Another returning tradition to the January issue of DS News is our Top 25 Women of Law list. From attorneys to other legal professionals working within the lender and servicer community, we’re honored to bring you profiles of some of the talented women professionals working within this space.
Wendy Lee, Managing Partner–NW Foreclosure & Litigation // McCalla Raymer Leibert Pierce, LLP
After more than 17 years supporting mortgage servicing both as in-house counsel and in private practice, Lee brings vast experience in building, restructuring, and running private practices for law firms specializing in default and REO related services. “I view our industry as one of the most dynamic, flexible, and resilient areas of the economy,” Lee said. “The recent months have been painful—to say the least—but the benefits we will see as a result of a complete shutdown of our work cannot be replicated.” She serves on the board and executive committee of the USFN, frequently lectures and has published many articles on the topics of state and federal statutory and regulatory compliance. Mentors, women she worked with early in her career, showed Lee that it was possible to have a career, family, and altogether fulfilling life. She also was inspired by the first female CEO of the USFN, and the female member presidents who followed. “They used their wit, intelligence, compassion, and gender to set an example of what was possible while also supporting and inspiring other women and diverse industry colleagues to stand up and show leadership.” As she has worked hard, she says, leadership opportunities have opened. “I’m not sure if that is a comment on what it is like to be a woman in a formerly male-dominated industry,” she said, “or if that is the way it should be since I believe in true meritocracy and competitive achievement.”
Amy Neumann, FVP and Director of Late Stage Delinquency // Flagstar Bank
Amy Neumann has been with Flagstar bank for more than five years and was recently appointed FVP Director of Late Stage Delinquency. In this role, she enjoys collaborating daily with her team to create solutions to industry challenges while assisting customers. “Especially during this pandemic, this is a highly motivating facet of the role,” Neumann said. Neumann reports that she navigates carving out a
healthy work-life balance in her day-to-day, especially with raising three children. A success that she is proud of is designing a comprehensive foreclosure oversight procedure for the Flagstar team.
Before her current role at Flagstar, Neumann served as the bank’s VP and National Foreclosure Manager. She was also a Senior Managing Litigation Attorney at Trott Law, PC. She received her
Bachelor of Science from Oakland University and her Juris Doctor from the Wayne State University
of Law. In Neumann’s free time, she has volunteered to provide immigrants’ legal services and be
a community volunteer with Big Family of MI Inc. When looking ahead to 2021, Neumann pinpointed the rollout of CARES Act provisions as something that will be an essential area of focus. “Servicers will need to be able to demonstrate compliance with applicable CARES Act provisions. In the default space, this will be crucial to avoid delays,” explained Neumann. “Also, the expected increase in default volume paired with historically low pre-pandemic numbers will create additional industry-wide challenges. Capacity issues combined with the additional COVID related procedural requirements, and with little notice that moratoria are ending, could result in significant challenges impacting all facets of default.”
Susan Reid, General Counsel // McCalla Raymer Leibert Pierce, LLC
Susan Reid has more than 25 years’ experience in real estate and mortgage banking. Prior to her current post, Reid spent 15 years as associate General Counsel for Fannie Mae, where she focused on origination and default-related issues. The depth of Reid’s experience makes her the perfect choice to lead McCalla Raymer Leibert Pierce, LLC’s clients through the current regulatory environment. Working in New York’s commercial real estate sector prepared Reid for the world of audits and compliance.
“In my early years, I had a lot of New York closings, which at that time went on for hours and days with many participants getting angry and becoming exhausted,” she recalled. “These closings were a great learning ground for me to develop skills of listening intently and calmly to discover the solution amid chaos.” Reid says the COVID-19 crisis has taxed her inherent optimism. “I believe that after the pandemic we will have fewer servicers, law firms, and people in the mortgage industry.” She continued, “I hope that mortgage banking will always have a focus on low- and middle-income homebuyers. This is one group that is often heavily hit by an economic downturn. I believe that owning a home is still important to many people and the best way for a family to build wealth.” Reid says that she is excited to see how many women are involved in today’s mortgage industry. “I draw inspiration from all of them,” she said. “I believe women bring a different negotiation style to a problem than men and we can often reach an amicable solution quicker.”
Candace Russell, VP - Post Sale // Carrington Mortgage Services
After 18 years in the industry, Candace Russell feels the world of policymaking is where she and her colleagues can make an impact on the entire system or process. “We all hope that the impact we make by working on all the small details of a rule, policy, or a bill move the needle forward for the better,” she says. “Knowing that pouring yourself into even the small matters eventually can affect major change and benefit the industry and the consumers is immensely satisfying.” For two years, Russell has served
as the Loan Administration Committee Vice Chair and Chair for the MBA. She also has started a women and minority leadership group to help encourage participation in the industry.
Being a woman, or a member of any minority group comes with challenges, she says, although
she awaits a day in which gender and race will be a nonissue in the workplace. “It is an often-overlooked privilege to work for yourself and your own goals without intended or unintended consequences to an entire people group,” she explained. As for the industry’s near future, she bases predictions on evidence, data, and experience, she says. “I think we will see people in power positions focus on how to keep people in their homes for as long as possible and how to open up the home market to those being shut out. There is no one answer or one branch that can fix these issues they will be multi-prong approaches with red-tape, a lot of debate, and a lot of passion.”
Ruth Ruhl, President // RUTH RUHL, P.C.
With 28 years’ experience practicing law, Ruth Ruhl says the most enriching part of her career is the long-term relationships she has with her clients and knowing how hard they work to help homeowners keep their homes with the assistance of RUTH RUHL, P.C. “I am most proud of having the courage to form my own law firm 21 years ago and growing my client base to a national level based on a quality product combined with superb customer service,” Ruhl said. “It is very rewarding to know that I have made a significant contribution to the legal industry both through my firm and my association with the Texas Mortgage Bankers Association’s Board of Directors.” Ruhl’s decision to pursue a legal career stems from the ambition she has possessed from an early age. “I knew that I wanted a career that would allow me to grow professionally and make a positive impact on people’s lives,” Ruhl said. “I enjoy the constant, evolving profession that requires knowledge of current regulations and the complexities and intricacies of how they relate to one another.” Today, Ruhl is constantly looking for new ways to improve her firm’s processes so it can be as efficient as possible in delivering services to
its client base. She is an advocate of working smarter, not harder, a philosophy that has proven
vital this year and will continue to be useful in 2021. When thinking about what challenges may lie ahead next year, Ruhl says, “As always, listening to my clients’ challenges helps me best respond with the appropriate technology and controls required in this fast-moving industry.