As founder and CEO of Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation, Steve Jacobson oversees and directs all business operations for the company’s full-service mortgage lending operation. Steve founded Fairway in April of 1996 and within five years he grew the company to achieve over $1 billion in closed annual loans. The company now has over 4,400 employees and in 2016 topped $17 billion in annual loan volume. Steve has been in the mortgage industry for over 32 years. Prior to establishing Fairway, he held several executive positions at Waterfield Financial Corporation. As Senior Vice President of Waterfield, he was responsible for production levels between $225-$250 million, and as National Sales Director, he was responsible for negotiating placements of in-house loan officers in real estate offices in new and existing Waterfield offices nationwide. A Wisconsin native, Steve holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Management from the University of Wisconsin. He is also the former captain of the University of Wisconsin basketball team where he played for four years and achieved All Academic Big Ten his graduating year.
Sarah Middleton has worked in the mortgage industry as an originator, branch manager and regional manager for 25 years. As an originator, Sarah holds the record for the most volume and units closed in Colorado as an individual Loan Officer - closing over 2 billion and 11,500+ units in her career. In her dual role as branch manager and regional manager, Sarah maintained a $50+ million per month branch production while simultaneously opening several branches that resulted in a $2 billion regional annual loan volume. Sarah joined Fairway Independent Mortgage in 2013 to help grow the company and take Fairway to the next level in mortgage banking. Sarah’s passion is to help Loan Officers and Branch Managers achieve their dreams in the mortgage business by sharing everything she has learned to help others succeed.
Len Krupinski offers over 14 years of mortgage and financial industry experience. Having been with Fairway since 1998, he oversees the finance and accounting functions for the company. Prior to joining Fairway, Len worked as a revenue agent for the Internal Revenue Service.
Scott Fletcher supervises the Credit Risk, Collateral Risk and Compliance organizations, including the retail and wholesale underwriting channels. Scott and his team are responsible for creating and communicating policies, procedures, and controls for underwriting and compliance to Fairway employees. A former President of the Wisconsin Mortgage Bankers Association and graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Scott has over 20 years of experience in the mortgage industry in Origination, Credit Risk, Secondary Marketing and Compliance.
Paul Walnick oversees the business development and servicing areas. He has over 26 years of mortgage lending experience. Prior to joining Fairway, Paul held a district management position at American Home Mortgage and regional and branch management positions at Waterfield Financial Corporation, where he also served as a loan officer. Paul began his career as a CPA. He received his Master of Business Administration from San Diego State University, and a Bachelor of Science degree from SUNY in Binghamton, New York.
Drawing on 15 years of experience in mortgage lending, secondary marketing, risk management, and capital markets, Mike Blake oversees and directs the secondary marketing operations as Executive Vice President Secondary Marketing at Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation. Throughout his career, he has managed mortgage pipeline interest rate risk, trading, hedging, pooling, loan and servicing sales, pricing, margin management, lock desk, investor relations, product development and agency delivery. Prior to joining Fairway, Mike was the Vice President Secondary Marketing at FBOP Corporation, a $17 billion multi-bank holding company based in Chicago, IL. Additionally, he was the First Vice President Secondary Marketing at MidAmerica Bank, an $11 billion bank based in Clarendon Hills, IL. Mike also worked at the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago in the Mortgage Partnership Finance program as the Product Development Manager. Mike also spent time at Arthur Andersen as a Risk Management Consultant. Mike was also the Assistant Vice President Secondary Marketing at Cole Taylor Bank based in Wheeling, Illinois. Blake began his career with ABN-AMRO working at the Chicago Board of Trade in Treasury bond futures. Mike has previously served as a member of the Fannie Mae Secondary Marketing Advisory Committee and on the Illinois Mortgage Bankers Association Secondary Marketing Committee. Mike graduated from the University of Dayton (BS, Finance, 1997). Mike also received an MBA from DePaul University (Finance, 2004).
Todd Gavinski oversees the branch financials and works directly with Branch Managers to establish their LO compensation plans. Todd joined Fairway in 2002 as a Loan Officer until 2005. He transitioned to Associated Bank to be Market President of Portage, WI and Reedsburg, WI locations and focused on commercial lending. In 2007, Todd rejoined Fairway as VP Accounting. Prior to joining Fairway, he was an auditor for Arthur Andersen and Virchow Krause.
Paola Kielblock manages the Product department for Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation. This includes: Product Support Team, Bond and Housing Team, Product Development Team, Broker Department, Renovation Team, Product Training Team, Regional Products Team. Paola has over 19 years experience in the mortgage lending community, which includes working as an Operations Manager for a broker firm in Calabasas, CA overseeing production and day to day operations. Paola’s goals are to help the company grow organically with ensuring the right and responsible products are available to the loan officers in the network.
