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Women in Housing: Honoring Leadership That Left Its Mark

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, 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, set for Tuesday, September 20 at Noon Central.

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.

We have already introduced the finalists for the Corporate Social Responsibility Award, the Trailblazer Award, the Rising Star Executive Award, the Authentic Leader Award, and today, we focus on those distinguished few nominated for the Laurie A. Maggiano Legacy Award.

Presented to a woman with a minimum of 20 consecutive years of industry experience, the Laurie A. Maggiano Legacy Award recognizes an individual whose accomplishments have left an indelible impact on the industry and positively influenced homeownership within the past year.

Congratulations to the final five nominees for the 2022 Laurie A. Maggiano Legacy Award:

Christina Harrington
President and Co-Founder, Usherpa
What Others Are Saying
“Chris is an exemplary leader, innovative businesswoman, and strong woman advocate. During her impressive 30-year career in the industry, she has led Usherpa since 1995. Usherpa has helped tens of thousands of loan officers and real estate agents increase their production with its Smart CRM. These Realtors and Loan Officers have helped hundreds of thousands of borrowers become homeowners. As a female business owner, she employs a staff of over 2/3 women, and has personally helped mentor and build their careers. Over the past 12 months, with the implementation of Chris' strategy and direction, Usherpa grew more than 25%, attracting several leading companies.”

What This Nomination Means to Her
“While I’m not used to being the focus of attention—my work and passion has always been about creating the very best product that would help our clients be even more successful—I was incredibly honored when I got word of this nomination. Knowing it is based on feedback from my peers makes me so proud to be working in this industry. I’m proud of the work Usherpa does and very proud of the industry partners we’ve made. We work with the best companies, and I’m feel incredibly privileged that they would consider me for this recognition.”

Melissa Kozicki
Director of Compliance, Mortgage Cadence
What Others Are Saying
“Melissa has more than 20 years’ experience in mortgage origination compliance and a decade of mortgage-related software development, testing, and compliance experience. She is an expert at implementing compliance solutions through technology. Melissa has authored numerous mortgage compliance training programs, is a frequent speaker at industry conferences, and is the founder of the Vendor Regulatory Work Group, a forum for technologists to discuss regulatory implementation, meet with regulators, and remain current on the ever-evolving regulatory landscape. She is a member of multiple mortgage associations and committees, and her contributions have been recognized throughout the industry.”

What This Nomination Means to Her
“Passion and purpose are two words I often use to describe my career. I find it so fulfilling to educate and guide our industry’s finest as they work hard to smartly and compliantly navigate the homebuying process. It’s no small feat to keep up with our industry’s ever-evolving laws and policies, which is why I am so passionate about being a trusted resource for the mortgage industry as we all work to serve those looking to achieve the dream of homeownership. I am incredibly honored and grateful to be nominated for the Laurie A. Maggiano Legacy Award and view it as a testament to all the great strides we’ve collectively made to forward our industry.”

Miriam Moore
President of Default Services, ServiceLink
What Others Are Saying
“Miriam Moore encapsulates the spirit of the Laurie A. Maggiano Legacy Award, having spent over 30 years serving the mortgage industry, shattering glass ceilings to become one of its most well-respected leaders today. Over the past year, Moore and her team facilitated thousands of loan modifications (250K+) by providing title reports and generating loan modification documents. These efforts helped provide peace of mind for struggling borrowers previously at risk of losing their homes. Moore also prioritizes giving back. She cofounded a networking/mentoring group for women working in financial services nearly 15 years ago; it is still going strong today.”

What This Nomination Means to Her
“I’m honored to be nominated for The Laurie A. Maggiano Legacy Award. Laurie was an industry trailblazer, a respected leader, and someone who strived to make a positive impact in people’s lives. As a leader, I believe it is important to support and mentor the next generation of leaders. This recognition by Women in Housing is truly an honor and will further enable me to set an example for others in our business to live up to Laurie’s legacy.”

Dawn Svedberg
VP, Head of Fintech Product Sales, Tavant
What Others Are Saying
“With more than 20 years of experience in the mortgage, real estate, and fintech industry, Dawn is constantly seeking automated solutions to lending problems, pushing the boundaries of her responsibilities within Tavant. She is also an active thought leader in the fintech community. Her influence and passion for empowering others are widely felt across the organization. She is dedicated to leading the way in operational and technology efficiency and effectiveness. Additionally, her ability to quickly adapt to ever-changing industry trends and navigate new challenges continues to be an asset to both her team and company. Dawn is at the forefront of Tavant advancements, spearheading critical initiatives in the sales of Tavant's products and services."

What This Nomination Means to Her
“This nomination is meaningful because I am passionate about believing that homeownership is the best path to financial security and wealth. Our work in our industry contributes to making the dream of homeownership a reality. She cares deeply about mentoring women and new entrants into our industry. The support and focus on women’s leadership becomes ever more relevant as we move through challenging market cycles. Women are still far outnumbered in housing, so we must work toward greater inclusivity."

Sandra Thompson
Director, FHFA
What Others Are Saying
“Sandra Thompson was officially sworn in as the official Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, regulators of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, in June 2022. She is an inspiration to many women in the real estate industry. Formerly, she was a Director for FDIC. She encourages women as a leaders to focus and move up the ladder in our industry.” (Editor’s note: See our cover interview with Director Thompson in the April 2022 edition of our sister publication, DS News magazine.)

What This Nomination Means to Her
“Since becoming head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) in 2021, we’ve taken steps to promote sustainable and equitable access to mortgage credit. We have an opportunity to make a real impact on people’s lives by increasing homeownership among historically underserved communities, and we’re working to make every day count. To be recognized for this effort so early on in my tenure as FHFA Director is not just an honor, but further incentive to continue promoting sustainable, equitable access to mortgage credit—in a manner that does not compromise safety and soundness.”

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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