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The Top 25 Leaders and Influencers, Part 3

Editor’s note: This feature appeared in the February issue of MReport, out now.

In the third part of this series, MReport recognizes the top leaders and influencers of the industry. Compiled from nominations submitted by industry professionals, the “Top 25 Industry Leaders & Influencers” list recognizes those individuals who are guiding by example, thinking outside the box in ways that are shaping the industry’s path forward, and still maintaining that personal touch that ensures their team members feel supported, inspired, and recognized.

Dana Dillard


Years in the Industry: 25+

In her more than two decades of serving the mortgage industry in different capacities, Dana Dillard has impacted many lives through her mentorship, volunteerism, and championing of the American Dream of homeownership. Before joining Mr. Cooper in 2013, Dillard managed REO, Liquidations, and Community Outreach teams during the peak of the housing crisis at GMAC RESCAP. From 2008–2010, she also led outreach efforts at HOPENOW, where she traveled across the country talking to hundreds of struggling families. Dillard received the Five Star Institute’s Humanitarian Award in 2009 for these efforts, and in 2018 she was a finalist for the Laurie A. Maggiano Legacy Award at the annual Five Star Conference. A strong advocate for positive cultural experiences, Dillard recently started the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Mr. Cooper and led the founding and management of 11 employee resource teams. “This topic of gender, diversity, and race, we just don’t talk about it very much,” she told MReport. As a leader, Dillard combines her deep track record of success with a forward-thinking commitment to help Mr. Cooper’s customers realize their dreams of homeownership. Her qualities as a spirited communicator, a collaborative problem solver, and a results-oriented operator have helped her break problems into actionable steps where both Mr. Cooper’s team members’ and their customers’ needs are met. These qualities have also helped her in mentoring countless female professionals while providing the resources they need to succeed. A leader who is known for her upbeat spirit, Dillard says that leading others through change and challenging times has been the cornerstone of her success.


Michael Dubeck


Years in the Industry: 30+

Michael Dubeck’s vision for success stems from a long and successful career on Wall Street starting with First Boston (now Credit Suisse) and culminating as a managing director at Morgan Stanley. He left Wall Street to become CEO and President of Planet Financial Group. At a time when many mortgage banking companies are shrinking, seeking mergers, or leaving the industry, Planet Home Lending has grown thanks to Dubeck’s strategic industry insight and leadership. During the past 15 months, he’s launched a successful distributed retail channel, expanded the firm’s renovation lending channel to new states, repositioned its 203(k) renovation division to address current real estate market challenges, and added multiple subservicing clients. He is a listener and sincerely cares about how all employees and business partners are affected by his decisions. He takes feedback seriously and does his best to make the necessary changes, improvements, and adjustments. Dubeck participates in the company’s Adopt-a-Branch mentoring program, as do all the executive leaders at Planet, which helps him stay connected to front-line employees. A key facet to his leadership style is trust. Dubeck allows people to flourish and succeed by letting them “do their thing.” He has confidence in the people he hires and treats everyone like part of the team. Dubeck is collaborative, inclusive, positive, and consistent. He wants to see growth and development in employees and is willing to promote those who exceed expectations. The company’s stance on diversity is reflected from executive leadership through all levels of the organization.


