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E. Michael Rosser Lifetime Achievement Award

For the past 50 years, the Certified Mortgage Banker (CMB) Designation has been promoting excellence and professionalism in the real estate finance industry. Over time, the CMB Society has developed a robust membership and an effective educational offering to encourage and mentor future candidates. 

In 2013, the E. Michael Rosser Award was established and named after its first recipient Mike (E. Michael) Rosser, Master CMB, to recognize a CMB who has shown outstanding service to the Mortgage Bankers Association, Certified Mortgage Bankers Society, and the real estate finance industry overall.

The award recipient is elected by the current CMB Society Leadership, consisting of the CMB Chair, Vice-Chair and Secretary. CMBs considered for the award represent all elements of real estate finance: independent mortgage bankers, mortgage brokers, mortgage servicers, mortgage insurance companies, credit unions, and others in the mortgage lending field.  

The award is presented at the MBA’s Annual Convention and Expo during the CMB meeting, and the recipient is also acknowledged by the MBA President at the general award session.


Past E. Michael Rosser Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients

  • 2023 - Seth Sprague, CMB, AMP 
  • 2022 - Dana Abernathy, CMB, AMP 
  • 2021 - Terry A. Aikin, CMB, AMP 
  • 2020 -  Alan Fowler, CMB, AMP 
  • 2019 - Frank Donnelly, CMB, AMP, CFP 
  • 2018 - Pete J. Taglia, CMB, AMP, CPA  
  • 2017 - Griffith J. Straw, CMB 
  • 2016 - Richard Juergens, CMB 
  • 2015 - Dan Phelan, CMB, CRI, CCMS 
  • 2014 - Kathleen Armstrong, CMB 
  • 2013 - E. Michael Rosser, CMB, AMP

From Past Lifetime Achievement Award Winners

"The CMB Society is a great group of mortgage professionals who are dedicated to educating, training, and mentoring the next generation of mortgage folks and helps advocate and solve the mortgage issues of today. Being an instructor for the MBA School of Mortgage Banking program since 2007, the CMB designation not only allows me the opportunity to educate and train individuals in expanding their knowledge, but it affords me the ability to stay current with a wide variety of up-and-coming mortgage professionals. I regularly leverage CMBs as my “go to” group of individuals to assist and help clients succeed in the industry."

2023 E. Michael Rosser Award Recipient: Seth Sprague, CMB, AMP
" When I began my CMB adventure, I had no idea how transformative and rewarding, personally and professionally it would be. Earning my CMB opened a world of opportunities and growth.  At the encouragement of David Frase, CMB…I started down the path apprehensive and excited!

I can remember (and still feel it) the excitement when Frank Donnelly, CMB and Brian Handal, CMB told me I passed the oral exam. Little did I know, the journey had just begun. My conversations with industry professionals were more meaningful and deeper, I received a promotion at my company, I was able to help my customers and friends to achieve their goals. All of this, because I understood the industry more broadly than before. 

My involvement in the Society opened new opportunities to gain experience, make a difference and expanded my awareness of our industry. What was unexpected were the new and lifelong friendships I have made. I count CMBs as my dearest and closest friends. They are people I look up to and aspire to be. 

Being awarded the E. Michael Rosser Award by the CMB Society and the MBA was truly a pinnacle moment. I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity to serve our community. The recognition I received validates the impact I have had and reinforces my commitment to serving and supporting others within the industry.

I have known of Mike Rosser for decades, and now call him a friend. My admiration for Mike Rosser, whose passion and dedication have always inspired me, reflects the depth of mentorship and camaraderie within the CMB community. He will always take time to speak to new industry professionals and he encourages them to learn, participate and have an impact. 

I look forward to supporting others who are on their own CMB adventure and to continue to raise awareness about the impact a CMB can have.

2022 E. Michael Rosser Award Recipient: Dana Abernathy, CMB, AMP
"I was awarded the E. Michael Rosser, CMB, Lifetime Achievement Award in October 2021. I was surprised and honored one I received the call; although admittedly, I thought a Lifetime Achievement Awards was for old and retired people! I may be closer to both, but I have more gas in the tank for education and personal growth.
When I started my CMB journey in the early 2000s, my mentor asked two very important questions: 

1) Why or what is driving you to the CMB designation?
2) How will you give back once you reach the pinnacle of all award recognitions in mortgage banking? 

