NAWRB’S Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Council (NDILC)

Why does NDILC make a difference?

“I’m delighted to join the NAWRB’s Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council”, said Dr. Chitra Dorai. “It is an absolute honor to serve alongside an extraordinary group of women leaders dedicated to the advocacy and promotion of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. To quote Richard Hamming, a Computer Pioneer and Mathematician, “If you don’t work on important problems, it’s not likely that you’ll do important work.” The charter of NDILC addresses a very important problem in the housing industry and I look forward to contributing to the important work of this council”.

Dr. Chitra Dorai

AI Scientist, Entrepreneur &

Former IBM Fellow and CTO at IBM Global Services

Dedicated to raising the number of women leaders and growingwomen’s employment and empowerment at all levels in the housing ecosystem. Our Council,comprised of senior executive women, works diligently toward gender equality and obtaining equalopportunity for women across America

NAWRB’s Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council (NDILC) was formed in 2015 with a goal of increasing women’s leadership and growing women’s employment at all levels of the housing ecosystem.

The Council is comprised exclusively of senior-level executive women committed to working toward greater gender equality for women. Like many industries, the housing and real estate ecosystem lacks adequate female representation in upper management and in leadership positions. The NDILC encourages all businesses within the ecosystem including financial institutions, servicing, real estate and mortgage companies to increase their efforts in promoting women and minority women.

Through collaboration, women can leverage their power. By collaborating with other women’s trade associations and groups, the NDILC enhances their efforts to help women reach for higher levels of leadership across the housing & real estate ecosystem, promoting more sustainable growth.

Companies with women at the lead have proven their profitability and performance. However, profitability isn’t the only reason why women should have a seat at the table. It’s simply the right thing to do. To encourage companies to do the right thing, it’s important to have allies in every corner. This is one reason why in the summer of 2018, the NDILC voted to allow men to join NAWRB as members.

With the creation of the NDILC, NAWRB has a powerful team of top-performing women executives eager to increase the pipeline of women capable and ready for leadership roles.

NDILC Leadership

Desirée Patno

NDILC Chairwoman: Desirée Patno, CEO and President, NAWRB

Desirée Patno is the CEO and President of Women in the Housing and Real Estate Ecosystem (NAWRB) and Desirée Patno Enterprises, Inc. (DPE). With almost three decades specializing in the Housing and Real Estate Ecosystem, she leads her executive team’s expertise of advancing women’s economic growth and independence. Representing Fortune 100 companies in their relocation needs and selling thousands of properties across multiple platforms, she brings insider knowledge to NAWRB’s mission of advancing women and women-owned businesses.

As Chairwoman of NAWRB’s Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Council (NDILC), she oversees accountability of increasing women-owned and small business utilization and women’s inclusion at all levels. NAWRB has raised awareness of diverse opportunities, supporting the development and implementation of workforce and supplier diversity standards for the multi-trillion dollar housing sector since 2010.

Desirée resides on the Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) Leadership Advisory Council and Enterprising Women Advisory Board. In 2017, she was named the Highest-Ranking Woman and 4th Overall Top Real Estate Influencer to Follow by, presented On the Margins of the 72nd U.N. General Assembly, The Intersection between Gender Diversity, Innovation and Economic Sustainability, and received the Connected Women of Influence Women’s Advocate of the Year Award and Walker’s Legacy Power25 Award. In 2016, she was honored with HousingWire’s Women of Influence Award and was selected as the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Women in Business Champion of the Year.

In 2012, Desirée won the prestigious Enterprising Women of the Year Award, as well as HousingWire’s Women of Influence Award for the first time. NAWRB is honored to be one of only 11 organizations listed as a Women’s Entrepreneurship Partner for the SBA.

Desirée is the Publisher of NAWRB Magazine—winner of the APEX Award for Publication Excellence in 2015, 2016 and 2017—and is a monthly contributor to RISMedia’s Real Estate Magazine, National Mortgage Professional Magazine, Inman and various industry publications.

Vanessa Montanez

NDILC Co-Chairwoman: Vanessa Montanez, Sales and Business Development Manager for the National Specialized Sales & Strategic Markets, US Bank Home Mortgages

Vanessa has been in residential lending for the last twenty years where she has applied her expertise in loans. She has worked for major lending institutions such as Countrywide Home Loans, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and most recently was the Regional Business Development Manager for JPM Chase.  In this capacity she oversaw the business development, CRA, REO, Short Sales, and Builder/Condo in California.  For the last fifteen years, she has been managing loan officers, sales managers, and processors.  She is the former Vice President, National Mortgage Business Development Manager at East West Bank, responsible for the overall strategic plan and execution of increasing mortgage production in existing territories and reaching underserved borrowers.  Demonstrating her abilities as an entrepreneur, she owns and operates a Farmers Insurance agency since 2008 and is a real estate investor/developer.  Vanessa holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a MBA from Pepperdine University.

