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Announcing Five Star’s Excellence in Leadership Award Finalists

In a year of challenges, it’s all the more important to recognize excellence. This year, we will return to Dallas for the in-person Five Star Conference 2021, September 19-21, and at the event, the Five Star Institute will recognize the women who are making a difference in the industry, and making a mark on their colleagues and peers at the Women in Housing Leadership Awards Luncheon.

As we have in year’s past, DSNews is taking the chance to shine a spotlight on these professionals. We have already showcased the finalists for The Rising Star Executive Award, which recognizes young women leaders who, while still early in their careers, have demonstrated an outstanding capability to lead and drive progress. Today, we will focus on the finalists for the Excellence in Leadership Award, which recognizes women who have demonstrated exemplary leadership for their organizations and teams.

Stay tuned to the October issue of MReport where we will reveal which of these deserving women will take home The Excellence in Leadership Award, and click here to view a list of all the nominees for the 2021 Women in Housing Awards.

Kim BighamKimberly Bigham
President, Servicing, Fay Servicing
What others are saying …
“Kimberly Bigham has demonstrated over her career that building a good team is the best way to succeed in this industry. Kimberly leads her team with confidence and grace. She is a willing participant to creatively solve an issue and depends on her team of competent professions to assist her in all areas of loan servicing. Under her direction, loan servicing at Fay has continued to grow and expand. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kimberly communicated clearly with her team keeping the servicing platform working successfully while navigating all the new rules and state requirements. Kimberly is a top performer deserving of the Leadership Award.”

What does this nomination mean to you and what makes you a good pick for this category?
“To be respected enough by peers to be considered for this award is amazing and humbling. I often second-guess myself as it relates to my performance and whether I’m truly making a difference in this industry. So, to be nominated in the category of Excellence in Leadership is certainly a morale booster! I am also humbled and grateful to be a part of an industry that has such supportive peers across companies. The support and recognition motivate me to do more and work harder to be a role model for other female executives. I’ve been in leadership positions in the financial and mortgage industry for the past 30 years. During that time, I’ve seen many changes in technology, process, and the way employees are motivated. As a result, I have had to adapt my leadership style to fit each. While I certainly have been personally rewarded for my hard work with career opportunities, there is no bigger reward than my satisfaction when my team thanks me for teaching, supporting, and helping them reach their own goals. That’s what keeps me coming back day after day.”

Sandra Jarish
President, Servicing, Planet Home Lending, LLC
What others are saying …
“Sandra Jarish, an ardent advocate of women in the mortgage industry for 30 years, is described by her colleagues as an incomparable leader and teammate. Jarish cultivates a collaborative work environment that encourages loyalty and commitment from her team. Currently, nearly 40% of servicing employees have been with Planet more than five years. The past year confirmed Jarish’s excellence as a leader; she opened a servicing center in the Dallas Metroplex while tackling a COVID-19 response, including modifying workflows, implementing new technology, and shifting personnel to ensure employees were safe, losses were limited, and forbearance borrowers’ needs were met."

What does this nomination mean to you and what makes you a good pick for this category?

“While I’m proud to receive this award, the credit really goes to my exceptional Planet servicing team. Together, we tackled COVID- 19-related issues like forbearance and getting employees what they needed to work from home safely. As a team, we opened our new Dallas servicing center, implemented an early buyout program for securitized mortgages, and put in place enhanced technology to serve our private clients. My team makes me a better leader as we work together to make Planet's servicing second to none. Being nominated for an award in the Women in Housing’s Excellence in the Leadership category is not only an honor but it allows me to set an example for other women in our business and provides a path forward to success and personal achievement.”

Nita Kohli
VP and Head of Operational Resilience, Freddie Mac
What others are saying …
“Not every leader could rally her team—along with the rest of the company, its largest competitor, and a joint venture—for a highly scrutinized exercise of their business resiliency plans while in the middle of an actual, unrelated crisis, but that’s exactly what Nita Kohli did this year. Kohli is VP and Head of Operational Resilience for Freddie Mac. While ensuring that Freddie Mac could operate remotely throughout the global pandemic, she also organized a successful table-top crisis response exercise that simulated a ransomware attack on a Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae joint venture that administers the uniform mortgage-backed security.”

