Freddie Mac is #LeadingTheWay in the mortgage industry by advancing women to leadership positions and championing women’s rights in the workplace. Find out more about our commitment to advancing women and how we’re changing perceptions to create more opportunities for women leaders.
Freddie Mac is proud to launch a new campaign called #LeadingTheWay, which focuses on advancing women in the housing industry.
At the center of Leading the Way are the women leaders of Freddie Mac. We have a strong focus on diversity and inclusion and our culture is dedicated to supporting the advancement of women in the finance industry. Read about Freddie Mac leaders who are driving positive change in our business.
The truth is that women leaders are instrumental to our success across all divisions at Freddie Mac, from technology to operations to business development to sales, marketing and relationship management, and more.
In addition to job opportunities at every level and in every discipline, we offer many benefits that appeal to women. These include flexible work arrangements and many ways to learn and connect through training, resource groups and networking – some of the reasons Freddie Mac is consistently ranked a best place to work and best in diversity.
Freddie Mac emphasizes diversity in our employees not just because it’s the right thing to do; it’s smart business. Our focus on an inclusive workplace that values different perspectives makes us a stronger company, drives innovation and supports our efforts to make home possible for America’s families.
Join our campaign and learn more about how we can all help advance women in the workplace. Use #LeadingTheWay on social media posts about supporting women in the workplace and follow us @FreddieMac on Twitter.
Here are a few ways how:
While we've made great strides in our industry, we need to do more to make our workplaces as equal a playing field and as full of opportunities for women as possible. Consider these facts and figures, which point to the need for a stronger focus on female leadership.
Meet some of the Freddie Mac senior executives who are leading the way at Freddie Mac.
Chief Client Officer
Single-Family Office of the Client
“The time has come for us to showcase women leaders to raise visibility, support inclusion and promote greater success across our industry.”
Chris Boyle, chief client officer and head of Single-Family's Office of the Client and winner of HousingWire 's 2018 Vanguard Award which spotlights leadership and achievement, is charged up as she talks about championing women in the industry.
"Historically, financial services has been more male-dominated, more than some other businesses, and women in the mortgage industry have definitely faced challenges," she says. "But the landscape is changing for the better."
In her current role, Ms. Boyle is responsible for client engagement for Freddie Mac's Single-Family business, which includes client experience and management, marketing, bulk purchases and servicing exchange executions. As a member of the executive leadership team, she brings her passion for fostering equal opportunities to the table – one she proudly describes as more inclusive for women than a few other industry tables she's seen during her long and successful career, which, prior to Freddie Mac, included leadership roles with NBD, Carteret S&L, and Goldome Bank.
Ms. Boyle's story of often being the only woman in leadership meetings isn't unusual. But her attitude is, and always has been, ever since she kicked off her career over 30 years ago. She attributes that to her upbringing.
"I never focus on the roles of men or women in the way that some do, because I wasn't raised that way," she says. "I focus more on people and what attributes each person brings to the table. For women to succeed more, I think we need to wrestle with our own biases about ourselves. Don't see limits. See the value that comes from having multiple opinions which add so much to an organization."
Of all the issues facing women in the workplace today, she thinks work-life balance is the most important.
"Even with shared parental duties, there are unique aspects for women that require us to face unique work-life balance challenges," she says. "Do women face a kind of silent judgment from male colleagues when they take time for maternity leave and work-life balance? Maybe so."
Raising awareness of – and calling out and correcting – attitudes and behaviors that hinder women in the workplace is a true passion for her. She knows there's power in visibility and in supporting her peers and the next generation of women on the rise
As someone who credits mentors with helping her get ahead, she's actively involved in mentoring the next generation of women leaders, through the Women's Interactive Network (WIN) employee resource group at Freddie Mac, as well as sharing her expertise outside the organization at conferences and events. Some of the questions she receives involve work-life balance, but more are about understanding the culture of individual organizations as well as fit and growth opportunities.
"I tell mentees that you must make choices about how to spend your time," she says. "Some of those may be driven by economic decisions. Setting the right table and expectations for yourself and those around you is important. And if you know what your skills are, they are applicable to so many paths."
While she chose to take her foot off the pedal to raise her five children, her credo is: No decision is ever your last decision. Once her kids were older, she decided to return to the workforce full throttle. She credits getting back in the driver's seat to keeping her eyes open to opportunities and her skills current, and by refusing to accept limits imposed by others.
Of all the positive change she's seen during her Freddie Mac tenure, she's particularly proud of the organization's commitment to advancing women, and knows it's no accident. She attributes that to both male leaders who are true partners and sponsors as well as to women leaders.
