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mPower Addressing

Workplace Disruptors For the first time at a NAWRB Confer-

ence, mPower, Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) Promoting Opportunities for Women to Extend their Reach, presented a panel to kick off our “Year of Women” with style and substance. NAWRB CEO & President Desirée Patno introduced MBA COO and Founder of mPower, Marcia Davies, noting “This is an historical event featuring a collective group of experts from several different industries, and the first time mPower has had a male-panelist.”



Introducing mPower

Marcia showed a “sizzle reel” of MBA’s first Summit for Women in Real Estate Finance, which condensed an entire day of dynamic speakers and inspiration to just two and a half minutes. The inspiration behind mPower, she said, stemmed from the fact that at a typical MBA conference you mainly see men. Previewing mPower’s next Summit for Women in Real Estate set for October 13th in Washington, D.C., Marcia revealed the event will feature Oscar-winning actress Geena Davis and Founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media as one of the speakers. Marcia continued by explaining the powerful power mentorship had in her life.

“Mortgage Finance Was Not on My Radar” A career in mortgage finance was not on Marcia’s radar growing up on a New Jersey farm. Eventually, her path led her to Washington D.C. where she met a manager who took her under her wing. “I was not your ideal employee,” she said. “She [Marcia’s manager] championed and supported me and gave me big assignments and projects. After about six months I realized my life was better because she was my manager. She wanted me to be successful and saw how hard I worked.” From this early mentor, Marcia learned the first important lesson of her early career: the power of championing other women. “I want to

be like her when I get to lead an organization,” she vowed to herself. The second big lesson of her early career came from her time working at Freddie Mac when her boss, the Vice President of the business line she had spent seven years within, told her, “You need to step out of your comfort zone if you want to go further in your career.” He further boosted her confidence by giving her the first opportunity to leap out of her role with the words: “You have all the skills to lead this department. What you have are the qualities of a leader. You instinctively know if something is off. That’s what I need in the job.” These two early mentors taught Marcia one key aspect of leadership: seeing things in people that they don’t see in themselves and using skills that translate across different industries to transition out of a comfort zone.

“Women want to be safe, seen and heard,” Award-Winning American actress Jane Fonda once said. “Equality for women is a complex topic,” said Marcia when introducing several facts pointing to women’s influence in the society, “But so simple at the same time.” Women makeup 51 percent of the workforce and make 81 percent of household purchases. However, they only appear in half as much ads, get a quarter screen time and get only one in seven speaking roles on television, in which they typically wear revealing clothes six times more than men. Marcia asserted that this bias is not only in media but in the real estate and banking industry as well. “How come the man always has the keys in real estate ads/and photos?,” she asks. “I do believe progress is possible,” she noted by the recent change in political and social climate with the #MeToo movement. “Women are being listened to more now.”

mPower recently conducted a voluntary survey of their members on sexual harassment using the EEOC definition for consistency. The response rate was 14% and specific to women in the mortgage industry.

They found:

75% of women experienced at least one work-related sexual harassment incident; 50% experienced inappropriate touching and unwanted sexual advances; 8% reported to HR; 20% reported harassment to a manager; 60% feared professional repercussions in reporting harassment; and 52% took uncomfortable after-hours meetings, for fear of negative career impact.

mPower also conducted live polling at three large conferences across different sectors in housing, and found roughly the same results. However, the poll ended with the question, “How did it make you feel?” The almost unanimous response by all these women was that it made them feel


Marcia hopes that recent events in the wake of #MeToo will encourage women to call out predators. Women and men need to be apart of the solution together. Mentorships and partnerships are important, as well as ensuring more women are included in big meetings and elected to company boards.

mPower: Addressing Workplace Disruptors Panel

David Hrobon, CEO and President of Chicago-based Wintrust Mortgage, is the first man invited to an mPower panel. From their first meeting, David struck Marcia as an advocate for women when he introduced himself by saying



he would like to get involved with mPower. David spent much of his early life surrounded by strong women, making women’s advancement personal for him. Rounding out the panel were Tamara King, VP of Residential Policy and Member Engagement with MBA, who began her career working at Fannie Mae during the turbulent times of the housing crisis; Stacie Rankey, VP of Client Relations for law firm Gerner & Kearns, who found the strength to move on after being terminated when revealing her recent breast cancer diagnosis; and Rebecca Steele, who overcame being erroneously labeled as the “Face of the Housing Crisis” to becoming the newly appointed President and CEO of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC.)

On Gender Bias

Tamara started off the conversation of gender bias with a story about one of her first jobs in New York where everyone sat in cubicles with no titles listed on the outside. She would have men walk into her cubicle and ask her to do administrative work when it was not her realm of work, and she was one of the most educated people there with a higher title. This assumption that she was not the person in charge stuck with her. Rebecca Steele talked about putting on a thick skin when she would get notes dropped off from men in her office about what to wear and appropriate meeting attire. She expressed that women’s power is often cut down in the workplace, including in the mortgage business. In turn, David Hrobon recounted working at a company with eighty loan officers, only three of them women. He often puts the lack of women in certain spheres into context when thinking of his adult daughters whose friends were gifted in science and math but did not feel supported enough to pursue careers in those fields.

Turning Talk Into Action

Marcia asked our panel about the kinds of behaviors that make a difference in the workplace. When periodically reevaluating her group’s performance, Rebecca always looks for ways to bring women into the conversation and makes a conscientious effort when roles open up to

find not only the best person, but the person who can help increase diversity on her team. Tamara added that women need to be willing to raise their hand and speak up. Often, women wait to be asked instead of asking themselves to be a part of a bigger meeting or project. When women are not asked, they feel devalued, can shut down and do what is required. “Even if you get a no, you need to ask why so you can prepare to come back,” she pointed out. “You have to come back and not let anyone prevent you from trying.” “Part of the problem women face,” says Stacie, “is that they are raised to be nice, and nice is often seen as a weakness.” Even if you are a nice, you need to own who you are, don’t apologize and try not to conform to the industry standard. “I’m not the person who is going to pound the table at a meeting,” said Tamara, “but I will advocate for myself on a timely basis so my boss remembers it.” David concurred, saying that he often found that women were trying to emulate men in handling certain situations when they could be more effective in learning to manage on their own terms. Rebecca emphasized the importance of women taking action for themselves even when it’s difficult. She recalled going to a head of HR in a previous position, telling him that even though it might not be easy to find women loan officers, they are out there and are qualified to do the job. In response, he point-blank looked at her, and



become mean women,” says Stacie, adding that we have to call out this kind of passive-aggressive behavior when we see it.

On Being Yourself While Fitting Into a Company Culture

One of our audience members talked about the pervasiveness in today’s culture of the idea of “being yourself ” and “owning who you are.” However, how do you actually put that in practice when being a part of the team is often integral to finding workplace success?

said “That is going to take too long.”

Finding a Mentor

As the panel opened up questions to the audience, the difficulty of finding a mentor popped up. Marcia talked about broadening your sightlines. Do not be afraid to ask someone who is not in your industry to mentor you. A mentor is a person who will know the good, bad and the ugly. You want to tell them the not-so-good stuff so you can understand yourself better. “My mentors are nothing like me,” Stacie added. This allows her to get a perspective she wouldn’t otherwise get by sticking within the industry.

One solution is to have clear goals as an organization or company, but allow people to approach those goals in their own ways. Leaders need to be open to people who do not fit the typical work culture, such as those who have tattoos and piercings, and instead focus on how that person can become a contributor, says Marcia. We need to check our bias at the door, whether conscious or not, she adds. Workplace culture is incredibly important, said David. It is difficult to find someone who is aligned with your core company principles, and people define culture differently. He emphasizes that while diversity of thought is important, you do not want people deviating from what your brand is about. Part of the solution comes in an evaluation, Tamara says. If the same types of people get promoted, leaders must ask themselves why and work to look at ways to open up from the typical hire.

Final Thoughts and Key Takeaways

On Women Holding Women Back

While career advancement is important, “We are people first,” Marcia put forth. It’s important to find out what is going on with employees personally. If you support their lives, understand them and the challenges they face, you can better find ways to lead. While women face many challenges in their lives, they can learn to become a “meaningful disruptor.”

Marcia said these “mean girls” have always surprised her. She tries to counteract this behavior by being upfront and honest and tries to reach the offender on a personal level. “You have to stay focused on your own goals,” she said. “You can’t change that person.”

You can be a disruptor and do it in a positive way says Marcia, admitting that it is easier to raise issues of gender equality when you reach a position of power and are not so worried about jeopardizing your career. To all of our panelists, it was clear that both men and women need to be a part of changing how people think and that organizations need to leverage resources and collaborate in order to make real change happen.

It also might be helpful to not have one single mentor, Rebecca advises, since having a handful of mentors might be just as effective. Although she never had mentors in the traditional sense, Tamara made a habit out of studying people, learning different ways of getting the info you need. Another challenge brought up by a member of our audience is how to deal with other women who, for whatever reason, try to hold other women back.

David observed this with his young daughters and put forth the idea that perhaps some women are not mean-spirited by intention but by habit or experience, and that this habit can be changed. “I tell my daughter mean girls grow up to

Watch the Full Video:



The Standard Club

Only Club to Survive the Great Chicago Fire

From Part Time to

The Big Time AN AGENT'S VOICE with Samantha Bell, Sales Representative - EXIT Realty Advantage, NB The greatest thing that happened to me in real estate was someone believed in me. A relative already working for EXIT Realty saw something in me that I just didn’t see in myself. Selling real estate came shortly after purchasing my first home at the age of 20. I was flattered and intrigued by the idea, but equally intimidated by the thought of leaving a salaried job for a commission-based income. So for a few months I tried juggling both careers, and quickly realized that at some point I was going to drop the ball in either one or both fields I was trying to balance. If I was going to make something of myself in real estate, I needed to go full force and leave my other job behind. Simply ‘showing up’ has been the catalyst behind my growth from parttime to the big time. Show up at the office every day, for every meeting and training, but also for community events. This expands your ability to talk with people, your sphere of influence, and provides opportunities to remind folks you’re in real estate. Once you’re there, the opportunities present themselves. I even attend repeat sessions because I firmly

We were able to go from 28 ends per year, to over 60 ends; grossing over a quarter of a million dollars in the EXIT production year. He’s able to host open houses, work with buyers and take care of my work while I’m away because, most importantly, he’s licensed. By far this was the biggest game changer in my career. I give all the credit to knowing the DISC system through EXIT’s training, and the type of personality I needed to work with. If you’re considering hiring an assistant, I recommend you have applicants complete a personality profile even before you interview them. The most recent step that I’ve taken, is one-on-one personal coaching with Erica Nasby, International Sales Trainer for EXIT Realty. I found someone who I respect and admire and she’s changing my life one session at a time. A good coach pulls you back when your nose is against the painting, so you begin to realize the full picture; it’s clearly the Mona Lisa. Find a coach, a mentor, an accountability partner. You can’t afford not to.

“I’m honored to be with a company that has supported me through becoming a mom, and gives me the flexibility and freedom to pour myself into both my personal life and a career that we all know has limitless possibilities.” believe that no matter how many times you hear the same message, you hear exactly what you need to in that moment. Two years into the business I attended my first EXIT convention; a life-changing moment in my career. Within 12 months of making the choice to ‘show up’ I doubled the business I was doing for both number of transactions and dollars earned. That was also because I always remember that no deal is too small. One interaction early in my career, turned into 13 transactions and $2.8 million in real estate sold from referrals. Value the responsibility you’re given, and foster those referral relationships. I continually set goals for myself through my vision board so I’m always working toward something. I set a goal to brand myself, which meant working with a local marketing company to create a memorable, easyto-search and consistent brand. It’s still one of the best investments I’ve made for my business. I even set a goal to hire an assistant, because all of the top producers I know, and I’ve met, have at least one. My assistant and I have built systems that I could never work on my own.

My dream for the future is to continually grow my business, and capitalize on EXIT’s single-level residual income opportunity for my family. I’m honored to be with a company that has supported me through becoming a mom, and gives me the flexibility and freedom to pour myself into both my personal life and a career that we all know has limitless possibilities. I am representative of many millennials who are looking for an environment and culture that they can be part of. They want perks, a job with purpose, direct communication with their managers, flexibility, and EXIT is the solution.



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Proud Winner of Publication Excellence 2015-2018



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Jay Jones Lucille Chaney Ari Jones


Executive As a leader in Women’s Economic Growth, we provide new emerging ideologies, employment & business opportunities, accountability &

deliverables on behalf of women in the housing & real estate ecosystem, bringing women to the forefront to advance

women’s independence. for generations to come.


Deborah Baldwin Gail E. Bellefontaine Carie Bires Tami Bonnell Carmen Chong Victor Christiansen Michelle Corridon Erica Courtney Marcia Davies Tomaneci A. Day Dr. Chitra Dorai Adenike “Nike” Fasanya-Osilaja Sarah Goldfrank Brande Hampton Sandra Heidinger Dottie Herman Judy Hoberman David Hrobon Karen J. Collins James K. Joseph Tamara King Diana Mendley Rauner Vanessa Montanez Kaethe Morris Hoffer Sheri Orlowitz Quynh Palomino Desirée Patno Noemi Lujan Perez Karen Przypyszny Stacie Rankey Leora Ruzin Sharron P.A. Levine Rebecca Steele Stacey Walker


NAWRB Magazine is a quarterly publication featuring unique content, articles on diversity, inclusion and engagement for women in the housing ecosystem, exclusive interviews with industry professionals, business development tools, book reviews, feature stories and more. All materials submitted to NAWRB Magazine are subject to editing if utilized. The articles, content, and other information in this publication are for information purposes only. Articles, content, and other information in this publication without named authors are contributed by the publication’s staff, but do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of NAWRB. NAWRB assumes no liability or responsibility for any inaccurate, delayed or incomplete information, nor for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

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management and building security which has led to inadequate living conditions and life-threatening illnesses and destruction. According to Levine, inequality in housing has been created by multiple events in history, such as government policies and urban renewal which increased minority communities while restricting housing options.

Solutions. Housing. Equality. Introducing NAWRB’s SHETalk series: Concise 20-minute

presentations by industry leaders on important issues. We kicked off the 2018 NAWRB 5th Annual Conference, “Year of Women” this morning with three inspiring SHETalks by Sharron P.A. Levine, Director of the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion (OMWI) at the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA); Dr. Chitra Dorai, Former IBM Fellow and Master Inventor; and Dottie Herman, CEO of Douglas Elliman. All of these thought leaders and business owners delivered enlightening sound bites of important issues affecting the industry, such as opportunities for women in housing as professionals and consumers, Technology Human Balance and the rules for building a successful business.

