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NeighborWorks National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling (NFMC) Program Counselor Awards


The first ever NeighborWorks National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling (NFMC) Program Counselor Awards were held on Thursday, December 13, 2012 at the Renaissance Washington, DC Hotel. These awards are to recognize the contributions of counselors whose tireless efforts help homeowners maintain homeownership and transition to suitable housing. We received 20 counselor nominations for this year’s awards. Award winners were both nominated and selected by their peers. Award categories include: Excellence in Counseling, Excellence in Outreach and Professional Development, Excellence in Counselor Perseverance, Excellence in Personal Achievement, and Counselor of the Year.

The six recipients of this year’s Counselor Awards are:

Jane Sokolowski
Catholic Charities of Chemung/Schugler
Elmira, NY
Rose Marie Roberts
Utica Neighborhood Housing Services NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center
Utica, NY
Ali Tarzi
Community HousingWorks
San Diego, CA
Betsy Carvajal
CredAbility
Atlanta, GA
Diego Tapia
Hispanic Association of Contractors and Enterprises
Philadelphia, PA
Amanda Diaz
Hispanic Association of Contractors and Enterprises
Philadelphia, PA



  Counselor of the Year Award


Jane Sokolowski

Catholic Charities of Chemung/Schugler
Elmira, NY


Jane Sokolowski serves as the Housing Counseling Services Program Coordinator and Senior Housing Counselor for Catholic Charities in a five county rural region in upstate New York. For more than 16 years she has provided comprehensive pre- and post-purchase homebuyer counseling and education, foreclosure prevention services, and creative financial fitness strategies for low-to moderate-income families and individuals. Jane expanded the organization’s First Time Homebuyer Program from three hours to nine hours by partnering with local lenders and businesses. She created a homeowners’ association group which provides support to new homeowners. This group meets with the Mayor twice a year to discuss accomplishments and homeownership successes. Jane provides over 100 hours of counseling services to clients each month.

By building strong community partnerships with local lenders and community leaders, Jane has enabled 410 low- to moderate-income families to successfully purchase and sustain their first home in the City of Elmira with a less than three percent foreclosure rate. In 2008, Jane was the recipient of the Community Planning & Development award given by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for this effective and creative partnership with the City of Elmira.

Jane ran the Boston marathon in 2008 and 2009. She brings marathon qualities to her housing counseling: a can-do optimism, persistence and planning, compassion, creativity, and a sense of humor. Jane has gained a reputation as the “go-to” counselor in the Catholic Charities Network. She exemplifies the qualities of an exceptional counselor and that is why we are glad to be awarding Jane Sokolowski the Counselor of the Year Award.



  Excellence in Counselor Perseverance Award


Rose Marie Roberts
Utica Neighborhood Housing Services NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center
Utica, NY


Rose Marie is a counselor at Utica Neighborhood Housing Services NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center. Her extensive background in social work has helped her in her role as counselor. She maintains constant contact with each homeowner’s lender and provides effective counseling to clients needing assistance. Even when cases look bleak, Rose continues to fight for her client – challenging attorneys, lenders, and at times even the judicial system – to take action. Rose finds success in cases where homeowners have been told “NO” several times by their lender, and then finds solutions in the midst of the most discouraging situations. Her drive is unwavering and that is why we are glad to be awarding Rose Marie Roberts the Excellence in Counselor Perseverance award.



  Excellence in Outreach and Professional Development Award


Ali Tarzi
Community HousingWorks
San Diego, CA


Ali Tarzi is the current Assistant Vice President of Classes and Coaching for Community HousingWorks (CHW), a San Diego-based nonprofit and NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center. His work with CHW started in April of 2008 as a mortgage counselor. His expertise in lending made him a fierce advocate for distressed homeowners and a leader amongst his peers. Ali gained the attention of local press as he became a regional expert on the housing crisis and made frequent television, print, and radio appearances. Today, Ali oversees the efforts of CHW’s foreclosure program. Under his leadership, the department has received national recognition as a Freddie Mac Spotlight organization for servicing standards, received the San Diego County Bar Association’s coveted “Distinguished Service Organization Award” in 2011, was recruited to the Mayor’s Foreclosure Prevention Task Force and was recently awarded the National Council of LaRaza’s Regional Affiliate of the year award based on advocacy in homeownership, home preservation, and financial sustainability for families.

Ali was also recently awarded the California Soaring Condor Award for leadership and innovation in the field of default counseling. We are very glad to be awarding Ali Tarzi the Excellence in Outreach and Professional Development Award for all of his accomplishments.



  Excellence in Counseling Award


Betsy Carvajal
CredAbility
Atlanta, GA



Betsy is a counselor for CredAbility, a HUD-Approved Housing Counseling Intermediary. She is as an experienced foreclosure prevention counselor for the HOPE hotline. Betsy spends 90% of her time every month providing both telephone and face-to-face foreclosure prevention counseling. Betsy recognizes that one of the best ways to assist clients is not only to listen to their challenges, but also to be empathetic by putting herself in their shoes. Betsy conducts a series of trainings to help other counselors recognize and understand the psychology of the client. Betsy has also helped track other counselors’ productivity by creating systems and processes to track counseling sessions and to keep up with various programs available to homeowners. We are very glad to be awarding Betsy Carvajal the Excellence in Counseling Award.



  Excellence in Personal Achievement Team Award


Diego Tapia
Hispanic Association of Contractors and Enterprises
Philadelphia, PA


Diego Tapia is the Senior Housing Counselor and Supervisor at the Hispanic Association of Contractors and Enterprises (HACE), one of the premier community development corporations in Philadelphia and also a NFMC sub-grantee of Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. Diego has experience delivering asset-building services to the Latino community of Philadelphia. He specializes in pre-purchase, foreclosure and property tax delinquency counseling, and training. He also has vast experience handling cases before the nationally recognized First Judicial District Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program in Philadelphia. Diego has been active in this program since its inception and often attends conciliation conferences with his clients. In addition to his foreclosure prevention work, Diego seized the opportunity to hold financial literacy workshops at many of the units owned and managed by HACE. As a result, 90% of residents have benefited from services offered by the organization. We are very glad to be awarding Amanda Diaz and Diego Tapia the Excellence in Personal Achievement Team Award for their combined effort to help homeowners.



  Excellence in Personal Achievement Team Award


Amanda Diaz
Hispanic Association of Contractors and Enterprises
Philadelphia, PA


Amanda Diaz is a housing counselor at the Hispanic Association of Contractors and Enterprises (HACE), a NFMC sub-grantee of Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. She is very dedicated to the mission of the organization. She streamlined the counseling process for her organization’s foreclosure program. She worked along with Diego to create presentations that documented the foreclosure process from beginning to end, so counselors within the organization would be knowledgeable about the foreclosure process. For the first time in the organization’s history, they received funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for foreclosure counseling and Amanda was instrumental in that process. In addition to her foreclosure work, Amanda works closely with homeowners to help them repair their credit and achieve their dream of homeownership. She attributes her effectiveness in leveraging resources for low-income households as one of the reasons she has been successful in helping homeowners. Her success includes leveraging an average of $5,600 in closing cost assistance for the low-income borrowers she has counseled. We are very glad to be awarding Amanda Diaz and Diego Tapia the Excellence in Personal Achievement Team Award for their combined effort to help homeowners.

 

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