Congratulations to the 2020 NAWRB Leadership Award Winners!

Women in the Housing & Real Estate Ecosystem (NAWRB) is pleased to announce the Winners of the 2020 NAWRB Leadership Awards! After weeks of reviewing incredible candidates, we narrowed it down to these exceptional women leaders in the Housing & Real Estate Ecosystem who are utilizing their expertise, passion and drive to Redefine Leadership and facilitate additional growth in their industry and local communities.

“We are honored here at NAWRB to leverage our unique bandwidth to connect these incredible leaders to create greater social impact with solutions,” stated Desiree Patno, CEO.


Corporate Board Leader: Terry Bayer

Terry Bayer – Board of Directors, California Water Service Group

Terry Bayer has served on the board of California Water Service Group since 2014 and previously served on the Board of Apria Healthcare Group, Inc. from 2006 to 2008 — where she chaired the compliance committee and was a member of the compensation committee. Former Chief Operating Officer (COO) for Molina Healthcare, Inc., a publicly held managed care insurance provider, from 2005 to 2018. She also held management positions at Family Health Plan (FHP), Maxicare, Matria Healthcare, and AccentCare, Inc. She earned her Juris Doctor Degree from Stanford University, her Master’s in Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley, and her Bachelor’s in Communication from Northwestern University. Terry has many years of experience as an operating executive with a strong focus on government program compliance, public health and administration, as well as customer service. Her significant background and experience in healthcare support the Cal-Water efforts in overseeing and advising on employee health matters. Her previous experience as a director of Apria Healthcare Group reinforces her perspective from the board level.

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Diversity & Inclusion Leader: Tami Bonnell

Tami Bonnell – CEO, EXIT Realty Corp International

EXIT Realty Corp International’s CEO Tami Bonnell is an internationally renowned leader in the real estate industry and was instrumental in building three major brands. Among her many achievements, she was recognized by Real Estate trend watcher, Stephan Swanepoel, three years consecutively as one of the 200 most powerful and influential people in residential real estate, among the top 20 corporate executives and among the top 10 women leaders. Bonnell has been a featured speaker at the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTOR’S® convention to the Top 500 power brokers, The National Women’s Council REALTORS®, Inman News Connect Conference and the RIS Media’s Leadership Conference. She was also named to the National Association of Women in Housing & Real Estate Ecosystem ( NAWRB) Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Council (NDLIC). Bonnell is a 30 plus year veteran of the real estate industry and joined EXIT Realty in 1999. She was later appointed Chief Executive Officer in 2012. She is a wife, mother of three, and grandmother of three. In her spare time, she is a martial artist, coach, and referee.

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Mentor Leader:  Fabiola Candlish

Fabiola Candlish – Senior CRA Mortgage Branch Manager, US Bank

Fabiola Candlish is the CRA Branch Manager at US Bank. Candlish has over 10 years of experience in the mortgage industry as well as the non-profit industry and is a part of many organizations within her community. She is the 2020 President for the NAMMBA (National Association of Minority Mortgage Bankers of America) Chicago Chapter and is also the sitting president for the Oak Park Regional Housing agency which advocates for housing civil rights. Furthermore, she is the Vice-Chair for the West Side Banker’s council and on the advisory board of the Otis Monroe Foundation. Candlish currently serves as the Treasurer for the national trade organization, VAREP (Veterans’ Association of Real Estate Professionals).



Women-Owned Business Leader: Nicole Cober, Esquire

Nicole Cober – Principle Managing Partner, Cober Johnson & Romney

Nicole Cober, Esquire is the Principal Managing Partner of Cober Johnson & Romney, an award-winning legal & business consulting firm. She is an executive coach and business strategist who specializes in developing management, legal, and branding strategies for leaders in the business world. She is currently serving as a member of the National Women’s Business Council, a bipartisan council that advises the White House, Congress, and the SBA on matters concerning women in business. Cober’s first book, CEO of My Soul, was published in 2016 and blends valuable business advice with true accounts of relationships struggles, family triumphs, and self-refection. No matter the platform, Cober is regarded as an expert on business matters & personal success strategy.

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Commercial Leader: Gina Diez Barroso

Gina Diez Barroso – President & CEO, Grupo Diarq

Gina Diez Barroso is an entrepreneur and philanthropist committed to the development of design and innovation projects in Mexico. She is the founder of Diarq Holdings, one of the most important design and real estate development companies with offices in Mexico and the United States. Barroso is also the president and founder of CENTRO, the first university in Mexico focused on creative education, and Dalia Empower, a global initiative that helps women achieve their goals. She has been an Executive Board member of several companies and an advisor for numerous organizations. Diez Barroso is the only Latin American woman member of, Women’s Executive Leadership Organization, and WPO and WCD. She is currently the representative of Mexico at the W20 women’s initiative of the G20.