Rebecca Steele

Co-Chairwoman: Rebecca Steele, President and CEO, National Foundation For Credit Counseling

Rebecca brings more than 20 years of mortgage origination, community and consumer housing communications and solutions, working with the nations largest banks.  She also has significant default servicing industry expertise, and operations, production, and project/change management (Lean Six Sigma) leadership experience. Steele was the national mortgage outreach executive for Bank of America, where she also managed default servicing management within home loans servicing and was head of national servicing and centralized retail mortgage sales.  She has led many of the mortgage process improvements and projects related to controls, risk and compliance, as well as implementation of many of the new requirements for Dodd Frank and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She most recently founded and was CEO for the Steele Advisory and Services LLC, where she led the strategic and business development efforts for several strategic national servicer and vendor management companies

Amy Brandt

Co-Chairwoman: Amy Brandt, President & Chief Operating Officer, Docutech Corporation 

Amy is President & Chief Operating Officer of Docutech Corporation. Prior to Docutech Corporation, Mrs. Brandt formed Vantium Capital, Inc. and Vantium Capital Management with Apollo L.P., served as the President and CEO of WMC Mortgage, founded the Residential Servicing Coalition, and was Chief Operating Officer of Prospect Mortgage. She serves on the Board of Directors as Co-Chair of the Women’s Committee for the Institute of International Education’s Scholar Rescue Fund, and she sits on the Board of Directors of the AmeriCatalyst Idea Lab. She has also served on the boards of SourceCorp, Inc., Bluebeam Software, Inc., and other privately held companies. Mrs. Brandt is an expert in the mortgage and secondary market industry and has led both turn-around efforts and start-ups to profitability, spearheaded the sale of two companies, and participated in numerous capital markets transactions, creating tremendous shareholder value.


Cheryl Travis-Johnson

Cheryl Travis-Johnson, Chief Operating Officer, VRM Mortgage Services

Since joining VRM Mortgage Services in 2008, she has been an agent for change and innovation at the company including championing the development and roll out VRM University (VRMU), which is one of the leading training vehicles for mortgage and real estate professionals. Cheryl also leads the development of non-traditional solutions for lenders, servicers and investors that mitigate losses associated with non-performing loans. Under her leadership, VRM Mortgage Services continues to grow and develop new, innovative solutions that encompass the entire mortgage and asset life cycles.

Cheryl’s career in mortgage banking spans over 30 years and includes leadership roles in lending, loan servicing and real estate. Her extensive experience enables her to recognize industry trends and proactively address operational challenges with creative perspective and innovative solutions.

Cheryl’s passion for community and commitment to diversity drive her to continually advocate for new approaches to developing small and diverse businesses including creating business mentoring and coaching solutions to assist them in participating in today’s dynamic market. Additionally, Cheryl is an executive participant on the MBA Diversity & Inclusion Committee. As a part of her involvement, she led the co-development of a new Diversity and Inclusion Self-Assessment Tool. The new tool will enable Lenders, Servicers and Investors to assess, document and measure their compliance with the proposed OMWI standards for diversity and inclusion developed in response to Section 342 of the Dodd-Frank Act.

Her strategic vision and organizational leadership is deeply rooted in creating sustainable, complaint solutions that protect reputations and revenues while protecting and preserving communities. Cheryl serves as a director on the board of the non-profit organization, PCV|VRM Seeds of Hope where her leadership through philanthropy serves to educate, enable and empower homeowners in an effort to stabilize neighborhoods and breathe new life into communities.

Cheryl Travis-Johnson exhibits leadership, commitment to progress and dedication to change in every area of her profession. From philanthropy and thought leadership to driving operational excellence for her clients and the industry, Cheryl is making a lasting impact on housing and, more importantly, on the homeowners and families that each of those homes represents.

Jane Campbell

Jane Campbell, Director of the Washington Office of the National Development Council (NDC), Immediate Past President of Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP)

Jane Campbell has spent decades in public service in a variety of roles, on the local, state and federal level. Before serving in her current positions as director of the Washington, D.C. office of the National Development Council (NDC) and president of Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), Campbell was the first woman mayor of Cleveland, president of the National Conference of State Legislatures, and Governing Magazine named her 2000’s Public Official of the Year while she was county commissioner for Ohio’s largest county.

