Notable mortgage industry hires and promotions, Jan. 24-28

United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM) announced that Blake Kolo has been named head of investor relations in addition to his current position as chief business officer (CBO). Kolo, who joined UWM in 2019 as CBO, will continue to oversee UWM’s mortgage funding operation and mortgage servicing-rights activity while also working to form and maintain relationships with investors and analysts around the nation. Prior to UWM, Kolo was managing director at The Siegfried Group.

loanDepot announced that Elijah Pallante has been promoted to chief data officer. In this newly created role, Pallante will be responsible for leading the development and implementation of the company’s enterprise data and information strategy. He joined the company in 2014 as vice president of corporate development and in 2018 was promoted to senior vice president of enterprise innovation. Prior to joining loanDepot, Pallante held positions with such companies as Discover Financial Services, Performance Capital and Merrill Lynch.

InstaMortgage named respected industry sales leader Leslie Garner as senior vice president of sales. Garner comes to InstaMortgage from Stearns Lending, where she was responsible for sales performance. Prior to that, she held leadership and training roles with Cornerstone Home Lending, National Residential, Fifth Third Bank, Bank of America and DR Horton. Additionally, she worked with XINNIX, the Mortgage Academy, where she led training and development for multiple mortgage lending clients across the country.

OptiFunder announced that Melissa Smith has joined the organization to lead its product experience team. In her new role, Smith will lead product innovation and go-to-market initiatives for OptiFunder’s Warehouse Management System (WMS). Smith previously served as senior vice president and capital markets product design manager at Truist.

Hunt Mortgage Corp. announced the hiring of Bindiya Jain as its chief operating officer. Jain will be responsible for the development of new business channels within the mortgage industry to increase overall revenue opportunities, to create efficiencies, and to build profitability and utilization within Hunt’s residential brokerage. She has more than 20 years of experience in the mortgage and banking industries, most recently as chief lending officer for Quincy Credit Union. Her previous experience also has included roles as vice president and director of consumer lending and loan operations for South Shore Bank, and as vice president and loan operations manager with UniBank. Jain graduated from Delhi University, obtained her master’s in business administration from Anderson University and attended the ABA Stonier Graduate School of Banking.

CrossCountry Mortgage added Kathryn Pedersen as originating branch manager for its office in the Fox Creek Business Park in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Prior to joining CrossCountry, Pedersen was with Bay Equity Home Loans.

Ross Mortgage Corp. announced a trio of promotions. Sheri Crump was promoted to chief operating officer, Nancy Aupperle was elevated to executive vice president of branch growth and retention, and Ericka Staton was promoted to executive vice president of marketing. The company also added Tovah Payne as a loan officer assistant and marketing assistant in its Culpeper, Virginia branch.

American Advisors Group (AAG) announced Ed Robinson as its new president and chief operating officer. Robinson, a U.S. Army veteran, will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of AAG, including management of P&L and key initiatives focused on optimizing the customer experience. Robinson joined AAG in August 2021 as acting president and COO. Most recently, he served as COO of Genesis Financial Solutions. Robinson also served as senior vice president of real estate and mortgage at USAA; as head of mortgage at Fifth Third Bank; as senior vice president of servicing operations at PHH Corp.; and as vice president of operations at Genworth US Mortgage Insurance. Robinson earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Temple University and an MBA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


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