"We don't just want a culture of strong women who support women, but also strong men who support women," she says. "We've worked very hard to have diversity of thought and talent that we know leads to bottom line results. We understand the value of skills and moving people along based on their skill sets, regardless of gender."
She also knows there's still work to be done.
At the top of her priority list is raising the visibility of women leaders from all disciplines and companies across the industry. She's also advocating for greater professional development and training to make sure that women have opportunities to bring their skills to new areas where they can develop those skills, thrive and grow.
"Freddie Mac has made the kind of cultural transformation that puts us in the lead," she says. "We've shown great leadership within the financial services industry. Now we need to keep leading the way and showing the path for women leaders."
Senior Vice President, Division Chief Risk Officer
“As the next generation sees us succeeding, they will follow our lead and broaden into different functions and capacities, too. They'll see it's possible.”
For someone who's become such a role model to others within Freddie Mac, Donna Corley, division chief risk officer for Freddie Mac's Single-Family business, credits her role model with helping her find her way in business.
"Having a role model was huge early in my career," she says. "Many of my predecessors had stay-at-home husbands and/or nannies. I was a young mother and that setup didn't seem real to me. I had a female sponsor who helped me see ways that I could carve out what I needed with work- life balance. And honestly, one lunch we had 12 years ago, where we covered so many work-related topics during a short time, inspired me then and inspires me to this day. You don't have to do something huge to make a lasting impact in someone's life and the industry."
Speaking of impact, Ms. Corley continues to make an important one at work. She is motivated by innovation and how she can bring a fresh perspective to managing risk. She's proud to lead a team of approximately 475 employees responsible for analyzing and managing the risks that impact Freddie Mac's Single-Family business of financing more than 1.5 million homes annually. On a day-to-day basis, Ms. Corley establishes credit policy that fosters access to credit in responsible ways, manages the credit performance for Single-Family mortgages, oversees counterparty credit, fraud risk and vendor risk, and much more.
In 2014, she and her team were awarded Euromoney's Global Structured Deal of the Year award and The Banker's Deal of the Year for the Americas for their first structured agency credit risk (STACR) transaction.
She began her Freddie Mac career as a research analyst and, subsequently, held various portfolio manager positions within the investment and capital markets division for ten years.
A 23-year Freddie Mac veteran, Ms. Corley is also motivated by supporting other women industry leaders through mentoring. In 2012, she was honored by Working Mother magazine as a Working Mother of the Year and was named one of HousingWire's Women of Influence 2017. In terms of challenges facing working women today, she believes the biggest is how much pressure women put on themselves to do all things and do all things well.
"We are constantly faced with hard choices," she says. "You think to yourself I could have drinks with colleagues after work or go home to make dinner for the kids. Or I could go on this golf outing with industry leaders but I need to get more work done so should I just focus on the work. It's important both to take care of your personal life and keep in mind what your employer or boss values. If different people are using a different scorecard to measure your value, it's worth paying attention to that."
For more women leaders to succeed in the mortgage industry, she thinks people must be fully open to all diverse perspective that colleagues bring to the table, and to value them all. And that means treating women like individuals as opposed to a group with just one joint opinion.
"Women aren't all alike and not all women's views in business are going to be alike," she says. "I have managed males who couldn't be more different; one was a feeler, one was into process flow. I loved seeing that diversity and valued all their opinions. I hope we'd all do the same with women and their different views."
Two changes she'd like to see in support of advancing women in the mortgage industry are women building their business networks as well as more women in leadership roles and in different functions.
"When I look outside of Freddie Mac, I see women in the same types of roles," she says. "I want to see women in different working capacities. The fact that Freddie Mac women leaders manage different functions makes us good role models. As the next generation sees us succeeding, they will follow our lead and broaden into different functions and capacities, too. They'll see it's possible."
Chief Credit Risk Officer
“Stop thinking you have work-life balance every day or every week. There are times when work demands more of your time and you have to feel good about that. And there are times when family demands more of your time, and you should feel good about that, too.”
"I've been in the mortgage industry for 25 years, and I have seen many more women in the last few years than I did at the start," says Terri Merlino, Freddie Mac's chief credit risk officer. "I started my career working in capital markets, which was definitely a more male-dominated part of the business."
Early in her career, Ms. Merlino was usually the only woman in the room. As she moved up the ladder, she says she saw even fewer women in senior leadership roles. As a relatively new leader at Freddie Mac, she's glad to see many more women in leadership roles in this organization than what she's seen in others.