From 2012-2014, Campbell served as the Staff Director of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, first serving Senator Mary Landrieu and continuing under Senator Maria Cantwell as staff director and then senior advisor, where she led the Committee’s work on access to capital and women’s entrepreneurship. As Staff Director, Campbell directed policy to support small businesses’ access to capital, federal contracting opportunities, business counseling, and engagement in international trade. From 2009-2013, Campbell served as Senator Mary Landrieu’s Chief of Staff, leading efforts to recover from both Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf oil spill, and serving as her key healthcare advisor.

In her current role as the director of the Washington office of the National Development Council, Campbell brings the expertise of NDC’s 40 years of experience working to bring capital to underserved communities—both urban and rural—into the federal public policy debate. NDC works in more than 100 communities across America building public facilities and creating commercial redevelopment, low income housing, all through public-private partnerships and creative use of federal, state and local financing tools.

In 2016, Women Impacting Public Policy partnered with NDC to provide support for WIPP’s coalition activities. In her role as Director of the NDC Washington office, Campbell also serves as President of WIPP.

Previously, Campbell spent five years as county commissioner for Ohio’s largest county and six terms in the Ohio House of Representatives. Her public service focused on economic development, fiscal stability, child welfare, and health and human services policy. Between 1997-1998, she successfully implemented welfare reform in Cuyahoga County, Ohio’s most populous jurisdiction.

Marcia M. Davies

Marcia M. Davies is Chief Operating Officer for the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA).

As COO, Marcia is responsible for ensuring cross organizational alignment and facilitating the implementation of strategic initiatives, as well as maintaining oversight of key organizational priorities. She is also the lead strategist for MBA’s external activities, providing leadership, guidance and overall management to the public affairs and marketing divisions. In addition, Marcia provides strategic direction and management of MBA’s Conferences, Membership, Education, Information Technology and Office Services divisions. She also provides management oversight to and is a Board member of MBA’s Opens Doors Foundation.

Previously, Marcia worked at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), as Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Housing and Federal Housing Commissioner. She directed HUD’s industry relations program to strengthen relationships, garner support, streamline communications and resolve policy and regulatory issues. Before joining HUD, Marcia spent 21 years at Freddie Mac, where she held a variety of officer positions in communications, customer outreach, marketing, servicer relations and policy.

Marcia is the founder of mPower – MBA Promoting Opportunities for Women to Extend their Reach — MBA’s networking platform for women in the real estate finance industry. She is a member of the NAWRB Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council (NDILC) and a member of Women in Housing Finance and the International Women’s Leadership Association. In 2015, she was honored by HousingWire as one of its 2015 Women of Influence.

Marcia is a graduate of the Katharine Gibbs School in Montclair, N.J.

Dr. Chitra Dorai

Dr. Chitra Dorai, AI Scientist, Founder & CEO, AmicusBrain

Dr. Chitra Dorai is an AI Scientist and the Founder & CEO of AmicusBrain focused on bringing the power of AI to tackle some of the important problems in banking and healthcare industries.  She  was formerly at IBM as an IBM Fellow (first Indian woman in the globe to receive this recognition) and as the Global CTO for cognitive services in the Global Business Services unit. During her tenure at IBM, Dr. Dorai was a recipient of IBM’s highest honor in 2011 – the Gerstner Award for Client Excellence, was recognized as an IBM Distinguished Engineer in 2012, and was appointed by the IBM CEO as an IBM Fellow, the company’s preeminent technical honor in 2015. Her work on customer focused analytics in mortgage servicing helped thousands of struggling home owners through home ownership retention programs and alternative workout options during one of the most challenging times in the history of the U.S. housing market.  In 2014, Dr. Dorai received the Tamil American Pioneer Award for Excellence in Finance and Business from the Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America.  In 2016, she was profiled as a “Societal Innovator” in the IBM HQ. In 2018, she received “The Visionary” award from Women in the Housing & Real Estate Ecosystem (NAWRB).

