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Recognizing the Future Leadership of the Mortgage Industry

The Five Star Institute is just days away from celebrating the 20th anniversary edition of the Five Star Conference & Expo, set for September 18-20 at the Hyatt Regency Dallas.

At the event, Five Star will host the 12th Annual Women in Housing Leadership Awards event, recognizing the achievements of remarkable businesswomen whose contributions continue to impact the housing and mortgage servicing industry. The program will include a special keynote presentation, brought to you by Auction.com, featuring the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Assistant Secretary for Housing and Federal Housing Commissioner, Julia R. Gordon. Following the keynote will be the highly anticipated “Inside the She-Suite” discussion led by Wells Fargo's Head of Home Loan Servicing, Ann Thorn, that features the industry’s top-ranking female executives addressing the challenges and successes of breaking through the glass ceiling and into the corner office.

Today, we will introduce Five Star’s finalists for the Rising Star Executive Award, an honor recognizing young women leaders who, while still early in their careers, have demonstrated an outstanding capability to lead and drive progress. Each finalist has a minimum of 10 years’ consecutive industry experience.

Congratulations to the following for being recognized by their peers for the distinction of the Rising Star Executive Award:

Micole Booker
AVP, Senior Preservation & Post-Sale Disposition Manager
Flagstar Bank
What People Are Saying
“If there ever was a rising star, it is Micole Booker. She is all of the things that employers are looking for, along with what employees strive to connect with. She is a force to be reckoned with. Micole really started making an impact while with her former employer, Quicken Loans, currently known as Rocket Mortgage, where she was a nine-time recipient winner of the E2A award for innovation and process improvements. Micole is an expert in vendor relationships. She works tirelessly to seek opportunities for her team. Although she is our manager, we would better describe her as our leader, always pushing towards the next level.”

What This Nomination Means to Her
“This nomination for the Rising Star Award means so much to me. As a woman of color and a mother, I have come across so many obstacles in my career. My whole journey has been about being the kind of leader who brings their whole self to work, with the understanding that it may not always look like what ‘success’ is typically defined as. I have worked hard and had help to do the work within myself for the accountability, integrity, grit, and grace it takes to be able to freely be myself—and shine in doing so. This nomination is a reminder that all the hard work was meaningful and that I have accomplished what I set out to do, which was to lead by example and show others that you can accomplish your dreams while being your most authentic self.”

Stephanie Budnik, AMP
Senior Business Partner, National Accounts
Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation (MGIC)
What People Are Saying
“It is my privilege to nominate Stephanie Budnik for the Rising Star Executive Award at the 2023 Women in Housing Conference. Stephanie embodies what it means to be an exemplary leader and demonstrates a passion to mentor women that strive to be the next generation of influential women in the finance industry, including being selfless in her relentless pursuit to turnaround and extend her hand to those coming up behind her.”

What This Nomination Means to Her
“Receiving a nomination for this award is a humbling, meaningful experience. To me, it signifies not only a recognition of my efforts but also a validation of the passion and dedication I have and will continue to pour into my work. This nomination serves as a powerful affirmation that my contributions have resonated with others and made a positive impact within my organization and the industry. I came into the industry with no knowledge of the mortgage world and tirelessly worked to learn as much as I could. I had to work hard, ask questions, be innovative, and be committed to doing more. This also strengthens my determination to push the boundaries of what I can achieve, to inspire others to pursue their aspirations, and to not be afraid to challenge the status quo. I am truly grateful to those who have supported and believed in me, and I see this as an opportunity to further elevate the goals that drive me. It serves as a reminder that each step we take can lead to something greater.”

Mariana Gollaher
Senior Manager, Credit and Year-End Reporting & SCRA
PHH Mortgage
What People Are Saying
“Mariana joined Ocwen/PHH in 2015 as a Year-End Reporting Analyst. Although new to the mortgage industry, after only eight months, she was promoted to supervisor over Credit and Year-End Reporting, then to Manager, adding the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) Team under her leadership. Since May 2021, she has been a Senior Manager overseeing all SCRA, Credit and Year-End Reporting functions for forward and reverse. She has self-led dozens of projects to improve efficiency and accuracy and gain cost savings, including the Year-End Reporting Projects. For her continued growth in responsibility, overcoming project challenges, and exceeding goals each year, Mariana is a highly qualified nominee for the Rising Star Executive Award.”

