October Research, LLC, publisher of The Title Report, The Legal Description, Valuation Review, RESPA News and Dodd Frank Update, today announced the winners in its inaugural awards program, launched to honor men and women in the mortgage and settlement services industries for exemplary accomplishment in the areas of leadership, innovation and philanthropy.
Announced during the National Settlement Services & Compliance Summit in Cleveland, Ohio, the leadership award was given to Robert Klein, founder and chairman of Safeguard Properties. The award for innovation went to Stewart Morris, Jr., vice chairman of Stewart Information Services Corp. The award for philanthropy went to Chris Gulotta, principal of The Gulotta Law Group, PLLC.
The awards were presented by Erica Meyer, owner and publisher of October Research and Chris Casa chief executive officer of October Research.
“We are thrilled to launch this new awards program for the industry this year,” Meyer said. “It was an honor to present the awards to such accomplished and dedicated individuals.”
Klein was recognized for his efforts on behalf of the mortgage servicing industry to advance industry best practices, help homeowners avoid foreclosure, and build stronger relationships with municipalities to protect properties and preserve neighborhoods.
Founded in 1990, Safeguard Properties began as a two-person operation and today is the largest privately held mortgage field service company in the U.S. It employs nearly 1,000 people, plus a network of approximately 10,000 vendors and contractors who inspect and maintain defaulted and foreclosed properties for mortgage servicers, lenders, investors and other financial institutions.
Kellie Chambers, assistant vice president of property preservation at Safeguard Properties, accepted the award on Klein’s behalf.
Morris was recognized for helping Stewart to become a leading provider of title insurance and related services to the real estate, settlement services and mortgage industries. Much of this success has been driven by Morris’ efforts to create technology to improve productivity, create transparency and better the customer experience. Many industry technology “firsts” can be attributed to his efforts to move the industry forward.
“The title and settlement services agents out there are the core of the entire real estate process,” Morris said in accepting the award. “Innovation is a journey. We have an obligation to continue to innovate this process on behalf of all the clients we serve. This industry is filled with innovators who keep this process going.”
Gulotta, an attorney and principal of a New York Title agency, was recognized for his various community efforts. As a business owner, he has served on the boards and provided pro bono legal services to the Vietnam Veterans Leadership Program, the Eastchester Volunteer Ambulance Corp. and The Community Fund. He is also known for giving much of his time mentoring students at community schools, universities and law schools as well as being an advocate for physical health and youth sports.
“What a great honor it is to be nominated for an award like this and for an award named after such a great man,” Gulotta said. “Philanthropy is nothing you do for anything in return. Every child I have mentored every soccer player I have coached, it has all been selfish. I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it and never looked for anything in return. I also want to recognize Evan Grimm and Dave Heine for their work in organ donation and childhood poverty.”
The Joe Casa Awards for Leadership, Innovation and Philanthropy were named after the late founder of October Research. These prestigious awards recognize the highest standard of professional achievement in the settlement services industries.
In presenting the awards, Chris Casa said he was delighted to pay tribute to the industry top leaders and innovators who have stepped up to the plate time and again to guide the industry through the challenges it faces.
October Research launched the Joe Casa Awards program in January and nominations were accepted through March 31. Nominations were open to anyone with a track record of accomplishment in the mortgage and settlement services industry. The 2013 awards program will be open for nominations in January 2013.