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Announcing The Rising Star Executive 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, DS News is taking the chance to shine a spotlight on these professionals. First off, we would like to highlight 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.

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

Theresa Dumais
VP of Government & Industry Relations, Freddie Mac
What others are saying …
“One of Freddie Mac’s youngest 'officers,' Theresa is passionate about affordable housing policy and brings her professional experience from both Capitol Hill and well-regarded industry organizations to Freddie Mac. In her role, Theresa leads a team that educates external audiences about Freddie Mac’s critical role in bringing liquidity, stability, and affordability to the nation’s housing finance system. During the pandemic, Theresa’s work has been essential in helping homeowners and renters stay in their homes. Theresa is active in her community and serves on the Boards of both Women in Housing & Finance and Housing Opportunities Community Partners, a local nonprofit.”

What does this nomination mean to you and what makes you a good pick for this category?
“It is an incredible honor to be a Rising Star Executive finalist for the Five Star Institute’s 2021 Women in Housing Awards. As one of the youngest officers at Freddie Mac, I bring my policy expertise, passion for providing safe and affordable housing opportunities in all corners of the market, and unique perspective to help inform the important work we do here at the company. As a Hispanic woman, I know how critical it is to help lift up women and minorities into leadership roles within the financial services industry. I have made this an important issue throughout my work both at Freddie Mac and as volunteer co-chair of the Professional Development Committee and board member of Women in Housing & Finance. We’re a stronger housing finance system when our collective leadership reflects the diverse and unique perspectives of our shared communities. I am grateful to the Five Star Institute’s leadership in elevating success stories of women leading in our industry!”

Cara Hardy
VP, Special Servicing, Cenlar FSB
What others are saying …
“A trailblazer in the industry who has led numerous departments at Cenlar and has been tasked to create a whole division called Special Servicing. Cara is a hard-working, dedicated, motivated leader and professional who can always be counted on to bring the very best to her role, no matter the area of responsibility she is assigned. Cara is committed to growing the knowledge base of all her staff and is willing to share her experiences with everyone. She is a knowledgeable loan servicing professional."

What does this nomination mean to you and what makes you a good pick for this category?
“I am overwhelmed with gratitude to be nominated amongst this group of women who are standout thought leaders and visionaries in the industry. This nomination is a confirmation that my steadfast commitment to make a difference through effective leadership and innovation has made an impact. I learned early in my career that leaders have two options: manage the status quo or lead the disruption. Of course, I chose the latter. I’m a firm believer that the disruptor mindset my team and I share has helped my organization adapt to changing markets. I recognize that progress is not accomplished by one but by many, and it is my responsibility as a leader to create a culture where challenging the status quo is encouraged to drive progress. I encourage everyone on my team to make their voices heard and strive to consider all perspectives, even if they don’t align with my own. I believe my ability to make the impact for which I’m nominated for all comes down to my three principles: lead with purpose, lead from the field, and be courageous to make change happen.”

Amy Lee
Director of Client Experience, Bron Inc.
What others are saying …
“Ambitious and dedicated, Amy has been a pillar in Bron’s development from her first days with the company. Her dedication to the client experience for all Bron clients has resulted in unique, memorable, and genuine building of relationships, creating new and exciting opportunities for business growth. Amy’s presence brings unmatched joy to the room and her reach does not stop at the client level. Her razor-sharp attention to detail and wide range of industry knowledge serves as an inspiration to her team, resulting in top talent development for those under her wing. Amy is, undeniably, a key player in Bron’s success.”

What does this nomination mean to you and what makes you a good pick for this category?
“Being recognized as a finalist for the Rising Star Executive is a tremendous honor. As a finalist, I am elated to be among a group of professionals who value the work that we do and strive to positively impact the industry as it continues to evolve. Working at Bron, not only do I get the opportunity to make a difference to our clients, but on a day-to-day basis, I get to see the positive effects of what we do for our communities. I strive each day to deliver exceptional service as I understand what we do also affects the reputation of our whole industry on the perceptions of all the communities in which we live and work. For me, this is not only rewarding but also shows how even my role in a smaller company makes an impact to everyone. As I continue to learn, engage, and develop skills needed to succeed in this industry, I strive to develop those around me and ensure the success of our clients. I am honored to have a new network of women who I can collaborate with as I continue my professional journey. I am looking forward to continuing my education and knowledge to succeed.”

Madeline Polskin
Director of Bankruptcy, Shellpoint Mortgage Servicing
What others are saying …
“Madeline is a true leader who brings a considered and thoughtful approach to leadership. She is an absolute expert but is also always open-minded and willing to brainstorm and learn. Madeline is solution-focused and inspires and motivates her team and all those that work with her to embrace problem-solving creativity. Madeline's clear insight and guiding vision have garnered the respect and admiration of her team and community. Those that have the privilege of working with Madeline frequently note that her impact creates an environment filled with greater support, engagement, and confidence. Madeline's reach goes beyond her team as well, as her leadership style makes all feel welcomed, involved, and self-assured of collective success.”

What does this nomination mean to you and what makes you a good pick for this category?
“I am humbled to be a finalist for the 2021 Women in Housing Rising Star Executive Award. To be a finalist is even more gratifying knowing how many hard-working women serve as our peers. I strive through my leadership to inspire and support others to meet their potential and to provide exceptional service to our clients. I have had the privilege of leading high performing departments with a hands-on approach while adapting to the large portfolio growth we have seen at Shellpoint Mortgage Servicing. No one individual can make an organization run successfully. However, a strong leader can inspire those around them to drive progress wholistically as an organization. To me, leadership is about inspiring others and setting a positive example, which I strive for daily.”

Candace Russell
VP, Carrington Mortgage
What others are saying …
“With 17 years of experience, Candace has become an industry subject-matter expert in property acquisition, development and procurement, risk mitigation, and the management of a high-volume portfolio of government assets. She is particularly skilled at relationship building, realizing the value of long-term connections whether clients or staff. As VP at Carrington, Candace increased conveyance by over 30% and reduced reconveyances by 50% year-over-year, increased functional efficiencies to perform in the 90+% or a gain on efficiency at over 10% year-over-year. She also established determination for loss reserve accounting related to counter-party risk and compliance.”

What does this nomination mean to you and what makes you a good pick for this category?
“I received the notification about this nomination about 24 hours after giving birth to my first child. I was overwhelmed as all my quiet fears of removing myself from work for this task and being a working mother crashed into the kindness and validation that comes from finding out someone has nominated you for this kind of recognition. I cried with realization that the work I do and the friends and connections I have made in this industry are not just limited to my work life but spill into the personal and create an immense amount of satisfaction for my life. The Rising Star Executive award nomination offers me the opportunity to wrestle with my southern upbringing on being humble and my business experience of owning successes. That is what I will claim towards my nomination: pride and humility bound together in what I do. I am proud of my work in the default and policy space. I love what I do and the people I work with. I have a belief that I can make a difference not only in policy but within the lives of those around me within my sphere of influence. For all these reasons, I am proud to be nominated.”

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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