2018 NAWRB Conference Exclusive Testimonials

As NAWRB looks forward to celebrating a decade as an organization, we are reminiscing about this year’s 2018 NAWRB 5th Annual Conference, “Year of Women,” which featured impeccable discussions, presentations and connections at a historical gathering of thought leaders and industry experts from across the housing ecosystem. This event showed that the industry can achieve great things for women’s economic growth and diversity and inclusion when men and women professionals and related industries work together, share each other’s resources and knowledge, and support each other’s successes as teammates instead of competitors. In case you missed it, read below from our incredible speakers and attendees as they describe their unique experiences and the benefits they received from being a part of this dynamic movement for gender equality.

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NAWRB Interview: NDILC Member Sarah Goldfrank and Alicia Jones, Media and External Communications, Fannie Mae

About Fannie Mae

NAWRB: What’s a favorite aspect of your current position? And what are some of the unique challenges you might face in it?

Sarah Goldfrank (SG): I would have to say my favorite part of my current position is being a part of Fannie Mae and our mission because it is such an incredible mission to be an integral part [of]. In essence, we are at the center of the housing market which is at the center of the U.S. economy, and it’s so meaningful to millions of people across this country, what we deliver everyday, and we are an incredibly mission-driven company. Every year our employee engagement shows that, and I am absolutely one of those people where the mission gets me up everyday and makes me excited about the work that I do.

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NAWRB Conference Interview with Alicia Townsend, U.S. Bank

NAWRB: What are you responsible for, in your own words?

I’m Vice President for the great state of Ohio. This is my first opportunity to engage and I’m loving it—that’s the conversation we’re just having. It’s nice for us, as bankers, to be engaged at this level and be able to go where the customer is or where the partner is to make things happen.

My primary responsibility is to ensure that the markets we cover meet our Community Reinvestment Act performance measures. That is service: Are we in the community? Are we serving on nonprofit boards? What’s our branch distribution look like, especially around low-to-moderate income communities? Are we making loans? Are we making loans to low-to-moderate income people, or are we making loans in low-to-moderate income communities? We have service, lending and investments.

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NAWRB Conference Interview with Susan Fries

Susan Fries: My name is Susan Fries, and I am the President and Owner of Ecola Termite and Pest Management Services. We are the alternative treatment methods that can take care of a situation and do it in a healthier way. So, what we mean by that is we use Mother Nature to take care of the problem. We’ve been doing it a long, long time. We were green before it was nothing more than a color. The reason I do that is because I had a chronic asthmatic (still do)—36-year-old now— son, who had almost died a couple of times.

When I got in the business 38 years ago, I was looking for another way to get rid of the problem. Pests and termites are going to be around forever, especially in California. I was in the industry, I was working with my husband and we were doing traditional methods—fumigation, chemical application— and I had this son. He almost died a couple of times, and I’m thinking “Gosh, if I can come up with a way to take care of this problem and do it healthier, naturally, environmentally more friendly, then I’ve got to search that out.” And so, I did. I found a company that was doing some of it and I decided it was a good thing for me to look into it more, and it ended up that I bought that company. It’s kind of like the Gillette razor commercial where: “I like the Gillette razor, so I bought the company.” It was kind of like that.

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NAWRB Conference Interview with Victor Christiansen, FDIC, OMWI

NAWRB: For those who might not know, describe what you do.

I work in the Office of Women and Minority Inclusion and I’m a branch chief. The branch is called Minority and Women in Business Diversity Inclusion branch.

NAWRB: Where did your career begin?

I started in the general accounting office which is now the Government Accountability Office, the GAO, and I worked at the Department of the Interior for many years. Then, in 2012, I came to the FDIC.

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Cheryl Travis Johnson Interview NAWRB Conference 2018

NAWRB: Tell us a little about yourself and describe what you do.

I’m Cheryl Travis-Johnson, and I’m the Chief Operating Officer for VRM Mortgage Services. I’m also a part of the Council for Inclusion in Financial Services. At my first job as a COO of VRM, I handle end-to-end servicing solutions for clients from originations all the way through REO sales. For the Council for Inclusion in Financial Services, it’s kind of two-fold. We’re focusing on financial literacy in emerging markets, increasing the numbers of millennials, women and minorities in middle management to get them into C-suite opportunities—because 60 percent of the financial decisions are being made by a household that’s either being headed by a woman, a millennial or a minority— to make sure they have a seat at the decision table.

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SHETalk: Dr. Chitra Dorai on Artificial Intelligence & Technology Human Balance™

Dr. Chitra Dorai, AI Scientist, Entrepreneur and Former IBM Fellow and CTO at IBM Global Services, took the stage after Sharron Levine, Director of the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion (OMWI) at the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), to give her presentation on Technology Human Balance ™ during the SHETalk series at the 2018 NAWRB Conference.

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2018 NAWRB 5th Annual Conference “Year of Women” Recap

On July 29th-31st, the Women in the Housing & Real Estate Ecosystem (NAWRB) hosted the 2018 NAWRB 5th Annual Conference, “Year of Women,” in Chicago, Illinois at The Standard Club, featuring incredible discussions, presentations and new connections at this diverse, high-profile gathering of thought leaders and industry experts.

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Women in the Housing Ecosystem Report (WHER) Panel

After the excitement of our morning SHETalks by Tami Bonnell, CEO of EXIT Realty, and Rebecca Steele, President & CEO of National Foundation for Credit Counseling, our attendees heard from our Women in the Housing Ecosystem Report (WHER) Panel, featuring Dr. Chitra Dorai, Former IBM Fellow, Master Inventor, VP, CTO Cognitive Services, IBM Services, Member of IBM Industry Academy & Academy of Technology; Teresa Palacios Smith, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, HSF Affiliates LLC; Burgandy Basulto, Content Writer, NAWRB; and Moderator Desiree Patno, CEO & President, NAWRB.

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2018 NAWRB Conference Live Updates: Building Infrastructure, Maintaining Agriculture & Disaster Recovery

The second to last panel to grace our stage was the Building Infrastructure, Maintaining Agriculture & Disaster Recovery Panel, featuring Michelle Corridon, Deputy Director, USDA Rural Development; Noemi Lujan-Perez, VP of Government and Media Relations, EcoDiversity; James K. Joseph, Regional Administrator, FEMA Region V; Sharron P.A.  Levine, Director of the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion, Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA); and Desiree Patno, CEO & President, NAWRB. These professionals shared how their agencies respond to natural disasters and provide financial assistance to affected homeowners and business owners, while also letting attendees know about contracting opportunities and how they can be involved in developing trends in infrastructure.

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