With her extensive mortgage and financial services experience, she brings significant accomplishments in credit and operational risk management to her role at Freddie Mac. She oversees all credit risk matters, which requires her to leverage her broad-based and comprehensive knowledge of mortgage operations, sales, processing, underwriting and secondary marketing activities.
For more women leaders to succeed in the mortgage industry, she wants to see gender-awareness training for all executives. That includes training to help women understand men's workplace issues as much as men learning more about women's typical workplace issues and perspectives. Not only will this raise awareness, it would help us appreciate differences, she says.
Based on her observations and personal experience, she also wants to impart three bits of advice to women. The first is take advantage of networking opportunities.
"Many women don't network adequately," she says. "I know I didn't. Women may not realize the significant difference it can make in your career. Freddie Mac does a great job of encouraging networking, but I haven't see that at other companies where I've worked. It's so acceptable at Freddie Mac to reach out to leaders, both men and women, and say, 'I want to learn from you.' Women should take advantage of that. At other places, you might be an outlier to be that bold, but not at Freddie Mac."
The second piece of advice is stop thinking you have work-life balance every day or every week. She thinks that if you approach it that way, it can be overwhelming and you will feel you are doing something wrong. There are times when work demands more of your time and you have to feel good about that. And there are times when family demands more of your time, and you should feel good about that, too.
"I scaled back from my career at times when my family needed me, especially the first two years of each of my three children's lives," she says. "But I kept my hand in the game and when my kids were more settled and I saw a huge opportunity, I decided to step up. If you want to re-energize that bigger career, you must be on the lookout for signs. Stay in touch with work opportunities enough so you'll be ready to seize them when you're ready."
The third piece of advice for women is take responsibility for your own careers. "Stop waiting for someone to tap you on the shoulder and say, 'You should apply for this job.'," she says. Her experience of taking responsibility for her career taught her that the ladder is not just up – it's sideways, too. She encourages lateral moves, which are important but get short shrift.
"Lateral moves have been more important to my success than the upward ones due to the new skills I learned," she says. "So when I got a chance for the bigger job, I already had the experience and exposure I needed to succeed."
She also has a bit of advice for men in the workplace: be aware of your biases and be thoughtful about addressing them.
"I've encouraged several women at Freddie Mac to read Sheryl Sandberg's book Lean In, but I have also given copies to men so they'd learn new perspectives," she says.
Vice President, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer
“One of the most important things I’ve learned is that women don’t need to change who we are to be successful. Being authentic and focusing on your strengths is key to being a good leader.”
"Freddie Mac is a supportive, open environment for women," says Riham El-Lakany, vice president and chief marketing officer for Freddie Mac's Single-Family division.
That openness is something that drew her to the organization, where she now develops and leads marketing and communications, including brand, industry conferences, strategic communications, sales enablement, PR, and digital. Her primary goals are to:
A 20-year financial services industry veteran, she has held leadership positions in marketing, communications and business development at AIG, Zurich, Prudential and Marsh & McLennan. Prior to her financial services career, she worked in the nonprofit sector at the Ford Foundation and the Women's Environment & Development Organization (WEDO).
She thinks the biggest issues women in the workplace face today are work-life balance and how to juggle social norms and expectations. She's experienced many of those common challenges firsthand. Ms. El-Lakany was a single mother for several years when she started her career and had to juggle raising a young son with demands from the office.
"With family support, I could do it and be successful," she says. "It meant I had to take my son into the office on days he didn't have school and I didn't have care for him. I'd wake him up at five in the morning and he'd bring coloring books and sit under my desk and somehow we both made it through my commute, which at the time was two hours."
"I think women must wrestle with our own work-life balance expectations," says Ms. El-Lakany. "We often must battle traditional expectations, including familial, social and self." Her road wasn't without bumps – some managers weren't as supportive of work-life balance as she needed them to be. When it comes to gender treatment in the workplace, she's faced her share of double standards in past positions. But she doesn't think the challenges women face are unique to the mortgage industry; it's women in financial services and business overall.
She continues to support women industry leaders through advocacy, networking, mentoring and participating in groups such as WIN, the employee resource group focused on expanding opportunities for women at Freddie Mac. She also advocates for more work-life balance through alternative work arrangements, which Freddie Mac is offering more and more, as well as for increasing women's executive management training.
"When it comes to hard skills, men and women shouldn't be treated differently," she says. "But maybe there are more gender-specific options and approaches for supporting women as they take on more leadership roles."
She also remains a committed advocate and believer in mentoring and sponsorship as ways for more women to break through traditional barriers and get ahead.
"I have had good male and female mentors," she says. "It's important for people to understand that they have to be a two-way street to work well. Mentees must understand what they want to get out of the relationships and mentors should want to learn from the mentees."
