Less than a decade ago, I was a single, childless, new MDK attorney in my early 30’s, living in downtown Indianapolis with a homeless cat, some aggressive squirrels at my backdoor, and an active social life that mainly consisted of frequenting the newest and best restaurants, lounges, and bars– every outing was an opportunity for adventure in culinary delights.
Fast forward nine years, and WOW, what a difference a decade makes! Today, I’m married to the smartest, funniest, most patient man I’ve ever met, I’m the mom of three beautiful, completely unique boys (Tristin, 14; Lincoln, 5; Levi, 3), living on a few acres of land surrounded by fields and farmers just outside the city; and although culinary delights still exist, these days, they are usually created by my own hands. The only constant in this last decade has been my employment with MDK, though I’m happy to say, I’m now the Director of MDK’s Indiana practice.
Life lesson: The only constant in life is change-sometimes good, sometimes bad. I consciously endeavor to make choices that skew the odds of my life changes being good ones, and the decision to further my career with MDK has consistently provided me with opportunities to change and grow in fantastic ways.
I grew up in Akron, Ohio, in a neighborhood called Kenmore. It was a diverse population consisting largely of working class individuals. My parents were no different – neither were college educated but both were hard workers who provided well for myself and my only sibling, an older brother.
My parents certainly instilled a good work ethic and responsibility in us kids. I still remember being in SO much trouble for not returning a library book on time. It may seem insignificant, but to my dad, library contracts were the first step towards becoming a responsible adult. If you couldn’t even return a library book on time, then how would you be able to keep yourself out of credit card debt? Debt was an inconceivable concept to my dad – we never lived above our means. We saved and we waited until we had sacrificed and saved enough for whatever we wanted; but we also never truly needed anything.
The most pivotal moment in my life is easily the death of my mother. She died when I was 15 years old, of a very rare terminal illness – so rare, no one seemed to fully understand that it was terminal. Seeing how my family pulled together in the last year of her life certainly instilled a compassion within me that I carry in everything I do. Life lesson: Tomorrow is never guaranteed. Responsible and compassionate – those are the words that best describe me, and now you all know why.
Going for It
Always wanting more for their kids, my parents considered college a requirement for my brother and I. We were both naturally gifted students who excelled in our K-12 education. I even skipped the fourth grade after testing so high on standardized testing that the only student who tested higher was my brother, and he was two grades ahead of me.
Although I didn’t feel it at the time, looking back, for us, it wasn’t just our parents who expected us to attend college, but the community itself. And so, we did, though I was a much more reluctant scholar than my brother, who aimed very high, and ended up at Notre Dame University. I myself went to a small local college that my stepmom attended, and majored in Psychology, specifically penning papers on psychoneuroimmunology, the study of the effect of the mind on health and resistance to disease – a nod to my mom’s fighting spirit that likely extended her life by a solid year.
After college, I taught adults GED and life skills while I decided what additional education I wanted to pursue. While teaching the curriculum on law and government, I realized I wanted to go to law school, and I was just naive enough to go ahead and do it, despite having no formal preparation. The admissions counselor at the local law school laughed at me when I called and said I wanted to start right away – having no LSAT preparation and the next semester being just two months away, he was obviously justified in his reaction. I graduated from that law school, magna cum laude just three years later, in spring of 2004. Life lesson: sometimes ignorance really is bliss.
While visiting friends in Indiana, I fell in love with the city of Indianapolis and I moved there straight out of law school, starting my career in default litigation. I was approached by MDK in 2009 to assist in opening their Indiana office, and although reluctant to leave the good friends I had met through my former employment, the leaders at MDK specifically, Gail Hersh, Ted Manley, and Brian Deas, were so genuine, so interesting, and so excited about the future of MDK, that I was taken by their enthusiasm for what they do, their forethoughts on how technology would change the landscape of law, and I wanted to be a part of that.
Twelve years later, I’m still excited by the energy and growth of this firm and the people who make it successful. What started with a handful of obvious leaders has become an exceptionally talented team of leaders, each with their own strengths, putting aside differences to grow the best possible version of MDK, now and into the future. I’m extremely proud and honored to be a part of that collaboration. Life Lesson: The harder you work; the more luck you will have.
My Start at MDK
Having started at MDK in the midst of an economic housing crisis, with many foreclosures suddenly halted for investigations into servicer compliance and affidavit issues, I certainly should have felt fear and uncertainty in my career path, but I did not. Again guided and encouraged by MDK leaders, I spent the downtime, traveling to courts all over Indiana to meet and greet Judges, facilitators, and court staff. The goal was to let them know who MDK is, and ensure them of the firm’s competence, compassion and commitment to improving the foreclosure process. Although I didn’t know it then, my travels were really a mission and values tour – evidence that the 2021 Mission and Values initiative, has really been at the core of MDK throughout its existence.
Looking back, the savvy in knowing and already being prepared for the industry’s change in compliance demands and seamless adaptation demonstrated by MDK’s senior management team actually gave me greater confidence in my choices at a time when many were questioning theirs. This is how I started my career at MDK, and it serves as the foundation of everything that makes me successful as a manager and director today. I have certainly been blessed with great role models and mentors. Life Lesson: Your mentors in life are important, so choose them wisely.
Life During the Pandemic
The current Covid-19 pandemic has caused a tidal wave of change and unpredictability in all aspects of everyday life, and has certainly had significant impacts on all parties involved in default litigation. However, I believe it has also offered opportunity for reflection and improvement in both my personal and professional life.
Professionally, it has allowed time for advancement of many firm initiatives near and dear to my heart, including increased flexibility in working environments, advancing commitments to focus resources, prioritize company goals and diversify service offerings. I am confident that the advancement of these objectives serve as the backbone for future success not only for the state of Indiana, but MDK in its entirety, and selfishly, for me personally.
Personally, I never imagined that I would have the opportunity to succeed at both being a mom and being a professional in the ways that I now am able to accomplish. With technological advancements and notably, societal and organizational changes in how success is measured, I no longer have to choose between being there to put my kid on a bus or being present at a meeting 150 miles away where decisions are being made. I can, not only do both, but I can do both, better, because I am happy and engaged in each thing I do rather than being rushed and frustrated by restrictive rules and circumstances such as sitting in an office or getting caught in traffic.
My youngest son was diagnosed with autism and global developmental delays in the autumn of 2020. While the world was in lockdown, I was navigating not only the struggles of raising 3 children in a pandemic, but also the complicated process of learning how to best advocate for my son, at a time when therapists and doctors couldn’t even be in the same room with him. I cannot imagine how I could have successfully concentrated on my profession during this time without a significant shift in how to truly balance work, family and life.
I wouldn’t say the immense changes undergone over the last two years has been easy, but I can certainly say that it’s been worth it. I no longer live for weekends, rather, I am genuinely excited to start every day because no day is exactly the same unless I want it to be. I am finishing up 2021 happier, more fulfilled than I’ve ever been and looking forward to all 2022 has in store.
I’ll end my MDK story with this final life lesson which comes from an art teacher I had in high school, he died last year and although I never saw him again after 10th grade, I have carried his advice with me for nearly three decades, and I hope it resonates with someone reading my story. Life Lesson: Find something you love to do, and then figure out how to get paid for it. I know I did.
tags: Team MDK