Dr. Dorai graduated from IIT Madras with an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering and received her Ph.D. in Computer Science at Michigan State University with the Distinguished Academic Achievement award. She is the co-inventor of more than 45 patents and has received multiple high-value patent awards at IBM.   She was recognized as a Master Inventor thrice for attaining a significant number of high quality inventions and patents and reaching a certain level of IBM invention achievement award and recognition. She has co-authored 100+ technical papers in IEEE and ACM conferences and journals, edited a book and received 5 best paper awards at international conferences.   She has presented keynote addresses and technical talks at academic research conferences, industry symposia and panels, and has served in many organizational roles on committees at the International Conferences over the past two decades.   She is frequently interviewed or cited in press, web news and blogs, and YouTube video on a wide variety of topics from AI, Blockchain, Big Data and Analytics to lending industry transformation.    Dr.  Dorai was featured as an AI Visionary in NAWRB’s most recent publication.   In a 2016 profile, The Voices & View from FemTech Leaders… Dr. Dorai discussed her work in cognitive computing. Some of her key invited presentations at recent events and conferences include MBA Tech 2018, Web Summit 2017, Watson Summit 2017, MBA Tech 2017, The 2017 Richey May Mortgage Banking Round Table for CEOS and Presidents of independent mortgage banks and The Hackett Group’s 2017 Best Practices Conference.

For a description of Chitra’s Big Data work, see Big Data Profile: Chitra Dorai, IBM and about her appointment to IBM Fellow by the IBM CEO, check out 2015 IBM Fellows. IBM’s marketing video, features Chitra discussing a recipe for digital reinvention and in a recent blog, she discusses AI and BPO.

Stacey M. Walker

Stacey M. Walker, Director, Housing & Community Outreach, Freddie Mac

Stacey M. Walker is the Director of Housing Outreach in the Affordable Lending & Access to Credit Department within the Single Family Division. In this capacity, Ms. Walker is responsible for building relationships with National and Local Intermediaries and other Stakeholders to provide responsible lending opportunities to first time homebuyers, low-to-moderate income borrowers, and families in underserved markets. In her position, she also oversees various neighborhood stabilization initiatives that engage communities, consumers and customers to help achieve business objectives through outreach.

Ms. Walker joined Freddie Mac in 1992, as part of the Mortgage Acquisitions Department. Prior to joining Freddie Mac, Ms. Walker began her career in single family affordable lending at the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, in Lansing, Michigan. In this capacity, she served as a single-family loan underwriter and loan servicer, responsible for ensuring loans were in compliance with the State of Michigan’s affordable program guidelines.

Freddie Mac was established by Congress in 1970 to provide liquidity, stability and affordability to the nation’s residential mortgage markets. Freddie Mac supports communities across the nation by providing mortgage capital to lenders. Today Freddie Mac is making home possible for one in four home borrowers and is one of the largest sources of financing for multifamily housing.

Tami Bonnell

Tami Bonnell, CEO of EXIT Realty Corp International

She is a 30+ year veteran of the real estate industry and was instrumental in building three major brands. Among her many achievements, she was recently recognized by Leading Researcher Real Estate trend watcher Stephan Swanepoel, as one of the 200 most Powerful people in Residential Real Estate, included in the top 10 most powerful women in real estate and she was ranked among the top 10 most powerful Real Estate Franchise Executives all for the year 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Ms. Bonnell has been a featured speaker at the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTOR’S General session as well as National Women’s Council of REALTOR’S in New Orleans in 2014.

She has spoken to Ris Media’s top 500 Power Brokers and at their leadership Conferences, National and State Women’s Council REALTORS across the country, National Association of Real Estate Brokers, Inman News Connect Conference, Xplode Conference, The 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act & Mass Fair Housing Conference.

In 2012 she was named a finalist in the category of Best Executive in a Service Business by the Stevie Awards for Women in Business, the world’s premier awards for women in the work place. A recipient of The Women of Fire award presented by the Warren Group/Banker & Tradesman (Boston) to the top 20 women in Finance, insurance and Real Estate trail blazers, leaders and Visionaries. And most recently she was honored with the 2015 CHANEL award sponsored by the Women in the Housing & Real Estate Ecosystem NAWRB Roaring Twenties edition of SHE Magazine for Changing the perception of the entrepreneurial woman and previously the 2104 TALKIE award for Making her mark in the world of Marketing.

Along with several other national and local engagements, Ms. Bonnell hosts quarterly webinars educating the general public on real estate issues.

She is a wife and mother of three and a grandmother of three, in her spare time she is a martial artist, coach, judge and referee.

Teresa Palacios Smith

Teresa Palacios Smith,Vice President, Diversity and Inclusion, HSF Affiliates LLC

She oversees the organization’s commitment to increase diversity among the company, its broker network and the sales professionals affiliated with the brand with the goal of mirroring the diversity found in the communities they serve.