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Technology & STEM Leader: Stephanie Durflinger

Stephanie Durflinger – EVP – Chief Product Officer, Sagent Lending Technologies

Stephanie Durflinger is the EVP – Chief Product Officer at Sagent Lending Technologies, a financial services technology company. She is responsible for the value-creating strategy and aspires to help her community achieve their goals by improving the overall lending experience for all borrowers.

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Residential Leader: DeAnn Golden

DeAnn Golden – Senior VP & Managing Broker, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties

DeAnn Golden is the Senior VP & Managing Broker at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties. She is a trainer and coach at heart. She believes every day should be filled with learning and discovery “to come alive” more and more in life. Her passion is training others to develop their talents and is often found in classroom teaching or coaching or mentoring others. She lives every day knowing that “training transfers knowledge but coaching transforms people.” Culture and engagement permeate her offices which were reengineered into “Smart Offices” with her passion to elevate the highly productive, mobile empowered agent. She became a licensed Georgia real estate sales associate in 1995 after she earned an MBA at the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business with a concentration in real estate, marketing, and strategic management. DeAnn was brought up in the real estate business, helping her broker-mother at age 8 years old with open houses and her direct mail campaigns. Early on she learned that to be successful in the business you must invest yourself to enrich the personal contacts you develop and then respect their best interests with integrity, passion, and dedication.

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Finance Leader: Twyla R. Hankins

Twyla R. Hankins – EVP – Operations, American Financial Network, Inc.

Twyla Hankins is a mortgage operations executive nearing four decades of experience in the industry. Hankins possesses a big-picture vision that allows her to oversee and direct operations personnel in best practices and keep all departments running efficiently and harmoniously. Hankins joined AFN in 2010. During her decade with the company, it has grown exponentially. Now licensed in all 50 states plus D.C., the company’s reach has expanded across the nation as families from coast to coast turn to AFN for financing the American dream. She was personally recognized by Housing Wire Magazine’s Women of Influence (awarded 2017) and National Mortgage Professional Magazine’s Most Powerful Women in Mortgage (awarded 2019). Hankins is an accomplished, purposeful, and successful leader who makes it her mission to recruit and develop ambitious individuals who share her passion and desire for ultimate personal and professional success. Over the course of her career, Hankins has influenced dozens of up-and-coming professionals, helping to launch and develop the careers of young women (and men) who aspire to assume leadership roles and make a difference in their communities as well as their careers.

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Nonprofit Leader: Hyepin Im

Hyepin Im – President/CEO & Founder, Faith and Empowerment Community

Hyepin Im is a former U.S. Presidential Appointee on the Board of the Corporation for National and Community Service and serves as President and Founder of Faith and Community Empowerment (formerly KCCD), a national nonprofit involved in empowering churches and nonprofits to leverage their resources by building capacity, leadership, and partnerships in economic development and serving as a bridge between the Asian American community and the greater community at large. Im has presented at numerous conferences including at the White House, U.S. Department of Labor, Christian Community Development Association, and Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco. She currently serves on the Mayor’s Interfaith Collective, Community Advisory Board of MUFG Union Bank and Torrey Pines Bank, U.S. Army Advisory Board, and more. In 2012, she was honored as Woman of Action by California Speaker of the Assembly John Perez. She was selected twice as Pioneer Woman of the Year by Council President Eric Garcetti and Councilmember Tom Labonge. She was also recognized by LAUSD School Boardmember as a Trailblazer for her work and advocacy for students. She has a B.S. from U.C. Berkeley, M.B.A. from the University of Southern California, and M.Div., summa cum laude, from Wesley Theological Seminary.

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Consumer Advocate Leader: Elizabeth Karwowski

Elizabeth Karwowski – CEO, Get Credit Healthy, Inc.

Elizabeth Karwowski is the CEO of Get Credit Healthy, Inc, a technology platform that bridges the gap between the consumer and financial institutions. After graduating with honors from Northern Illinois University with a degree in Business Management, Elizabeth began her career in the financial world with Ernst & Young and RSM MCGladrey. In 2004, she left to start her own mortgage company, Trust One Mortgage Corporation. Viewing the mortgage industry through the lens of a broker allowed Elizabeth to observe the pain points of both, lenders and the consumers, which prompted her to develop GCH360, the platform on which Get Credit Healthy operates. As a recognized credit expert, Elizabeth has been featured on NBC and Fox News, and published in Scotsman’s Guide and Today’s Chicago Women, to name a few. She received her FICO & Fair Credit Reporting Act certifications from the Consumer Data Industry Association in 2009. During the last 3 years, Elizabeth and her team of advisory board members, consisting of senior professionals from across various financial and technology sectors, have developed the new GCH360 platform to increase the number of applicants who desire and, more importantly, qualify for the financial products offered by lenders and banks. In the last year, alone, they have helped their partners create over $200M of new loan opportunity, and plan on continued sustained growth for years to come.