Sharron P.A. Levine,

Director of the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion (OMWI) at the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), was the first in our SHETalk series. She gave a historical overview of housing for minorities and women, focusing on how housing design has changed through the 20th and 21st centuries and how housing policy and design has impacted women’s lives. Levine reveals the unfortunate history of public housing, which has been fraught with punitive welfare policies, lack of capable

She reveals that policies caused deliberate housing segregation in the United States as public housing was located in areas with concentrated poverty. In Chicago, this problem was addressed with Hill vs. Gautreaux (1976), which ordered the desegregation of the city’s public housing. Public housing was typically provided in the form of high-rises, which were often overcrowded, lacking in adequate funding and under poor management. As a result, building deterioration and security were left unaddressed, inciting social disfunction, crime and health and safety hazards. The implosion of Pruitt- Igoe public housing in Missouri in 1972 and the well-known occurrence of gang violence and crime at Cabrini Green in Chicago, which housed over 2,000 people, are examples of the problems of the nation’s public housing. Levine implores us to remember this legacy and focus our efforts on improving single family housing options for underserved communities. Housing is not just a source of investment; it’s a means for people to generate wealth and achieve stability in their lives. Men have typically defined women’s housing options, but Levine focuses our attention to early feminists Harriet Beecher Stowe and Catherine Beecher, who both influenced the housing designs we still see in today’s kitchens. Since housing policy during the Great Depression forced women to stay at home while men worked, these women created innovative designs to help mitigate the workload women had at home. “Our vision of the American household is inaccurate and outdated,” Levine claims. More women are in the workforce than ever before, especially minority women—with 57 percent of Latina women and 60 percent of black women in the workforce, for instance. Women are also leading men in homeownership, purchasing homes at twice the rate of their male counterparts. Some women face unique challenges, such as having to balance being workers and caregivers, which is true of 70 percent of women in the workforce. Perhaps having more women in charge of developing housing could help us address the changes we are seeing in the nation’s households. As of now, only 40 percent of architect graduates are women. How else could women influence housing design if they comprised a greater share of the minds creating the structure of housing for not only single families, but for multi-generational families and public housing? These are important questions she has us consider. Professionals should focus their attention on how we can address these issues in public housing, which are dominantly af-



fecting poor communities, as well as how we can create more adaptive housing. Watch the Full Video: Next, Dr. Chitra Dorai, AI Visionary, Founder & CEO of Amicus Brain, Former IBM Fellow, took the stage with Technology Human Balance®. Continuing advances in digital technologies have profoundly altered the way how people and businesses interact today. These digital forces are leading to a disruptive “rethink” of the way people live, engage, and work. AI systems from Siri and Alexa to Watson are remaking our personal and professional lives from information access to how we make decisions. To succeed in this increasingly disruptive environment, organizations everywhere are digitizing their operating models to offer new experiences, scale human expertise and devise new ways to work. A thought leader in Artificial Intelligence (AI), recipient of the highest honor as IBM Fellow and Former CTO of IBM Global Services, and recent winner of the 2018 NAWRB Roaring Thirty The Visionary Award, Dr. Chitra Dorai offered the perfect introduction to NAWRB’s Technology Human Balance®, NAWRB’s new thematic focus on how technology is disrupting the housing and real estate ecosystem, as well as in our daily lives, and how we can properly leverage this dynamic tool in the way we live and work.

Dr. Chitra Dorai began educating the audience about current technological advancements with the “ABC’s of Modern Technology” —Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain and Cloud— followed by how we should responsibly use AI in our workforce while also ensuring our own human agency. First, she began by giving an overview of the three patterns of AI usage, including Discovery (AI creating new insights), Decision (AI providing bias-free advice) and Engagement (AI interacting and assisting through understanding and reasoning). While we commonly interact with AI in the form of chatbots and smart home technology (e.g., Siri or Alexa), it will become a common helper in the real estate finance industry, such as communicating with buyers in an intelligible manner and identifying important signals for regulations through RegTech. She reveals that current technology has created AI that can even make haircut appointments on behalf of its owner. The example she shared showed an AI that understands and speaks almost identical to the way a human young woman would sound like, including familiar speech patterns and mannerisms such as saying “Mhmm” as an affirmation. In closing, she addressed where she believes we are headed in terms of AI. We are seeing new frontiers of automation, which includes robotic process automation and intelligent process automation in addition to basic automation that can do processing transactions. Many fear that AI will take over our jobs, worry that the creators of AI will intentionally (or unintentionally) include their own biases into new technology, causing more roadblocks and harm to minorities, or even present a threat to the human species. Before we begin worrying about living among humanoid “Replicants” as in the film Blade Runner, she notes that we have




Dottie Herman,

“Nothing to fear as in now. Maybe not even in 10 years. We have a way to come before we are all going to see an AI system that is going to exhibit consciousness like you and me.” Avoiding potential problems with AI will involve a balancing act of purpose, transparency and trust. We must create purposeful technology, be transparent about the use of AI, and have trust AI will be utilized efficiently and ethically. “You have on one hand people raising fear that technology advances cannot be stopped, a relentlessly moving forward frontier. What we can do is, surrounded with the right policies and right programs, make sure that the AI technology is put in the right hands and used in a right manner.” She states this is something we should demand as vendors, suppliers and customers. While experts in technology will continue to develop AI to heightened intelligence and abilities, others will simultaneously do work to analyze the ethics and implications of this new tool. Dr. Chitra Dorai is optimistic that AI is a tool that can improve our lives and should be perceived as a partner in our tasks: “AI systems in partnership with human beings are going to present options so we human beings can take better positions and do our work more successfully.” The choice is ultimately up to us. The NAWRB Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Council (NDILC) has recently welcomed Dr. Chitra Dorai as a distinguished Council Member. The NDILC is dedicated to raising the number of women leaders and growing women’s employment and empowerment at all levels in the housing ecosystem. Our Council, comprised of senior executive women, works diligently toward gender equality and obtaining equal opportunity for women across America She is also our featured sheCENTER(FOLD) in NAWRB Magazine, Volume 7, Issue 2, The Strength of Business Ownership, where she shares her journey growing up in Chennai, India to traveling to the United States to realize her aspirations, ultimately earning IBM’s highest honor and helping thousands of homeowners during the financial crisis. Watch the Full Video:



CEO of Douglas Elliman Real Estate and winner of the 2018 NAWRB Roaring Thirty The Influencer Award, gave the closing SHETalk of the first day by telling the engaging and heartfelt story of her success, from the risk she took buying Merrill Lynch from Prudential and having the tenacity to ask angel investors to invest in her dreams, to the steps she has taken to build what is now the third-largest company in America with a revenue of over $27 billion. Herman’s “quintessential New York success story” began when she worked at Merrill Lynch on Long Island in 1978 for the national real estate division after graduating from Adelphi University. In 1989, the company sold their real estate division to Prudential, who changed Merrill Lynch into a franchise called Prudential Long Island Realty. She took the initiative to pursue her dream of running the business herself and borrowed $9 million with no money down or personal guarantees from Prudential to purchase the company. With her relentless tenacity and hard work, she converted Prudential Long Island Realty into a powerhouse brokerage in both Long Island and the Hamptons before making the lucrative decision to purchase Douglas Elliman, Manhattan’s most prestigious brokerage firm at the time, with business partner Howard Lorber. Under her leadership as Chief Executive Officer, Douglas Elliman became the largest and fastest-growing brokerage firm in New York with over 7,000 real estate professionals and 675 employees in over 110 offices, and now ranks as the third-largest real estate company in the United States. The company also has influence in the global luxury market through its strategic global alliance with London-based Knight Frank Residential, which spans 60 countries and 6 continents. Named among “America’s Richest Self-Made Women in Real Estate” by Forbes in 2016 and in The New York Observer’s The Power 100 four consecutive years, among many other accolades, Herman’s success as a leader in the real estate world has run parallel with her company’s prosperity. A part of her success is due to her impeccable business ethic and leadership ability, and she openly shared her tips with our attendees, which included real estate professionals, aspiring entrepreneurs and seasoned business owners wanting to increase their company’s growth.


Herman shares that those who build successful businesses must be passionate and knowledgeable of work culture. You cannot be successful in anything you are not passionate about, and culture is the glue that often holds a business and its employees together. With passion, she articulates that an entrepreneur must also be persistent and stay on the track to their dreams even when they face roadblocks. She shares her journey of taking a leap of faith to buy a real estate company at the young age of 29 even when she did not have secure funds and heard many rejections.

successfully run your own business. Also, a good leader embraces their employees’ successes as much as their failures. The latter are often learning experiences and lessons that will make them stronger workers in the future. Overall, her overarching theme is that building culture falls upon the leader to engage with their employees, treat them like family, give them opportunities to reach their full potential and be a responsible role model. Watch the Full Video:

“Sometimes opportunity hits you on the head and you just don’t see it,” she states. Well, she saw the opportunity and wasn’t going to let it go, and that passion is what drove her continued success as a business owner of a company that now expands across the country. She gave unforgettable words of wisdom for women business leaders about how to successfully lead and nurture one’s employees. “Being a good mentor is what you need in running a business,” she emphasizes. “Teach [your employees] to trust themselves and give them confidence.” Also, leaders need to make sure they are providing their workers advancement opportunities that are necessary for growth in confidence. Other useful tips include surrounding yourself with workers who have the skills you do not, and being willing to hire people that are good at what they do and have the potential to NAWRB MAGAZINE |




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Women in Leadership Positions: Looking Ahead into the Future mPower: Addressing Workplace Disruptors Sharron P.A. Levine - SheTalk Dr. Chitra Dorai - SheTalk Dottie Herman - SheTalk Letter from the Publisher Investing In Opportunity Act Keynote Address Diana Mendley Rauner, First Lady of Illinois & President of the Ounce of Prevention Fund Women Veterans in Business: Unique challenges and Opportunities


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Building Infrastructure, Maintaining Agriculture & Disaster Recovery Procuring Contracts: Mastering the Call to Access Billion Dollar Contracts Starting from Ground Zero Roaring Thirty Awards Celebration Gala Roaring Thirty Awards Celebration Gala Silent Auction Tami Bonnell - SheTalk Rebecca Steele - SheTalk

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Stories of Character & Courage NDILC Luncheon Panel Women’s Homeownership Women Buyers & How to Serve Them Unspoken Issues Impacting Women: Poverty, Health, Sexual Exploitation & Self-Confidence Year of Women Tesimonials Matchmaking Roundtables Victor Christiansen - Chief of Minority & Women Business & Diversity Inclusion Branch of the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion (OMWI) at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Sue Fries - Interview Sarah Goldfrank - Interview Alicia Townsend - Interview Cheryl Travis Johnson - Interview Travel Fitness

Women in the Housing Ecosystem Report (WHER) Panel Freddie Mac Today: Power is Knowledge, Guaranteed to Open Horizons Knowing Your Partners, Financial Support & Legal Community

Vol 7. Issue 3:

Year of Women

Letter from the Publisher NAWRB Magazine Volume 7, Issue 3, The 5th Annual 2018 NAWRB Conference Special Edition, brings exclusive coverage of our exceptionally high-profile and information-packed conference celebrating the “Year of Women” in Chicago, IL, the heart of America and the city’s business center. In case you missed it, or you are eager to relive the experience, this issue provides the incredible discussions, presentations and a glimpse of connections made at this diverse gathering of thought leaders and industry experts. Keynote Speaker Diana Mendley Rauner, First Lady of Illinois and President of the Ounce of Prevention Fund, gave an inspiring speech about empowering women, children and families to help break the cycle of intergenerational poverty, as well as the importance of the work she does with her non-profit organization for family educational development. Our SHETalk speakers, including Sharron P.A. Levine, Director of the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion (OMWI) at the Federal Housing Finance Agency; Dr. Chitra Dorai, AI Scientist, Founder & CEO, AmicusBrain; Dottie Herman, CEO of Douglas Elliman; Tami Bonnell, CEO of EXIT Realty International; and Rebecca Steele, President & CEO, National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), each shared incredible stories of strength, words of wisdom and insight into the future of the housing ecosystem with our attendees. “Education, Education, Education” was a major underlying theme of the conference. The caliber of our diverse speakers was second-to-none, and they represented various areas of the housing ecosystem at our conference to discuss women’s issues and diversity and inclusion. This is the first known time in the nation that there has been such as vast representation of the women’s spectrum and top leaders in one venue, and NAWRB brought them together. As NAWRB looks forward to celebrating one full decade as an organization, this event showed that the industry can achieve great things for women’s economic growth and diversity and inclusion when men and women professionals and related industries work together, share each other’s resources and knowledge, and support each other’s successes as teammates instead of competitors. Desirée Patno Publisher/CEO Desiré



Investing In Opportunity Act While implementing the Investing in Opportunity Act can be Structure of Tax Incentives complicated, all of the speakers on our panel were enthusiastic about the transforming change this tax incentive could bring to communities most in need.

Our panelists come from industries and have backgrounds that stand to benefit from working with the Act, mostly by helping their clients figure out how best to use this particular tax incentive and by matching them with the right projects. Sheri Orlowitz, Founding Partner of Artemis Holdings, LLC, moderated the panel, starting things off by declaring the Investing in Opportunity Act is “the largest tax incentive in my time, it combines doing well by doing good.” She went on to say the

“She said one of the biggest issues that the Investing in Opportunity Act can help alleviate is the housing affordability crisis, most notable in cities like San Francisco.” underpinnings of The Investing in Opportunity Act are to create social impact by generating significant tax savings with an additional goal to incentivize individuals who have large capital gains because the ability to defer taxes is a big incentive. Rounding out the panel were Quinn Palomino, Principal of Virtua Partners, Michael I. Sanders a lead partner in the Washington, D.C. Office of Blank Rome specializing in tax law, Beth Mullen, CPA, and National Director of Affordable Housing Industry as well as a Partner at CohnReznick and finally, Karen Przypyszny, Managing Director, Special Initiatives of the National Equity Fund, Inc.



Sheri gave a basic overview of the Investing in Opportunity Act illuminating the fact that trillions of dollars of unrealized capital gains are sitting on the sidelines from stocks, mutual funds, and from the sale of businesses and assets. Under the Investing in Opportunity Act, taxes on these capital gains can be deferred if they are reinvested within six months and for up to five or seven years, however, most of our panelists believed that investing for up to ten years provides the best outcome for both the communities for which the tax incentives are intended and the investors. After that ten year mark, the investment is tax-free and there is no cap on appreciation. Sheri believes real estate will be an anchor of the Act.

Real Estate and the Investing in Opportunity Act

At Virtua Partners, Quinn Palomino works with high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals as well as institutions. Among the fields they work within are real estate including multifamily, mixed-use, retail, single-family and residential as well as hotel management. They also have a raising of capital and a structured financing arm. She said one of the biggest issues that the Investing in Opportunity Act can help alleviate is the housing affordability crisis, most notable in cities like San Francisco. The creators of the Act including Senators Cory Booker and Tim Scott came together to answer the question: How do we bring together all this capital gain and help investors know what to invest in? With 6.1 trillion in capital gains sitting on the sidelines, How do you incentivize investors to put their money into areas that need it most?

Karen Przypyszny, in her work with the National Equity Fund, assists financial institutions investing in cities in need of affordable housing. She works in both the nonprofit and for-profit sector. The opportunity zones, the communities that will be affected by the act, must have an AMI of 80% or lower, she stated. Her company looks at current investors like banks and insurance companies and high-net worth clients who have capital gains (fewer banks do) to get them excited about this type of investment. Over at Blank Rome, Michael Sanders provides technical advice; guiding clients in forming new funds. He emphasizes providing help with technical issues is important because the legislation is highly complex, it was done quickly and there are holes in it. However, one must not let that stop you because if you wait on the government for new regulation, the competition will pass you by. “Get out there, do the best you can, and build in provisions that give you flexibility,” he says. However, there are two types of funds to be aware of:

Self-control funds for high-net worth individuals

Syndicated funds that deal with typical security issues Beth Mullen says 40-45% of Cohn Reznick’s practice is real estate focused. “We’ve been doing affordable housing since the sixties,” she underlined, going on to say that her firm was one of the leaders when the low-income housing tax credit came into play in the eighties. They are focused on a broader community development approach and are excited about the opportunity the Investing in Opportunity Act affords. She went on to say there is a substantial supply of capital gains to be reinvested. This program allows us to determine its fate, future and success. And the challenge will be to match people to deals. Giving a compelling example of Act in action, she told of a partner who called her about a client that sold his company and was left with 84 million in capital gains to invest. As he’s a real estate professional, he’ll be able to invest that money in assets helping communities; those assets will appreciate and the appreciation will never be taxed. Every single day, she talks to clients who never thought of investing in low-income communities about the Act and its benefits.

