look to as an example of leadership. Although she most
likely experienced many challenges long before I knew
her, being side-by-side with her and observing the challenges she faced as a woman leading this organization, I
learned a great deal. Also, because I had worked in and
around FHA, I could compare her experience to others
who have served in that role. I saw that she faced some
unique challenges as a woman at that level. At times, she
must have been very frustrated with the adversity, but,
she handled it skillfully. She was effective despite the trials.
She helped underscore for me something I had tried to
convince myself of: the work that you do and how you
carry yourself, speaks for itself—apart from the critics or
supporters. Patience, thoughtfulness, determination, hard
work, your ability to get things done, and how you view
yourself will speak for itself. She
has helped me embrace the challenges despite who you are or
where you come from.
Have you ever had to deal with
adversity as a woman or a
woman of color, and if so, how
did you handle that?
I’ve certainly experienced
adversity. There were probably
times I was excluded from an
opportunity, but just did not know it. Now that I have
become more cognizant of these kinds of situations, I
have been more sensitive to them. I recognize that, for
the most part, I am not typical in my current role. I’m
younger than many who have had this position, and
I am a woman and a minority, which have not been
typical in this field of work. These are three areas the
mortgage industry has been shown to be lacking in, and
I am in all three categories. Despite my position and
responsibilities as the leader of the organization, I have
experienced, even recently, a professional setting where
I was ‘looked past,’ that is, I could sense my presence
and contributions were discounted. I can be easy to
discount certain people and their contributions.
Awareness is critical. I’ve seen that the Mortgage
WOMEN Magazine targets mortgage industry diversity
issues, like the feature on Teresa Bryce Bazemore [Janu-
ary/February 2016]. She is leading the effort on diver-
sity in the industry alongside the MBA and others. This
treatment happened to me just a few weeks ago, it has
happened in the past, and I’m certain it will happen again.
I used to allow it to bother me greatly; it is offensive and
hurtful. Eventually, through my interactions with Carol
and others like her, I learned to put in perspective that
people do have preconceived notions, which are not go-
ing to change overnight, and that what I do, how I carry
myself, and how I execute my responsibilities will speak
for themselves. My focus is to maintain my own com-
pass and identify opportunities to be influential, and no
one will be able to take that away from me. But this also
means I have an obligation to not perpetuate the cycle.
What does work-life balance look like for you, and what
are your passionate interests outside of working hours?
A few years ago, a colleague recognized that I was
spending way too many hours
and days of the week working.
Because of his encouragement,
I took a vacation, and I have re-
ally enjoyed travelling – Mexico,
Turkey, Costa Rica, and others. In
my mind, I had painted a picture
of myself as the center of all
things productive, and, felt that, if
this particular screw was missing
from the apparatus, the appa-
ratus might not work as well. I
eventually learned that being a good employee and being
a good manager meant that things work well even when
you are gone. I finally realized that everything had to
continue to work well without me, and, if it didn’t work, it
was a sign that we needed to change things. I’ve become
more sensitive to engaging others in the organization.
There may be circumstances where I do need to be
involved when I am away, but, I want to limit those to the
extraordinary. I used to carry multiple electronic devices
everywhere with me, 24-7, but now I exercise connectiv-
ity more judiciously. Similarly, I try to not burden people
in my organization by taking up weekend, vacation, or
holiday time for routine work matters.
I’ve also incorporated better exercise habits. In 2013
I ran a marathon and have run several half-marathons
since. It offered me time to to clear my head, observe the
world around me. I have a passion for really campy television shows for when I really want to disconnect. People
sometimes ask me if Washington, D.C. is like “Scandal”; it’s
not, but, I really enjoy watching it!
My focus is to maintain my
own compass and identify
opportunities to be influential,
and no one will be able to
take that away from me.