Since establishing Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation in 1996, founder and CEO, Steve Jacobson has been an innovative leader in the mortgage industry. In the past 26 years, the company has continually grown, closing $72.5 billion in 2021 alone and employing more than 10,000 team members nationwide. Mr. Jacobson’s focus on growth has led to more than 750 Fairway branch and satellite locations across the United States.
In 2021, Fairway’s retail business was 61.7% purchase and Fairway was proudly ranked as the #4 VA lender in purchase units and #5 in VA volume and #1 USDA lender in purchase units and volume for five consecutive years. In addition, Mr. Jacobson has also helped grow additional revenue channels within Fairway in both wholesale lending and digital consumer direct lending.
As a leader, Mr. Jacobson has been personally recognized for his contributions within the mortgage industry. In 2019, he received the HW Vanguard Award, which recognizes individuals who, through their leadership, have moved the housing industry and economy forward. Not only that, but his philanthropic endeavors are illustrated by Fairway’s nonprofits, American Warrior Initiative (AWI) and Fairway Cares. Each year, both nonprofit organizations are able to grow and impact thousands of lives through the generous contributions of Fairway’s employees.
With his entrepreneurial mindset, Mr. Jacobson also helped found Frisco Lender Services, LLC (FLS), a company that specializes in residential appraisals as well as Ignite, a coaching arm of Fairway that provides mentorship and growth opportunities to originators and corporate employees. Unlike other companies in the mortgage industry that are owned by hedge funds, Fairway is privately held and is an ESOP. This allows Fairway to truly put employees first, which goes hand in hand with Fairway’s positive and inviting company culture.
Fairway has had the honor of being named the #1 Workplace in the USA 2022 by Energage and for the past seven years has been named the #1 Best Company to Work For by Mortgage Executive magazine. On a personal note, Mr. Jacobson is a Wisconsin native and holds a bachelor of business administration in management from the University of Wisconsin. He is also the former co-captain of the University of Wisconsin basketball team, where he joined as a walk-on and played for four years while achieving Academic All-Big Ten his graduating year.
Len Krupinski offers extensive 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 federal government.
Sarah Middleton has worked in the mortgage industry as an Originator, Branch Manager and Regional Manager. 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 Corporation 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 succeed and achieve their dreams in the mortgage business by sharing everything she has learned.
Scott Fletcher supervises the credit risk, collateral risk and compliance departments, 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 extensive experience in the mortgage industry in origination, credit risk, secondary marketing, and compliance.
Drawing on experience in mortgage lending, secondary marketing, risk management, and capital markets, Mike Blake oversees and directs the secondary marketing operations as President of Capital Markets 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 of Secondary Marketing at a $17 billion multi-bank holding company based in Chicago, Ill. Blake was also the First Vice President of Secondary Marketing for an $11 billion bank based in Clarendon Hills, Ill. Previously Mike 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), and received an MBA from DePaul University (Finance, 2004).
Todd Gavinski oversees the branch financials and works directly with Branch Managers to establish their Loan Officer compensation plans. Todd joined Fairway in 2002 as a Loan Officer until 2005. He transitioned to a bank to be Market President of the Portage, WI and Reedsburg, WI locations where he focused on commercial lending. In 2007, Todd rejoined Fairway as Vice President of Accounting. Prior to joining Fairway, he was an auditor for full-service accounting and advisory firms.
Paola Kielblock manages the product department for Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation. This includes the product support team, bond and housing team, product development team, broker department, renovation team, product training team, and regional products team. Paola has extensive 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 by ensuring the right and responsible products are available to the Loan Officers in the network.
As the head of human resources and the learning & development department, Julie Fry brings a wealth of knowledge gained through her years of experience in the HR profession, ensuring the organizational strategy is tied to business strategy. Julie and her teams work closely with department leaders to create synergies and drive the organization’s nontraditional 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 Corporation in March of 2012. He has been in the mortgage industry for multiple decades, predominantly on the retail production side. Eric assisted in building a $3 billion servicing portfolio at a previous company. Eric then joined another mortgage company as a Midwest Regional Manager for 15 years, assisting in both Retail and Wholesale Lending. 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 operations efficiencies. By working with retail managers and their teams, his passion and goal is to create more successful and sustainable branch profit and productivity.
As the head of Fairway operations, Tom Dixon oversees national operations, which include closing/funding, warehouse and wires, shipping, and post-closing. Tom and his team ensure that 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 decades of experience in mortgage banking, which includes leadership roles at multiple mortgage companies.
