We’re proud to announce our inaugural recognition program for young leaders in the U.S. housing economy, called Rising Stars. The nomination period for the 2014 class of Rising Stars is now open, and I encourage every company that calls real estate finance and housing their own to consider nominating their own dynamic young leaders.

You can learn more about the 2014 Rising Stars program here, including how to nominate someone for consideration. Nominations close on May 23, and we’ll be announcing winners in our July 2014 issue of HW Magazine.

This is a program we’ve been wanting to launch at HousingWire for some time, given the important role younger Gen X cohorts and Millennials will play in shaping the future of this – and indeed, every – industry.

With the U.S. mortgage industry at an undeniable crossroads, we think the role of younger leaders needs to be recognized in an industry often characterized by more seasoned professionals.

For me personally, this program means more than most.

That’s because while I’m the CEO and co-founder of this media company, I’m also not yet 40 years old myself. (Just hit 39, thank you very much.) And I know first-hand how much a program like this is needed by our industry -- and I also know first-hand how much younger leaders in this industry value recognition of their hard work and positive impact.

So now it's time to celebrate youthful energy. Innovation. A willingness to challenge the status quo. And often an affinity for technology that can serve to displace more established competitors, too. After all, these are all the things that future business growth is predicated on, no matter what age you are.

I know I’m not alone, as I’ve met hundreds of even younger professionals over the years charting their own course through the mortgage industry – and succeeding wildly. Lawyers. Loan officers. Real estate pros. Entrepreneurs. Technologists. Economists. Corporate managers. Investors. And many more.

The Rising Stars program is for the next generation of leaders in lending, servicing, investments, and real estate. It’s for those younger leaders already making their mark on an industry that collectively represents roughly 1/3rd of the nation’s economic base.

All of us at HousingWire are proud to make this unique program a reality, as no other publication — including, yes, those publications much older than we are! — has seen fit to invest the time or effort to build a similar program that spans the entire industry.

We think it’s only appropriate that the industry media upstart and now undisputed market leader be the first to the table here.

Take the time to read about the Rising Stars program, and I encourage you to take the time to thoughtfully nominate a business leader you know, or work for. I guarantee the young leaders that make this year’s cut will appreciate the recognition.