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Government Official Leader: Sharron P.A. Levine

Sharron P.A. Levine – Director, FHFA’s Office of Minority & Women Inclusion

Sharron P.A. Levine is the Director of FHFA’s Office of Minority and Women Inclusion. She leads the Agency’s oversight of the diversity and inclusion (D&I) programs of FHFA’s regulated entities, which include Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Common Securitization Platform (CSS), the 11 Federal Home Loan Banks, and the Office of Finance. Sharron has more than 35 years of legal experience in the financial services industry representing corporate, institutional, governmental, and private entities in many aspects of real estate law, including construction and permanent loan financing; housing finance; leveraged buyouts; and more. In her many years of legal practice, Levine has witnessed the chronic lack of diversity, giving her deep insight in her role as leader of a dedicated staff of professionals, including D&I specialists and policy and management analysts, financial institution examiners, and data analytics and other operational specialists. Sharron earned both her B.A. and J.D. degrees from New York University. She also has a Management Certificate in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University ILR. She has delivered numerous keynote and other speeches across the industry and has been nominated several times for awards in Diversity and Inclusion for the work that FHFA has accomplished in this critical area.

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Corporate Leader: Regina M. Lowrie

Regina Lowrie – President & CEO, Dytrix Inc.

Regina M. Lowrie, CMB, is a recognized national leader and authority in the mortgage and lending industry. She has more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry and has established and managed multiple successful banking/lending organizations. In 2005, Lowrie became the first woman chairman of the national Mortgage Bankers Association and continues to serve on many MBA committees. Regina has also testified before Congress on public policy to include GSE Reform and has served as an expert witness for the financial services industry. As President and CEO of Dytrix, Regina is arming banks and lenders with a comprehensive, real-time defense system against wire and identity fraud, the fastest-growing type of cybercrime according to the FBI. Regina is also President and CEO of RML Advisors. Previous to Dytrix and RML Advisors, Ms. Lowrie was Founder/President and CEO of Gateway Funding Diversified Mortgage Services, a $3.2 Billion Mortgage Banker.

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Family Office Leader: Nava Michael-Tsabari

Nava Michael-Tsabari – Director, The Raya Strauss Center For Family Business Research

Nava Michael-Tsabari is the director of the Raya Strauss Center for Family Business Research at The School of Management, Tel Aviv University. Nava received a Ph.D. from the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, and has a BA and MBA from Tel Aviv University, both Magna Cum Laude. Nava is a researcher and an educator on the subject of family businesses. She is an acknowledged speaker on family firms in Israel and abroad, to academic and professional audiences as well as to families. Nava is also a 3rd generation of the industrial Strauss family. She worked in the group and served on the board of directors of its publicly-traded company. Nava published several papers and received academic awards, among them the 2012 FFI Best Unpublished Paper and the 2014 Best Article of the Family Business Review.

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Veteran Leader: Elizabeth Perez

Elizabeth Perez – CEO & Founder, GC Green Inc.

Liz comes from a family committed to military service, and she is proud to be the first woman in her family to serve. Liz founded GC Green, Inc. (GCG) in 2010. The company is a general contracting/consulting firm specializing in identifying and installing the best of class energy efficiency, water conservation,  and renewable energy. In 2017, Elizabeth was appointed by Governor Brown to serve on the California Department of Veteran’s Affairs Advisory Board, and in 2018, she was Governor-appointed to serve as Deputy Secretary. The White House selected Liz as a “Champion of Climate Change & Clean Energy Veteran” in 2013 and invited her to the White House conference in support of Native American Veteran issues in 2019.

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Media Leader: Leora Ruzin, CMB

Leora Ruzin – Director, Real Estate Lending, Valley First Credit Union

Leora Ruzin, CMB is Director of Real Estate Lending at Valley First Credit Union and Managing Editor of Mortgage Women Magazine. She has been in mortgage lending for 13 years and holds the designation of “Certified Mortgage Banker” from the Mortgage Bankers Association. Leora is an advocate for common-sense mortgage lending practices and is passionate about advances in first-time homebuyer and low-to-moderate income lending programs. Leora holds an Associate’s degree in Accounting, a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management, is a Delegated Spokeswoman with NAWRB, and is a veteran of the United States Army. She lives in Merced, California with her husband, daughter, and two cats.

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