Cause for celebration: MMLA marks a milestone at 85th President's Banquet

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News


Members of the Michigan Mortgage Lenders Association (MMLA) gathered November 6 for this year’s President’s Installation Banquet, held at the Atheneum Hotel & Conference Center in Detroit.

The event celebrated the association’s “diamonds and sapphires” 85th anniversary.  

“Being one of the oldest and best mortgage lending associations in the country is certainly cause for celebration,” said MMLA Executive Director Joanne Misuraca.  

The banquet, honoring past, present and future board members and spotlighting annual award recipients, is the highlight of the year for MMLA, a trade association representing more than 1,780 individuals and more than 750 mortgage banking firms, brokers, commercial banks, savings banks, credit unions, mortgage professionals, investors, insurance companies, and others providing products and services to the mortgage industry in Michigan. MMLA has a Mid Chapter in the Lansing area; Southeast Chapter in the Metro-Detroit and Flint areas; and West Chapter in the Grand Rapids area.

This year’s event, the largest attended in more than 10 years, included the installation of the officers and board members; and a cocktail reception for the general membership followed by dinner and the program.

Jim Cutillo, founder and CEO of Stonegate Mortgage Co., one of the largest independently owned mortgage lenders and servicers in the U.S., was the keynote speaker.

Since launching in 2005, during one of the most challenging housing markets in history, Stonegate has become a leading provider of mortgage finance solutions for homebuyers as well as third party originators – banks, mortgage bankers and brokers. In 2012, Cutillo led a deal with Long Ridge Equity Partners, a New York-based private equity firm that invested $25 million in Stonegate Mortgage to support the company’s strategy and continued growth through the development of integrated mortgage finance solutions including capital, securitization expertise and the acquisition of mortgage servicing rights. The ninth fastest growing privately held business in Indiana according to the Indianapolis Business Journal, for the past two years Stonegate has been one of Inc. Magazine’s “500 Fastest Growing Companies.”

Outgoing MMLA President Kimberly Alexander CMB, of Towne Mortgage Co. in Troy welcomed the group and new officers for the next year were introduced. The 2015 MMLA officers include: President Andrew Baker, Chemical Bank; Vice President Marc Reneau, First State Bank; Secretary/Treasurer Don Precour, Fifth Third Bank; and General Members, Janice Hurt and Jim Wickham, CMB.

A resident of Grand Rapids, Baker reflected on his career in the mortgage industry and his involvement with the MMLA in his speech.

“When I first got involved with the association, I would go to events not sure how it would help me in my daily job responsibilities,” he said. “What I didn’t realize then, is that joining the MMLA was the best career decision I have ever made.  Just getting to know other members, making contacts and friendships with the best people in my profession has been priceless.”

Karen Bondar, United Guaranty, received the Ambassador Award, presented annually to “the individual whose new membership initiatives and achievements embody the spirit of a true ambassador.”  Bondar started in the mortgage industry working for Glen Computer before moving to United Guaranty in May 1997 as a senior account executive. She has been a member of the MMLA since 1997 and actively involved in many roles, serving on various boards and committees.

Trinity Lancione, Guardian Mortgage Co., received the Vic Miller Award, given to “the person who has contributed to the success of the Michigan Mortgage Lenders Association through individual effort and without regard to personal sacrifice.”  Marketing coordinator at Guardian Mortgage Co. in Grand Blanc, she has been a member of the MMLA for two years and very active on many committees, including the PR, conference, membership, education and banquet panels. The Flint resident is helping to get the Eastern Region of MMLA members back together and was involved in planning a recent very successful “Way Back Wednesday” dinner at Zehnder’s in Frankenmuth. She has also been leading fun fund-raisers in her office for MORBANPAC, the non-partisan political action committee of the MMLA.

Dan Gilbert, founder of Quicken Loans, received the James T. Barnes Memorial Award, given annually to “the person whose career reflects high ethical standards with a deep commitment to mortgage banking in addition to possessing the traits that most epitomize the character and the ideals of James T. Barnes.” Chairman of Quicken Loans Inc., the nation’s second largest mortgage lender which includes affiliate Title Source Inc., In-House Realty, and One Reverse Mortgage, Gilbert is also founder and chairman of Rock Ventures, the umbrella entity for his portfolio of business and real estate investments; both Rock Ventures and Quicken Loans are headquartered in Detroit, where Gilbert’s ventures are helping to transform the city. Gilbert is also a majority owner of the NBA Cleveland Cavaliers.

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