The Investing in Opportunity Act: Not Only for Ultra-High Net Investors

One topic addressed by the panel was the idea that you need to have capital gains of millions in order to take advantage of the credit. That’s not necessarily true. It’s about investors who might only have $50,000 to fund to invest. Also, there are foundations willing to invest their money in a project that might only deliver a one percent return, if they know their ultimate mission of helping others is successful. Ms. Quinn outlines there are requirements needed to be met. Under the Act, state governors were allowed to identify certain census tracts that need to meet certain criteria. So, the challenge comes in approaching people with capital gains who come from an investor mindset: constantly looking at risk and willing to accept a lower return if there is cash-flow in the project. The ultimate end then becomes to encourage long-term investment with an incentive strong enough for these types of investors. That’s where the deferred tax incentive really kicks in as an incentive, especially after the ten-year mark. So much so that when Quinn’s team took a good look at the Investing in Opportunity Act they almost couldn’t believe it. “I think it’s incredibly creative,” she said. “I believe it will address the problem we have between the middle class and working poor [it’s] an incredible initiative to build those communities.” Michael then highlighted out a few “hot buttons” key to understanding the Act. The cash proceeds equal to the gain must be invested. The original properties sold need not be located in a designated census tract. There are a lot of technical aspects, hurdles and intricacies to overcome. If you take the dollars and invest in a fund which otherwise would go to the IRS, those dollars can earn money for the investor. Private foundations [501 (3) (c) exempt should focus on this pro-



“Private foundations [501 (3) (c) exempt should focus on this program & working with for-profits or forming for profits to make use of this. Despite technical issues, don’t wait for the competition to swoop in.” gram and working with for-profits or forming for profits to make use of this. Despite technical issues, don’t wait for the competition to swoop in.

This is a Different Type of Investment; Not Buy and Stash

An example was brought up by one of the panelists, where a potential investor talked about an apartment building bought for 5 million and they asked: “Can’t I just renovate it, does that count?” The answer is that the approach needs to be conservative if 5 million is invested, then 5 million should be spent on renovating the property. As you don’t want people to buy land and stash funds away. The whole purpose of the Act is to improve the community. Hotels, for example, could be a great potential investment. They could provide jobs, meeting places, and train people from entry level positions to hotel management. In order to properly maximize effectiveness, the Act needs all parties to work together: cities, lenders and investors. And projects need to be creative. “Sean Parker [of Facebook] said it so well,” Quinn said. “Just our foundations alone are not enough to move the needle on problems, we need private investors and tax incentives are the best way.”

Best Ways for Communities to Take Advantage of the Investing in Opportunity Act

On the community side, the idea that localities need to be thinking about how they can use opportunity zones was addressed. A lot of foundations are discussing what the communities they serve need most and are trying to pair up with cities and states. To illustrate this point, Sheri put up a slide showing opportunity zones all over the country.



Michael noted that university areas can be potentially attractive for zones and competition will arise among states to attract the dollars in regards to charities and foundations. He re-emphasized companies working either jointly with foundations or creating a non-profit subsidiary which can form funds that can then take advantage of the tax program thereby generating charitable projects focusing in a particular area. The remark was made that Congress has a stake in this program; they want to see it succeed. So, there is pressure on the Treasury and IRS to be lenient and answer questions quickly. They don’t want to see it fail. Because of their desire to not see these investments fail, Michael said he is not afraid to ask the government directly for guidance on technical issues for his clients. As the panel came to a close, some additional points were made and questions were taken from the audience. Some key points made were: Certain states can be more difficult to work with than others as they may have their own restrictions; for example, Ms. Quinn found that the Sun Belt, Texas and the southwest and southeast are easier areas for opportunity zone investment. Time is of the essence. There is a demand for projects ready to go, those that are shovel read to take full advantage.

Middle-income investment Scan’t be overlooked.

Educating the local community is important as well as forming partnerships between all agencies and people. The panelists then went to the audience for questions. One woman had questions about helping her clients learn how to invest using the Act and the panelists helped her figure out what would be best for her clients and discussed potential options

with her. However, as the conversation became more in-depth, Michael said due to the complicated nature of implementing the Act, it’s best to work together off-panel. “Many questions remain to be answered,” he says. Questions such as you have 180 days post-2017 to invest in a fund, but how long does the fund have to place the money into appropriate investments? He thinks a year, but what then happens if its a project that will take three years to develop? Finally, the panel offered closing remarks and keywords of advice: Quinn Palomino underlined the flexibility of the Investing in Opportunity Act. Capital gains investment can come not only from real estate but artwork, the sale of a business, or even stocks. It is important to get a sense of where your client’s interests lie since they will be investing over a longer period of time. In addition, as the investments will be checked regularly by the federal government, you need to make sure your investors or funding entities have experience and a pipeline. In response to an audience member’s question about getting investors for nonprofits in HUD zones, and the inability of people to buy the homes that are available, Beth again emphasized Investing in Opportunity Act works best when holding for a tenyear investment, so perhaps a rent-to-own program would work best in that situation. She compares working with the Act, because of how new it is as “building a plane while learning to fly it at the same time.” Sheri spoke directly to brokers highlighting the opportunity to work one on one with investors while Michael’s advice was simple: don’t hesitate to ask questions. Karen wrapped things up by promoting education by listening to webinars, watching power points and reading materials from leaders in the field who are familiar with the Act.

The bottom line: It’s all about opportunity.

“ are investing in something in which you will not have to pay taxes on its appreciation value, specifically in the real estate industry...”

Watch the Full Video:

Since you are investing in something in which you will not have to pay taxes on its appreciation value, specifically in the real estate industry, there is an incredible opportunity to impact communities and the more you the knowledge you build, the more you can work synergistically to make real improvements. Sheri Orlowitz pointed out that some states might still levy their own capital gains taxes. NAWRB MAGAZINE |


Keynote Address Diana Mendley Rauner, First Lady of Illinois and President of the Ounce of Prevention Fund

Rauner’s address discussed empowering women, children and

professional. However, helping ex-offenders learn how to read was a pivotal moment in her life which shifted her cafamilies to help break the cycle of intergenerational poverty. reer path. She was astounded that men her age were unable Rauner began her speech by talking about her non-profit to read and realized the connection between educational Ounce of Prevention Fund and shared what inspired her in- opportunities, poverty and crime, a result of the serious educational inequities that terest in volunteer work and “Ounce of Prevention Fund occur in the United States. her passion of addressing is to give children in intergenerational poverty poverty the best chance for The mission of the Ounce and child development. She success in school...” of Prevention Fund is to began her career working in Wall Street after earning her MBA, but she also grew up in a “give children in poverty the best chance for success in family that regularly participated in volunteer work. Because school and in life by advocating for and providing the of this, she sought out volunteer opportunities as a young highest-quality care and education from birth to age five.”



“Education should start at birth, not just at age five...”

“Emotion drives attention & attention drives learning... children of five years of age or younger make up nearly half of homeless children in the United States...” To achieve this end, the organization run programs in state and at the national level for educational and professional development for children and families in poverty, as well as educational home visits and schools—24 in total with one opening in Long Beach, CA this year— designed specifically for children newly born to five years old. Rauner strongly emphasizes that education should start at birth, not just at age five, the year children in the United States typically begin kindergarten. This is because most of the human brain, at 95 percent, has developed by the time children start school, and the overwhelming growth of the brain is coupled with an absorbent brain that is able to learn new things as the child interacts with its environment. A child’s brain development, education, world view and opportunities are largely influenced by the environment they grow up in, and, unfortunately, this is controlled by the adults in their lives. Human interaction is incredibly important for brain development, and the amount of interaction a child has affects their feelings of security and agency. Rauner notes that babies who are given attention when they cry from feelings of discomfort or dysregulation, such as hunger or being wet, are more likely to view the world as safe, know that people will help them when things go wrong, and feel like they have control in their lives.

do anything about it. Emotion, sparked by human interaction plays an important part in a child’s education. A favorite quote by Rauner is that “Emotion drives attention and attention drives learning,” and this is especially true for intergenerational transfer of problems. This is expounded by the fact that children of five years of age or younger make up nearly half of homeless children in the United States, so their current environment will contribute to their brain development that will affect their adulthood. The Ounce of Prevention Fund addresses these issues head on with a variety of programs and schools to invoke childhood intervention to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty. They focus on parent/child interactions, opportunities to learn self-regulation, and development skills to help them succeed, among others. One program is their Home Visiting Approach designed to reach most at risk families even before birth. Illinois Family Connects brings nurses to visit families because having support makes a difference. Finally, EducareHigh-Quality Center-Based Education works to raise the quality of early childhood education for our country’s most vulnerable young children. It involves national network of birthto-5 schools that blends public funding streams to ensure every child can enter kindergarten at national norms. Rauner ends her speech by encouraging all of us to help advocate for education and support for children living in poverty. As of now, 89 percent of voters support making early education more affordable, so there is opportunity for all of us to work together to make this a reality. “Everyone has potential, everyone can succeed,” she states. “There is no one that doesn’t deserve to succeed.” Our children not only deserve the opportunity to succeed, but it is also pivotal for the future of our country that they do: “We can’t afford to let half of our children unable to not succeed in school. That’s our future; they’re all our future.”

On the other hand, babies who are not comforted during these moments, or are made more dysregulated, are more likely to view the world as unsafe, not predictable and they will feel like they cannot NAWRB MAGAZINE |


Women Veterans in Business: Unique Challenges & Opportunities

Erica Courtney

Author of Six-Part Series in NAWRB Magazine

Veterans are in the minority of the American work-

force and female veterans are an even smaller subset of the population, however, the impact veterans and women veterans can make to society can be huge. This is a point made by NAWRB Magazine contributor and Army Veteran Erica Courtney as she moderated our panel Women Veterans in Business: Unique Challenges and Opportunities. Less than one percent of the population are women veterans, Courtney told the audience, adding “Our voice often gets overshadowed.” She made it clear though, that the combined voices of supporters and veterans together is powerful. It’s often hard for veterans to advocate for themselves she said, as for most veterans, it’s all about the team instead of the individual.


subjected to rude language from male subordinates on her first assignment. Not one to be deterred, she put her head down and did her job well, winning over her team with both physical strength and leadership skills, but rude comments and skepticism are only some of the issues women veterans face.

Unique Issues Veteran Women Face

Among the issues veteran women face is an underrepresentation in every area of influence. “If you don’t have a seat at the table, you are on the menu,” Erica bluntly said while outlining the impact of policy on business growth for women veterans.

Erica opened up about signing up for the Army as a young woman on the eve of the First Gulf War, Desert Storm. She stayed on to become an officer, receiving a scholarship to attend the University of Hawaii.

Women veterans can benefit from policies that invest in their entrepreneurship, training, and provides access to credit. Role models are important as we need women who look like all of us represented in the media, Erica emphasized, telling us that adults with mentors are five times more likely to start a business.

When she was accepted to train as a Cavalry helicopter scout pilot the first instructor she encountered walked away, refusing to teach a woman. It took days to get an instructor to teach her how to fly and later she was

Despite a disparity between the number of people women-owned businesses employ and the revenue those businesses pull in, women veterans make capable business owners. In fact, minority women of color comprise the


majority of veteran women-owned businesses and women veterans are responsible for $250 billion in sales receipts. Women veterans are also the fastest growing segment within the entrepreneurship community.

joined the Navy after high school but the transition back to civilian life was harsh, partly because in the military everything is taken care of for you. One of the biggest things she believes veterans have a need for is financial literacy.

Erica outlined other obstacles women veterans face including having to hide emotions, learning what being a female means outside of the military, suffering from higher rates of PTSD, divorce, and depression, fulfilling a need for support, access to capital and mentorship.

Charmane Sellers served in the U.S. Air Force in the early eighties at three bases as an avionics analyst, one of the few women to perform that role. She is now President and CEO of ALEON Properties, Inc. a construction and redevelopment company. Charmane is a survivor of assault while on duty and she carries the toughness it took to survive into running her business.

Our veterans panel was then introduced. All told of the challenges they faced and the issues they overcame while in and transitioning out of the military. Leora Ruzin, VP of Secondary Marketing, Guaranteed Rate was an Army specialist from 1995-1999 with a top-secret security clearance. When she exited the military pregnant, she couldn’t find a job and ended up working at a McDonald’s. She connected with other Army wives finding fulfillment in assisting military families with transitions as she herself never got training on transitioning back to civilian life. Chicago-based REALTOR and VP of Sales for Centered|RCG, Brande Hampton grew up in Vermont and

There’s hope she tells us. The VA tries to address sexual trauma in the military and women veterans can try to link up with other women’s organizations and movements for support. In closing, Erica underlined that the military spends 20% of its budget on leadership and developing its officers. Leadership is ingrained in military training and as a leader in the Army, she learned to mentor people from all walks of life. This ability to lead sets veterans apart. Despite the unique issues women veterans face, with their ingrained sense of leadership and responsibility they are ready to meet challenges, whether in business or life.

Empower women to take charge of their finances. And futures. Be part of NFCC’s national movement to improve financial health. NFCC® is the nation’s first and largest nonprofit dedicated to improving people’s financial well-being. With member offices serving millions of clients located throughout all 50 states and Puerto Rico, NFCC Certified Counselors are unbiased advocates dedicated to empowering clients to achieve their financial goals. From buying a first home to starting a new business and strengthening their finances, we help women get it done.

NFCC invites NAWRB members to become Sharpen Your Financial Focus partners. Learn more at NAWRB MAGAZINE | 27

Building Infrastructure, Maintaining Agriculture & Disaster Recovery

T he second to last panel to grace our stage was the Build-

ing Infrastructure, Maintaining Agriculture & Disaster Recovery Panel, featuring Michelle Corridon, Deputy Director, USDA Rural Development; Noemi Lujan-Perez, VP of Government and Media Relations, EcoDiversity; James K. Joseph, Regional Administrator, FEMA Region V; Sharron P.A. Levine, Director of the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion, Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA); and Desirée Patno, CEO & President, NAWRB. These professionals shared how their agencies respond to natural disasters and provide financial assistance to affected homeowners and business owners, while also letting attendees know about contracting opportunities and how they can be involved in developing trends in infrastructure. After the panel gave their introductions, Joseph gave an informative overview of common misconceptions that people have about FEMA. For example, people tend to believe that the agency is a first responder when natural disasters occur and are the first to assist affected areas in recovery. FEMA will mobilize resources in time of major natural disasters, but the true first responders will be local service departments in state and nearby states before FEMA assists the area. Also, he notes that FEMA only kickstarts recovery, but does not have the capacity to completely finance the recovery of homeowners and businesses who have suffered damages. In reality, the maximum grant amount that appli-



“FEMA is to ‘Help people prepare before, during and after a disaster.’” cants can receive is $34,000, but the average homeowners will commonly be awarded $4,000 to $6,000. Homeowners will receive a greater payout from an insurance, which can amount to six-figures for their recovery needs. This is why it’s important to have more financial advisors to help homeowners be more financially resilient and more realtors to help renters become homeowners and assist homeowners in acquiring good insurance. Joseph states that the most prominent job of FEMA is to “Help people prepare before, during and after a disaster.” To do this, FEMA facilitates the coordination of all federal agencies to the table to assist people during a natural disaster. As he articulates, what is key is what we do before a disaster to help American citizens be prepared.

Sharron P.A. Levine shared contracting opportunities at the FHFA, informing the audience that ll contractors need to be on the GSE schedule and approved by the agency to participate in contracting opportunities. For more information, please visit the FHFA website to register. Levine shares that top NAICS were for legal services, as the agency spent millions of dollars in law firms since they have recently worked heavily with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, but she expects that to decrease in the upcoming years. The top spend are legal services, software, hardware and facilities. Michelle Corridon of USDA Rural Development also shared that her agency is looking for contractors. There are many procuring opportunities in many services and they are also encouraged to use diverse contractors, while the most common contracted service is consulting. Noemi Lujan Perez, who works with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife discusses her work with the agency, which focuses on creating a buffer between urban development and nature. She also shared that she was part of the PR agency team with State Farm in response to Hurricane Katrina (and U.S. Fish and Wildlife were also first responders). Many homeowners were denied coverage based on claims that damage was inflicted by other sources other than flooding. This, in turn, impacted response systems like FEMA and the insurance industries’ coverage of homes and homeownership.