What This Nomination Means to Her
“My path to the mortgage servicing industry has been a winding one. I enjoy continually learning new things and thrive on the challenge of finding ways to be more efficient and compliant with regulations. Throughout this journey, it has been incredibly rewarding to connect with other women and support each other by sharing our experiences. This nomination is an honor above what I could have even dreamed of a few years ago when I started working in the industry. It is an affirmation that I am doing things right. It encourages me to continue to move forward and hold hands with other strong women in the industry, bringing them with me as I rise. Consideration for the esteemed Rising Star Executive Award motivates me to keep climbing and never give up.”

Julia Keys
VP of Business Development
Orlans PC
What People Are Saying
"We have an outstanding candidate for the esteemed Rising Star Executive Award: Julia Keys. She has consistently showcased exceptional skills and achievements as an operations and client relationship executive. Throughout her career, Julia has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to excellence. She has made remarkable contributions in every role she has held, showcasing her dedication to achieving outstanding results and driving organizational growth. Julia's ability to build strong relationships with clients is unparalleled. She goes above and beyond to understand their needs, ensuring that their expectations are not only met but exceeded. Her remarkable communication skills enable her to effectively collaborate with cross-functional teams, fostering a collaborative and inclusive work environment. Her extensive experience, exceptional leadership abilities, and commitment to excellence make Julia an outstanding nominee. Recognizing Julia's exceptional talents and accomplishments will not only honor her achievements but also inspire other aspiring professionals in the industry."

What This Nomination Means to Her
"I am incredibly honored to be named as a finalist for the Rising Star Executive, Women in Housing Leadership Award among such talented women in the housing and financial industry. This nomination fills me with deep appreciation and is a direct indication that my hard work and dedication of 24 years has not gone unnoticed. Being recognized as a finalist for this prestigious award motivates me to strive for excellence and further contribute to advancing women's leadership in the housing sector. I hope that each finalist and all women across our industry celebrate this moment together as we continue to push boundaries, break barriers, and embrace new challenges. I am humbled by this incredible opportunity to showcase my talents and achievements, and I couldn't have reached this milestone without the support of so many remarkable leaders who believe in me. I promise to use this platform to inspire others, champion diversity, and foster inclusive leadership practices within our industry. I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to each one of you who has supported me throughout this journey. Your encouragement, mentorship, and confidence in my abilities have played a pivotal role in shaping my career."

Mahtab Sobhani
Technical Project Management Principal
What People Are Saying
“Matti’s technical precision to stand up projects that require cross-functionality among multiple departments has been a crucial component in Sagent’s growth and success as we continue building and executing on our future-of-servicing model. Matti is more than just a leader among the tech and engineering teams; but a pillar at Sagent and in our industry. Matti embodies Sagent’s core values in every project she tackles: She relentlessly pushes her team to create opportunities that further our mission to lead the evolution in loan servicing by solving its most complex challenges; keeps Sagent relevant by constantly innovating our processes; and tying it together—her reliability to get these projects done, support her team, and the industry at large is unmatched.”

What the Nomination Means to Her
“When I first came to know that I was nominated for this award by Sagent’s Chief of Staff, Priya Seenath, I was super excited. Being in the mortgage industry for five years, I have built a resilient network aimed at providing technologies and solutions with the mission of keeping the spirit of home ownership alive. My ability to bring people together and work towards goals has been instrumental in jump-starting my career in project management, especially in a highly collaborative and fast-paced sector of technology. This nomination on its own is such a privilege and honor in that it symbolizes recognition of my potential at an industry-wide level. I appreciate the opportunity given and hope to inspire others with a similar background.”

Click here for more information on the 20th Annual Five Star Conference & Expo, and click here for more information on the Women in Housing Leadership Awards luncheon.

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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