Ms. El-Lakany also feels strongly about having the right sponsors for women at all levels of the organization, but especially for those in mid-career when they plateau. How do we reach out to these women and empower them?
"One of my sponsors helped me by saying, ‘You are who you are.'," she says. "He acknowledged that assertive women might be viewed by some as aggressive, but he encouraged me to move forward and maybe adjust my style a bit, but to remain true to who I am."
Chief Diversity Officer and Head of Human Resources, Diversity and Inclusion
“Individuals can prepare themselves to take advantage of opportunity. But that's not the whole story. Discriminatory systems and practices must be rooted out.”
"I firmly believe that a company is only as good as its people. Freddie Mac is no different," says Jacqueline "Jacqui" Welch, chief diversity officer and head of Human Resources, Diversity and Inclusion. "It is vitally important that we enable our diverse perspectives to drive the achievement of our twin goals of building a better company and a better housing finance system."
With Freddie Mac since 2016, Ms. Welch is a 20-year HR strategist with a track record of execution in the areas of performance management, compensation, learning and development and other talent management disciplines. In her role as chief diversity officer, she leads Freddie Mac's diversity and inclusion strategy for its workforce and supplier diversity programs, as well as across business activities. Prior to Freddie Mac, she served as senior vice president of international human resources for Turner Broadcasting.
She sees the challenges women in the mortgage industry face as not that different from what women in other industries face, primarily playing "catch up."
"Women are late to workplace leadership," she says. "We haven't been active participants because we haven't been in the workplace as long. Women are still playing catch up to be part of higher-level leadership."
Her goal at Freddie Mac is to speed up that "catch up" process by rooting out any systems or processes that deliberately or inadvertently disadvantage individual career success. She is full of innovative ideas on how to do just that.
"Helping more women advance in this industry can't always come down to individual behavior choices," she says. "That's not how bias works. The real work is determining if, when and how our systems are biased. People can only behave as badly as the systems allow them."
Ms. Welch wants organizations to investigate their systems to make sure they are equitable with everyone. She wants to know how they are pressure checking their systems and evaluating for bias. And she wants assurances that if they find out that a system is set up to favor one group over another, the organization will fix that.
She cites a recent example of how Freddie Mac checked its systems and found a progressive way to support its women leaders.
"We no longer ask internal or external candidates for their previous salary histories," she says. "This enforces equity in hiring and, especially, helps minority and women candidates break a cycle of pay inequity. We also require that all who operate on behalf of Freddie Mac follow our rules governing equality both inside and outside of Freddie Mac."
A second innovation idea centers around mentoring, coaching and sponsoring relationships. She says it's her favorite topic in the world to discuss, in part because she's seen how people conflate mentoring with coaching and sponsoring. She's on a mission to set the record straight for the good of future women leaders.
She notes that the word "mentor" comes from The Odyssey and Greek mythology: a mentor walks the journey alongside the hero. Coaches are transactional by nature. If you have specific questions, you ask the coach for guidance. A sponsor talks favorably about you in meetings where you aren't in attendance and can't speak for yourself.
"Here's the thing," she says. "Women are over-mentored and do a lot of mentoring. We don't have enough coaches and sponsors. Lots of people may cheer us on and hear our sad stories. But we don't have people who say, ‘Start doing this, stop doing that, let's roleplay you asking for more money,' and things of that nature."
When it comes to coaching future women leaders, Ms. Welch is quick to tell them, "Always ask for what you want. Women need to learn to negotiate for ourselves. Don't be afraid to ask for a higher salary. Ask. And if someone says no to you, you are morally obligated and duty bound to follow up by asking that person, ‘What would have made you say yes?'"
She is often asked about how best to approach sexism and racism, both overt and covert, in the workplace. She shares a lesson she learned the hard way: you can't control what people may be thinking, but you can always control how you act.
"I started in retail, which is a tough industry on the young," she says. "I saw that the higher up the ladder people went, the leaders were mostly male. One day I walked into a room with a bunch of white guys and got a sense that the odds were against me. But I thought to myself, I am never going to get distracted by what other people might be thinking."
In addition to women supporting each other, there are three ways that Ms. Welch would like to see more men support the cause of advancing women in the mortgage industry.
If you see something, say something. "Men know how to speak to men," she says. "If you see another man acting dishonorably towards a woman and using his positional authority to do so, you have a moral obligation to say, ‘Cut it out.'"
Realize that until we are all involved, it's not going to change. "We won't reach our goal of workplace equality and fairness until everyone starts playing on the same level playing field," she says.
