Maren Kasper abruptly steps down as head of Ginnie Mae

Leaving to “pursue an opportunity in the private sector”

Ginnie Mae, the government agency that insures more than $2 trillion in mortgages, is about to be on the hunt for a new leader, again. That’s because, for the second time this year, the acting head of Ginnie Mae has abruptly stepped down to “pursue an opportunity in the private sector.”

Earlier this year, Michael Bright, who had been leading Ginnie Mae on an interim basis for nearly 18 months and was the Trump administration’s nominee to lead the agency, stepped down to become president and CEO of the Structured Finance Association, a trade advocacy group for the securities markets formerly known as the Structured Finance Industry Group.

Bright was replaced as acting president by Maren Kasper, who also served as executive vice president of Ginnie Mae. But now, Kasper is leaving too.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Thursday that Kasper is stepping down from her roles as acting president, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Ginnie Mae to pursue an unnamed opportunity in the private sector.

According to HUD, Kasper informed HUD Secretary Ben Carson on Thursday that she plans to leave Ginnie Mae in just over a week. Kasper’s resignation letter, which can be read in full here, states that her last day at Ginnie Mae will be Oct. 18, 2019.

“It’s been an honor and a privilege to serve you and this Administration since joining the Department on January 20, 2017,” Kasper said in her letter to Carson. “I am proud of all that we have accomplished over the last three years. Our efforts under the Ginnie Mae 2020 strategic plan have protected taxpayers, continued to evolve the Ginnie Mae platform for the future, and improved the performance of the Ginnie Mae security, all to the benefit of American homeowners.”

Kasper’s departure will only extend the search for a permanent leader at Ginnie Mae, the government agency that issues mortgage bonds backed by Federal Housing Administration or Department of Veterans Affairs loans.

The agency has been without a permanent president since Ted Tozer stepped down in early 2017 when President Donald Trump was inaugurated.

Kasper then joined the administration in January 2017 after serving as a director at Roofstock, an online marketplace for single-family rental home investing.

Earlier in her career, Kasper worked for Dwell Finance, which also focused on the single-family rental market.

According to New York Magazine, Kasper joined the Trump administration early on, serving on the administration’s “beachhead team” that worked at HUD before HUD Secretary Ben Carson was confirmed.

According to the article, in those early days, Kasper butted heads with Shermichael Singleton, an associate of Carson, who was eventually fired after anti-Trump writings surfaced from before he was part of the administration.

Kasper also reportedly had issues with Lynne Patton, who is close with the Trump family, and was eventually chosen to lead HUD’s Region II office, which oversees federal housing programs in New York and New Jersey.

Despite those reported issues, former HUD Deputy Secretary Pam Patenaude vouched for Kasper, telling HousingWire that she had full confidence in Kasper’s ability to lead Ginnie Mae.

In the end, Kasper led Ginnie Mae for roughly 10 months.

According to HUD, Seth Appleton, assistant secretary for policy development and research, will concurrently serve as principal executive vice president. Additionally, Michael Drayne will assume the role of acting executive vice president. Drayne is currently senior vice president for strategic planning and policy.

In Kasper’s letter to Carson, she tells the HUD secretary that she will “ensure a seamless transition” in her remaining time at Ginnie Mae.

“Effective immediately, all executive decisions have been delegated to Ginnie Mae senior officials,” Kasper writes. “Ginnie Mae remains committed to delivering on the agency’s strategic plan and key initiatives underway. It has been the opportunity of a lifetime to serve alongside you. It is your leadership and support that have made our significant accomplishments possible.

Carson, in a statement, thanked Kasper for her “significant contributions” to the administration.

“I want to thank Maren for her significant contributions to both Ginnie Mae and the Department which have helped enable more Americans to become homeowners,” Carson said. “She has done a tremendous job stepping in to lead Ginnie Mae and its talented team. We all wish her well and know the future for her is bright.”

According to HUD, it is planning to have a conference call next week with global investors and stakeholders to discuss the leadership transition.

[Update: This article is updated to reflect the new name of the Structured Finance Industry Group: The Structured Finance Association.]

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