Five Star honored the mortgage industry’s female leaders Wednesday with the presentation of the Keystone Awards at the Women in Housing Leadership Banquet, during the Five Star Conference and Expo. This year, the banquet was a joint presentation of Five Star and mPower, the Mortgage Bankers Association’s organization dedicated to advancing and supporting women professionals.
“Despite the greater awareness and progress for promoting women in business, there remains a lack of equality in compensation and promotion,” said Ed Delgado, President and CEO of Five Star Global, during his opening remarks. “Sadly, I say that about the industry that I love. I’ve witnessed it firsthand. That lack of transparency simply must stop.”
Nicole Booth, VP of Public Policy for Quicken Loans, took home the Rising Business Leader Award; Deborah Garcia-Gratacos, President and CEO of DEVAL, LLC was the recipient of the Cultural Leader Award; the Community Leadership awarded to Yvette Gilmore, VP of Single-Family Servicer Relationship and Performance Management with Freddie Mac; Ingrid Jaschok, SVP of Servicing Operational Support for Mr. Cooper was the recipient of Diversity and Inclusion award; and Caroline Reaves, CEO of Mortgage Contracting Services, was the recipient of the Laurie A. Maggiano Award.
Charmaine Brown, Fannie Mae’s Director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, accepted the honor on behalf of Booth. She thanked Five Star, and the leaders in the room, that Booth is honored to accept the award and recognized the advancements of professional leaders.
Yvette Gilmore said she was honored to be recognized by Five Star, adding that these female leaders are helping build their communities and “lead in ways that impact not only this generation but the ones that will come after us.”
“I’m proud of how we come together as an industry in times of financial crisis, disaster—all of those things that America’s families depend on us to assure for them. They may not know who we are, but they depend on us when they need us the most,” Gilmore said.
She added that banks, government agencies, and mortgage companies are “better, they’re stronger when women not only have a seat at the table but are able to advocate for positive change from that seat.”
“Please know that I will continue to work my hardest to be an advocate for women—all women. All the time. In all points in their career.”
Jaschok, who established Mr. Cooper’s first gay pride group, and served as it’s first President, took home the Diversity and Inclusion award. Taking the podium, she said, “The rainbow finally paid off.”
“Being a member of the LGBTQ community is not easy. It’s a group that has really transformed over the last several years, and I feel special to be a part of it,” Jaschok said. “Growing up wondering if you’re normal, if people will make fun of you, if you could use simple things, like just going into the restroom, can be a challenge”
She said she was grateful now to be able to live her life, buy a house, have children who can be open and honest about their parents. She concluded: “Have confidence that being different is absolutely freaking okay.”
Reaves, as she took the stage, said, “I can’t believe this is happening.”
She added that she uses Laurie A. Maggiano, the former Servicing and Secondary Markets Program Manager at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) who passed away in 2018, and for whom the award was named, as an example to professionals coming up in the industry. Noting that they often had their differences, Reaves said she appreciated that she and Maggiano were able to remain close friends even when they disagreed.
“I do believe that you should surround yourself with people who are different than you, and like you, and people who will be honest,” Reaves said.
She added that she has a few priorities, with one of them being that you don’t need to do it all.
“As a woman, everybody says, ‘you can do it all,’ and maybe you don’t want to do it all,” Reaves said. “I have five kids, and I made a decision to not do it all for a while. Sometimes, men and women both … choose to make family their priority — that’s okay.”
“Do what’s good for you,” she added.
Following the conclusion of the Keystone Awards, mPower took to the stage.
“It takes leaders to move the needle, and that’s what’s is happening here,” said Marcia Davies, COO of the MBA, and last year’s recipient of the Laurie A. Maggiano Legacy Award. “The collaboration of mPower and Women in Housing, I’m hoping, will continue the momentum … to address equality in the workplace.”
Davies added that she has been in the industry for a number of years, and “the issues that I faced nearly 30 years ago, are the same issues that we hear over and over again.”
She added that through mPower’s events, online community, and webinars, mPower has reached more than 15,000 people.
Davies said that research shows that females are still struggling to gain traction within the industry.
“Women remain underrepresented in every rung of the ladder,” she said.
She said women have been earning more bachelor’s degrees compared to men for years, and have been asking for promotions and negotiating salary more and more. Women, Davies said, are staying in the workplace for the same amount of time than men.
The keynote speaker for mPower’s portion of the program was Janine Driver, a New York Times bestselling author and Owner & President of the Body Language Institute.
Driver instructed the audience on how to increase their emotional intelligence and look for non-verbal cues to help read people’s emotions, even when they are not saying a word.
“Our brain is programmed to be a mind reader,” Driver said.
She added that her time with the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms taught her valuable tips on an executive presence that “we all need to know.” She added that female professionals can not only use these tools to improve their lives away from the office but also help them exude more confidence in executive session.
“Not just us here in the mortgage industry, but literally on planet Earth,” she said.