“Natural disaster bring opportunities for entrepreneurs and gives opportunity for redevelopment, especially green development.” Natural disaster bring opportunities for entrepreneurs and gives opportunity for redevelopment, especially green development. This is why Perez pressed to the audience that “Green is the space to go.” The country has aging infrastructure, and the U.S. is going to rebuild using green technologies. If you want to be involved in this growing trend of green construction and building make sure to get a LEED certification for your business. Thank you to these representatives for providing invaluable information about contracting opportunities with their agencies, as well as pivotal information to help America’s homeowners prepare themselves against the threat of natural disasters and to be proactive about their financial future. Watch the Full Video:



Procuring Contracts:

Mastering the Call to Access Billion Dollar Contracts Starting from Ground Zero Our panelists included Deborah Baldwin, the Deputy Director of

the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion (OMWI) at the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), Victor Christensen, Chief of the Minority and Woman Business and Diversity Inclusion Branch at the FDIC, Mark Hands, Supplier Diversity Program Manager, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, and Millie Irma Lara, Assistant Procurement Officer with the Department of Procurement Services, Chicago. Each one of our representatives briefly described the function of their agencies, what they spend on contracting and in what industries those contracting opportunities lie. Then, they laid out their process for applying and some best practices to apply in securing a contract. “The NCUA’s total, contracting dollars annually, ranges between 40 – 50 million,” says Deborah. “In 2017, $44.1 million total reportable contracting dollars reported for the year with 21 percent of total contract payments made to women-owned businesses.” She said her office has to be very intentional to ensure they are aware of opportunities coming up for women-owned businesses because of limited funds. “In a nutshell, we are the bank’s bank,” said Mark Hands on the role the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago plays. He further defined the Federal Reserve Bank overall’s goals as threefold: setting monetary policy, supervising and regulating banks, and ensuring payment systems are safe and sound. The role of the FDIC is a little different, as they do have some dealings with real estate, Victor Christensen remarked. The



“In 2017, $44.1 million total reportable contracting dollars reported for the year with 21% of total contract payments made to women-owned businesses.” FDIC in part supervises banks and acts as a receiver if the bank fails. However, as the financial crisis has wound down, their real estate holdings have also diminished. Millie Lara broke down her agency’s duties into three key areas: contract administration, a certification program, and compliance.

Areas of Opportunity

Each of the agencies featured has different needs and different contracting opportunities. Below are the top industries and services with contracting opportunities for each agency. If the service you provide is not explicitly highlighted below, it doesn’t mean there aren’t contracts available. These are in general, the major areas of opportunity.

Main Areas of Contract Availabilities with NCUA - IT services - Hotels - Contracting, training, and development/executive coaches - Accounting and financial services - Insurance Share Fund

Main Areas of Contract Availability with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

- Contractors, maintaining facilities - Law enforcement, security (their facility is one of the

“safest places in Chicago” Mark says. - Coaching and professional development - Some real estate opportunities in leasing, but limited.

Main Areas of Contract Availability with the FDIC Admin and IT contracts Facilities management, janitorial Asset management, investigations

Doing Business with…

Each of our agency panelists went on to break down some key aspects of the process of doing business and winning a contract with each of their agencies. Millie highlighted transparency in the procurement process for the City of Chicago. They have five types of procurement and have a buying plan updated every quarter with contracting opportunities. They also have workshops to guide you through the process which can be lengthy. The FDIC has developed its own procedures for contracting procurement. You actually have to be invited to participate, Victor relates. The Acquisitions Services Branch of the FDIC maintains a contact list of companies; they provide company names and they send out RFPs (Request for Proposals.) And a company can be put on the contact list no matter how large or small. Victor’s OMWI division ensures opportunities are given to Minority Women-Owned Businesses (MWOBs) by having a person with voting power in the room sitting on the evaluating panel making sure MWOBs are treated fairly. Over at the NCUA, they identify MWOBs through market research after getting a request from the procurement office and add them to a database. They make it easy with a vendor registration form on their website that, Deborah says takes only five minutes to complete. After registering, she suggests making direct contact with her Supplier Diversity Manager, Miguel Polanco to let him know about the services you provide and have your business on his radar. Additionally, she discloses, if the contracting need is under $7,500 they can request only one bid as long as its determined fairly. On the real estate end, they have an Asset Management Assistance Center in Austin, Texas that does occasionally request real estate services and she said Miguel might be able to help with making a connection once you have registered. The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago does not advertise its bid opportunities and has no goals or quotas. However, as an internal requirement, they must include at least one minority and one Woman Owned Business (WOB) in all of their competitive bids. Mark is the direct point of contact you can reach out to if you are interested in contracting with the FRB of Chicago. The Department of Procurement Services, City of Chicago buts bid ads in newspapers and current bid offers on their website. Current bid offerings are updated on a weekly basis at


“The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago...must include at least one minority and one women-owned business in all of their competitive bids.” You can also sign up for DPS alerts, sent every Monday, and become a listserv subscriber to receive the most recent bid opportunities (also with the twelve other agencies they work with.) All of our panelists talked a little about forecasting opportunities, that is to say, projecting in advance what they might need to give businesses a head start. Some make public forecasting available, while others have an internal forecast helping them to determine areas out outreach.

Opportunities for Business Development

One thing about the agencies our panelist work within not as widely known perhaps, are that they offer business development in addition to contract opportunities. In August, Victor’s agency will join with other OMWI agencies this August in San Antonio Texas for a one-day event called “Smart Contacts and Smart Contracts.” At the summit, attendees can receive often much needed technical assistance. Many who apply for contracts have issues with properly writing proposals, which can hurt a business’s chances of winning a bid. The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago has a Money Smart Week focusing on financial literacy for individuals. Five years ago, Mark took that idea and created a Business Smart Week to give people tools to better manage their businesses as well. Millie spotlighted two local events put on by the City of Chicago. They have a construction summit every February with around 700 attendees, where the city departments and agenNAWRB MAGAZINE |


cies that can help bring access to capital are connected with business owners, and a vendor fair every spring.

How to Be Competitive

Getting through the unique proposal process of each agency is only half the battle. The other half is maintaining a competitive edge. Each of our speakers pointed out ways contract seekers can improve their chances against the competition. Not many people know who the Federal Reserve is or what it does, Mark says. Understanding what you are seeking a contract with does is key. Proposals need to be well-done and contain all the needed information when applying to the FDIC according to Victor. Be persistent and don’t be afraid to ask to be a subcontractor, he says. Subcontractors can turn into prime contractors and they will have an inside track. Millie asserts going to the pre-bid conferences the city hosts is important because you can not only scope out your competition but may be able to joint venture with them. You will also have an opportunity to meet in person.

do business again with you. Most of these professionals are highly accessible, she said. They don’t get paid bonuses for helping you, they work on a value-basis and most genuinely want you to succeed.

Direct Contacts

Miguel Polanco, Supplier Diversity Manager, NCUA:

Mark Hands, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

Victor Christiansen, Chief Minority & Woman Business & Diversity Inclusion, FDIC

Deborah Baldwin, Deputy Director, Office of Minority and Women Inclusion, National Credit Union Administration

Watch the Full Video:

Closing out the discussion, NAWRB CEO and President, Desiree Patno emphasized developing connections and relationships with local and government agencies. Once you do business with them once, they know you and will want to

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is all in for diversity.

The FDIC recognizes the importance of contributions made by diverse communities in its workforce and business activities. As a leader among government agencies, we are committed to diversity and inclusion and providing opportunities for employment, contracting, investments, and sharing our expertise in financial education. We continue to strengthen stability and public confidence in the nation’s financial system, leveraging the talents of our workforce and small-, minority-, women-, LGBT-, and veteran-owned businesses to create business value and achieve a work environment of involvement, respect, and connection. Contact us: Office of Minority and Women Inclusion (OMWI) 1-877-ASK-FDIC (1-877-275-3342) Each depositor insured to at least $250,000



Roaring Thirty Awards Celebration Gala



2018 NAWRB Roaring Thirty Awards Gala

Vanessa Montanez

Sales and Business Development Manager of U.S. Bank Home Mortgage

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Lori Namazi Brokerage Risk Management & Operations Consultant of Lori Namazi & Associates

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Celebrate Women Leaders Working Their Way to the Top and Giving Back to Their Community

Tina Patterson

Lisa Puerto

Principal of Jade Solutions, LLC

Licensed California Real Estate Professional, Owner of the Federal Registered Trademark SUPER AGENT

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Linda Padilla-Smyth

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Lisa Fettner

Vice President of Marketing for Referral Exchange and




Maria Randall

Lead Coordinator for non-profit North OC Young Lives, Senior DE/ FHA & FNMA/ Conventional Underwriter for New American Funding

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Director of Real Estate & Property Management for Chapman University, Board Member of CREW-Orange County Board


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Melanie Taliaferro

Branch Manager, Mortgage Loan Originator, and National Director of Training & Sales Development for AMEC Home Loans


Stacie Rankey

Vice President of Client Relations for Gerner & Kearns Co. L.P.A., co-founder of the WomenĂ­s Mortgage Banking Collective

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Marcia Davies

COO and Founder of mPower at Mortgage Bankers Association

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Dottie Herman CEO of Douglas Elliman Real Estate

Bianca Vobecky President of Vobecky Enterprises

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CEO of EXIT Realty Corp International

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Tami Bonnell


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Heather Driscoll Broker/Owner of Exit Realty Home Partners

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Tamara King

VP of Residential Policy and Member Engagement of Mortgage Bankers Association


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Kristin Messerli

Founder of Cultural Outreach, Managing Editor for Mortgage Women




Sheri Orlowitz


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Susan Fries

President/CEO of Ecola Termite and Pest Control Services

Realtor with Regency Real Estate Brokers

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Pam O’ Connor

Retired as the 21-year President and CEO of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World

Sonia Hassey

President and Founder of Women Inspired Network, Inc. and Destiny Women Global

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Stephanie Anton President of Luxury Portfolio International, sits on Board of Managers for Upstream


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Samantha Gelberger

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Realtor at Baird & Warner

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Karen Finnander

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Founder, President, & CEO of Artemis Holdings


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Molly Dowdy Co-founder of NEXT Mortgage Events


Gina Diez Barroso Founder and CEO of Grupo Diarq

Jennifer Alter Warden Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of Baird & Warner

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Dr. Chitra Dorai

AI Visionary, Founder & CEO Amicus Brain, Former IBM Fellow

Debbie Hoffman Founder & CEO of Symmetry Blockchain Advisors, Inc.

Rose Brand

President of Rose L. Brand & Associates, P.C

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Charmane Sellers President and CEO of ALEON Properties Inc (API)



Roaring Thirty Awards Gala Silent Auction

NAWRB Foundation, a Non- Profit 501 (c) (3), secured Designer Handbags from Lanvin, Phillip Lim, Proenza Schouler, Stella McCartney, Fendi, Loro Piana, Valentino, Christian Louboutin, Nancy Gonzalez, Sara Battaglia and more for our exclusive Roaring Thirty Awards Gala Silent Auction. Fifty percent of the proceeds went to the NAWRB Foundation to help build resources for women’s’ independence.



Solutions. Housing. Equality.

Tami Bonnell,

CEO of EXIT Realty Corp. International Never before has there been such a vast representation of the housing ecosystem with top industry leaders in one venue, and NAWRB brought them together. One of these phenomenal experts was CEO of EXIT Realty Corp. International Tami Bonnell, who delivered a SHETalk Building a Business. Tami has more experience than most in real estate, selling her first house at thirteen and obtaining her real estate license the day she turned eighteen. Even with that experience, she has had to work hard to reach the level of influence she has today. In her SHETalk, she shared a few ways she keeps ahead of her goals. “It’s Your Mindset and What You Do with Your Time that Really Matters” “You know, I want to put you in a different head space today,” Tami said as she introduced the system helping to grow her business every month. She emphasized the principles she was about to introduce can apply to any business—not only real estate. First, she asked everyone in the audience to participate in an exercise where we all stood up, stretching our arms out as far as possible. Then, she asked us to close our eyes and imagine our arms going about a foot farther. When our eyes opened, our arms were much further than we imagined. “Everything that we do is because of how we think,” she began. “It has nothing to do with the circumstances you’re in; it



has everything to do with the choices we make.It’s your mindset and what you do with your time that really matters,” she said, adding “Choosing to do something with deliberate intent is how you get from Point A to Point B.” Most of us of us have run out the door with a list of more things than we have time for, she told us. We say “we must” and “we have to” when really, we should want and expect it. The problem with the “musts” and the “have tos” is that our subconscious mind doesn’t accept the negative the same way it does the positive. If we say we want and expect, it will help us to follow through.

Finding Your Path

Sometimes, in order to get done what we want and expect to get done, we have to find a more balanced way of doing things. When she started at EXIT twenty years ago, it was a Canadian company with no office in the U.S. She bought the rights to the entire New England states, building the US brand from a dead stop. From scratch, she cultivated 35,000 agents and traveled frequently to build momentum, driven forward by thinking of everyone she was responsible for on a daily basis. Her hard work paid off as she became US Vice President within her first year, President the second year and CEO of the company in 2012. She came home late one night a couple of years into traveling to build EXIT. As she pulled up, she noticed for the first time beautiful Paul Revere lanterns in her circular driveway and in the backyard. She walked in and said to her husband “Thank you so much honey, I wanted those forever I love those lanterns, they’re beautiful.” He replied “Your welcome, I put them in six months ago.” That moment was a wake-up call for Tami. “I really started working on ‘I’ve got to do this smarter, I’ve got to do this better,’” she said. Working with Your Dirty Dozen and the 30,000, 2,000 Foot and Street Level Views The better way is a plan that builds in time to work on the long view of whatever you are trying to accomplish, personal and professional. Committing is often the hardest part, says Tami as most people

live on the sidelines in a safe area. But with this plan, you can build in time to take in the long view. One hour a month should be set aside to look at the 30,000-foot view. This is a time to think about where the trends are in your industry. What are the resources that you should be going to every single month? If you spend time looking at things from the 30,000 foot view, you’ll know what’s selling and what’s not, you’ll be ahead of the curve on trends and will better be able to find your niche and can take advantage of every opportunity.

Who Are Your “Dirty Dozen”?

According to Tami, your “Dirty Dozen” are twelve people in or related to your field with whom you form a connection—such as a leader you’d like to follow and with whom you can share information every four-to-six weeks.The second hour of the month should be spent looking at your goals from a 2,000-foot view, say at the statewide level and touching base with six of your Dirty Dozen. For someone in real estate, this could be one person from the government on a state level and one from the local level, for example. In order to develop these connections, you should look to help them more than they help you—add value to their lives, do your homework and find out about them. The relationship doesn’t have to be a “tit for tat” transactional relationship, it can be more personal Tami points out. “People want to matter,” she says adding that if you find common ground and build a connection, it will pay off.

For the third hour, you want to look at you, Tami says. Ask yourself some effective questions like “What am I really good at?” and “What do I need to do to get where I want?”

ery day, she takes 120 seconds to think about what worked for that day and what she is grateful for, and she writes down any concerns or problems.

For the final piece of the puzzle, she introduced a four-hour action plan where halfway through the month, you plan out six weeks ahead of time and make sure to book off four hours to work on yourself and your plan. Look out over those six weeks with where you want to be in mind. And do it for your whole life both personal and professional. “I have birthday cards in my glove compartment in case I just forgot,” Tami says, illustrating her point.

“All of us are a work in progress,” said Tami as she closed out her SHETalk. “Every segment starts to connect and then you excel.”

You can even incorporate a small part of this planning ahead philosophy on a daily basis. Tami said she takes 120 seconds every morning to say how her day will go and think about how she wants the people she encounters to feel. At the end of ev-

We can’t wait to get started. NAWRB would like to thank these phenomenal thought leaders for gifting our conference with their memorable lessons and insights. Stay tuned for the rest of today’s expert panels and the Keynote Address from Diana Mendley Rauner, First Lady of Illinois and the President of the Ounce of Prevention Fund. Watch the Full Video:



Rebecca Steele,

CEO & President, National Foundation for Credit Counseling It’s just been an incredible conference. The women who have been here and all of you who I’ve met with have been the highlight of my year so far, really,” said Rebecca Steele taking over the stage for her SHETalk on day two of our conference. Her story, she revealed, is different than most. “I have been through crisis,” she said, “But I will tell you that I’ve been very, very fortunate to have some of the opportunities that I’ve had.” Rebecca managed through some of the largest housing issues in America, including running a 1.5 trillion dollar servicing portfolio combined with Countrywide and Bank of America during the height of the housing crisis, giving her a unique perspective on the industry.

people and make a difference?’ Although as an engineer she often takes an analytical approach, she was able to grasp onto something very important and on a more human level that day, reaching the conclusion that if you have passion you have a requirement to give back.

