In a year of challenges, it’s all the more important to recognize excellence. One way we do this at MReport is our annual September Women in Housing issue. Packed with content driven by female mortgage leaders, within this edition we also announced the 2020 Keystone Award finalists.
Throughout the next few weeks we will be rolling out profiles on the women who were recognized as finalists in each of the five Keystone categories. Today we bring you the finalists for the Community Leader Award. This award acknowledges individuals who displayed tremendous leadership and cooperation in local communities. This includes all commendable community achievements by those in the non-profit, government, small business, and corporate sectors. Finalists must have a minimum 10 years’ consecutive industry experience to qualify for this award.
To read the rest of the finalist profiles click here—and stay tuned to the October issue of MReport where we will reveal which of these deserving women will take home the Community Leader award.
Caren Castle, Senior Managing Bankruptcy Attorney, The Wolf Firm
Caren Castle’s effective management skills coupled with over 25 years of marketing experience boasts an outstanding record of cultivating and managing relationships. Over Castle’s career, she has been a mentor to many working with several different mentorship programs. Castle has contributed her time and funds to many charities including Habitat for Humanity, Animal Rescue organizations, being on the board of a Breast Cancer support charity organization, Susan G. Komen fund, City of Hope, CHOC, and many others.
Having entered the mortgage industry over 35 years ago, Caren Castle has often found herself as the only female attorney in many meetings, boardrooms, and conferences. Rather than slowing her down, this has only spurred her to be the change in the industry that she wishes to see. Her impact on the legal community is clear—she was the first female President of USFN and the first Chairperson of the Legal League 100 Advisory Board, which she still sits on today.
“I’m happy to say that [the industry] has certainly changed over the years, and I hope that I have played some small role in creating an easier path for the women who have
followed. I have been fortunate to have traveled throughout the country, been invited to speak on behalf of the industry, as well as to members of the industry,” Castle told MReport.
For Castle, inclusion and community investment is a priority. “Raising consciousness around diversity in the workplace continues to be an important issue,” Castle said.
Jodi Gaines, Chief Client Officer and EVP of Government Relations and Business Development, Insight One Financial; Vice Chair, AMDC
Jodi Gaines brings more than 30 years’ experience to the mortgage servicing community and is widely recognized as one of the most trusted thought leaders in the industry. Gaines began in 1989 in the claims Department at Anchor Mortgage Services. She continued with stints at companies including Dime Savings Bank, North American Mortgage, and Washington Mutual. By 2002, she co-founded Claims Recovery Financial Services with one employee while working out of her home. By 2019, the company had more than 200 employees, processing thousands of claims each month.
Gaines has been a prominent leader within the servicing industry, serving as Vice Chair of the AMDC, co-chairing the MBA’s FHA Claims Committee, and serving on the trade group’s Loan Administration Committee. Within the New York MBA, she is Chair of the NYMBA Loan Servicing Committee and a member of the organization’s board of directors and executive board of directors. Gaines has volunteered with the United Way for over 25 years. She joined Insight One Financial when it launched in 2019.
"I’m honored to be considered for this award," Gaines said. "Partnering and collaborating with stakeholders at every level in order to provide safe, secure communities is something I’m very passionate about. Studies show that a safe environment allows one to focus on studies or work which helps ensure stability.
I’m very fortunate to work alongside some amazing people that share these same beliefs, and I’m fortunate to work for a company that supports my commitment and efforts to make a difference."
Aparna Kadari, Manager, InfoSec Operations Support & Endpoint Security Engineering, Fannie Mae
An only child born to middle-class educator parents in India, Aparna Kadari says the ideologies of sharing, caring, and paying it forward were inculcated for as long as she can remember. "When I came to the United States 20 years ago, I had difficulty acclimating and finding the right resources and basic support. If it were not for my host parents and my professors, mentors, and fellow local students, I would not have survived. That is when I knew I had to help others in whatever way I could.”
Fast-forward to today and Kadari continues to delight in defying expectations. At Fannie Mae, she is one of the most prominent women leaders within the information security sector. Kadari is cognizant of the traditional barriers that women face. She has more than 16 years' leadership in Information Technology and takes it upon herself to mentor and coach the next generation of women professionals while remaining a life- long learner.
Kadari volunteers with Girls Who Code and Code Loudoun. Kadari also served as a Girls in Technology Mentor for the Protégé Program for STEM Girls and currently serves with Women in Technology's national Mentor Protégé Program.
In addition to her blog channel, Kadari is a poet with four anthologies to her credit published for nonprofit causes like the Education to Girl Child project in India and childhood cancer.
“Receiving this award nomination is an honor, a symbol of gratitude and motivation towards greater responsibility. If I can, anyone can—I hope this inspires many more women like me to contribute to the progress of the community, to serve and it pay-forward.”
Hattie Sharp, SVP Strategic Performance Management & Business Development, Auction.com
In her role at Auction.com, Hattie Sharp is no stranger to community involvement—and is the go-to liaison for her clients. Co-workers have said of Hattie that she is “always willing to learn,” “offers unique solutions to problems,” and “is a strong leader that is able to understand challenges and overcome them to reach goals.”
Prior to Auction.com, Hattie was SVP of REO at Bank of America and also has tenure with GMAC ResCap. She is a Oklahoma State University Graduate with a Bachelor’s of Science in marketing.
For Hattie, building communities isn’t just a 9 to 5 job. Her church leads the local charge to help refugees settling in Dallas, one of the busiest and friendliest refugee cities. Hattie teaches English to refugees, helping them acclimate to American life and succeed in their new communities.
Hattie works one-on-one with her ESL students, getting them comfortable with their new language, and giving them the confidence needed to find jobs or go to school. Benevolent with her time, she volunteers selflessly for company programs that support community, housing, and veteran causes.
Hattie exemplifies the spirit of Auction. com’s “Cares” initiative, which encourages the support of neighborhoods beyond the sale. “When housing, neighborhoods. and families flourish, the spirit of community is one of hope and success,” reads Auction.com’s mission statement.
Lynley VanSingel, SVP, Learning and Organizational Development, First Guaranty Mortgage Corp.
During the past year, Lynley VanSingel has made a profound impact on the corporate culture at First Guaranty Mortgage Corporation (FGMC). Having identified gaps in the employee experience and engagement programs, she spearheaded the effort to create a new program called Pulse. Pulse includes initiatives such as an annual employee satisfaction survey, a council of high potential employees to help guide corporate initiatives, and coffee chats with executives to bridge the divide between management and workforce.
“Our employees are the drivers of our success,” she said. “I am hyper-focused on supporting and developing initiatives that foster connection for our team members. Using a collaborative approach, I work with others to deploy platforms that capture every person’s voice across all levels of the firm and result in actionable ways to level up our employee experience and customer service.”
Furthermore, VanSingel organized the corporate charitable partnership with local chapters of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), a nonprofit that serves abused and neglected children in foster care and advocates for them in the local court system. Through this partnership, FGMC now provides eight paid volunteer hours for employees and fundraising opportunities throughout the year to get involved in. VanSingel’s passion for people is felt throughout her entire organization.