As the head of Human Resources and Learning & Organizational Development, Julie Fry brings a wealth of knowledge gained throughout her 17 years of experience in the HR profession, ensuring the organizational people strategy is tied to business strategy. Julie and her teams work closely with department leaders to create synergies and drive the organizations untraditional work environment and a culture that sets Fairway apart from others. Julie’s areas of expertise include: strategic planning, mergers and acquisitions, leadership coaching, organizational development and training, talent acquisition and retention, compensation and benefits, performance management, career and succession planning, and change management. Prior to joining Fairway, Julie was part of several successful teams in multiple industries, including insurance, financial services and healthcare.
Eric Brown joined Fairway Independent Mortgage in March of 2012. He has been in the Mortgage industry for nearly 30 years, predominantly on the Retail production side. Eric was part of the Carl I Brown and Company team, assisting in building a 3 billion dollar servicing portfolio (sold to First Tennessee in 1995). Eric then joined First Horizon Home loans as a Midwest Regional for 15 years, assisting in both Retail and Wholesale Lending. In 2010 Eric worked as the Central Divisional Manager at MetLife. Eric is currently managing the Business Development team for Fairway. In this role, he assists both new and existing Branch Managers in their growth opportunities, financial management and optimizing operations efficiencies. By working with Retail managers and their teams, his passion is to create more successful and sustainable branch profit and productivity.
Randy Allen joined Fairway in 2004 and has held several leadership roles with Fairway’s IT department. During this time Randy has helped create successful teams in support, infrastructure, and facilities that has allowed Fairway to be one of the fastest growing mortgage firms in the US.
Prior to joining Fairway, Randy held senior technical management and consulting roles which led to him becoming the director of a reputable information technology company where he was responsible for all aspects of their technology.
Randy is a graduate of Southern Methodist University School of Engineering’s ATEC program, and holds advanced certifications from Microsoft, Cisco Systems and ISC2’s CISSP security accreditation.
As the head of Fairway Operations, Tom Dixon oversees national operations which includes closing/funding, warehouse and wires, shipping, and government insuring. Tom and his team ensure every loan is processed and closed in accordance with all government and investor requirements, while meeting Fairway’s standards for timeliness and quality. He also works closely with department leaders to create and implement company policies and procedures. Tom brings a wealth of knowledge gained throughout his 20 plus years of experience in mortgage banking, which includes leadership roles at Carl I. Brown & Company, First Horizon, and MetLife Home Loans.
As the Chief Risk Officer, John Hotchkiss oversees Operational Risk, Quality Control, Internal Audit, and Corporate Security and Safety. John and his team ensure that Fairway monitors and mitigates any risk that may challenge the company. He also works very closely with department leaders to create, align and implement company policies and procedures. John brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise gained throughout his 30 years of experience in the mortgage industry. This includes 17 years at Fannie Mae in various roles including Credit Risk, Multicultural Lending, Marketing, and served the role of Fannie Mae Ombudsman to the National Bankers Association. John has also held positions with GMAC Mortgage and TCF Bank. John started in the industry at the age of 15 working at his father’s mortgage brokerage firm in the Northern suburbs of Chicago.
Valentyn has practiced law for over 30 years, assisting clients with contract negotiations, strategic planning, and day-to-day business matters. In addition, he has years of experience successfully negotiating contracts for coaches and professional athletes. He also was president of a manufacturing company in Wisconsin and spent 15 years as President of one of Madison's preeminent law firms.
As Chief Compliance Officer, Trista Mayer manages the corporate compliance team which oversees regulatory compliance, policy and procedures, HMDA, state examinations and licensing for Fairway. When she joined Fairway in July 2013, Trista served as Vice President of Regulatory Compliance, and in July 2015, was named Chief Compliance Officer. With more than twenty years of experience in the financial services industry, Trista has a balanced approach for evaluating and mitigating compliance risk. Her knowledge of compliance, as well as her technical and operational competencies, have been instrumental in strengthening and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of Fairway’s compliance program. Trista was also awarded Mortgage Compliance Magazine’s Mortgage Compliance Professional of the Month – December 2015.
Ron Kluk joined Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation in 2010 to assist in starting up the Wholesale division. With more than 15 years of mortgage industry experience, he has held positions in origination, processing, underwriting, and processing and underwriting management. Following his passion to improve automation and efficiencies, he obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Information Systems and joined Fairway’s IT team as a Project Manager and Business Analyst. Ron has led the company’s IT efforts for TRID, ECOA, HMDA, NMLS reporting, and managed the LOS upgrades and enhancements.