Jessica Manna is President of Digital Strategy & Innovation at Fairway where she oversees the marketing department. Drawing on nearly two decades of executive leadership experience spanning all facets of marketing, Jessica’s marketing teams have been honored with more than a dozen awards for marketing and analytics excellence. Prior to joining Fairway, Jessica was founder of a marketing agency serving many of the industry’s top mortgage lenders. Jessica graduated from Ohio State University with an MBA in strategic leadership; She also earned the designations of Accredited Mortgage Professional from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) and Disruptive Strategy certified professional from Harvard Business School Online. Jessica previously served on LendingTree’s Lender Advisory Council, Leads Council, and the Direct Marketing Association Financial Services Council. She currently serves on the MBAs Residential Loan Production Committee. Jessica and her husband, Murali, live in upstate New York with Murali’s daughter and a house full of lively pets!
Randy Allen joined Fairway in 2004 and has held several leadership roles in Fairway’s IT department. During this time, Randy has helped create successful teams in support, infrastructure, and facilities that have allowed Fairway to be one of the fastest growing mortgage firms in the U.S. Prior to joining Fairway, Randy held senior technical management and consulting roles, which led to his 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 Chief Risk Officer, John Hotchkiss oversees Enterprise Risk, Operational Risk, Quality Control, Internal Audit, Reporting and Analytics, and Risk Management. 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 decades of experience in the mortgage industry. This includes 17 years at a government-sponsored mortgage enterprise in various roles, including credit risk, multicultural lending, and marketing. He also served as an ombudsman to the National Bankers Association. John started in the industry at the age of 15, working at his father’s mortgage brokerage firm in the northern suburbs of Chicago.
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 extensive 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, has 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 in December of 2015.
Tom Westerfield oversees and directs all business operations for FLS, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fairway. FLS is a vendor management firm with AMC licenses in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, that specializes in order and delivery of USPAP compliant residential appraisals, IRS tax transcripts and flood determinations. Tom provides guidance for the overall organization and management of our appraiser service and quality standards, and the compliance and regulatory controls set forth by state and federal governing agencies.
Tom has over 35 years of appraisal experience, holds the SRA designation with the Appraisal Institute and maintains active Certified General Appraisal licenses in four states. Tom graduated from the University of Redlands with a bachelor’s degree in accounting.
Executive Vice President of Training and Operational Support
Joy Knoch joined Fairway in 2011 and has been in the mortgage industry since 1996. Joy has held many positions within in the industry, including originator, processor, closer, processing manager, branch support, broker owner and now EVP training and operational support. In Joy’s current role of EVP, she oversees training, branch support, national processing and origination support. Joy’s passion is to deliver the highest level of support to Fairway’s network with a commitment of speed to respond.
After graduating from the University of Arizona, Jon Tobias started his career in the mortgage industry working behind the scenes. Soon after, he transitioned to a position as a mortgage loan originator so that he could work closely with the real estate agent and builder communities. Jon moved quickly from there, becoming a manager for a successful builder’s mortgage branch.
Over the years, Jon has become an expert in handling a high volume of loan transactions, but he also knows the importance of maintaining a high level of service. Coming to Fairway was a simple choice for Jon, due to a wide product selection, excellent rates and reputation for closing loans. Jon has led The Tobias Team for close to 10 years straight as the number one originator in Maricopa County per Scotsman Guide as well as a top 100 Loan Originator in the Country. Most recently, Jon reached the Top 15 Mortgage Originators per Mortgage Executive magazine for 2019. In addition, Jon has helped move Fairway to the #1 lender in Arizona in just 36 months. Jon’s branch closed just under $1 billion in 2019, while the Fairway Southwest region as a whole reached over $2 billion in closed loans. Jon is a tried-and-true transparent leader, leading with the most humble, hungry and smart approach. Jon is not only a leader amongst originators and mortgage professionals in the Southwest, but he is also wildly respected in the national mortgage arena.
Kim Yowell is responsible for Servicing Operations at Fairway, which includes Customer Service, Servicing Operations and Transfers, and Sub-servicer Oversight. Kim and the Servicing team are highly focused on delivering an exceptional customer experience throughout the servicing transfer process. Kim, a CPA, holds a BBA in Accounting from Texas Christian University and has over 30 years of leadership and servicing management experience in financial services. Kim has served on the Freddie Mac Advisory Board, the MBA Loan Administration Committee, the Black Knight Servicer Advisory Board, and the Fiserv Servicing Advisory Board. Currently, Kim is a Five Star National Mortgage Servicing Association member and is serving on the Texas Mortgage Bankers Association Board. Kim and her husband, John, live in Grapevine, Texas. They have two married children — also both CPAs — and two grand-girls, plus a prized German shepherd!
Betty Graham has 25 years of experience in the mortgage industry and has been part of the Fairway family since 2009. Betty’s primary focus at Fairway is the branch network where she leads efforts on growth, retention, business development and pricing. Betty lends her expertise to any challenge that may affect the branches — no matter the complexity. In addition, Betty leads the marketing, lead generation, and Frisco Lender Services departments as well as oversees the Homefinity division of the company. Her experience in the mortgage industry has provided her a solid foundation to ensure our branches and loan officers have what they need to prosper and prevail in this fast-paced and ever-changing environment.
