Executive Leadership

Marcia Griffin, Founder & President 

Marcia Griffin is on a mission to strengthen people, elevate partners, and enhance communities across America. As founder and president of HomeFree-USA, Marcia has helped thousands to achieve and retain the dream of homeownership and greater wealth. HomeFree-USA enjoys a remarkable 0% foreclosure rate among families that have participated in the organization’s pre- and post-purchase guidance programs. Serving as a bridge between financial institutions and the community, Marcia addresses the needs of homebuyers and homeowners with targeted education, distinctive marketing strategies and lender partnerships.

A recognized homeownership expert and frequent featured guest speaker, she is a member of the Freddie Mac Affordable Housing Advisory Committee, she leads the Fannie Mae Affordable Housing Advisory Committee, the Ocwen Financial Community Advisory Council, America’s Homeowner Alliance, Wells Fargo Housing Foundation Steering Committee and the Affordable Housing Advisory Councils of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta, and the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Marcia is a tireless advocate for nonprofit homeownership organizations. Under her leadership, her organization funds and strengthens the capacity of 53 other nonprofits that represent the interests of 4.5 million diverse families across the country.

James Griffin, Special Projects Officer 

Jim founded the first African-American Mortgage Servicing company. His career spans more than 55 years in mortgage banking with a focus on affordable housing and direct experience in mortgage lending, management of specialized loan programs, inner city real estate development, housing consulting, and the provision of transitional housing and support for homeless families. He has worked across the U.S. and abroad serving as a financial advisor and public housing policy consultant to HUD, U.S.A.I.D., World Bank, and numerous city, state and foreign governments.

Our Board of Directors

Gwendolyn Garnett, Interim Board Chair

Gwendolyn Garnett is Program Director for the Center for Financial Advancement® with HomeFree-USA in Riverdale, MD with a focus on providing financial, leadership and professional development training for students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.  She is the former Neighborhood Lending executive for the Consumer Real Estate division of Bank of America. She is the recipient of many awards for her work in diversity and mentoring and is an active member of St. Paul Baptist Church where she serves in several ministries.  She has a passion for travel and interior design, and resides in Charlotte, NC.

Joseph Ohayon, SVP, Head of State & Local Government Relations

Joe Ohayon is head of State & Local Government Relations for Government and Community Relations at Wells Fargo Company. He is responsible for leading the company’s outreach strategy with state and local government officials and agencies to address reputation and policy issues affecting the company in the states and communities in which we operate. He also oversees community outreach and initiatives with national and local housing and credit counseling agencies to promote homeownership education and home preservation efforts and stimulate growth and stability in distressed areas. Ohayon joined Wells Fargo in 2006 as head of Community Outreach for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Under Ohayon’s leadership, the team led more than 1,600 home preservation events across the U.S., helping 46,000 homeowners facing financial hardship.

Efe Aghimien, Chief Financial Officer, SWBC Mortgage

Efe Aghimien joined SWBC in 2017 and serves as SWBC Mortgage Corporation’s Chief Financial Officer. In this role, he is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day financial activities, planning, and reporting. Efe has more than 20 years of experience in the accounting field and has a keen ability to lead cross-functional teams. Before joining SWBC, Efe was Vice President of Accounting and Controller at Stonegate Mortgage Corporation. Prior to that, he was Director of Dealer Services for Moorehead Communications. Efe also worked for more than 10 years at Deloitte in numerous roles. He is a CPA and holds his Mortgage Bankers Association Certified Mortgage Bankers (CMB) and Accredited Mortgage Professional (AMP) accreditation.

Kara Ward, Attorney & Partner, Holland & Knight’s Public Policy & Reg. Group

Kara Ward is a Washington, D.C., and Maryland, attorney and a partner in Holland & Knight’s Public Policy & Regulation Group. Ms. Ward focuses her practice on representing complex financial institutions and national (non-profit) consumer advocacy groups in legislative and regulatory matters. She has extensive experience with issues related to access to credit, housing finance reform, Community Reinvestment Act reform, the regulation of systemically important financial institutions, insurance, small business lending, fair lending issues, FinTech charters, blockchain and community economic development.

Paul Koches, President, Mortgage Policy Advisors, LLC

Paul Koches has practiced law for over 35 years with broad experience including regulatory, corporate, finance, mergers and acquisitions, international, and intellectual property matters.  Currently he is President of Mortgage Policy Advisors, LLC, a business consulting firm, and serves on boards of directors of various non-profit organizations. He previously held executive positions in a leading mortgage servicing company, serving as General Counsel and then Senior Advisor for Government and Community Relations, and was partner in a large Washington DC-based law firm.

Phil W. Bracken, Managing Director, Gov. & Mortgage Industry Relations

As VantageScore’s lead liaison to the mortgage industry, Bracken represents the company in the marketplace, interfacing with mortgage regulators, executives and analysts to build a consensus on stronger credit scoring standards and solutions for lenders and consumers. A senior financial services executive, Phil has more than 40 years of experience in leading large financial institutions and managing complex government and industry relations programs.  Bracken is also the recipient of several lifetime achievement awards.