Senior Vice President, Enterprise Business Technology Officer
Freddie Mac Single-Family Division
“To succeed more in the mortgage industry, women need to take calculated risks, have an opinion and not be afraid to step out of the box and be true to who we are.”
"I want to see more women break away from the perceptions of what we can and can't do," says Kunkun Callaghan, senior vice president of Enterprise Business Technology at Freddie Mac. "For example, let's reevaluate our perceptions of our own skills. Too many women don't think that they can be technical or make the kind of tough decisions you must make to be effective leaders."
In her role leading large-scale development programs in support of strategic corporate initiatives, Ms. Callaghan makes tough decisions and demonstrates her leadership skills daily. The programs she oversees provide essential market liquidity, promote responsible lending and sustainable home ownership and facilitate positive industry change.
Previously, she served as vice president of Single-Family Servicing/Securitization BTO, leading key initiatives such as Single Security, Investor Reporting Change, Loan Advisor Suite and Credit Risk Transfer. Prior to Freddie Mac, she worked in consulting organizations supporting product development in the defense, financial and telecommunications domains.
In addition to being acknowledged for her work, Ms. Callaghan is also widely recognized as an advocate for corporate culture change. She has actively fostered and supported this mission by taking leadership roles with Freddie Mac's employee resource groups (ERG) and college recruiting programs. She has chaired the Asian ERG and the Women in Technology Leadership Awards, and was named one of STEMconnector's 2017 100 Corporate Women Leaders in STEM.
She credits much of her success to the fact that, when there hasn't been a paved road to what she wanted, she blazed her own trail.
"I am an Indian female who didn't follow the traditional path laid out for me by my parents," she says. "When I went into IT and, specifically, leadership, that wasn't a traditional path, either. My first job was consulting and I worked in defense consulting and faced age and gender bias. I haven't been the norm for any demographic of which I am part. I have often gone against traditional expectations of what I was supposed to be."
For women in the workplace today, she believes it's important to be true to who you are.
"Sometimes you think that you are expected to behave a certain way, so you behave in ways that aren't core to who you are," she says. "To succeed more in the mortgage industry, women need to take calculated risks, have an opinion and not be afraid to step out of the box and be true to who we are. You can only fake it so long."
With Freddie Mac for 23 years, Ms. Callaghan thinks the organization has made supporting its women leaders a key focus in recent years.
"We have groomed a pipeline of women and are continuously looking for more," she says "We also foster an environment of openness, collaboration and trying new things. Do we have more to do? Absolutely. But if you look at the changes we have made and the doors we've opened for women, we've come a long, long way."
She continues to be a valued mentor, championing the professional development of women at Freddie Mac and throughout the community. She says she's committed to helping since mentors gave her the support she needed to come into her own.
"I learn from observing and seeing so mentors have helped me a lot, especially two of them earlier in my career," she says. "I look for formal and informal mentors. It doesn't have to be a long, drawn-out process. The mentor relationship is a safe place to talk openly, test ideas out and get perspective that you can't get otherwise."
She says that Freddie Mac's focus on advancing women will not only help the organization stay better connected to the women within its client base and industry, but also will help create the new generation of leaders within.
To that end, she hopes to see more training around culture, diversity, skill sets and taking risks. It's important to create a safe culture where people can be themselves and risk taking is welcomed, she says.
"We're getting there," she says. "If you look at where we are culturally, the doors for women are open. Now Freddie Mac just needs to keep pushing those doors open wider."
Vice President, Credit Risk Transfer
“Studies show better outcomes occur because of diverse perspectives. It's also important to be assertive and proactive in offering ideas and solutions.”
Gina Healy, vice president of Credit Risk Transfer, cites risk taking as a key element of success for women in the financial services industry.
"You have to be willing to take risks and seek opportunities while making some tough decisions along the way," she says. "Don't be shy in seeking out roles that meet your core skill set combining energy and passion. It takes a lot of courage to embrace a new role, and it is equally important for the company to provide new opportunities and look for contributors across the organization, which helps break the mold and fosters innovation and success."
Ms. Healy has spent her career in male-dominated industries and, by any estimation, has thrived despite any gender-based challenges.
"My area of structured finance has been traditionally male-dominated, but it's a very dynamic field and the mortgage market is under significant transformation embracing technology and innovation," she says. "I have a great opportunity to help attract new sources of private capital to support the mortgage market industry while helping support homeownership and bringing overall mortgage market efficiencies."
In her role, she is responsible for transferring credit risk to globally diversified reinsurers which, to date, have transferred over $10 billion in credit risk underlying $1 trillion in mortgages. In addition, she manages the mortgage insurance portfolio which provides insurance coverage up to $90 billion underlying $350 billion in mortgages.