Betty attributes her success to those who mentored her and challenged her to learn and grow in all aspects of the mortgage industry. Her vast knowledge, coupled with a servant-leadership working style, make for the perfect combination to understand the needs of our loan officers and guide her teams as they develop and implement first-class programs and services. Betty lives in Fort Wayne, IN, with her husband. Her hobbies include reading, shopping, traveling, meeting new people and spending time with her daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren.
Nate has been in the mortgage industry since 2010. He’s been with Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation since 2014. Prior to his mortgage career, Nate was a realtor, which gives him a broad understanding of the housing industry overall. Nate oversees the National Processing team, which specializes in helping new branches with onboarding, processing, pipeline management and internal process flow. His teams also assists existing branches with overflow processing and process flow management. Nate is driven to help branch teams create efficiencies and to develop systems that allow them to function effectively. He lives in Madison, Wisc., with his wife Kelly and their two sons.
Austin Larr was born in Indianapolis and attended Lawrence North High School. Later, he attended Ball State University. In 2012, he married his lovely wife Renee with whom he lives in Fishers with their dogs Sugar and Pinot. Austin loves golfing and traveling with family and friends. His greatest lesson learned in the mortgage industry is to always stay humble.
Austin began his career in 2006 and joined Fairway the summer of 2010. Since then, he has received numerous accolades:
#1 unit producer for Fairway Mortgage (2013, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21)
#1 loan officer in Indiana for closed loans (2012, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 19, 20, 21)
Shelly has worked in the mortgage industry since 2000 and has been with Fairway since 2017. For more than two decades, Shelly’s career focus has been in the closing/funding areas of the business as both a production closer and in various leadership roles. In this fast-paced mortgage industry, Shelly is known for her calming influence when it comes to helping families with the important task of making homeownership dreams a reality. Her management style is best described as “servant leadership,” doing whatever she can to help her teams succeed, provide excellent customer service and enjoy their work.
Shelly lives in Arizona with her husband. Together, they have three children and three well-loved dogs. Shelly’s husband is a Branch Operations Manager for Fairway and oldest daughter also work for Fairway as a Closer.
Louise has been in the mortgage business for 24 years and has been with Fairway since 2000 as a producing regional manager with offices across Louisiana, Texas, Florida and Colorado. She is the CEO, director and founder of the American Warrior Initiative (AWI), the non-profit initiative of Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation. She is also the founder of the “Military Mortgage Specialist” division within Fairway.
Louise was named one of the Top Women Originators in America by Scotsman Guide, has been included in the top 100 Minority Mortgage Bankers of America (NAMMBA) and was named by National Mortgage Professional Magazine as one of the Best Military Lenders and Originators. Louise has been a national speaker and business coach for more than 10 years, teaching mental toughness to sales professionals across the country.
She is author and instructor of the course “American Warrior Real Estate Professional.” This course has been approved and taught as continuing education courses for real estate agents in 34 states. She is also the author and instructor of the course “Military Financial Professional,” a course offered to financial professionals, including financial planners and insurance agents.
Louise demonstrates high-integrity leadership and she champions commitment to the highest of standards in the mortgage industry, with special emphasis on assisting our military.
Dewanna Richard is a mortgage industry veteran with more than two decades of experience, including mortgage service, customer advocacy and branch support, default management, loss mitigation, single point of contact, collections, foreclosure bankruptcy, claims and REO. Dewanna leads the team responsible for partnering with Fairway branches and customers across the country to provide rapid response for servicing challenges. Dewanna’s team exemplifies Fairway’s unique high-touch fast-response service. In addition, Dewanna is also responsible for managing subservicer oversight of complex and high-risk issues within the default area of business to avoid exposure to significant defaulted loan financials and headline risks.
Dewanna is a member of Texas Mortgage Bankers Association, was a panelist for Texas Mortgage Bankers in 2021 and was awarded the President’s Club Top Performer Award by MetLife Home in 2008. Dewanna lives in the Dallas metroplex with her prized Airedale Terrier.
Teri Pansing is SVP of Corporate Closing at Fairway. Teri has over two decades of mortgage experience in many parts of the business, including originations in both wholesale and retail space as well as management in operations, training and closing. As SVP of Corporate Closing, Teri oversees various functions and initiatives with respect to Closing Oversight and Strategy. Teri serves on several boards and participates in speaking engagements regarding digital mortgage, including eClose strategies and remote online notarization. She aims to develop standards for the mortgage industry along with serving as a strategic partner to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) and senior advisor to Mortgage Industry Standards Maintenance Organization (MISMO), shaping the closing experience for the future for our customers. Teri was awarded with HousingWire’s Insider Award in 2021 for her work in the area of closing strategy.
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