“I’m very proud to say I think I was an innovator there,” she told us speaking of her time at Bank of America. “I think we not only did millions of foreclosure preventions through modification short sales, but we also did foreclosure the right way, transitioning families to a place they could afford.” During that process, she learned how to dig in, innovate and think outside the box. In short, she became a disruptor and a change agent, the theme of her dynamic delivery. By talking directly to families through a new department she helped create at Bank of America called Executive Outreach, she learned first-hand the ways in which families lives were impacted by the crisis. Her national outreach extended to 250 locations and events in hard-hit foreclosure areas which she staffed those with people who were well-trained in underwriting and other processing. She also sat with families and heard their personal stories. “That really changed me as a person,” she said. “I was no longer saying how do I get to the next level? How do I make more money?” “Instead, she asked herself, ‘How do I care about



“You have to care about people on a deeper level than ‘I met my metrics today…and I made the bank money or I didn’t make the bank money.’ she emphasized. Her story soon took a sharp turn.

A Disruptor Stands Up for What’s Right

Two years after the start of the crisis, Rebecca became the only woman that sat at a senior executive table to become personally named in a billion dollar lawsuit along with Bank of America and Countrywide. She had only been there eighteen months. Found civilly liable, she found herself thrust suddenly into the pages of major newspapers under headlines. “Somehow, all of the sudden things come crashing down and I am the ‘Face of the Mortgage Crisis.’ The face of the mortgage crisis? I only wish I had that much power!” she exclaimed. “The United States Government, Department of Justice, Preet Bharara—you might know that name— sued me personally along with Bank of America.” At the time she was sued, she was working at JPMorgan Chase on Park Avenue. As someone who negotiated a foreclosure settlement with the regulators, she was very well known. “Well, all of the sudden,” she said, “I was even more well known.” “If

you opened up the New York Times on the front of the Business Section, there’s my face with ‘Leader of the Mortgage Crisis. Blonde Go-Getter is Fined a Million Dollars.’ You can imagine that sort of crisis just takes you back.” “I knew in my heart that I had done nothing wrong,” she said with emotion. Refusing to give in or settle, she stood up for what she knew was right and won “fabulously” on appeal on the Seventh Circuit with the three judges even telling the government that her case should have never gone to trial in the first place. “When I won,” she told us, “…I won not only for myself, but think about this: Anyone could have been named in that lawsuit. Anyone. They picked me. Not my boss, not his boss, Drew Gissinger, and certainly not Angelo Mozilo. It was me!” Finally vindicated, even to the point of getting her million dollars back that she had to pay to appeal, Rebecca thought she would also receive vindication in the press. She discovered that positive news was not as appealing as negative news and her acquittal was not as interesting. “Desirée (NAWRB CEO and President, Desirée Patno) called me,” she said. “We’re excited, we’re celebrating and everything’s quiet in the press. Basically, long story short, Desirée wrote an article supporting me. I appreciated that—I will appreciate it forever.” The question for Rebecca then became “How do you come back to an industry that did this to you?” She thought back to her earlier days at Bank of America in which she had testified in front of Congress, to when she had a great staff and helped millions of consumers save their homes and decided she wasn’t done yet.

“Now I’m doing something even more important,” she says, referring to her recent appointment as CEO and President of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. Founded in 1951, the NFCC focuses on helping consumers across the U.S. with financial education, literacy, credit card and student loan debt, and homeownership. In this role, she works with banks to create good policies and processes to help consumers get out of debt. And she has thought about what it takes to become a disruptor.

Don’t Be a Lemming, Be a Disruptor

To illustrate what it means to be a disruptor, Rebecca showed cartoons depicting lemmings (small rodents) blindly following others off a cliff. The problem, she pointed out, is in observing a problem but not working to make a change. “You don’t make change observing things” she pointed out. She often tells her staff that if you are doing the same thing today as you did yesterday, you’re not doing enough. When you can look back and say “Wow, I never thought I could get there,” that’s when you know you’ve done enough. Rebecca further defined a disruptor as someone who makes a significant impact in a given industry within a short time span. A disruptor is not afraid to step out and not afraid to change. However, it’s not enough to simply disrupt if you want to innovate and make a sustained change. A big part of becoming a disruptor involves managing that change. “If you know the transition might be difficult,” she says, “You can get ready for it. You can prepare for it and connect on the human side.” This can be accomplished by starting small, she told us. “Build your team, put your arms around them, care about them…You have to take the time, go slow to go fast in change.” Leading by example through high integrity and always treating people with respect, and working to build trust is a big part of building that ideal team. “I want to hire people way smarter than me,” she said, going on to encourage the audience to “A plusses.” “You invest in those,” she says, “And there’s no way you won’t succeed.” Rewards are also an easy way to set people up for success. “The easiest reward I ever found was thank you,” she revealed. A common misconception is that being a disruptor is about charisma, Rebecca says. It’s not. It’s about total commitment to your mission in your way. You can do this by building a culture together and appreciating what each person brings to the table. That is what will get you through the change. “You have to be courageous,” she urged the audience before closing the talk. “And you have to step up and say: ‘Yes and this is why and yes I’m going to be a part of this change.’ Watch the Full Video:



Next Chapter: Help Protect Elders from Financial Scam & Abuse

Over $36.5 billion a year is estimated to be lost annually in the U.S. due to Elder Financial Abuse. According to the National Adult Protective Services Association, only one in 44 cases is actually reported. NAWRB’s Next Chapter will assist people over 55 years old to help prevent financial abuse before it happens.

Consumers and Providers - Be a part of NAWRB’s Next Chapter today. For more information, contact us at or call (949) 559-9800 44




in the Housing Ecosystem

Report After the excitement of our morning SHETalks by

Tami Bonnell, CEO of EXIT Realty, and Rebecca Steele, President & CEO of National Foundation for Credit Counseling, our attendees heard about the powerful Women in the Housing Ecosystem Report (WHER) Panel, featuring Dr. Chitra Dorai, AI Visionary, Founder & CEO of Amicus Brain, Former IBM Fellow; Teresa Palacios Smith, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, HSF Affiliates LLC; Burgandy Basulto, Content Writer, NAWRB; and Desiree Patno, Visionary of WHER, CEO & President, NAWRB. The panelists discussed key findings from the WHER report, including recent statistics and trends on women’s homeownership, obstacles and solutions to women’s economic growth and independence; and issues of gender diversity at all levels of employment in STEM and other fields.

(WHER) that divorced women occupy a large share of single women homeowners, and that homebuyers are seeking a foundation where they feel safe and secure. She also points out that the homeownership rate is higher in the Midwest than in other areas of the nation because of home prices and cost of living are typically lower. NAWRB Lead Researcher & Writer, Content Producer Burgandy Basulto shared key highlights of the report regarding women’s homeownership. The main highlights are that we are seeing an increase of single Americans as Millennials are de-

“...Millennials are delaying marriage; women are increasing their purchasing power because they are focusing their attention on achieving degrees and pursuing higher-paying jobs...”

Dr. Chitra Dorai addressed the current state of housing, including the homeownership rate (at 64.3 percent according to the Q2 2018), and the ways that homeownership can contribute to women’s economic growth and independence. She notes that the WHER also describes how more women are becoming interested in investment opportunities in real estate, such as flipping homes and commercial real estate.

laying marriage; women are increasing their purchasing power because they are focusing their attention on achieving degrees and pursuing higher-paying jobs; and single women face a number of financial and professional obstacles, such as gender gap in industry representation, a persistent wage gap; a “pink tax” on hygiene products; limited opportunities for career advancement, and student loan debt.

In addition to seeing more women create a profit by flipping homes, Teresa Palacios Smith shared other trends she has noticed in women’s homeownership and obstacles that women often face in buying a home. For instance, she notes

The panel began speaking about ways we can increase gender diversity at all levels of employment, especially at the C-suite and leadership level. Effective gender strategies are those that take place at the individual and organizational



“On the topic of quotas, Basulto notes that for women professionals to be perceived as more than just token hires, there needs to be a culture shift in companies that embraces diversity & inclusion. ”

level. This report highlights some of the key characteristics of effective practices at increasing female representation at all professional employment levels, as stipulated in Mercer’s When Women Thrive report. At the individual level, an effective strategy at increasing diversity needs to be led by passionate leaders who drive change through open communication and exemplary behavior; adopted as a personal commitment by both employers and employees; and created to ensure perseverance over time by focusing on more than just hiring more women at the top. At the organizational level, organizations should first conduct research outside and within their company to figure out which practices are creating change and which efforts need to be improved. This might involve creating better leave and flexibility programs for their employees, reconfiguring leadership roles that complement women’s unique competencies, and training their managers to effectively administer leave and return-to-work processes. On the topic of quotas, Basulto notes that for women professionals to be perceived as more than just token hires, there needs to be a culture shift in companies that embraces diversity and inclusion. In addition, more women need to be hired at entry and management levels, and given opportunities to rise through the ranks, from management to the C-suite. Once current executive women leave their positions, we need to create a pathway for other women to take their place—a place they earn by merit, and through the visible hard work they did to get there.



Palacios Smith agreed that onus needs to be on the company and its leaders to drive gender diversity strategies in a way that suits their culture and business structure. Enforced quotas might have an effect opposite than desired since it might be seen as more of a burden than a benefit.

Dorai wrapped up the discussion by sharing what she believes are the biggest roadblocks to increasing female participation in male-dominated industries such as finance and technology. One of the factors contributing to the gender gap is that we are seeing less women majoring in STEM fields, which would help women achieve higher-paying careers and grow their purchasing power. Women need to be encouraged to pursue these careers from elementary school and onward. Since NAWRB is based in Irvine, CA, which is home to the University of California, Irvine, one of the leading schools in STEM, Patno suggested we can start local in achieving a higher retention rate in STEM programs. For next year’s 2019 Women in the Housing Ecosystem Report (WHER), the panel suggested incorporating an action plan that addresses the problems highlighted in the 2018 report, as well as more charts and graphs to communicate the data in a visually-pleasing format. Watch the Full Video:

Stay informed with a free subscription National Mortgage Professional Magazine, “The source for top originators,” as a benefit of your membership to NAWRB. A subscription to NMP allows you to stay on top of the latest news and headlines and share the informative articles and insights with your colleagues and business partners.

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housing counseling agencies across the country. Her team manages Freddie Mac’s CreditSmart financial capability curriculum, working with everyone except for lenders. Finally, she relented on the fun fact front—revealing her excitement for an upcoming third Disney Cruise.

Freddie Mac Today:

Power is Knowledge, Guaranteed to Open Horizons Often in the industry, when we think of the forty-eight-year-old Government Sponsored Entity The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, otherwise known as Freddie Mac, we think: “I’d love to be an REO broker with them” or “I’d love to be in a vendor relationship with them.” However, as we discovered in our “Who is Freddie Mac Today?” presentation, the GSE is way more than meets the eye, staying on the young side of forty-eight with an eye toward innovation and staying current. With representatives from the REO space, Supplier Diversity, Affordable Housing, and Community Outreach, as well as Affordable Lending, our panelists, all leaders with a collective experience of over fifty years not only spoke on how the latest innovations fit into Freddie Mac’s main goals, but on how those innovations relate to current housing market trends and needs. Jennifer Meagher, Director, Operations Change Management and REO Operations for Freddie Mac in Dallas along with her senior REO duties, oversees the REO vendor network. However, she jokes with her team about being a “full-time media personality” as she has recorded an album with the girl’s state choir at the Texas state capitol and in the past hosted an Adopt-the-Pet spot every Friday on local TV. In her twenty-three years with Freddie Mac, Jennifer has seen a lot of change but says the company’s main goals have remained consistent. The company remains focused on providing affordable housing opportunities while preserving neighborhoods and maximizing returns to taxpayers. Jennifer, who moderated the panel passed the mic to Stacey Walker, Director of Housing and Community Outreach adding that they are all supposed to tell the room a fun fact about themselves. “I don’t have any fun fact,” said Stacey causing the room to erupt in laughter. In addition to her role in NAWRB as an NDILC member, Stacey has been with Freddie Mac for twenty-six years and is primarily responsible for relationships with the hundreds of



She next turned it over to Sandra Heidinger, one of Freddie Mac’s Affordable Lending Managers. Sandra’s team often collaborates with Stacey’s team, helping to get nonprofits involved if needed and assisting in meeting goals while simultaneously helping the consumer. Specifically, she conducts outreach and teams up with lender and real estate partners across the country, to create initiatives and develop strategies. “I’m a certified wino. I have a certificate to prove it,” she deadpanned, causing the audience to erupt in laughter for a second time as she explained that means she is working on her Sommelier (wine expert) certification. Tomenci Waller-Day, Director of the Supplier Diversity program at Freddie Mac introduced herself and defined her team’s role as working with small-businesses, both women-owned and diverse-owned to act as a liaison, helping them secure more opportunities to do business with the GSE. “Our goals are centered around our sourcing efforts, outreach efforts as well as development,” she said going on to emphasize the development aspect as it’s a shift in how corporations are approaching Diversity & Inclusion in the supply chain. In the seven years she has been in her current position and in the twelve overall she has spent in supplier diversity, Tomenci has seen positive growth in women-owned and diverse-owned businesses throughout the nation. When not working in Supplier Diversity for Freddie Mac, she loves to vacation in the Florida Keys with her husband. An upcoming trip will be the fourth one in which they have hopped in a car driving from area to area, turning into “beach bums” in the process.

Advancing Consumer Education & Underserved Markets

Stacey Walker began the conversation with an interesting look into Duty to Serve. In the twenty-three out of twenty-six years she has been working in the affordable housing space, Freddie Mac has never taken a look at underserved markets like this before. Duty to Serve is a regulation that has been on the books for quite a while, but it had been buried in larger legislation when the FHFA mandated both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to take a closer look at it and prepare a plan to meet targeted goals by January 2018.

update to its platform in order to become more mobile friendly, especially since they have upwards of 10,000 people going online to access information. They aim to have the content revision done by 2019. Finally, they are increasing their Train-the-Trainer program, designed to educate industry professionals on Freddie Mac’s curriculum. They increased the number of times they engage in that training from two to three times a year and for the first time, will be introducing the program in Spanish. Housing industry professionals can also access free webinars by going to and registering for their Housing Professionals Resource Center. And realtors can access training at Both websites are regularly updated with policy changes and notices.

The main goal of Duty to Serve is to scrutinize markets that have historically not been serviced by the GSE and reevaluate to see how service can be increased in those areas by improving manufactured housing, increasing service to rural areas and promoting affordable preservation. When Freddie Mac took a look at rural areas that have had persistent poverty for 30 years or more, Stacey traveled to some of these areas discovering that many of these communities are lacking in infrastructure and have an abundance of payday loan centers, unscrupulous brokers, and are lacking in resources. Her team then spent 2017 laying the groundwork and conducting research, so they wouldn’t make rash decisions as every area in the country is not like the other. It was an eye-opening and exciting time for the company, Stacey said. Housing outreach is also a big part of what Freddie Mac does and they see a need for more education as people who were negatively impacted by the housing crisis are now ready to enter the homebuying market but might be nervous about and want to be further educated. One of the ways Freddie Mac educates the consumer is through their financial literacy curriculum, CreditSmart. The eighteen-year-old program is getting an

Finally, Stacey said that Freddie Mac is researching the 42 million people who are estimated to have thin credit files and along with industry partners will be figuring out ways to reach these people, many of whom are women. Additionally, the GSE has been approached by organizations like MANA and WISER who are looking for ways to educate their members on how to budget for retirement as both groups noticed an increase in the number of women who don’t have enough money to last them going into retirement age.

