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Five Star Partners With Industry to Launch Mortgage Diversity Council

The Five Star Institute has announced the launch of the American Mortgage Diversity Council (AMDC), a member organization comprised of industry leaders and advocates focused on shaping the diversity agenda for the mortgage industry.

The AMDC's goal is to drive results that support the application and promotion of the mortgage industry's best diversity practices, and advancing solutions that support initiatives outlined by Section 342 of the Dodd-Frank Act–which focuses on minority and inclusion rules that call for greater supply chain diversity and greater diversity in hiring and promoting in the workforce.

Michael Ruiz, Director of Corporate Procurement with Fannie Mae, has been appointed the chairman of the AMDC for the 2015 through 2017 term. With more than 20 years’ experience promoting diversity initiatives in the mortgage industry, Ruiz is an expert on government contracting and minority and women business programs. He has a bachelor's degree in history from Yale University and a master's in finance, marketing, and international business from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“I am honored to be appointed as chairman of the American Mortgage Diversity Council," Ruiz said. "The introduction of this organization comes at a time when the industry can universally benefit from an organized effort to make marked improvement in the area of diversity and inclusion. I look forward to a rewarding year as we work cross functionally to define the platform for the organization and champion the diversity initiative for the industry.”

In his position as chairman of the AMDC, Ruiz's goal will be to elevate the visibility of the Council's mission and to guide its leadership.

“This is an industry-wide commitment that will have important and sustainable benefits for our members and mortgage professionals at large,” said Ed Delgado, president and CEO of the Five Star Institute. “Mike’s expertise and industry perspectives are invaluable and necessary as the incoming chairman, we are honored that he has accepted this position.”

Section 342 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 calls for several government agencies to establish an Office of Minority and Women Inclusion. U.S. Representative Maxine Waters, a proponent of the legislation, said its purpose is to “not only give oversight to diversity, but to help the Agencies understand how to do outreach [and] how to appeal to different communities.” The legislation requires inclusion in all levels of business activities and applies to contracts of the agencies for services of any kind, such as from financial institutions, investment banking firms, mortgage banking firms, asset management firms, brokers, dealers, financial services entities, underwriters, accountants, investment consultants, and providers of legal services.

Agencies covered by Section 342 of Dodd-Frank are the 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the National Credit Union Administration, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Department of the Treasury.

"A strong diversity program helps Freddie Mac’s business and allows us to more effectively meet the needs of all the communities we serve," Freddie Mac CEO Donald H. Layton said in a statement.

Government agencies are not the only entities on board with the diversity initiative, however. Many financial institutions, mortgage servicers, and law firms that serve the mortgage industry are already focused on instituting best practices when it comes to diversity and inclusion.

"Because our customer base at Nationstar is a diverse one, we think it's important for our employees to reflect diversity, too," said Dana Dillard, EVP and Chief Customer Officer at Lewisville, Texas-based servicer Nationstar Mortgage. "So we have worked hard to create a diverse work force and are proud of the team we have put together. In terms of race, for example, our employee population is 53 percent non-Caucasian. From a generational perspective, 47 percent of our staff members are millennials, and as far as gender, 52 percent of our team members are women. We truly have a diverse workforce, and we all enjoy the benefits of working in such a culturally rich environment."

Tami Rund, President of woman-owned Colorado-based Asset Valuation & Marketing, says, “New and innovative ideas help create industry growth, diversity within an industry broadens the idea pool fostering exciting and original concepts from people with a broad range of backgrounds and experiences. Exceptional leaders understand that every person, regardless of their race, religion or sexual orientation, has faced and overcome different challenges in their life, and offer unique strengths and talents. Exceptional companies find a way to unite and apply those strengths to accelerate their growth.”

Lawrence Zielke, managing partner with Minnesota-based firm Shapiro & Zielke, said, " The 'American Dream' of owning a home and making a better life for our children is not exclusive, but inclusive to all stakeholders in this dream. It is especially critical for new immigrant populations to feel they have a stake in their neighborhoods, the greater community and America at large. America is still the great melting pot, and to bring all of these divergent groups under the home ownership umbrella is an excellent way for all people to assimilate into the great American Experiment."

Mike Woods, assistant VP and managing attorney with Michigan-based firm Potestivo & Associates, said of the AMDC, "At Potestivo & Associates, P.C. we are committed to promoting diversity not only at the firm level, but at industry level as well. Bringing together people and ideas of different cultures, backgrounds, and beliefs is a wonderful means for offering awareness, education, support, and training for the mortgage industry and its need for continuing diversity programs. We are proud of the Five Star Institute’s new American Mortgage Diversity Council and look forward to working with them to achieve new breakthroughs in diversity programs, education, and awareness for the industry."

The American Mortgage Diversity Council's Inaugural Fall Summit will take place at the Five Star Conference & Expo on September 16, 2015, at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, Texas. Items discussed will be Dodd-Frank Section 342 guidelines, developing inclusive business partnerships, creating supply chain diversity, demonstrating good faith efforts, and other best practices.

About Author: Seth Welborn

Seth Welborn is a Harding University graduate with a degree in English and a minor in writing. He is a contributing writer for MReport. An East Texas Native, he has studied abroad in Athens, Greece and works part-time as a photographer.
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