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Here are the 2020 HousingWire Vanguards

The top 50 executives in housing


The 2020 list of HousingWire Vanguard potential candidates was more competitive than ever before. On any other given year, many would have easily won – but this was not any other year. The competition was fierce. 

But even more impressive was the back story behind many of our top housing executives. Just over 20% of this year’s Vanguards are women. This is not the 50% I hope we will someday see, but it is far above the 7% level of top female executives at Fortune 100 companies. Women today enjoy a much more level playing field, where hard work and determination are some of the largest factors in their success, but that wasn’t always the case. 

We frequently see executive women who started their career as a secretary at their financial firms because that was the only position available to women at the time – then later ran that same company. In one instance, a woman became the first female member of the executive team, and the board had to change where it met because the place that it was using for business meetings at the time did not allow women to enter. 

Many of this year’s winners fought through varying hardships to get to where they are today. One of the 2020 HousingWire Vanguards, William Lyons, appeared on season 4 of Shark Tank to ask for an investment on his real estate investing website. The judges were unimpressed and tanked his idea, saying they didn’t “understand how it’s possible to make estimations on value,” and that they didn’t “believe Bill has a real business concept.” 

Needless to say, Lyons did not stop there, and now runs Griffin Funding, which has been recognized by Inc 500 and the Fastest 100 in San Diego County. 

This year’s Vanguards are filled with success stories – the executives that made it to the top, and now dominate the housing industry. Click through to read their stories below.

Nick Bailey, Chief Customer Officer, RE/MAX
Gary Beasley, CEO and Cofounder, Roofstock
John Berkowitz, Cofounder and CEO, OJO Labs
Paul Buege, President and Chief Operating Officer, Inlanta Mortgage, Inc.
Christy Bunce, Chief Operating Officer, New American Funding
Chris Cordry, Executive Vice President and Senior Director Capital Markets, PrimeLending
Donna Corley, Executive Vice President and Head of the Single-Family Business, Freddie Mac
Thomas Cronkright, Cofounder and CEO, CertifID
Sean Dobson, Chairman and CEO, Amherst
Robert D’Urbano, Chief Information Officer, Freedom Mortgage Corporation
John Elias, Chief Revenue and Strategy Officer, Guaranteed Rate
Shirley Finucan, Chief Operating Officer, Southern Trust Mortgage
Katie Foster, Executive Vice President, Chief Risk Officer, United Wholesale Mortgage
Brian Francis, Chief Technology Officer, FormFree
Josh Friend, Founder and CEO, Insellerate
Richard Gagliano, President, Black Knight Origination Technologies, Black Knight, Inc.
Nima Ghamsari, Cofounder and CEO, Blend
Sarah Gonzalez, Chief Operating Officer, First Guaranty Mortgage Corporation
Joel Gottsegen, Cofounder and Chief Technology Officer, Qualia
Ernie Graham, Chief Executive Officer, Homebot
Chris Heller, Chief Real Estate Officer, OJO Labs
Neenu Kainth, Chief Digital Officer, Mr. Cooper Group
Tawn Kelley, President, Taylor Morrison Home Funding
Aaron King, Founder and CEO, Snapdocs
Karthik Kumar, Mortgage Practice Head, Tata Consultancy Services
Joe Langner, President, ReverseVision
Suzy Lindblom, Chief Operating Officer, Planet Home Lending, LLC
Gene Ludwig, Founder, Promontory MortgagePath
William Lyons, President and CEO, Griffin Funding, Inc.
Jane Mason, Founder and CEO, Clarifire
Bill Neville, CEO, LoanLogics
Willie Newman, President and CEO, Home Point Financial
Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist, CoreLogic
Steve Ozonian, CEO, Williston Financial Group Family of Companies
Thomas Pearce, CEO and Chairman of the Board, MAXEX
Kurt Pfotenhauer, Vice Chairman, First American
Jay Promisco, Chief Production Officer, Sierra Pacific Mortgage
Ken Richey, Partner and Founder, Richey May and Co
Gretchen Rosenberg, President and CEO, Kentwood Real Estate
Alex Rosenblum, CEO, Axia Home Loans
Glenn Sanford, CEO, eXp World Holdings
Brian Simons, President, Maxwell
Dan Sogorka, President and CEO, Sagent Lending Technologies
Dave Stevenson, Chief Technology Officer, SimpleNexus
Ike Suri, Chairman and CEO, Fundingshield LLC
Tony Thompson, Founder and CEO, National Association of Minority Mortgage Bankers of America
David Townsend, President and CEO, Agents National Title Ins Co
Rick Triola, CEO, NotaryCam
Joe Welu, CEO, Total Expert
Leslie Winick, Chief Strategy Officer, Mortgage Capital Trading

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