Innovating for Consumers

Sandra Heidinger likes the idea of a real estate and housing ecosystem because according to her, Freddie Mac cannot create products in a bubble. They work closely with trade associations across the country including real estate groups, lender partners, and nonprofits that have have their ear to the ground. Additionally, they do a lot of “test and learns” in the affordable lending space with customers to see what may work—doing things on a smaller scale before rolling it out on a larger one. She highlighted Freddie Mac’s Home Possible product offering, a low-down payment mortgage option income-delineated at 100% of area-median income. This option offers low down payments, in some cases as low as 3% for low-to-moderate income homebuyers or those in “high-cost or underserved communities.” Many people think their only option is to go through the FHFA, however, through Home Possible, the client can use the 3% down payment with a mortgage insurance premium but once that insurance naturally amortizes down to 78% it will automatically drop off, and if the borrower is in a market where the prices are appreciating, they can



always call their servicer about having it eliminated it sooner. For the borrower where income exceeds AMI, a new product was introduced this summer called HomeOne mortgage. With this program, borrowers can receive a 97% loan as a first-time homebuyer with no income or geographic restrictions.

Using Freddie Mac as a Resource to Grow Your Business

“I’m going to get on my soapbox a little bit because a lot of what has been said over the last two days I’m going to reemphasize,” said Tomaneci Waller-Day, going on to say that “It’s not enough as a small business owner to understand your own business but you have to understand the market at the local, regional and national level.” This concept brings to mind Tami Bonnell of EXIT Realty’s SHETalk earlier at the conference in which she introduced the idea of looking at your business from the street level, and at 2,000 and 3,000 foot level views. Knowing key market data is the key to growing your business Waller-Day said. “This should be the info you live and breathe,” she told us, and Freddie Mac can be a great resource. Every week on their economic page they publish findings on the housing marketplace and post links that lead to economic impact studies groups like Millennials, 30+ groups and women. The REO space, for example she pointed out, is not the same as it was ten years ago and it’s most likely not going to be the same ten years from now. You have to evolve with the market because people are seeking new and innovative ways their customers can approach it and you want to be at the forefront of those innovations as a business owner. For real estate and housing professionals especially, it’s important to understand why companies like Freddie Mac are establishing programs like Duty to Serve or why they are making a shift in a particular direction. Knowing this information will turn you into a trusted advisor to your clients, going beyond thinking of them during buying and selling transactions. When you become known as a trusted advisor, she concluded, clients will start to direct new people to you. From outreach to education, our panelists underlined the role Freddie Mac plays in educating both professionals within the housing and real estate ecosystem as well as the consumer. As many people who aren’t mortgage ready are contending with basic issues like transportation and job placement, Freddie Mac looks to the future, not only through its own programs but by forming strategic alliances and community-based partnerships that can offer people workshops and resources. Watch the Full Video:



Knowing Your Partners, Financial Support &Legal Community

Following the “Freddie Mac Today” Panel at the 2018

NAWRB Conference, which offered valuable information on opportunities for homebuyers and businesses, the “Knowing Your Partners, Financial Support and Legal Community” Panel, including Sarah Goldfrank, Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Fannie Mae; Alexander Almazan, Attorney, Almazan Law; Mark Ferguson, Deputy District Director, Illinois District Office, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA); and Desiree Patno, CEO & President, NAWRB, continued to educate our audience about the power of knowing your customers, market and legal community for ensuring the success of their business. Sarah Goldfrank started the conversation with her motto “KYS,” or “Know Your Stuff.” The theme of the conference has been the importance of knowledge for success in the industry and it is no different for the single family mortgage business. She shares that her focus is on three things: knowing your customer, market outlook and the legal community. Making sure that one is informed in each of these areas will help real estate finance professionals navigate the changing economy. According to Goldfrank, the economy will soon be affected by an increase in home prices and decrease in the number

of customers, which will likely cause lending to shrink with the smaller market. With this in mind, it is crucial for business owners to consider their long-term business plan. She recommends investing in customer service and technology, as well as focusing on affordable housing to stay ahead. She also highlights the importance of the recent California Consumer Privacy Act, which requires businesses to respond to inquiries from customers and vendors about their information. This law matters for small businesses, too, as consumers will ask what data we have on them and make sure we’re complying with the law. Goldfrank predicts this will drastically change consumer relations, and will create an intersection between blockchain and privacy laws. Alex Almazan, a son of Cuban immigrants and father of young girls, comes from Miami and is a part of the Miami Association of Realtors. He shares with the audience that “knowing your partnerships and knowing your partners” is critical for success, especially for minorities. Leveraging partnerships and relationships, especially with the legal community and local trade groups, and having financial support will be necessary to compete within the changing legal and real estate landscape. As he articulates, “Knowing your lawyer is just as important as knowing who your bank is.” NAWRB MAGAZINE |


Mark Ferguson gave lesser known tidbits about the SBA that real estate professionals and small businesses should take advantage of, including the SBA Cap Loan Program, which offers $5 million line of credit at a 75 percent guarantee for flipping house opportunities with a five-year commitment. The United States spends about $550 billion a year for goods and services, and 4 percent of that is set aside for women-owned businesses. Throughout his career, the greatest lesson Ferguson learned has been the value of relationships and connections. “If you relate to people, they will value you,” he states. A good team needs to be accountable for each other to deliver quality services that help others. Respecting others is how you gain and maintain relationships, which is why he suggests that industry professionals do not chase money or people. On a similar note, Almazan recommends that businesses become comfortable with “letting customers under the hood of [their] business” by being transparent about their operations, as well as leveraging partnerships and technologies in a way that helps rather than hurts them. Watch the Full Video:



Stories of Character & Courage

NDILC Luncheon Panel

After a jam-packed morning of information and new industry developments, our conference attendees were treated to an informal panel session led by NDILC (NAWRB Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council) Chairwoman, President & CEO of NAWRB Desirée Patno, Co-chair Vanessa Montañez, and Council Members Sarah Goldfrank, Dr. Chitra Dorai, Stacey M. Walker, and Teresa Palacios Smith.

In 2015, NAWRB introduced the Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council, dedicated to bringing women’s diversity and inclusion to the forefront of the housing industry with accountability and results. However, it’s not all official business as councilmembers also talk about personal issues to focus on ways to support each other in a broader sense. In a mostly unscripted lunch session, our panelists shared personal stories of early character development and in doing so shone a light on how they were able to harness hardship, turning it into an opportunity for advancement.

Smart Moves From “Just a Girl” & Not Accepting “No”

NAWRB CEO & President Desirée Patno started off with a compelling story of being the only girl in high school to play in an all-male water polo league. One day, she had a male opponent try to undermine and outsmart her; however, she was able to out-maneuver him, intercepted the ball, passing it onto a teammate who scored, proving that assumptions about women’s strength and ability are just that: assumptions.

er opened up, she was told in no uncertain terms that the most qualified person for the role was male and white. She was left defeated, like a “bird with her wings clipped.” Not willing to let discouragement get the best of her, she didn’t give up, eventually leaving for a competitor where she became a branch manager. Sarah Goldfrank charThe “Quiet Thunder” acterized herself in of an Introvert & Questioning the Status Quo her early years as an

active, outgoing and outspoken “Type A” person who played rugby in college. After law school, she desired to be an in-house lawyer to be more a part of a community and became one at Bank of America. “A lot of lawyers don’t listen well,” she confided. “We are not trained to be listeners,” she said, going on to point out that as an in-house lawyer you can develop that skill. A natural introvert, Stacey Walker played sports growing up as well, appreciating the ability to use explicit action to “show”

Vanessa Montañez recounted landing her “dream come true” career as a mortgage originator helping families find homes. At only twenty-seven years old, she became a top producer at a leading company. However, when a position as branch manag-



someone instead of telling them if they upset you. A twenty-sixyear veteran of Freddie Mac, she characterizes her leadership style as a “quiet thunder.” “Sometimes,” she told us, “People mistake my quietness for weakness. I don’t talk to hear myself talk, but when I talk, I have something to say.” Growing up on the other side of the world, Dr. Chitra Dorai was taught independence and individuality from a very early age. Her mother and father crossed the caste lines of Indian society, at the time and arguably even now, a big deal. “Questioning the status quo is a part of my genes,” she joked. Attending an all-girls Catholic school, as a teenager she was sheltered in a protective bubble until one day when her high exam scores caught the attention of the local press. Her family was beyond excited and prepared for her interview with great fanfare, only to be let down when the film crew decided to feature a boy instead who got the same points as her. It was a huge lesson for the ambitious fifteen-year-old. From that point on, young Chitra vowed to participate in merit-based activities where her achievements would speak for themselves. She was accepted into a university in which less than 1% who apply are received based on her exam scores alone. A focus on relocation and business development early in her real estate career tied Teresa Palacios to the Human Resources industry eventually leading her to become involved with a top human resources trade organization.

Find Where You’re Valued

She found involvement in the group rewarding and subsequently held different leadership roles, and remaining committed even while spending time away from her children. Emboldened by awards recognizing her leadership ability, Teresa met with the executive team to express her desire to one day become President. She was told in no uncertain terms that the very leadership qualities for which she was singled out were not enough. With the all-male executive team making it clear she would never lead the association, Teresa returned home devasted. Undeterred, she joined the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, becoming Chairwoman within a year and a half and receiving distinction as Member of the Year. She also co-founded the Atlanta Chapter of NAHREP (National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals) becoming National President by 2015. Closing out the panel with often funny true-life accounts of embarrassing moments our speakers, prove that even tested leaders face insecurities. They left the audience with words of encouragement: to recognize the potential of every interaction you have, to be authentic to yourself and to listen to others. Our NDILC members are living proof that even though the pathway to leadership has obstacles, you can rely on early grit and determination to get you through to the next level. Watch the Full Video:



Are you a professional in the housing and real estate ecosystem who wants to cultivate deeper relationships, gain Leadership Opportunities/Sustainable Business Opportunities & Growth or learn about the Latest Developments and Resources in your industry? NAWRB offers all that and more through our memberships for both women and men and advanced platforms. Multiple levels of membership: Engage Membership: Joining as part of the line Elite Membership: Joining at the front of the line—Eligible to join a Board Committee and apply as NAWRB Certified Delegate Spokeswoman As a NAWRB Certified Delegate Spokeswoman, you can elevate your business on the national stage, drive conversation with industry leaders, non-profits and government entities, and become a vetted industry speaker.

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Women Buyers & How to Serve Them


he penultimate panel of the 2018 NAWRB Conference was our Women’s Homeownership Panel focused on women buyers and how best to serve them. The panel featured a diverse speaker list of experienced real estate professionals, including Moderator Lenny McNeill, SVP, Managing Director of National Strategic Markets and Specialized Sales, U.S. Bank Home Mortgage; Adenike “Nike” Fasanya, Osilaja Owner, Marvel Ventures Mortgage, Inc.; Carmen Chong, CC Legacy Financial Corp. President, Broker and Life Insurance Agent; and Nelly DeLourdes Mitford, MP Global Real Estate Group, Commercial, International Investment and Residential Real Estate Services. As 36 percent of 126 million households are headed by women, and there are 114 percent more women-owned businesses than there were over 20 years ago, women comprise a formidable market increasing their purchasing power in the economy—about $20 trillion worldwide— that industry professionals should leverage. Our group of experts share how best to serve the unique needs to women buyers and words of wisdom from their own experiences. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Nelly is a real estate broker working in Houston who does service for national and international investors in commercial real estate. Carmen Chong, who is of Chinese descent but born in Nicaragua, is a 25year veteran in real estate, mortgage lending, and recently financial services. Some time after joining the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA) in 2007, Chong became the founding chapter president for AREAA in San Francisco. She currently resides as Chairwoman. Nike shares her experience growing up in Nigeria and the obstacles she faced advancing in the workforce, from being taught that women’s role in homeownership is nonexistent to being told that she talked too much to feeling like “she was treated like a toy.” Despite opposition, she made sure

A “ s 36% of 126 million households are headed by women, & there are 114% more women-owned businesses than there were over 20 years ago...” she was a valuable figure in the mortgage industry, including earning her masters degree in law, creating her own company and getting qualified in multiple certifications. Her greatest advice to the audience for success is to make sure they are knowledgeable in all aspects of their field. What are women looking for when buying a home? What drives them to make a purchase? For residential real estate, these industry experts share that women who are also parents are looking for a community that offers safety and convenience with close-by shopping centers and grocery markets. It is important to remember that women are driving referrals by word of mouth, at about 96 percent. However, 92 percent of women still feel that the real estate industry does not know or pay attention to them. In commercial real estate, Mitford states that women are smart and cautious investors. Agents must make sure they are prepared when working with women clients because they often make sure to do their research and care about numbers more so than their male counterparts. Chong reminds us that it is critical for agents to be cognizant of a client’s cultural background, because it will often shapes their perspective and decisions. For instance, in many Asian cultures, numbers have profound significance, symbolizing either good fortune or bad luck. The relationship between men and women often varies between cultures in terms of who takes the dominant role in the decision-makNAWRB MAGAZINE |


“It is important to remember that women are driving referrals by word of mouth, at about 96%. However, 92% of women still feel that the real estate industry does not know or pay attention to them.” ing process, even if this is a front. Mitford echoes a similar sentiment when stating “We need to learn other cultures”

in order to appropriately understand clients’ perspectives and accommodate them. Education, and further research by experts, is the means by which we can empower women all over the globe to pursue homeownership and build wealth and independence. Fasanya articulates that we can make the greatest change by educating young adults so that they can start making informed decisions that will impact their futures. “The richest black women today is Nigerian. The poverty level in Nigeria is the highest in Africa,” states Fasanya. “We as women need to start digging into these numbers. We need to start targeting the young generation early and hopefully break the yolk.”

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subliminal, from the sex trade to the workplace. She then discussed the epidemic nature of sexual exploitation in the U.S. today, citing an alarming statistic: 16,000-24,000 women and girls in Chicago engage in some form of prostitution activity. Many of these women don’t have better options for getting by and the overwhelming majority are survivors of childhood sexual abuse who entered into prostitution as teenagers. In the country as a whole, a quarter of all women in the U.S. have experienced some form of sexual harassment or exploitation. She put this into context with a stark visual: anytime you are in a group of more than four women, you are likely in the presence of a survivor of some form of sexual abuse.

Unspoken Issues

Impacting Women: Poverty, Health, Sexual Exploitation & Self-Confidence From its title alone, you can tell this panel was a little different from the others. Wide-ranging in scope, yet narrow in its focus on issues that derail women from advancing in life, the conversations held on stage focused on topics people are sometimes uncomfortable talking about including sexual exploitation and poverty. Moderated by NAWRB President and CEO Desirée Patno, our experts were Carie Bires who sits on the Board of Directors for the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and who is Youth and Senior Policy Manager at the Ounce of Prevention Fund, Karen Collins Founder & President of Collins Collaboration LLC, Kaethe Morris Hoffer, Executive Director, Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, and Judy Hoberman, President, Selling in a Skirt.

Sexual Exploitation Affects All Types of Women Everywhere

Kaethe started things off by talking about the mission of the Chicago Alliance of Sexual Exploitation which is to work on the full spectrum of sexual abuse: from the most extreme to the most



On the question of where to go for help if you are the victim of sexual exploitation, Kaethe pointed to national hotlines such as the Polaris Project. “As long as you can access the internet,” she says, “You have access to high-quality resources.”

