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We’re pleased to announce that we’ve added Jim Collier to our leadership team as SVP of Operations and Strategic Initiatives. In this newly created role, Jim will focus on company strategy and overseeing and optimizing our organizational architecture. 

This addition to our team comes as we work towards laying a foundation that ensures our organization is prepared for future growth. Jim’s 20+ years of experience in the mortgage industry and a proven record of delivering superior results in customer service, employee satisfaction, process efficiency, scalability, quality control and financial performance made him the ideal choice to join our Key Mortgage family. 

“I’m thrilled to welcome Jim to the team,” says Ralph Melbourne. “This is another investment in building a solid foundation and ensuring we are the best mortgage company in the business.” 

For Jim, joining the Key Mortgage team is an exciting opportunity to join a great environment and help lay the groundwork for a strong future. “Culture is really important to me. I see it here. Key Mortgage is small enough that everyone makes an impact on the business, but big enough to have all the resources and tools that national lenders have,” says Jim. “It’s better to make history than read about it and I’m excited to help chart our course here.”  

We’re delighted to have Jim at the forefront of these changes as we work towards growing Key Mortgage while continuing to deliver superior service and be a top workplace. 

Key Mortgage Services is pleased to announce the hiring of Jason Brown as area sales manager. In this role, Brown will serve as a coach to the Key Mortgage sales team, focusing on long-term growth and personalized business plans based on each loan officer’s individual goals. With this expansion of the sales team, Key Mortgage is doubling down on support for its salespeople. 

Brown brings 23 years of lending experience to Key Mortgage, including being part of a sales team that closed the second most low- to moderate-income loans in the country, close to $400-500 million in business. In his time as a loan officer, he was in the top 10% of his company, earning him five leaders club awards. 

Now that expertise is put to work supporting loan officers at Key Mortgage. “I was drawn to Key Mortgage because of the close-knit, family feel of the organization and client-centric approach. I know that they are continually investing in their loan officers and giving them opportunities to grow their business and strengthen agent relationships.” 

Brown is especially interested in the opportunity to work with loan officers at every experience level. “I love working with new loan officers and seeing how they grow within the industry just as much as I love coaching top producers to push their limits and reach levels they didn’t know were possible.”   

“Ultimately, I have an opportunity to be part of a company that’s focused on delivering great service to clients and growing their team in a sustainable way. I have total faith in the leadership at Key Mortgage and I know this is a place where I can grow my career and help others do the same.”

Key is investing in the support and leadership of our sales team so our loan officers can continue to deliver the absolute best experience for your clients. We know when we make you look good, you get referrals and we all win!

 

As part of our commitment to fair housing and civic engagement, Key Mortgage is thrilled to announce a new division dedicated to growth, education and outreach in underserved communities. 

The new Community Impact and Lending division will be spearheaded by LaToya Spann-Martin, who is taking the helm as area sales manager. “As part of my new role, I will be building a team dedicated to understanding the needs of underserved communities,” said Spann-Martin. “I believe that building generational wealth through homeownership strengthens the fabric of a family and uplifts neighborhoods.”

As part of the new position, Spann-Martin plans to leverage existing partnerships with Key Mortgage in financial literacy and lending to empower prospective clients and increase homeownership. 

Spann-Martin’s Community Impact and Lending team will work closely with lenders, agents, community leaders, non-profit organizations and local businesses to identify lending opportunities that support the growth and success of families living in low- to moderate-income neighborhoods. 

Through these new initiatives, Spann-Martin hopes to continue the fair housing, racial equity and financial empowerment work that was started with Baird & Warner under the Key Mortgage name.

Spann-Martin has been with Key Mortgage since 2018, but has been passionate about community impact in every role she’s held throughout her 25-year professional career. She has previously worked as a homebuyer education instructor for both Baird & Warner’s HomeEasier workshops and Habitat for Humanity’s Homebuyer University and is currently sponsorship director of the Chicago Chapter of NAMMBA National Association of Minority Mortgage Bankers of America). Other organizations she has worked with include the Spanish Coalition for Housing, West Cook Homeownership Center, YWCA, the Austin Chamber of Commerce, the North Riverside Library, Home Of Life Community Development Corporation and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated.

In 1991, President George H. W. Bush issued the first proclamation designating March as Irish-American Heritage Month. However, the first recorded celebration of Irish-American Heritage in the United States dates back to 1762 with a parade in New York City. The annual tradition of the Presidential Proclamation continues today with the “Taoiseach,” the top political figure in Ireland, visiting the Oval Office to conduct a shamrock-giving ceremony, followed by a reception with the president and other members of both governments.

American Workforce

When the Irish immigrated to America, they were seen as unskilled and uneducated, forcing them to take on dangerous labor that was avoided by other workers, such as railroad construction and coal mine jobs. The working conditions were so harsh that many Irish-American laborers died due to the dangerous nature of the work. As first-generation Irish-Americans continued to work hard and become educated, second and third generations had an easier time finding work that required more skill and education. Eventually, Irish Americans were able to climb the occupational and social ladders to become policemen, firemen, teachers and political figures, amongst many other professions.

Irish immigrants who worked in New York played a large part in the Brooklyn Bridge construction and the building of New York’s entire subway system. As many of these workers were out of sight (underground building the subway tunnels), they were not initially recognized in playing such a large part in New York’s transportation system. The people went about their day unaware of the hard and dangerous labor many Irish immigrants performed just beneath them. Later on, many have said the Irish immigrants “built New York from the ground up.”

Although Irish immigrants took on jobs that no one else wanted, they were discriminated against in the workforce, often getting paid very low wages and unable to apply for better jobs. The phrase “Irish need not apply” was commonly seen on job listing ads for better work. As Irish-Americans were no strangers to hard work and discrimination, they contributed largely to the American labor movement, “championing safe working conditions, advocating for children’s rights, and fighting racism, prejudice, and income inequality.”

Spotlight: Eileen Collins 

Eileen Marie Collins was born November 19, 1956, in Elmira, New York. Her parents immigrated to America from Ireland and encouraged her to earn her pilot’s license while she was in college. Eileen realized her dream at a young age and when she was old enough to begin working, she took a job as a waitress to pay for her own flying lessons. In April of 1989, NASA was prepared to select a class of astronauts. Nearly 2,500 applications were received. Eileen Collins had not yet graduated from the USAF Test Pilot School, so she applied for a mission specialist. After interviews and examinations, in January 1990 NASA informed Collins that she was accepted as a pilot, informing her “you will be the first woman to pilot the Space Shuttle!” Collins was one of 23 astronaut candidates selected for NASA’s Astronaut Group. After she became the first woman pilot in NASA, two more women followed in Collins’s footsteps, joining NASA in the 1990s.

Ten years prior to receiving her Master of Arts degree, she made history when she became the United States Air Force’s first-ever woman flight instructor. She went on to become an astronaut and the first woman to command a U.S. spacecraft in 1999. In 2005, Collins retired from the Air Force with the rank of colonel. Throughout her career, she received many awards including NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, Free Spirit Award, and the National Space Trophy. In 2006, Collins retired from NASA to pursue personal interests.