Prior to joining Freddie Mac, she was appointed chief financial officer of NASDAQ Europe, where she was responsible for leading strategic mergers and acquisitions and managing treasury corporate finance and SEC reporting functions across many countries. Prior to her career at NASDAQ, Ms. Healy worked in number of capacities in the Silicon Valley region in California and held management positions at Vantive Corporation (currently a division of Oracle Corporation) and Ernst & Young LLP.
"One of the biggest challenges women face is getting a seat at the table, whether it's in the mortgage industry or another line of work," she says. "In part, it's about getting the opportunity to offer a perspective – studies show better outcomes occur because of diverse perspectives. It's also important to be assertive and proactive in offering ideas and solutions."
She believes strongly that if you deliver results, you're helping change any gender-based perception. In her experience, leaders of companies then see that you and your approach are effective.
She says you must be confident and believe in your capabilities, but confidence is only part of the solution. "What really helped me was being given a chance to prove myself," she says. "That means we need male and female leaders at the top who are willing and eager to see potential in their rising male and female leaders." She also encourages women to speak up for their accomplishments and focus time on building relationships and networks, which is an important part of professional development.
As former a co-chair of WIN, Freddie Mac's employee resource group for women, Ms. Healy is a strong supporter of mentoring to help women advance.
"Find a culture that fits you and gives you flexibility and support and, in turn, give back," she says. "Help pay it forward, influence the next generation and expand opportunities for women. I had mentors who offered me one-on-one advice and sponsors who advocated for me. It's critical to see women in leadership roles balancing career and family. When you see someone else do it, you realize you don't have to preclude yourself from doing both."
Ms. Healy thinks it's a particularly exciting time for women to lead, since technology and innovation will change the paradigm of the mortgage industry. There will be new leadership roles and she sees lots of opportunities for women leaders.
"The transformation we are undergoing as an industry has the potential to open many doors," she says. "Women are more often encouraged to take on new roles to expand their skills and enter unchartered territory, which helps create new roles."
Vice President, Servicer Relationship
and Performance Management
Single-Family Portfolio Management
"Our male counterparts seem to be better at forming communities than we are," says Yvette Gilmore, vice president of Servicer Relationship and Performance Management in the Single-Family Portfolio Management division. "It's tremendously valuable to be around people who look and sound like you and have a base of understanding that is like yours."
Ms. Gilmore is a longtime champion of building communities and working together. A 23-year mortgage servicing industry veteran, she joined Freddie Mac in 2006 as non-performing loans director. She now leads a team that manages the day-to-day relationships and performance of all high volume/high risk Freddie Mac Servicers, as well as the teams that manage servicing policy, quality assurance, operational risk, and portfolio management and business management.
Her team provides both the strategic direction and policies that guide the efforts to preserve homeownership across America and facilitate positive servicing industry change. These policies enable the execution of servicing products and programs that support the performance of the company's $1.6 trillion Single-Family guarantee portfolio with an overarching goal of reducing credit losses and preserving communities through responsible loss mitigation and liquidation.
Previously, she was vice president of collections and loss mitigation for IndyMac Bank. She also held leadership positions in default servicing at Washington Mutual, Aames Financial and Glendale Federal Bank.
Ms. Gilmore is chair of WIN, the employee resource group focusing on expanding opportunities for women at Freddie Mac. She works to provide mentoring, development and networking opportunities, and thinks of all three as essential for empowering more women leaders.
"Mentors, coaches and sponsors are necessary for women to advance in our industry," she says. "It's very difficult to ascend to any leadership position in a company without a strong mentor, someone who can understand you and how you can make your biggest impact. Then you need a coach to help build you up and a sponsor who will see you through to advancement."
Ms. Gilmore says she had women mentors, "but my greatest mentors were men. In the corporate ladder I was climbing, my mentors had to be men because men were the ones there. I learned from their experience and then tailored it to my style. I took their ‘inside baseball' feedback and integrated that back into my authentic self."
It's not all up to the mentors, either, Ms. Gilmore says. Mentees need to be attractive, too. She believes they need to ask themselves what do I bring to the table? Her advice to aspiring women leaders is to pay attention to your job.
"Do it well and be exceptional," she says. "Then you can go out and be attractive to a mentor, someone else wants to invest in you and see you win. A mentor who believes you're capable of winning because you already are."
She also suggests that women look outside the confines of their office spaces for ways to expand their circles.