Breaking the Poverty Cycle

Poverty creates a cycle where mothers lacking resources are unable to properly care for their children which can set those children back both cognitively and emotionally. “Learning begins at birth with the Ounce,” said Carie Bires on Chicago’s Ounce of Prevention Fund, founded by our keynote speaker, First Lady of Illinois Diana Rauner. “We need to take better steps so that high-risk children are able to be in environments

“...a quarter of all women in the U.S. have experienced some form of sexual harassment or exploitation.” with positive experiences and caregivers,” she emphasized. Parent/child attachment is critical and homelessness and poverty create barriers to forming that attachment as parents are struggling to meet basic needs. Karen, who has a background in real estate and finance and is on the D&I Council for the American Heart Association talked about the idea that housing is so important to our well-being and that life expectancy can vary by as much as 25 years by zip code. The panel then connected the dots between health and finances with the idea that we can’t be healthy financially if we aren’t well and we need to take a look a better look at communities that don’t have resources like hospitals or that have food deserts. Things that aren’t so obvious, like recovering from natural disasters are drastically different depending on the income level of the neighborhoods.

Self-Confidence Leads to Self-Reliance

Judy Hoberman sees herself as more than a motivational speaker she is a storyteller, helping people make connections through vivid narratives. “Women are the worst critics of themselves,” she told the audience and talked about the power of “rewinding the negative tape” that you may have played in your head. Financial literacy is important as well as she pointed out a poor relationship between women and money can lead to a lack of confidence and ability to move forward. And men are important too, she emphasized, reflecting a running theme throughout the conference. “I don’t ever leave

men out ever,” she remarked. “You have to find the ones that champion women.”

Increasing Impact

“We have a responsibility to help each other on another level,” added Carie. “Those of us who are privileged, we have an obligation to address the systemic issues.,” She acknowledged that larger problems can be overwhelming so stretching outside of your sphere to connect with others who share your views can help along with working on the edges of a larger problem and getting involved with nonprofits in your community. One of Carie’s goals is to expand access to child care assistance funds for disadvantaged women. She asked members of our audience to reach out to the subsidized child care in their state and ask that allocated funds be increased. Kaethe meanwhile is engaging on a nationwide search for a woman to become Director at her organization as they recently finished a strategic plan relating sexual harm to systems of inequality, as sexual exploitation and abuse lands disproportionately on women, people of color and immigrants. In the coming months, Karen wants to increase her influence on the corporate level by serving on boards. Through her work with the American Heart Association she has been able to see the link between stress and heart disease. Women who do not have adequate housing and who are trying to make ends meet with limited resources and who don’t have access to healthy food undoubtedly face greater stress. Judy through her foundation, aims to donate a portion of the sales of her book “Walking on the Glass Floor” to charities, hopefully reaching a minimum of a quarter of a million dollars. Through the support of our community and Strategic Partners, Desiree hopes to grow NAWRB’s WHER report, leveraging platforms and becoming the go-to experts in the communities they are involved in. This intimate discussion with experts in these sometimes sensitive topics proved that while larger issues like poverty, sexual abuse and exploitation can seem overwhelmingly large, by focusing on the organizations on the ground and individuals in need of help and even through strengthening our own self-confidence as women, we can make a difference. Watch the Full Video:



Year of Women


Marcia Davies, COO and Founder of mPower at Mortgage Bankers Association

“The NAWRB Conference is designed to strengthen connections, learn from the best and recognize female leaders. This year’s conference provided great content and the women in attendance are so inspirational. Thank you for a great experience.”

Dr. Chitra Dorai, Founder & CEO, Amicus Brain, AI Visionary, Former IBM Fellow “The highlights were many, but if I have to pick one to distill it all, it’s the level of sharing— not holding back—but genuinely and authentically sharing so that people could walk away with increased knowledge and increased power to implement it.

Judy Hoberman, President of Walking on the Glass Floor and Selling In A Skirt- International Speaker, Trainer, Coach, Author and Mentor

“The caliber of the speakers was amazing. I learned a lot about different organizations that I didn’t know before. Also, it wasn’t directed just at real estate. It was directed at women in business and I thought that was amazing. The speakers and panels were my highlight. I really like the Investing in Opportunity Act and the Veterans Panel, as well, and of course I liked mine.”

Rebecca Steele, CEO & President, National Foundation for Credit Counseling “It’s just been an incredible conference. The women who have been here and all of you who I’ve met with have been the highlight of my year so far, really.”

Vanessa Montanez, Sales and Business Development Manager, National Specialized Sales & Strategics Markets, US Bank Home Mortgages

Tami Bonnell, CEO, Exit Realty Corp International “I am a member of the NDILC because I believe so much of diversity and inclusion has to do with people being aware of opportunities , and the more everyone can be aware of choices and possibilities the better off everyone will be. I feel strongly that we should be part of the solutions as leaders in this industry.”

“The quality of speakers and audience attendees was excellent—superior, amazing, driven, both the men and women.”

Ashlee Shannon, Gabrielle Villegas, COO, Moonlight Property Services

Vanessa Montanez, Sales and Business Development Manager for the National Specialized Sales & Strategics Markets, US Bank Home Mortgage Leora Ruzin, VP of Secondary Marketing, Guaranteed Rate

Tina Patterson, Principal, Jade Solutions Silvia Rathell, Owner, Rathell Consulting LLC Lisa Dunn, Realtor, Casa Bella Realty Group

Rosalind Booker, CEO, Arbrook Realty Group, LLC Erica Courtney, CEO, 2020Vet Lori Namazi, Owner/Founder, Namazi Real Estate Resources Lisa Dunn, Realtor, Casa Bella Realty Group Dottie Herman,CEO, Douglas Elliman Burgandy Basulto, Content Writer, NAWRB  Nelly Mitford, Principal, MP Global Real Estate Group, LLC John Ellis, National Project Manager, US Bank Home Mortgage Tiffany Echols, Project Analyst, US Bank Home Mortgage Adriana Shannon, Business Strategy Consultant

Brande Hampton, Vice President of Sales/ Broker, Centered International Realty Corp

Monda Webb, Business Development/ Relationship Manager, EarnUp Sonia Hassey- President, Destiny Women Global

Nelly Mitford, Principal, MP Global Real Estate Group, LLC

Joy Sinegar, Mortgage Loan Officer, US Bank Susan Fries, President & CEO, Ecola Termite & Pest Control

MatchMaking Roundtables

Our MatchMaking Rountables gave attendees the opportunity to network with like-minded companies and non-profits to meet, collaborate and leverage each other’s resources to support their shared causes and missions. Over 15 non-profits and organizations participated, covering a wide-range of issues from poverty to family offices.

Rebecca Steele, President and CEO, National Foundation for Credit Counseling Marcia Davies, COO and Founder of mPower, Mortgage Bankers Association



Chief of Minority and Women Business and Diversity Inclusion Branch of the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion(OMWI) at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)


hank you for holding the record for speaking at our conference every year, and ironically you’re a man. We appreciate your support, the great work you do, and your commitment to the cause. What do you see as the main mission of your work? The main mission for me is Dodd-Frank Section 342. It requires my branch, it’s my responsibility to look at the Minority and Women hiring workforce of financial institutions and we regulate about 4,000 financial institutions. The staff. There’s eight of us all together. But it’s a voluntary program so we have to ask the banks to submit a self-assessment. Starting last year, we’re only doing banks with over 100 employees, so we’re talking 800 approximately, and out of those 800 we got 137 responses. What would you say is the most challenging aspect of what you do? Section 342 getting the banks to provide the self-assessments so we can establish a baseline for employment levels in the financial institutions, number of men, women, minorities, best practices we can share with other financial institutions. This is our second year and we thought it to was very successful. Because we had 95 last year, so it went from 95 to 137 which is a start.



Do you think the #MeToo movement that type of thing might have had an effect as well as your efforts to push up the level of respondents? Possibly, but I really don’t know. We did work with a group called Compliance Alliance and they represent about 27 different states, their groups their state associations, so they helped us publicize it to their group which is most of the country, really. So, I think that helped. And the #MeToo movement may have helped too. Who were you selling to primarily? Since it’s a government agency were you limited to who you could sell to? We would hold what we call asset purchaser events. Us in combination with the DSRR which is the division of receiverships; we reach out to minority and women investors. And we had one last year in New Orleans. It was great. I left here [the NAWRB conference] and flew to New Orleans and we haven’t had any since. We were having maybe about three or four a year. Now, last year we had one I don’t think we are going to have any this year. We haven’t had a bank closing this year, we’re in July. They estimated seven, but it’s probably going to be less than seven. And back in the crisis in 2010, there was 57. What issues concern you most about women and what do you think we should do to address them? Well, part of my job obviously, the main part is to make sure we

do outreach to minority and women businesses. Get them involved in our programs, so, you know, I think we’ve been going fairly well, the last couple of years it had dropped significantly, because the money dropped so we’re only doing 18.5% of our business the last two years with minority and women and this year it’s up to 29.6 so far this year. And prior to that it had always been up in the high twenties, low thirties, so looking to make sure that women and minorities are involved in the process. So, we do these kind of outreach events and talk to women companies women-owned companies all the time, encourage them to get on our contact and resource list and try to get in with the FDIC. How do you mitigate stress when you work? I will be the exception to what most men will say because stress is a bad thing obviously and a career, when you have a high profile job, it’s really stressful. But, I’ve been in the government for a lot of years and I’ll probably only work a couple of years, so the stress level is down. My bosses pretty much leave me alone. I do my own thing. I have good staff and delegate them to do their own thing.

Do you mentor anybody in particular? Not in particular, but I try to mentor everyone on my staff and it would be five women and two men. Particularly the younger women. What do you like to do in your spare time? Travel mainly. Just travel. Caribbean. We’re going to Jamaica towards the end of the year. Last year I went to Spain, visited Granada and Malaga then took the ferry over to Tunisia. Amazing. Thank you so much for your time.



Sue Fries

Susan Fries:

My name is Susan Fries, and I am the President and Owner of Ecola Termite and Pest Management Services. We are the alternative treatment methods that can take care of a situation and do it in a healthier way. So, what we mean by that is we use Mother Nature to take care of the problem. We’ve been doing it a long, long time. We were green before it was nothing more than a color. The reason I do that is because I had a chronic asthmatic (still do)—36-year-old now— son, who had almost died a couple of times. When I got in the business 38 years ago, I was looking for another way to get rid of the problem. Pests and termites are going to be around forever, especially in California. I was in the industry, I was working with my husband and we were doing traditional methods—fumigation, chemical application— and I had this son. He almost died a couple of times, and I’m thinking “Gosh, if I can come up with a way to take care of this problem and do it healthier, naturally, environmentally more friendly, then I’ve got to search that out.” And so, I did. I found a company that was doing some of it and I decided it was a good thing for me to look into it more, and it ended up that I bought that company. It’s kind of like the Gillette razor commercial where: “I like the Gillette razor, so I bought the company.” It was kind of like that. And so, I took it over in 2000 and we’ve been growing ever since.

NAWRB: How difficult was it to make that transition from traditional to alternative methods?

Susan Fries:

I knew who my customer was because I was answering the phones every day. And I knew I was talking the homeowner a lot of the time, but it was usually the woman that was responsible for the nest and taking care of her children and the pets. The husband was usually going out and making the money and they would have this heavy discussion on the cost and how we’re going to do it. But when it came time to implementing these services and getting them done, and what they wanted to have in their home: “A happy wife, a happy life.” So, it was the woman that would make the final decision. The husband was the one saying “Okay, we can afford this, that.” That’s how it worked. When I purchased the company, I was doing mostly pest control, so I had to learn how to do termite. And termite is where we can take the biggest advantage of using the alternative treatments. Since then, though, I am coming up with new products, other ways of doing things, which are still environmentally friendly. I feel really good about that. Because of our indoor quality and our life, we can’t buy our health. It’s really important that we take care of it. In a transaction of real estate, usually it’s the seller that pays for fumigations and they’re not thinking about who did the termite work and what they did or what went in my home. So, for us, now, we know that we have an alternative to what was before. It’s much healthier and we have a service warranty so every year we come back and do an alternative treatment method to take care of the problems and keep them small. If you take care of things when they are small, it’s much better.



NAWRB: Where do you go for your research when you are looking for new methods?

Susan Fries:

I go to different conventions where I see things, and I try to see if that could work for us. And maybe we need to change something or switch something up. We have other companies out there who are using tree oils and plant oils that can take care of the problem, even like clove oil and things like that. So, we are using all of those. It doesn’t mean we aren’t using traditional because we don’t want disease to stay there. We are dealing with pests that have disease-carrying attributes. We want to make sure we get a knockdown and we get those things gone. I would say I’m a licensed killer, I am, but I want to make sure that we don’t have to do more than we need to. We’re just going to do minimal but get rid of the problem.

NAWRB: You started this with your husband.

What is the best part of being a family-owned business? Well, we’re not together anymore. My son works with me so we are still family-owned and operated. My ex-husband is my ex-competitor and that’s a whole other book for another day.

NAWRB: That’s a great story. Susan Fries:

A direct competitor who is in the same market, so it’s very interesting. I would

say when working with your husband, if I could give any advice to anyone, healthy boundaries are key. Everyone has gifts and they have their strengths. So, we want to work with our strengths. My husband at the time was very good in certain areas but I was better in other areas. If somebody supersedes you, it doesn’t make for a good environment. We want to make sure we have a healthy environment for our employees.

NAWRB: Is it difficult to separate home and work life when you own a family business?

Susan Fries:

Good question. We have a very open relationship and he has asked for me to not tell new employees that he’s my son. His name is Tyson, and even though I’m so proud of him, he would rather not. He would rather earn the respect on his own accord and so I am respecting him in that and letting him, you know, make his own road.


does the boundary between using a family-owned business as a marketing tool and setting those boundaries on your personal life work?

Susan Fries:

I utilize in all my advertising, radio, TV, and I utilize my son a lot because of his asthma and how it is a part of the passion I have for what I do. It’s not just killing termites; it’s not just killing bugs. In our radio, we do say “My son.” Even in one commercial he’s saying you know “Ecola cares about our customers like my mom cared about me.” You know, that was one of the lines in the commercial and it’s true and it’s him delivering the line, and near the end he goes “Love you Mom!” It brings tears to my eyes every time. What mom doesn’t want to hear that? And I think that people relate to that and I think that that’s a positive thing. As long as it’s real, it’s a good thing to market. Also, the word is sustainability: being around a long time and having the background history of generations. I have three generations so far in my business.

NAWRB: You’re awarded. Susan Fries:

Yes, and that’s awesome. I didn’t even know what “Renaissance Woman” meant, but my sister explained to me “Sue, you are making a difference in this world, and you need to be recognized for that.” And I appreciate that because I really feel that—I’m a believer and so, for me, God is good. God has been really good to me and I’ve been through a lot of things. I’m not supposed to be walking and I’m walking. I’m dancing. I’m doing a lot of things. I have metal plates and pins in my leg and I wasn’t expected to walk. So, for me, there’s miracles that have happened in my life. And so, for me in my business, I feel like I’ve been overly blessed and I just really want to be able to give back now. And I feel that I have an opportunity to do that.

nection between passion, purpose and connection. It’s called the “Sue Fries Show.” People don’t realize that I talk about life lessons. I talk about just what’s going on in my life. Like this last week I talked about the short leash. I have two dogs and one gets a short leash, and I thought “why”? Because that one I need to watch more closely than the one I can give the longer leash to. And that’s so true in business, it’s true in our children’s lives, just anyone we’re with. There’s people you have to hold really close because you have to and people you can let go and know they’re not going to do any harm. So, I just thought that was kind of an interesting lesson with the short leash. The radio show has been really good. It’s been helpful, it’s connecting with people and it’s helping people understand who they are and why they are here. When people have that connection it helps them endure the things that come in their lives.

NAWRB: You’ve been through a lot in your life. How do you

work through those times and continue running the business and doing what you do?

Susan Fries:

That’s a really good question. I think everybody out there would like to know the answer. I think that we need to take time for ourselves and rest and sometimes I have difficulty doing that, but when I do it I’m a better person when I come back to the grind. For me, the victory has been won and I need to be faithful and know that I’m doing the right thing, and stay on my course and don’t get knocked off because there’s so many things that could be distracting us from the real goal. So staying focused on our goals, understanding, and having a vision in our mind and staying true to that vision is so key for me. It’s what’s kept me alive and going. I know there’s a lot of people watching how I respond and how I act, and they find strength in my strength. And I feel like I need to be that strength, and sometimes it’s tiring but other times it’s rewarding.

