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Women in Housing: Industry Trailblazers Take Center Stage

This piece originally appeared in the September 2022 edition of MReport magazine, online now.

At the upcoming Five Star Conference and Expo’s Women in Housing Leadership Awards Luncheon, set for Tuesday, September 20 at Noon Central, the Five Star Institute will recognize and honor the extraordinary accomplishments of our industry's women executives during the annual Five Star Conference and Expo in Dallas.

Each year, industry colleagues nominate their peers across five categories, and those nominees are then narrowed down further to a final list of finalists. These are the women who are making a difference in the industry and making a mark on their colleagues and team members on a daily basis, both within the workplace and beyond.

Today, we focus on the finalists for The Trailblazer Award, and honor recognizing women leaders who have broken barriers and served as a catalyst for change within their organizations.

Congratulations to the final five nominees for the 2022 Trailblazer Award:

Jaime Burgess
VP Default Servicing, Mr. Cooper
What Others Are Saying
“Jaime Burgess rose swiftly through the ranks at Mr. Cooper, shattering every glass ceiling encountered with grace and ingenuity. Leading by example, she is brilliant, intuitive, empathetic, and engaging. These qualities coupled with Jaime’s significant, well-rounded knowledge base and experience level have earned her the trust and respect of her employees, attorney network, and executive leadership at Mr. Cooper. Jaime has been the architect of sweeping process changes promoting efficiency and mitigation of losses. She sees the 'big picture' and navigates incredibly complicated, sensitive situations with ease, all the while maintaining an industrywide reputation of integrity and professionalism.”

What This Nomination Means to Her
“I hold this nomination in high regard because having a successful career and being a mother are both exceptionally important to me. Having two daughters, they have seen the long hours and hard work I’ve put in to get where I am today, and I am overjoyed to show them and other young women that they can have the career they dream of while having a family if they so choose.”

Kimberly Hare
President, Fay Servicing, LLC
What Others Are Saying
“As the President of Fay Servicing, Kimberly Hare brings decades of experience to the mortgage industry. In her role as an executive leader, Kimberly has transformed how their customers can make payments, and worked to position Fay Servicing as an early adopter for alternative payment methods. Her focus on driving self-service and convenience for Fay Servicing customers is a core initiative, and she has led the development of removing friction while improving ease of use. In addition to ensuring the health of financial results and minimizing risk, Kimberly is committed to creating a more effective and engaging customer experience which solidifies her as an impressive Women in Housing Leader.”

What This Nomination Means to Her
“Being recognized as a 'Trailblazer' is an amazing feeling! My career has been spent evolving and changing technology for employees and customers alike. Providing new options to borrowers to improve satisfaction and self-service capabilities is exciting. I’ve been lucky enough to lead the charge all the way from the first debit cards to mobile apps to QR codes for payments. So, to receive a nomination for embracing 'change' is like adding fuel to my engine to keep forging ahead on that trail.”

Sherri Higuera
SVP, Servicing Technology, The Money Source
What Others Are Saying
“Sherri Higuera exhibits a rare combination of abilities as both a visionary leader with a plan for the future and a practical pragmatist that remains rooted in the real world. As a woman in a male-dominated field and industry, Sherri excels, as evidenced by her mastery of information technology and superb leadership skills, leading and developing a diverse and talented international team. Along with consistently delivering quality products and initiatives that work as designed and delivered promptly, Sherri is the driving force that keeps TMS functioning in the present, yet always ready for tomorrow, ensuring TMS stays ahead of the competition.”

What This Nomination Means to Her
“Striving for excellence and efficiency through technology has been my passion since I entered the industry over 20 years ago. However, as a female in the male-dominated technology space, I learned early on that I had to approach things with a different perspective to have an impact. For most of my career, it has been challenging to convince leaders that there is a more cost-efficient and effective way to do things by using technology. However, at The Money Source, I work with a senior leadership team that understands the importance that innovation can bring to an organization and together with the exceptional teams I manage, we are able to build the unthinkable. I love what I do, and I am humbled by this nomination.”

Kelly MacDonald
SVP, Director of Late-Stage Default, M&T Bank
What Others Are Saying
“Kelly MacDonald has created an exceptional career for herself by successfully traversing extremely complex and often contradictory regulations and guidelines while working in both mortgage originations and servicing over the past 30 years. A key to her success has been the constant of keeping the customers’ interest at the forefront of her decision-making. She sees beyond the language of a 'rule' to truly understand the intent and takes whatever steps are necessary to do the right thing. Kelly actively shares her experience with others and is vocal in raising both concerns and questions to highlight areas of risk for both our organization and the industry. She leads with a strong moral compass that allows others to easily follow.”

What This Nomination Means to Her
“It is an honor to be a finalist for the 2022 Women in Housing Trailblazer Award, particularly in an industry in which there are so many remarkable and successful women in leadership. During my 30-year career in mortgage, I’ve been fortunate to be a part of M&T, where the substance of one’s contribution is truly valued, and I am always encouraged to do the right thing for our customers as well as our employees. Nothing is more satisfying to me than being able to make a difference, whether it be protecting our communities from blighted properties, helping customers stay in their homes, or mentoring young women to help them reach their potential. It is this desire to help others grow that inspired me to create an internal program for our young leaders that fosters their professional development and helps them reach their goals. It has been a truly inspiring experience leading this program because I found that I have learned as much from them as they learned from me.”

Cecelia Raine
VP, Servicing Strategy & Integration, Freddie Mac
What Others Are Saying
“Cecelia Raine has been a leader in the mortgage industry for 35 years, and in her four years at Freddie Mac, she has been integral in some of the most transformative servicing technology initiatives for the company. Raine influenced the creation of Reimagine Servicing, one of Freddie Mac’s biggest, most effective, and successful recent initiatives and one of the largest investments in servicing in 10 years. Through new technology solutions, process changes, and data integration, she’s leading the way to minimize credit losses, reduce costs, and support sustainable homeownership and stability in the housing market. Raine also helped launch Resolve, the integrated default management platform. Resolve, launched in late 2020, is groundbreaking in servicing because it delivers real-time eligibility decisioning on workout options through APIs.”

What This Nomination Means to Her
“This nomination is an honor that represents the culmination and success of hundreds of team members across Freddie Mac working toward a common vision. Several years ago, our leaders recognized the need to transform the way we worked as a team and how we work together with the industry in servicing. This effort resulted in Freddie Mac’s commitment and investment in tools that brought innovation into the servicing ecosystem. We are honored to be recognized by the Five Star Conference and thank the many partners who joined Freddie Mac’s change journey to transform our client’s experience, elevate our mission and be ready for whatever the future holds.”

Click here for more information or to register for the 2022 Women in Housing Leadership Awards Luncheon, Tuesday, September 20 at Noon Central.

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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