WILLPower 2017 Review
Thursday, June 15, 2017
by: Rosalie Escobedo, Litigation Manager, Mackie Wolf Zientz & Mann, PC

Section: WILLed Q2 2017 (Please click on article title to read full article)

What happened when the best and brightest female leaders in the default mortgage industry assembled together at the 2nd Annual Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. with a nonconventional itinerary in place? There was an eruption of real and raw honest emotions culminating in empowerment and improvement.
Adorned and festooned in our best Olivia Pope-inspired garb, the conference began with a befitting service project working with Dress for Success DC, whose mission is to empower women to achieve economic independence. Professional attire, shoes and handbags were collected to help women thrive in the workplace and in life. The “purse stuffing” activity was replete with handbags filled to the brim with pre-loaded DC metro cards and other necessities gauged to assist the clients of Dressed for Success DC to succeed.
Like the many undaunted WILLpower panelists and speakers this year, we can all recall similar disruptions and interruptions that have molded us into the purposed women we are today.

The kick-off of the WILL Summit started with the general member meeting. After brief opening remarks, the WILL Leadership team shared their personal stories of triumph over battles each of them faced in their lives that disrupted, interrupted, or erupted the norm or path they thought they were traveling on. After listening to these engaging stories, all attendees participated in an interactive ice breaker.
The Summit then went into full swing with the opening Keynote Conversation "The Rapture of Disruption: Women Leaders in Servicing Operations" as panelists Toniqua Green, Jill Cruz, and Cara Hardy shared their personal stories of what worked and what didn’t as they worked to climb the corporate ladder and gain a seat at the table.
During the next session, “Intentional Disruption in Your Work, Home and Personal Life,” panelists Cathe Cole-Sherburn, Marcy Ford, and Julie Beyers shared insights into their lives when faced with choosing to make courageous changes in their careers. Marcy left an established career in higher education for a new chapter in law. Julie didn’t realize at first that the opportunities to get ahead in her firm were passing her by, but once she took the reins and put herself out there, she was able to move to the top. She instills in her children and employees the importance of having goals they are passionate about. Cathe’s dedication to balance time between work and her children was easily evidenced as she imparted wisdom to the audience, with one particularly significant audience member… her daughter.
In the next session “Girl, Life Interrupted: Getting Back on Course” panelists Michelle Gilbert, Caren Castle, and Rhonda Nitsche, caused us to laugh, cry, applaud, and hold our breath in hopeful anticipation as they shared the stories of interruption and their personal comebacks when faced with adversity. We went on a journey from heartbreak to rebuild and concluded in wonder and awe at the capacity and fortitude these women possess. The interruptions, including relationship changes, natural disasters, health issues, and career scrutiny provided inspiration to all those in attendance to rediscover our own inner determination, grit, and resoluteness to triumph after seemingly irrecoverable setbacks in our own lives.
Already in full swing by lunch, attendees joined together for what was unquestionably the bomb that left the crowd silent. Surrounded by a room full of mortgage banking attorneys and servicers, Rashmi Airan demonstrated “ordinary courage” by sharing her cautionary tale of the pressure she placed on herself in her goal toward high achieving perfectionism, and how it caused her to compromise ethically and to refrain from asking the “next question” as she granted several consequential client requests. By turning a blind eye, these injurious decisions led her to serve six months of a year-and-a-day prison sentence, and simultaneously to live through the devastation of having to face her family, friends, and community. Rashmi vulnerably revealed her ultimate interruption boldly, honestly, and with unquestionable strength as she recounted how she sat down with her parents, her children, and those who supported her to admit to what she initially was unable to see as her fault. When the moment finally came that she "owned" what she had done, she had nowhere to go but up and embarked on a journey to rebuild herself. It was in this pit that she discovered her passion to forewarn others of the snares of blind ambition and ethical vigilance.  
After lunch, the attendees gathered for another engaging session on “Detonating Self-Doubt and Doubling Down On Your Best Self.” Panelists Kris Murtha, Catherine Long, and Jacqueline Comeau tackled the question, “How do you avoid the naysayers when it’s the voice in your head?” The panelists’ inner voices varied between never really hearing a voice of self-doubt, to sometimes hearing a self-defeating voice, to hearing a constant diatribe of self-scrutiny. Overall, the panelists spoke of dispelling lies with truth based on what works best for them. The guidance ranged from practical advice such as “cutting your hair” to “picking the comfy shoes.” Another panelist drew a parallel between her personal journey on a pageant circuit and how she worked to quiet disbelieving thoughts in order to achieve the success of being crowned and titled! The final panelist called on the support system of people who believed in her to discharge the accusations thrown at her by a sizable inner thought life that had practically grown arms, legs, and a negative identity of its own. In reality, they are all talented women who are emboldened to dream and achieve. We all are.
Clarity! Kathy Rentas is the embodiment of this word that she so boldly and assuredly detonated on her audience. She carries wisdom and effectiveness that is survived when loving, serving, and sacrificing for someone she loves so much became more important than her own wants and desires. It was in this sacrifice that Kathy found herself. And, it is with this same clarity that she “blew up the biggest” competition without even trying or thinking about it. While others may doubt themselves and hesitate when it comes to making decisions of far-reaching magnitude, Kathy’s direct voice was a breath of fresh air in a sea of “maybe’s” and “it depends.” It is with this same certainty that she will continue to steam roll her competition, albeit without even thinking of any other parties. Kathy comes across as a woman that measures herself up against herself and who lives a life of consistent improvement. Her support system, her husband and other colleagues, were proudly and encouragingly in the audience as she exited in nothing short of a conclusive “drop mic” moment.
Like the many undaunted WILLpower panelists and speakers this year, we can all recall similar disruptions and interruptions that have molded us into the purposed women we are today. It was an amazing summit and we all cannot wait to see what next year’s event brings.
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