Team ready to go.
Acquisitions are also a good way to grow business, and our firm has discovered it has absolutely been possible to make acquisitions during a pandemic. The key with acquisitions though, is to not see them solely as a growth tool, but rather a way to augment your existing offering, adding new technologies or services, as a way to deliver more value to your audience.
Embrace the Situation and Each Other
Even though we’re working remotely and there’s hardly any in-person contact, both with our team and our clients, the pandemic has brought our team closer together. We have an appreciation now for what we’re each dealing with, especially those with families working from home and raising kids and learning how remote schooling works. Being exposed to people in their home environment also provides a glimpse into their lives and adds a personal touch and connection that might not have been evident in office buildings.
At my company, I think we are better connected today than we have ever been. Because we’re all doing Zoom calls or Microsoft Teams meetings, we are all living out of our calendars, one 30-minute block of time after another. Easily, 60 percent of our meetings are accomplished through video calls, which has given us all a greater sense of togetherness.
There are other blessings, too. For example, we’re much more efficient now as an organization because people aren’t spending time and energy commuting back and forth to work. On the flip side, though, there’s a risk people can get so caught up in work they forget to take breaks or call it a day. It’s important to make sure people don’t reach a level of fatigue they become overwhelmed. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to make sure everybody takes time off and steps away from the computer and makes time for themselves on the weekends. If you’re burnt out, you’re going to be less productive and more agitated.
One thing I’ve found that works great is humor. If you’re not laughing from time to time, or seeing the comedy in some of the situations we’re all dealing with, what’s the point? When a member of our team loses their sense of humor, I know they’re too stressed out and it’s time to step back and take a pause.
Certainly, today’s business climate is less than ideal. And yet, there are few things more powerful than a great team working in sync with a shared mission. You might not be able to accomplish everything, but by focusing on what’s important—your people and your clients—you can achieve quite a lot.
Mortgage X Podcast
On this special episode of the Mortgage X Podcast, MBA COO Marcia Davies talks about her incredible mortgage journey from Freddie Mac, to HUD, to the MBA and the founding of mPower. Davies is the founder of mPower (MBA Promoting Opportunities for Women to Extend their Reach) a networking platform for women in the real estate finance industry. Marcia Davies is the chief operating officer for the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), where she ensures cross-organizational alignment, implements strategic initiatives, and oversees key priorities.
Coaching is about building a foundation for results and knowing how to step into action based on that foundation. Turning vision into reality requires trust that the bedrock beneath the vision is sound. Coaching with 20/20 Vision begins by building and strengthening your foundation and ensures you remain focused on the vision for success.
Vonk Digital, an industry leader in website and marketing tools for mortgage originators across America, is a proud sponsor and hosting partner of Women With Vision Magazine.
To learn how Vonk Digital can help you leverage the “New Way” to build your brand, authority & credibility with our website platform and tools visit us at www.vonkdigital.com