Lori Eshoo


Years in the Industry: 35

Lori Eshoo is an innovator, entrepreneur, and leader who has an exemplary record of success in service to her customers, leadership in the mortgage lending and servicing industry, and inspiration for women in business. Eshoo’s business acumen, experience, and judgment have set the standard in commercial and residential property tax management, valuation, and compliance. She revolutionized tax servicing in 1997 when she founded National Tax Search, building the industry’s most comprehensive, full-service technology platform to automate complex tax management processes. Under her leadership, NTS has reduced risk and saved lenders and investors millions in potential loss. Under Eshoo’s direction, the company has identified over $223 million in delinquent and sold taxes, dramatically reducing risk for her clients. Eshoo also has unmatched expertise and personal commitment to client success, and uniquely guarantees accuracy for her customers. Under her direction, her team has built a powerful technology platform, that streamlines tax, flood, and HOA research and payment processes. NTS has become one of the largest, most influential tax servicing organizations in the nation, serving hundreds of clients in the U.S. and its territories. In addition to building National Tax Search, Eshoo is also active elsewhere in the industry. She has won the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award and was named to the Ernst and Young Hall of Fame. She has received American Business Stevies Awards for the International Women Entrepreneurs in Technology and Best Entrepreneur in Business under 100 Employees. NTS is a certified Women-Owned Business (WBENC) and Eshoo is a board member of the American Mortgage Diversity Council.


Yvette Gilmore


Years in the Industry: 35

As Freddie Mac’s SVP of Servicer Relationship and Performance Management in the Single-Family portfolio, Yvette Gilmore is responsible for monitoring and reporting on the performance of more than 1,200 servicers across the country. She leads a strong team that provides the strategic direction and policy that guide efforts to preserve homeownership across America and facilitates innovative and evolving servicing industry change. The policies enable the execution of servicing products and programs to support the performance of Freddie Mac’s $1.9 trillion Single-Family guarantee portfolio, with an overarching goal of reducing credit losses and preserving communities through responsible loss mitigation and liquidation. Gilmore is working with its customers and partners to keep Freddie Mac as the leader in service innovation. “Rapidly evolving technological trends, including customized client service and increased automation, have the potential to revolutionize and modernize our industry,” Gilmore said. She joined Freddie Mac in 2006 as a Non-Performing Loans Director. Previously, she served as VP of Collections and Loss Mitigation for IndyMac Bank. She’s held leadership positions in default servicing at Washington Mutual, Aames Financial, and Glendale Federal Bank. Within Freddie, Gilmore continues to work to develop servicing standards to improve the experience for borrowers and servicers, helping to provide more consistent and efficient interactions. “Freddie Mac is committed to making the overall mortgage experience easier, more cost-effective and more efficient. We are improving the mortgage servicing experience by collaborating with our servicers,” Gilmore added. “The only way we can move the mortgage servicing industry forward is together.”


Cara Hardy


Years in the Industry: 10+

Cara Hardy is described by her peers as “a transformational leader” who mentors her team and pushes them to grow and expand their knowledge base. At Statebridge, Hardy has taken over leadership roles in several departments, including Legal, Loss Mitigation, Bankruptcy, Foreclosure, and Default. Under her leadership, each department became streamlined, more compliant, and better functioning. Hardy works diligently with her teams to ensure they have the tools they need and that they understand how to use them. She is a fighter for her teams and will work with individuals to make sure they can thrive in their role. When an employee is struggling, Hardy sets out clear and understandable goals and expectations; when employees excel, she is quick to recognize them both within and beyond the team itself. When she believes a team member is worthy of promotion, she will passionately and consistently go to bat for that team member. Hardy also excels at thinking outside of the box. While she lets her departments have fun while pushing individuals to their fullest potential, she always keeps the ultimate goals in sight. When it comes to hiring, Hardy focuses on one question: does she think this person has the potential and the skills to do the job. She encourages everyone on her teams to make their voices heard and strives to consider the value of all perspectives, even if they do not align with hers. Hardy was recognized and honored at the 2018 Women in Housing Leadership Awards hosted during the Five Star Conference.

About Author: David Wharton

David Wharton, Editor-in-Chief at the Five Star Institute, is a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington, where he received his B.A. in English and minored in Journalism. Wharton has nearly 20 years' experience in journalism and previously worked at Thomson Reuters, a multinational mass media and information firm, as Associate Content Editor, focusing on producing media content related to tax and accounting principles and government rules and regulations for accounting professionals. Wharton has an extensive and diversified portfolio of freelance material, with published contributions in both online and print media publications. He can be reached at David.Wharton@thefivestar.com.

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