"When networking opportunities arise, we aren't thought of, and we may hesitate to invite each other even if we are included," she says. "Men don't have that same constraint. Women in our industry are seeing what happens when you don't have communities and are starting to
When it comes to changes she'd like to see in support of advancing women in the mortgage industry, she cites more diversity.
"What needs to change in our industry and what is changing is that you have major diversity initiatives," she says. "Companies are standing up and saying that diversity of thought leads to good outcomes and no diversity leads to bad outcomes. As companies begin to focus their teams based on diversity, employers will have less opportunity to deny promotions or discriminate."
She's worked at several different companies and says Freddie Mac has an impressive diversity and inclusion group that supports women.
"Our company puts its money where our mouth is in terms of bringing in outside speakers and programs focused on advancing women," she says. "Freddie Mac invests in its women leaders through programs like coaching."
While she's proud of the progress that's been made, she wants organizations to keep up the momentum and continue to expand their efforts in support of women. In particular, she says she'd like to see an expansion of how we all see diversity beyond simple binary focuses
"I want us to focus more on intersectionality," she says. "I am a woman. I am African-American. I am approaching a certain age. We should get comfortable with the intersections. And women must get comfortable with hiring other women."
She is troubled by recent reports suggesting that men are better at hiring women than other women are.
"We need women working together in movements like #LeadingTheWay to mentor each other, hire each other, get a better understanding of barriers to entry and then break them down," she says "That's what leaders are supposed to do. We remove barriers."
Senior Vice President
Single-Family Portfolio Management
“Different perspectives, different people and different ideas all make an organization better.”
As head of Single-Family Portfolio Management, Kevin Palmer has broad responsibility for the Single-Family portfolio, including Freddie Mac's guarantee book of business, pricing and analytics, servicing and REO. He also leads Single-Family Credit Risk Transfer (CRT), including Freddie Mac STACR® securitizations, ACIS® reinsurance, Whole Loan SecuritiesSM and front-end risk transfer offerings.
Since 2001, he has served in a variety of other positions at Freddie Mac, including whole loan trading, managing the non-agency ABS portfolio and risk management. In the nearly two decades he's been with the organization, he's seen Freddie Mac women leaders at their best – both the ones he's reported to as well as the ones who report to him, three of whom are profiled as part of the #LeadingTheWay campaign.
"One of my best bosses was Donna Corley," he says. "She leverages unique talents that benefit Freddie Mac. She's an amazing influence internally as a leader and mentor as well as a powerful presence publicly. I also have two very strong women currently reporting to me. Gina Healy leads a capital markets role where women are underrepresented and Yvette Gilmore leads our servicing area."
Mr. Palmer is a big believer in the power of diversity to lift an organization. He's proud of the work Freddie Mac has done to promote diversity overall. He believes the organization is showcasing to other companies how success is more readily available when you integrate women leaders into the organization and workforce.
"Different perspectives, different people and different ideas all make an organization better," he says. "I think the biggest way male leaders can help advance women in the industry is by embracing differences and recognizing how good female leaders are for our organization. I want us to support diverse perspectives – even help to bring them out in women who might be reluctant to speak out – and recognize that these diverse perspectives are helping us grow as people and as a company."
Senior Vice President
Single-Family Affordable Lending and Access to Credit
“We need more intentional cultivation of women in this industry.”
"In my world of affordable lending, we often try to teach people about cultural identity," says Danny Gardner, senior vice president of Single-Family's Affordable Lending and Access to Credit division. "When you're trying to appeal to and advance certain segments, it's important for the people in charge to build foundations and create norms to make it easier for the next generation. To better support women, leaders have to move beyond preconceived limitations of established male structure and that proverbial glass ceiling."
In his role, Mr. Gardner is primarily responsible for fulfilling Freddie Mac's community mission to provide sustainable homeownership education and financing to families who are traditionally underserved by the market. He is also responsible for overseeing Freddie Mac's delivery and performance against the Single-Family Affordable Lending goals, Duty to Serve regulation and Access to Credit activities in the FHFA Scorecard.
He and his team support our clients by partnering with the Sales team to educate clients on the availability and use of our affordable-related products and programs, including the Home Possible® suite of mortgage products and our CreditSmart Financial Literacy Program. He also leads our engagement with state and local housing finance agencies, diverse and inclusive realtor associations and national and local community development organizations, to establish partnerships and programs that create successful homeowners.
To support underserved and first-time homebuyers, the industry needs to focus on removing obstacles and creating opportunities. Mr. Gardner believes the same applies to advancing women in the housing industry.