What does this nomination mean to you and what makes you a good pick for this category?
“This nomination is important to me because it recognizes that there is a large and critical structure of technology and operations underlying the U.S. housing finance system, and more than ever, that system relies on the leadership of women. Freddie Mac played a crucial role in helping the United States economy—not to mention homeowners, multifamily property owners, and renters—weather a pandemic related downturn. We accomplished that partly due to our ability to put our technology and operations business resilience plans into play so that thousands of staff could move to remote work and seamlessly continue our mission of providing liquidity, stability, and affordability to the housing finance market, while helping millions of at-risk families remain in their homes.

Traci Luckhaupt
VP of Foreclosure and Bankruptcy, Shellpoint Mortgage Servicing
What others are saying …
“Traci is a leader that sees the forest. She invests in excellence in both the larger team and every individual. Traci is an innovator who blazes new trails before others can even see the need. Traci works hard, and her teams know that she will be the first one in, the last light out, and by their side all the way. Traci’s commitment to our industry is strong and enduring. Traci’s steadfast leadership truly sets the bar and makes us all better.”

What does this nomination mean to you and what makes you a good pick for this category?
“It is such an honor being recognized as a finalist for the 2021 Women in Housing Excellence in Leadership award. When I started in this industry 27 years ago, there were many times that I was the only woman sitting in the boardroom, but I never wavered in my determination. Being a female role model has been a rewarding aspect of my career with many large banks and servicers. I have enjoyed sharing my insights and experiences with future generations of women in mortgage banking. I feel that, as a leader, I have a duty to support and uplift others, to offer guidance and direction while being a voice of positive influence. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing a fellow woman excel and reach new heights in her career. Shellpoint has afforded me the ability to grow my career, institute innovative solutions, and given me the tools to develop and mentor staff. It is humbling to be recognized for my support of women in the industry over the years. I have always lived by this quote: ‘Your value will not be what you know; it will be what you share.’—Ginni Rometty, CEO, IBM.

Sheri Robinson
VP, Customer Care Center, PHH Mortgage
What others are saying …
“COVID-19 volume required an automated approach to manage natural disasters. Early decisions around automation helped PHH support our borrowers and aided in setting a high bar for our competitors. Providing easy, self-serve options notifying about COVID-19 impact, establishing temporary forbearance plans via the IVR, a website email address, and a form. An automated process gathered the borrower requests and set-up the forbearance in the servicing system. And, arming our agents with updated information through our CMS scripting tool assisted us to address borrower needs with ease and treating them with care and compassion, as reflected in our high NPS scores.”

What does this nomination mean to you and what makes you a good pick for this category?
“I have the pleasure of working for and with some fantastic women whose outstanding leadership qualities create a culture and an environment at Ocwen where I can be my best self. I am grateful and honored to be nominated for an award that recognizes women who have demonstrated exemplary leadership and I am humbled that I was chosen when I stand in such great company. I think I would be a great pick for this category because of my passion for mentoring and my internal desire to never quit. This recognition alone will not be the end for me or the cherry on top of my career but will be the fuel to my fire to help others achieve their own leadership milestones in hopes that they will in turn positively impact our organization through sustaining and growing the inclusive and supportive environment at Ocwen.”

About Author: Eric C. Peck

Eric C. Peck has 20-plus years’ experience covering the mortgage industry, he most recently served as Editor-in-Chief for The Mortgage Press and National Mortgage Professional Magazine. Peck graduated from the New York Institute of Technology where he received his B.A. in Communication Arts/Media. After graduating, he began his professional career with Videography Magazine before landing in the mortgage space. Peck has edited three published books and has served as Copy Editor for Entrepreneur.com.

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