NAWRB: Are there times when you are just, “I need to take a mental health break today?”

Susan Fries:

Absolutely. Sometimes I need to take a weekend and I need not deal with anything or anyone. I just need to back off. It doesn’t happen a lot, and I just need to pull away and just have some time. I think about the airlines where the mask comes down and they say you have to take care of you first before you take care of the baby. And that’s so true. We have to take care of ourselves, because you know, once your health starts failing then you really aren’t there for anyone anyway. When I had my leg and I was in a wheelchair and I couldn’t walk, I had to be still and I had to realize that other people had to take care of me. That was not easy for me. At that time it was an eye opener that sometimes it’s a gift to let people give.

I have a radio show that I’ve had for eight and a half years and a television show that I’ve had for two years. I talk about the conNAWRB MAGAZINE |


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NDILC Member, Senior Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Fannie Mae NAWRB: What’s your favorite aspect of your posi- I started at Fannie Mae as a contractor and was hired fulltime afterwards. I worked in what was called the Office of tion at Fannie Mae? Sarah Goldfrank (SG): I would have to say my favorite part of my current position is being a part of Fannie Mae and our mission because it is such an incredible mission to be an integral part [of ]. In essence, we are at the center of the housing market which is at the center of the U.S. economy, and it’s so meaningful to millions of people across this country, what we deliver everyday, and we are an incredibly mission-driven company. Every year our employee engagement shows that, and I am absolutely one of those people where the mission gets me up everyday and makes me excited about the work that I do.

NAWRB: What are the unique opportunities you tackle? SG: As Chief Legal Officer to the single-family mortgage business, my team and I cover an array of issues from our initial relationships and contracts with our lenders through the guidelines and tools that we provide to them in terms of selling and servicing, as well as when a loan goes out, how a default is handled up to and including a foreclosure. And we handle loan-level litigation where that is concerned in some cases.

Diversity at the time, and in the Office of Diversity we handled both internal complaints and disputes as well as running diversity programming. I actually started out on the EEO/ ADR side of the house because of some work I had done, some of the work I did when I was in college around EEO, and so I was hired as a contractor and worked my way up from there.

NAWRB: What are some of the ways that you incorporate mentorship not only in your career, but in your life? What does it mean to you both for your career and personally? SG: I think it’s a really important question and there’s a lot of different aspects that I can tie into but the first thing that I jumps to mind is actually something I think I said at the conference on stage, which is every interaction is either a positive or negative. There’s no neutral interaction that we have day-to-day. By no means am I perfect at remembering that with every interaction, but I think it’s really important to try to remind oneself of that because there might be people that we interact with once a month or once a quarter, and there’s other people we see everyday. With people you see every day, you become very attuned to each other’s habits and practices, and if somebody’s having a bad day you just know that’s what they are having is a bad day. NAWRB MAGAZINE |


I think of mentorship at the first measure as tying into how we communicate with people as human beings, and that’s the first thing; mentoring is part of being a good friend. It does goes beyond that, but it is being a sounding board, as someone who helps provide guidance to people who are in search of it, and I will say I have been incredibly lucky in my career to have mentors, including in my earliest days at Fannie Mae in the ‘90s. I was here right out of college, when I was going to law school at night.

want to do on the other side of it, and consider working as a non-lawyer or getting to know a number of people who are already practicing in that area before you decide to go to law school. Because law school is a big time commitment, it’s a big money commitment and I think it’s important for people to go in with eyes wide open and hopefully come out on the other side and practice law or other things with a degree that makes a lot of sense, and not find out “Gee, this wasn’t the right career for me.”

One of the reasons I was able to go to law school at night while I worked at Fannie Mae was because I had a boss who was also a mentor to me who supported me. She said, “I get it. Everyday I want you to leave at 5:00 for night school, because ‘Guess what Sarah?’” She said to me, “I also went to night school/law school when I was working on the Hill, my boss wasn’t always able to let me go everyday at 5:00, and that made it harder for me to be in school at night.”

I would say my career is not necessarily a straight line when it comes to the law, just because of the experiences I had and the people who mentored me at the law firm. I was trained as a litigation and enforcement attorney before then doing regulatory and some deal work, which is a pretty broad range these days for a lawyer, and I benefit from being in financial services when it had and continues to be a very hot industry with plenty of work to keep us all busy.

Here at Fannie Mae, I try to make myself available to people. I have mentees who are lawyers, that’s true. I also have a mentee who has been a hedge fund investor and I have people who I mentor who are from the risk management space and other groups. It may be on a micro issue, so sometimes people come to me and they want specific advice about being out in the workplace, because maybe they’re not out in the workplace. Other times it’s much more macro about how to manage, or different macro issues about how to manage when one is promoted, in terms of that transition to a larger [position]. Or it’s just general career advice over years and years, or even decades and decades, and certainly I’ve been lucky enough to have had mentors who have done that for me as well.

I think it’s really doing some good homework and being open to opportunities and experiences. Maybe some people were born to be antitrust lawyers, but most people I know they find good mentors and they learn from them and they might discover they fall in love with a practice that they never anticipated practicing in and that’s great too. Being open and not saying no to things is a good idea. One of the reasons I went to trial as a second-year associate is because I didn’t say no to an ERISA case when I was a summer associate. I still remember the work coordinator coming to me and saying “Well, Sarah, we have this project we need help with. We want to make sure you’re okay doing ERISA.” And I’m thinking “I’m just a summer associate I’ll do whatever you ask when it comes to work.”

NAWRB: Have you ever had anyone that has formally Of course I’ll do ERISA. Obviously, I don’t know anything about it but I’m happy to learn and I’ll do whatever it takes, come up and said ‘Will you be my mentor?’ SG: Yes! I have had people come ask me that. In fact—I swear it must be the lawyer in me— but I had someone on my team come ask me if I would be her mentor and I said ‘No, I actually don’t think I can do that because of what you want me to mentor you on. As somebody on your management chain, it wouldn’t be appropriate. I’m happy to be a sounding board! You can always come talk to me, but in terms of a mentor relationship you need to find somebody outside your chain of command.’

NAWRB: Do you have any advice for future lawyers who want to get into the field you are in? SG: The first thing I would encourage people to consider if they’re thinking about a career in the law is what they



and so I did that project and it turned into a project that was extended over time. I even worked part-time during my last year of law school when I wasn’t at Fannie Mae because I left Fannie Mae to go to the associate position, and then it turned into a trial by the time I was a second year associate. I got to go to trial, and a lot of litigators never go to trial.

NAWRB: Why is the work we do on the NDILC so important? I see an organization that is committed to the advancement of women, particularly in real estate and the economy more generally, which obviously has more work to do, so that’s an important mission for the institution. For the Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council, it’s a group of senior wom-

en who have come together and said: “Let’s figure out how we can make disparate parts of these industries work well together and help make a difference in individual lives and communities.” I think that’s really important work to do. We have a terrific group of people.

NAWRB: What was your favorite part of the conference? SG: I really enjoyed SHETalks and had the benefit of seeing several of them. Personal stories from the heart from other people those were just terrific because you can learn so much from other people when they speak from the heart, authentically, about their experiences and give you nuggets of knowledge to take forward.

NAWRB: Tell us a fun fact about you. SG: A fun fact is that I work a third of a mile from the high school I attended growing up in D.C., how about that? That’s like my fun fact until we moved downtown because Alicia sits in our spanking new downtown offices. So in mid-October I won’t be a third of a mile. I’ll be 2 ½ miles. I was born and raised in D.C. and I really am a D.C. person. I continue to live in the city. I really love the city. I also love small town country life, and I have relatives up in a small town in Vermont right on a lake. I love to spend time up there, and I love the fresh air, the wildlife and the small town community. What’s interesting about it is there are absolutely overlapping experiences between the two, because on the city block I live on people are really close-knit and know each other and very friendly and look out for each other. That’s definitely the experience I have with a small town too, so it has both sides of me which is total city girl as well as a little bit of a country girl. I mean, I’m not saying you’re going to want to put me on a farm and I’ll be very helpful, but I do have both sides of me. Maybe not everything you see is what you get depending on where you see me. How about that? Because if you see me at the office in a suit you might think one thing not knowing that in Vermont you’re going to see me in a flannel shirt. And it is absolutely a flannel shirt you are going to see me in.



Vice President, Community Development Manager at U.S. Bank What are you responsible for in your own words?

I’m Vice President for the great state of Ohio. For me, this is my first opportunity to engage and I’m loving it, that’s the conversation we’re just having. It’s nice for us as bankers to be engaged at this level and be able to go where the customer is or where the partner is to make things happen. So, my primary responsibility is to ensure that the markets we cover meet our Community Reinvestment Act performance measures.

Why is it important to serve low-to-moderate communities?

Fundamentally, everyone needs a home. Everyone needs a safe, decent, affordable and liveable home. So, I come from a background where I work with affordable housing, specifically. That’s fundamental. And how does one own a home and how does one facilitate that? And owning a home is probably one of the biggest transactions that most individuals engage in so how do they make that happen? Banks play a large role in that, not just in making the loan but in educating that homebuyer, working with that homebuyer, helping them through that process, which technically I’m not low-to-moderate income but it was kind of nail-biting and hair-raising going through that process.



Recently U.S. Bank was named as one of the top places for women to work. Do you see that in your home office in Ohio? So, this is the third time I’ve worked for U.S. Bank over a 30-year time span. So, if you can imagine, I’m a person that had the opportunity to work at US Bank, leave for various reasons, be recruited back and each time I’ve come back. I’ve never worked at another financial institution and the reason why is culture and the fit at US Bank for me, as an African-American, and a woman has been awesome.

What makes it a place specifically good for women to work?

I think the opportunities that most people you think of banking: I’ve got a teller, I’ve got a loan officer. Well, there’s seventy-three thousand US Bank employees. There’s so many different routes that I can take as a female as a an African-American woman. That’s one of the reasons my history goes back so far. I’m the type of person that I like to do things until they become old. And until I feel that I’ve mastered it. The opportunity that the bank has afforded me has always been the ability to be able to “Okay, I’ve done this, I’ve done a good job at it, I might want to try something else.”

Cheryl Travis Johnson COO, VRM Mortgage Services

I’m Cheryl Travis-Johnson, and I’m the Chief Operating Officer for VRM Mortgage Services.

I’m also a part of the Council for Inclusion in Financial Services. At my first job as a COO of VRM, I handle end-to-end servicing solutions for clients from originations all the way through

REO sales. For the Council for Inclusion in Financial Services, it’s kind of two-fold. We’re focusing on financial literacy in emerging markets, increasing the numbers of millennials, women and

minorities in middle management to get them into C-suite opportunities—because 60 percent of the financial decisions are being made by a household that’s either being headed by a woman, a millennial or a minority— to make sure they have a seat at the decision table.

Then, the third pillar of all that work is to bring more awareness to our industry and help people build their personal wealth. A lot of people don’t understand financial services involves after-life planning, planning for having a child, college education, planning for weddings. What happens

is, organizations like GoFundMe and payday loan vendors get wealthy because people don’t have a personal wealth management plan. So, we spend a lot of time on that as well.

NAWRB: Do people who are lower-middle or middle class still need financial services even if they were previously or still are paycheck-to-paycheck?

NAWRB: In counseling individuals on their financial position, have you experienced a lot of emotion where they haven’t looked at [their situation]?

Yes. That’s the important thing. This is teaching you how to pay yourself first. That’s part of getting the financial literacy classes. You want to get them earlier on, but the Baby Boomer generation didn’t do an effective job passing on that knowledge. [We’re] trying to fill that gap, where that knowledge transfer doesn’t happen generationally, and we need to do a better job because a lot of wealth is passed on by the Baby Boomers to the next generations, and they won’t know what to do with that money because we are not teaching financial literacy.

What happens is, most people go all the way through college without any financial literacy classes. And so we’re trying to start there. We’re trying to get people earlier, that’s one thing. But those people we’re finding later in life, particularly single people, they kind of live more of a carefree lifestyle because they don’t understand that when you pass on, if you don’t have after-life planning, somebody’s going to have to bury you and that’s going to be a burden on them.

They don’t learn how to manage it. But the key thing is this: if you understand you don’t have to be wealthy to build wealth, you just have to know how to do it. Everybody, no matter your income level, has to have a personal wealth-building plan because after-life happens for all of us and it takes finances to do it all. From the lowest-level position to the highest level position, there has to be a level of planning your financial future.

It’s an emotional decision both ways. You’ve got to understand the impact you have on your loved ones, friends, family members, spouses, children. If you don’t plan for that, that’s the critical thing. Get them to understand what happens when you don’t, really focusing on what happens when you don’t have a plan. What does not having a plan mean? It means, when you go to buy a house, you’ve got to pay more for credit or you have to settle for an FHA-style loan product and minimize what NAWRB MAGAZINE |


you can afford to get because you didn’t plan to buy more. That’s the type of thing you’ve got to get them to understand: What happens when you don’t plan? Then, that will make you think of a plan.

things you should invest in. As you get older you want less risk. You take less risks when you’re older because you have less chance to recover. Understand that investing and planning for later in life is a long-term investment; it’s a slow-moving vehicle. Don’t watch it all day; don’t monitor it all day. Don’t expect it to give you an immediate return. It doesn’t work that way.

NAWRB: So, what happens if you did that and made mistakes? You did not plan and you find yourself older. Is it too late?

Getting those lessons learned, that’s the important part.

Never. So, now you know what happens when you don’t plan. You could talk to almost 70 percent of the people in this room and they’ll tell you about a student loan nightmare, right? So, we all have some kind of nightmare that we have related to finance that taught us a lesson that we can share. The key thing is, now that you’ve had that occurence happen, you’ve got to get a plan for getting out, setting a timeframe to get out of that situation and what getting out of it looks like and sticking to that plan because nothing is forever. Even for those people who filed bankruptcy, it’s only on your credit for seven to ten years. It’s not forever. So, you don’t have to live like it’s forever. You can start over. It’s never too late.

NAWRB: Where can people go for financial advice? Every major financial institution has an advisor. Bank of America has Merrill Lynch; Wells Fargo has Wells Fargo Advisors. You walk in and what happens is they don’t necessarily seek you out when you’re not at the top 5 percent wage earner, but that doesn’t mean they won’t take you. There’s so many organizations that are available that have financial advisors that do that type of work. So you just have to seek it out. Go into any financial institution and say “I’m interested in investing in my future.” Call any financial institution. Go to financial services in the yellow pages. There’s so many of them, but you have to ask. Once you reach out and you take that first initial step, they will walk you through it. But I do caution [that] you want to make sure you are dealing with a reputable financial advisor as you’re learning. As you understand what that looks like, then you can take some risks in terms of marketing, investments you know. But there’s organizations like Fidelity, and just millions of them out there. You will get a personal financial advisor that will walk you through that process starting with the basic things: getting a life insurance policy that’s not tied to your savings, coming up with a savings plan that takes an elevator oil approach instead of putting all your eggs in one basket, understanding dollar/cost averaging, and the basic things about investing money. You will sit with someone who will walk you through that process. Then, based on your age, it determines the types of



NAWRB: One last question. The theme of this conference is Year of Women. What makes 2018 a year of women? You’ve got a lot going on with the current administration that is not necessarily favorable to women and some of the thought processes like Roe vs. Wade and other things that are going to meet some challenges from women in the country that want the right to choose to bring life forth or not. It affects the woman. Period. Not dual impact; it’s the woman’s body. That’s one issue that’s out there that affects women. No matter what side you’re on, it affects you. The other thing is like what’s going on with the #MeToo. It’s the year women are coming out and saying, “I’m not a sexual object. I’m a contributor to society.”

Exclusive Special Edition - Vol. 7 Issue 3  

The 5th Annual 2018 NAWRB Conference - Year of Women

Exclusive Special Edition - Vol. 7 Issue 3  

The 5th Annual 2018 NAWRB Conference - Year of Women