In his three years at Freddie Mac, he says he has seen very strong examples of women leading in the public sphere and leading across huge parts of Freddie Mac's business as well as advocating for women and exemplifying work-life balance. He's glad to see more focus on supporting women and is passionate about the reasons behind these efforts.
"In addition to what we do to support women, there's also the why it's important to help advance women in the mortgage industry now," he says. "Why are we focused on this? One reason is that, if we don't do this, we miss an opportunity to gain the benefit of diverse thinking which elevates conversations and results within organizations. Another reason is that women seem to be more focused on home ownership than men. The rates of homeownership are higher with single women. And if we don't understand that women want to be addressed in a relevant way, we are going to miss out on opportunities."
Mr. Gardner believes that men can better support women leaders in this industry by recognizing the historical challenges and barriers based upon cultural norms.
"Unfortunately, cultural norms limit potential," he says. "For women leaders to succeed in the mortgage industry, we need more intentional cultivation of women in this industry. We need to be intentional about removing barriers and creating new norms."
Executive Vice President
“We need to celebrate successes and create more visible role models for the next generation of women leaders.”
Ever since joining Freddie Mac in 2013 as executive vice president for the Single-Family business, Dave Lowman has championed the advancement of women leaders within the company. Several women executives specifically cite him as the boss who saw their potential, took a chance and promoted them to higher positions within his leadership team.
"Women have faced challenges in the historically male-dominated mortgage industry," says Mr. Lowman, who's worked in the mortgage and consumer finance business for over 30 years. "There's clearly a glass ceiling. If you look at our industry broadly, women dominate in the workforce but aren't as well represented in the senior roles."
As head of Single-Family, Mr. Lowman has broad responsibility for the line of business, including managing the company's relationships with its Seller/Servicers, the performance of Freddie Mac's guarantee book of business, securitization of new business, and all sourcing, servicing and business operations. While he's proud of how Freddie Mac is leading the way for women in the industry, he's keenly aware that there's more to do to build diversity and level the playing field.
"Several things need to happen for more women leaders to succeed in the mortgage industry," he says. "The first is raised awareness. The second is more education and encouragement for women to take on financial and capital markets roles so they have that acumen. The third is more rigor around diversity or you're never going to get to fair opportunities for all. Finally, we need to celebrate successes and create more visible role models for the next generation of
When it comes to the ultimate goal, there are no limits.
"If we can remove whatever glass ceiling is there and women make it into director and vice president roles at any organization, then it's likely that the next CEO will be a woman," he says.
Freddie Mac is #LeadingTheWay at events around the country. Check out where we are appearing and how you can be part of it.
FreddieMac CONNECT, #LeadingTheWay Keynote Session, September 25, 2018
NEXT.TM The Women's Mortgage Technology Summit, conference sponsor and host of a #LeadingTheWay panel, February 7-8 2019
Yvette Gilmore, vice president of Servicer Relationship and Performance Management, was named by MReport as a Top 25 Industry Leader and Influencer.
February 9, 2019 – Yvette Gilmore, vice president of Servicer Relationship and Performance Management, was named by MReport as a Top 25 Industry Leader and Influencer for her exceptional contributions to servicing. Those include leading a strong team that is revolutionizing how Freddie Mac works with Servicers to build on successful relationships and leverage the organization's talent and technology to deliver outstanding results. MReport's "Top 25 Industry Leaders and Influencers" list recognizes individuals who are guiding by example and thinking outside the box in ways that are shaping the industry's path forward.
December 3, 2018 – Chris Boyle, chief client officer and head of Single-Family's Office of the Client, was named winner of HousingWire's 2018 Vanguard Award, which spotlights leadership and achievement in the housing industry. Ms. Boyle has been at the forefront of the integration between the physical and digital capabilities that support Freddie's client engagement. She is the revolutionary force behind Freddie's pursuit of customer satisfaction through the creation of a best-in-class client experience.
December 14, 2018 – Gina Healy, vice president of Counterparty Credit Risk Transfer and Mortgage Insurance Portfolio, won the Influential Women in Re/insurance 2018 Award. Now in its fourth year, the award, given by Intelligent Insurer, a leading publication covering the reinsurance and wholesale insurance markets, recognizes the most successful women working in risk transfer around the globe. Healy co-leads Freddie Mac's credit risk transfer program. In this role, she is responsible for developing strategies to transfer a portion of the credit risk on more than $1 trillion in mortgages within the Single-Family side of the enterprise.
October 24, 2018 – Women in the Workplace 2018 Report. LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company published their comprehensive annual report. It gives companies and employees the information they need to advance women and improve gender diversity within their organizations.
Six Report Recommendations for Companies Take to Make Progress on Gender Equality: