As senior vice president of operations for Strong Home Mortgage, Kristen Downard is a leader of a thriving firm that has closed over $4 billion in volume in 2020 alone and has grown nearly 200% in just over two years since its inception—and they’re not done yet. Currently licensed in 42 states, with offices in Virginia, Florida, Texas, Arizona and Pennsylvania, the company has plans to expand to three additional locations to support growing demand from clients across the country. “I am passionate about my job, and this is my home. I can’t imagine doing anything else or working for any other company,” Kristen says.
Founded in May 2018, Strong Home Mortgage believes that delivering exceptional service to their customers begins with people and ends with technology, providing a unique and efficient loan experience. Having already won multiple awards for operational excellence and customer satisfaction, their unwavering commitment to their founding mission is undoubtedly clear. As a mortgage expert who has dedicated her entire 18-year career to the industry, Kristen oversees all front-end operations for the firm. This includes organizing and conducting corporate training and monitoring daily workflow and performance. She’s also responsible for leading an amazing operations staff. Kristen started with just one member on her operations team. Her team today has grown to over 70 members in the Underwriting and Processing divisions.
Kristen, who has been involved in closing more than $15 billion in loan volume over her career, entered the field as a loan originator and within a year, realized that her forte was operations rather than origination, and quickly made a career move. She had barely touched the ground as an account manager before moving up to underwriting. Then she became the underwriting manager six years ago while with Weststar Mortgage. She joined Strong Home in March 2018, two months before it opened its doors to the public—and it was an easy decision, having worked for 14 years at her previous firm with Strong Home’s founders Roger Jones and Michael Peoples.
For Kristen, joining Strong Home was the stuff dreams are made of. “When Roger offered me this job, it was like coming home again,” she says. And she is not alone in this sentiment. Eighty-five percent of Strong Home’s staff of 200 have worked for Roger and Mike previously. “It was our trust in them to know that they were going to build a great company. That is what drew us here. They are very loyal bosses, and, in turn, the staff here is very loyal to them,” Kristen shares.
“I definitely have a passion for my job. And as much as I support my team, I have the best support from Roger and Mike. They’re always supportive, they listen to ideas, and they’re open to what people have to say,” Kristen says. “I like to think that my specialty is treating every member of my team like family. If you call me and need something, I’m going to get it done. No matter how big we get, we are all here for each other every day and we work together to accomplish our goals. I want people to love their job as much as I do, and I want them to want to come to work every day.”
SVP, Operations — Strong Home Mortgage