MBA Honors 2019 Diversity & Inclusion Residential Leadership Award Winners

AUSTIN, TEXAS–The Mortgage Bankers Association recognized five member companies for its 2019 Diversity and Inclusion Residential Leadership Awards.

The annual awards, presented here at the MBA 2019 Annual Convention & Expo, recognize MBA members for their leadership efforts in diversity and inclusion in two award categories: organizational diversity and inclusion; and market outreach strategies.

“As we enter the fourth year of our Diversity and Inclusion Residential Leadership Awards, I am amazed to see the progress of the mortgage industry when it comes to creating successful D&I programs,” said Brian Stoffers, CMB, 2020 MBA Chairman and Global President of Debt & Structured Finance with CBRE. “This year’s recipients have an unwavering commitment to D&I, and I look forward to seeing the future successes of their programs.”

This year’s submissions were reviewed by two groups of judges: members of MBA’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee and MBA staff. The companies were broken into two groups based on the number of employees, then were scored by the quality of their overall submission; identification of a target audience; and annual goals. Winners were also determined based on the level of success achieved by the D&I enterprise and the replicability of the program. Innovative program approaches and potential success in broadening the culture of the organization through the values of diversity and inclusion were also considered.

The 2019 Diversity and Inclusion Residential Leadership Award winners are:

Organizational Diversity and Inclusion award: FirstBank and Equity Prime Mortgage

MBA Chairman Brian Stoffers, CMB and Laura Conry of FirstBank.

The Organizational Diversity and Inclusion award celebrates company initiatives that were specifically developed and designed to increase diversity and inclusion within the leadership and employee base of member companies, thereby leading to a mortgage banking industry that may better reflect and understand its customers.


For companies with more than 1,000 employees, FirstBank is honored for its initiative on hiring and training a diverse employee population.

“A company is nothing without the people that comprise it,” FirstBank said. “That is why FirstBank fills its ranks with intelligent individuals with strong moral compasses and prides itself in hiring and training a diverse employee population. This is at the center of the bank’s “people-first” mentality.”

With the guidance of FirstBank’s Director of Diversity and Diversity Committee, FirstBank’s D&I policy provides a framework to ensure that equality and equity are at the forefront of all business practices. The committee guides FirstBank to fostering, nurturing, and preserving a culture of inclusion at its organization.

MBA Chairman Brian Stoffers, CMB, with Hillary Passo and Eddy Perez, CMB, of Equity Prime Mortgage.

Equity Prime Mortgage

For companies with fewer than 1,000 employees, Equity Prime Mortgage is recognized for its dedication to creating a diverse and welcoming culture for both employees and clients.

“EPM is dedicated to creating a diverse and welcoming culture for both our employees and clients,” said Equity Prime Mortgage President Eddy Perez, CMB. “Making conscious efforts to hire without bias, train without preconceived notions and provide growth without limits, EPM can say with confidence, “we represent you and are here for you”.

Through its efforts, Equity Prime Mortgage creates an approach that fosters, celebrates, and infuses diversity into the company’s core mission, which includes promoting an inclusive culture and improving financial performance and innovation. “This vision allows us to fulfill the ‘American Dream,’ one loan at a time, by representing truly the people we serve,” Perez said.

Market Outreach Strategies award: SunTrust Banks Inc.; Synovus; and Idaho Housing and Finance Association

The Market Outreach Strategies award recognizes company initiatives specifically developed and designed to increase outreach, marketing and products to attract customers from the industry’s fastest-growing market segments.

MBA Chairman Brian Stoffers, CMB, with Sherry Graziano and Anthony Weekly of SunTrust Banks Inc.

SunTrust Banks Inc.

For companies with more than 1,000 employees, SunTrust Banks Inc. is awarded for its inclusive Lending/CRA plan. Its plan includes several innovative strategies aimed at supporting homebuyers, promoting sustainable homeownership and providing greater stability within the communities it serves.

“Our purpose of lighting the way to financial well-being has been the driving force behind our Inclusive Lending/CRA plan,” SunTrust said. “This plan includes a number of innovative strategies aimed at supporting emerging home buyers, promoting sustainable home ownership and providing greater stability within our communities. We are committed to understanding the unique challenges that first-time homebuyers, millennials, multicultural groups and underserved buyers face.”

With a deep understanding of its clients’ needs, SunTrust creates targeted solutions to benefit its client groups while supporting its referral partners and the communities it serves.

MBA Chairman Brian Stoffers, CMB, with Gordon Bussey and Steve Shoemaker, CMB, of Synovus.


For companies with less than 1,000 employees, Synovus is recognized for its inclusion and diversity strategy, which was founded on the belief that improving inclusion and diversity is not just the right thing to do, but critical to the success of Synovus’ business.

The program has three areas of focus: increasing minority representation across the organization; increasing the number of women in leadership positions; and improving inclusiveness in six areas identified by and prioritized through a team member survey. Several diversity initiatives were implemented in 2018, including revised job posting guidelines, leadership training, and the hiring of a diversity and inclusion director.

MBA Chairman Brian Stoffers, CMB, with Susan Semba and Heather Bowman of the Idaho Housing and Finance Association.

Idaho Housing and Finance Association

For the non-lender category, Idaho Housing and Finance Association is recognized for its The Finally Home! Homebuyer Education course, which helps first-time buyers during the home-buying process.

“This program has helped give thousands of borrowers a solid foundation for sustainable homeownership,” IHFA said. “Nowhere has it been more successful than among women and minorities. IHFA devotes significant effort and resources toward targeted marketing and in-person outreach to ensure that everyone in its community has the resources to make homeownership possible.

And its efforts are paying off. In the past year, 46 percent of Finally Home! students were women; 24 percent identified as non-white, Hispanic, or bi-racial. IHFA’s loan numbers tell a similar story, for Idaho loans originated in 2018: Thirty-two percent included women as the primary borrower. Non-white, Hispanic, or bi-racial borrowers accounted for 14 percent.

MBA Commercial and Multifamily members will have a separate Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Awards process, with nominations opening at a later date. The 2020 awards will be presented at the 2020 CREF/Multifamily Housing Convention & Expo in San Diego February 9-12. Visit for updates.