Teresa has extensive experience in sales and marketing. She is a graduate of Mississippi State University, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in broadcasting and public relations. She also has more than 20 years of experience working in the real estate industry and is a frequent speaker at national and local industry events.

In 2015, Teresa served as president of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP), one of the largest minority associations in the country with more than 50,000 members. She is also one of the founding members of the NAHREP Atlanta Chapter, which launched in 2005. Teresa has held numerous leadership roles in the industry and currently serves on the board of many of the top housing organizations in the country. In May of 2018, Teresa will be honored by RIS Media with the Newsmaker Award. Teresa received LISTA’s Leadership Award in 2016 and was named by the Atlanta Tribune magazine as one of Atlanta’s “Superwomen” for her leadership and advocacy in the Hispanic Community. In 2015, Teresa was featured in Allan Dalton’s book “Creating Real Estate Connections.”

Prior to her current position, Teresa was vice president of Business Development and Cultural Initiatives at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties, where she was responsible for business development and marketing of corporate relocation services along with a portfolio of additional programs and products. In her role, Teresa coordinated and managed several mega group moves into the Atlanta area; delivered “white glove” settling-in services to global and luxury clients and managed the Affinity and HUD division.

The daughter of Hispanic immigrants, Teresa has a strong commitment to traditional values, family, service and southern hospitality.

Tujuanna B. Williams

Tujuanna B. Williams, Williams Consulting LLC.

Williams is responsible for leading the development, implementation, management, and evaluation of Fannie Mae’s corporate diversity and inclusion strategy, policies, and programs.  Williams has been instrumental in driving culture change through the organization using tools that access the cultural competence of the company and implementing coaching plans to address gaps.  She has created initiatives and platforms that encourage courageous conversations in the workplace to address conflicts and barriers to employee authenticity. Williams is committed to bettering the lives of the underserved by providing coaching, counseling and education to increase access for affordable housing.

Before joining Fannie Mae, Williams was co-founder and managing partner of New Season Coaching and Consulting Group, LLC, a management consulting and executive coaching firm. Prior to that, Williams was Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer for Freddie Mac. Her previous positions include Director – Diversity and Recruiting Strategies, Verizon Business; Director – Workplace Diversity, MCI; and Director – Diversity and Work Life Programs, US Airways Group.

Williams is a certified executive coach with a BA in advertising and public relations from Middle Tennessee State University, Executive Leadership Development Certificate from Harvard Business School (HBS), Executive Coaching Certificate from the Coaching and Positive Psychology Institute (CaPP) and most recently selected to the class of 2018 Leadership Greater Washington.  She has been recognized for her work by MReport Magazine-60 Leading Ladies/ Women in Housing, Black Enterprise Magazine as 2016 Top Chief Diversity Officer, Working Mother Magazine- Working Mother of the Year, Profiles in Diversity Journal-Women Worth Watching, Diversity Inc., and Savoy magazines.

Tujuanna resides in Northern Va., where she is active in her community, church and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. She is married to her college sweetheart and the proud mother of two beautiful daughters.

Sarah Goldfrank

Sarah Goldfrank, Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Fannie Mae.

Responsibilities: Sarah Goldfrank is Fannie Mae’s Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel – Single-Family. Goldfrank reports to the Executive Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary. Goldfrank leads the team responsible for providing legal services related to Single-Family mortgage selling and servicing contracts, loan-level litigation, seller/servicer oversight, remedies against private label securities issuers, and lender counterparty management.

Experience: Prior to assuming her current position in October 2015, Goldfrank was a Senior Vice President in Bank of America’s Legal Department, where she led several of the bank’s most important mortgage-related legal initiatives, including the horizontal foreclosure review mandated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the joint OCC/Federal Reserve mortgage servicing consent order, and the multistate attorney-general National Mortgage Settlement. Prior to that, she served as counsel for O’Melveny & Myers LLP, where she specialized in representing financial institutions, particularly mortgage originators and servicers, in significant litigation, enforcement, and regulatory matters. During her tenure at both Bank of America and O’Melveny and Myers, Goldfrank had leadership roles in diversity and other talent development efforts. Earlier in her career, Goldfrank worked for Fannie Mae as a senior manager in the company’s Office of Diversity.

Education: Goldfrank has a bachelor of arts in African-American studies and Art History from Smith College and holds a Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center.

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