Both were profound questions that ultimately refined my mortgage banking career. And while, selling mortgage services and insurance was my income earning path – it was to help others navigate the complexities of our business where I found the most joy. It was initially hard to separate the individual contributor contributions and the $$$$ but the deeper rewards of helping others succeed moved the needle far faster and far more the right. 

The Mortgage Bankers Association has the similar role but a slightly different audience from time to time - and to be recognized by our association, in honor of Mike Rosser, our legendary educator and contributor – was special. The journey of educating others and myself is not over. We must continue to seize every day and become incremental stronger, smarter, and better every day. #CarpeDiem!"

2021 E. Michael Rosser Award Recipient: Terry A. Aikin, CMB, AMP
"My father joined MBA in 1961, so I have been around MBA my entire life. I attended my first convention in 1986, graduated from SOMB in 1989, and obtained my CMB (now known as Master CMB) in 1996. In those years, I have missed three conventions, the first because my daughter was born and the most recent because that same daughter got married! I have conducted hundreds of CMB interviews, taught scores of SOMB classes and had the privilege of leading the CMB Society in 2011. 

I always say that the CMB is great affirmation of acquiring industry knowledge, but its real value is in the journey and the people you meet before and after becoming a CMB. It is a special group of the best-of-the-best in an industry that has an oversized impact on people, on neighborhoods, on communities and on the world economy. What we do is important, and CMB’s have a responsibility to be the conscience and teachers of the industry. It is a great privilege to keep the American Dream alive! 

I am humbled that my peers selected me as a recipient of the E. Michael Rosser, CMB Lifetime Achievement Award. Mike is a mentor and an icon in our industry, and to have my name associated with him in this special way is an honor."

2020 E. Michael Rosser Award Recipient: Alan Fowler, CMB, AMP

"I became a Master CMB in 1995 and began teaching for the MBA School of Mortgage Banking the same year. Being a CMB gave me the credentials to compliment my passion to share my professional experience with others. For almost 30 years I was privileged to unravel the complexities of Secondary Marketing in SOMB courses 1,2, and 3 as well as numerous MBA Conferences. On a personal level, I met many like-minded CMBs who are still friends today. I feel my greatest accomplishment was sponsoring Griff Straw CMB who has done more for the CMB Society than anyone I know."

2018 E. Michael Rosser Award Recipient: Pete J. Taglia, CMB, AMP, CPA (Pictured in white cap)

"I received the Rosser Award in 2017 in recognition of my MASTER CMB designation received in 2000, 37+ YEARS of voluntary teaching SOMB 1-2-3. Highlights of my CMB, career have been my teaching classes in Cairo, Egypt and Toronto, Canada, and the US FEDERAL RESERVE. But the best experience is watching a new CMB, whom I sponsored, proudly accept their pin and plaque, including Dave Stevens and 35+ more."

2017 E. Michael Rosser Award Recipient: Griffith J. Straw, Master CMB (Pictured in blue cap)
"I received my CMB designation in October 2000 and tested at the time in both residential and commercial. I had been teaching a commercial section for the School of Mortgage Banking and the CMB designation helped with credentials and resume. 

Further along I served on the CMB committee then chaired by Mike Rosser where the CMB designation was split into three separate designations, Residential, Commercial and Master. I followed Mike as chair of the CMB committee to implement those changes. I was also able to qualify all eligible people at my Company to pass their Commercial CMB test. A real first for a commercial shop at the time.

The Master’s Designation helped to more than just understand the workings of both residential and commercial in our
increasingly complex industry, it helped to set me apart and earn instant credibility."

2016 E. Michael Rosser Award Recipient: Dick (Richard) Juergens, Master CMB
"When I received the Michael Rosser Lifetime Achievement Award, I was really surprised and grateful for the acknowledgement. I never looked at it as a reward or the end of my commitment to MBA, CMB and education. It was an acknowledgement of what I had done since being involved in the mortgage banking industry. The significance of the Life Achievement Award, the CMB, as well as the CRI & CCMS designations, was that they let people I come in contact with know that I am a professional in the MB industry, I was committed to the values, ethics and integrity of being a CMB/CRI/CCMS, and that I am someone who people can reach out to for them to get involved as well. Michael Rosser set a very high bar for those in the industry to rise up to and I was thankful for the acknowledgement that I had achieved that high bar."

2015 E. Michael Rosser Award Recipient: Dan Phelan, CMB, CRI, CCMS
"I was surprised and delighted to receive the second Rosser Life Achievement Award. The recognition of contributions to our industry was flattering and certainly appreciated. However, no one ever mentioned what I got out of it. Becoming involved is key. It allows for knowledge, friendships, and personal growth.

  • Instructor at School of Mortgage Banking - In over 25 years as an Instructor, I never once returned home without learning something new, whether by sitting in on a class or meeting at lunch with new colleagues and listening to their problems or issues. From watching my commercial partner Dick Jergens, I learned to stress the basics of commercial lending and then go on to differences and war stories.
  • CMB- While striving for my CMB in 1985, I met Suzanne Sampson. She told me that since she had been the fourth woman to receive this designation, she wanted to help me become the fifth. Since at that time, there was no formal process, her hints, advice, and support were priceless.
  • Volunteering on committees leads to new colleagues, getting to know MBA staff, learning how MBA is structured, how it works and moving up within committees can lead to leadership opportunities. Mike Rosser suggested (read that as nagged) me to become involved in and commit to 'walking the corridors' on the hill for MBA 's legislature Day. He told me that some meetings could be "political rhetoric" but to make sure I knew and understood the issues as some members had a staff assigned to housing or had a personal interest in it themselves. Representative Barney Frank would challenge me as to how this affected me and my company. Know the issues and have an opinion on how it affects you and your company. 

There is no one way to receive this award but to me it is the satisfaction of a career acknowledged, people met, lifelong friends made in an Industry that is important in so many ways. INVOLVEMENT IS THE KEY."

2014 E. Michael Rosser Award Recipient: Kathleen Armstrong, CMB
"Thank you for the opportunity to participate with these old friends and distinguished colleagues on the importance of the CMB designation. I received my CMB in 1988. My mentor was Fred E. Kirk, president of United Mortgage and I had two sponsors: Robert G. Boucher, CMB, a prominent Denver mortgage banker and MBA president. The other sponsor was William A Wildhack, former vice president of GNMA. Mr. Kirk hired me and set me on a career path which included participation in my state Association as President, Governor and on the legislative committee from 1972 until 2022. If you had reached a certain level in the organization Mr. Kirk sent you to the School of Mortgage Banking at Northwestern University where I graduated in 1978 and then taught there for many years.

I learned the value of industry involvement particularly in the fields of governance, leadership, education, and public policy. More than anything else I want to express my appreciation to those individuals who have demonstrated their dedication to the industry over the decades. It is the dedication of the staff, CMB's and the MBA members that have truly created and grown one of the nation's most vital professions. 

What is the catalyst for the success? There are three! Certainly, the School of Mortgage Banking teaches us the essentials of the industry. I came back with the beginning of an incredible network of friends and colleagues. That was just the start. Over the last 50+ years I have learned from a countless number of friends and colleagues at conferences, teaching, and hundreds of committee meetings. They have enriched my life and career, to say nothing of all of the opportunities that have been given me over the decades.

 About 2008 the MBA was going through a transition, and many activities were coming under serious scrutiny. One of those activities was the CMB designation. The mortgage banking industry was again going through an era of change and candidate recruitment had virtually dropped to single digits.  A task force was appointed and began a three-year process to evaluate the value of the designation and the role that CMB plays in the overall mission of the MBA. There were extensive interviews with CMB's, CMB candidates and prominent members of the industry who are leaders, but not CMB's but should be. All of this input was invaluable. As a result, we changed the designation criteria and eliminated several barriers based on the interviews and several outside resources. The change in focus on the residential sector reflected the specialization taking place then as it does today. The task force's first achievement was to create a formal organizational and governance structure and thus created the Society of Certified Mortgage Bankers.

 The CMB designation was changed to reflect those new candidates and those that had already completed the testing on both the commercial and residential topics. Those who had or would receive their CMB's under the old requirements were awarded the Master CMB designation.

The report of the task force to the MBA officers and board of governors was approved and implementation began almost immediately. Looking back at that time, the CMB Society has exceeded our fondest expectations. The members of the Society who have taken up the challenge are to be congratulated on their achievement. My final statement is to recognize the personal involvement and dedication to industry professionalism that has built the CMB over the decades. That lesson was learned when you start working with changing a highly respected and an important designation as the CMB that listening in open and honest discussions is critical. 

There's the old Chinese proverb "getter done" Plus, sometimes it helps to nag!"

2013 E. Michael Rosser Award Recipient: Mike (E. Michael) Rosser, Master CMB
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