Thank you Mary Ann for your legacy of professionalism and support, you will be missed.
After more than 40 years in the
title business, Mary Ann Howard has made the decision to join the ranks of
those who get to wake up every day saying, “What am I going to do today?” Yes, she
is officially retired.
Mary Ann built a very successful
career by always being accessible, not only to her agents, but to anyone and
everyone in the industry who needed help.
Some of us have dogs. Maybe two. Cats? They’re
popular, also. But Julie Murphy, who has a combination of canines and felines,
also raises alpacas and llamas, all of which provide far greater benefits than
Julie, who is the administrative assistant to the executive team at Alliant National—and describes herself as the “lead fun-maker of office festivities”—co-owns Red Flower Ranch, a 10-acre plot just east of Mead, Colorado, with her husband. They—and their 12-year-old daughter, Sara, who was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis, Type 1 at 10 months old—live on the property, alongside two llamas and 13 alpacas, two dogs and three cats.
“Our name comes from a small flower on our farm,”
says Julie, recalling the first time she spotted a little red flower blooming in
a dry patch of dirt tucked in between a wall and some fencing. “It was the only
living thing for several feet around it, and we were amazed at its
determination to grow and thrive despite the huge odds against it,” says Julie.
“It reminded us of Sara and all she’s been through with Neurofibromatosis—and
all she has yet to face in the future. To us, it represents drive,
determination and the ability to thrive under any circumstance.”
It was Sara’s medical team, in fact, that
originally introduced the alpacas to the Murphy family. “We hadn’t been around
alpacas at all, but her doctors thought that because of the peace they exude by
simply being, they might be the kind of animals that our daughter would benefit
from,” says Julie.
A short time later, the family attended an
alpaca show to determine if the doctors were right.
“When we met the alpacas, we knew that these
were the animals for us,” remembers Julie. “We quickly realized that there
were many benefits to having them, including the fact that they’re great
therapy animals, thanks to their curious nature and calm demeanor.”
As an added bonus, shares Julie, “They grow the
most amazing fiber, which is considered by many to be the best natural fiber
available.” The result? Easygoing animals that would bond with Sara and a
successful alpaca business that would provide the Murphy family with a sense of
Since purchasing the property in the spring of
2013, Julie and her husband have spruced up the farm buildings, incorporated
multiple pastures and built several llama and alpaca pens. In November of 2016,
they started Red Flower Ranch.
“Our niche is that we have alpacas and llamas,
while most farms have horses, cows and other typical farm animals,” says
Julie, adding that the slogan of their ranch is “Colorado Raised & Made,” a
motto backed by a fierce dedication to selling products produced by their own
animals. “Unless I simply can’t avoid it, I don’t import fibers or materials
from other countries, like Peru or Chile,” stresses Julie, pointing out that very
few of her finished products are imported. “If they aren’t made by us, they’re made
in the USA. Our goal is to keep it local, kind of like farm-to-table, except
we’re more like ‘alpaca-to-hat.’”
Her other love, of course, is Sara, whose
genetic disease has resulted in tumors that grow inside her nervous system. The
disease can also cause bone deformities, blindness, deafness, cancer and other
Still, despite daily pain in her legs and hips,
bone deformities in her daughter’s pelvis and legs and numerous renal problems,
Julie remains optimistic. “While Sara’s had more than a dozen surgeries in
her lifetime and more hospitalizations than I care to think about, she’s a
happy girl and I thank God that I get to be her mom.”
Sara’s favorite alpaca is a black female named Midnight
Dancer. “Dancer and Sara have something special and love being together,” says
Julie, noting, too, that Sara participates in craft and livestock shows. “She
enjoys talking to people, especially other kids, about alpacas and answering
all their questions.”
While Sara’s disease is debilitating, the Murphy family has leaned on the Children’s Tumor Foundation—the world’s largest nonprofit currently funding neurofibromatosis research— for support and guidance.
“When Sara was diagnosed, there was no treatment
protocol and little research to advance a cure,” says Julie. “We still
don’t have a cure, but they’ve reached a point where some promising medications
and breakthroughs are on the horizon. I’m excited for the future and what
it will bring to help those suffering worldwide from Neurofibromatosis.”
The Children’s Tumor Foundation has been so
instrumental in Sara’s treatment that Julie donates a portion of each sale from
the ranch to the Foundation.
While they continue to search for treatments for
Sara’s disease, Julie lives in the moment and finds joy in the little things.
“My husband always says that when things get hard, there’s a whole lot of
upside potential. It reminds me that no matter how bad it is, it will get
better, and when it’s already good, it could turn out to be great.”
Julie’s dedication and work ethic—she performs office manager duties for Alliant National’s corporate office, functions as an event planner and works closely with the education team—extends far beyond her office walls.
She’s a warrior and her positive attitude and genuine compassion for others is palpable. “I’m so blessed to have an amazing and supportive husband and the greatest daughter anyone could ask for. She’s taught me what true strength really looks like and to have more patience than I ever thought myself capable of,” says Julie. “To top it off, I’ve been given the opportunity to raise amazing animals and help educate others about their benefits. I truly am living the American dream.”
Check out Red Flower Ranch on Facebook.
Read more about Children’s Tumor Foundation.
Answering Alliant National’s call to use title and management skills in the broader role of statewide Florida production manager.
Tim Tillman joined Alliant National six years ago as a vice president
for Tallahassee and Northwest Florida agency manager where he was responsible
for building Alliant National’s footprint.
As a testament to Tim’s hard work and dedication, he’s been
promoted to Florida production manager.
Tim began his career as a courier and moved up the ladder to
perform search, exam and mapping with an independent title agent in South
Florida. Subsequently, he worked as senior examiner and assistant manager for
American Pioneer. He was also a senior examiner for Attorneys Title Fund.
Just prior to joining Alliant National, Tim was the operations
manager and business center manager of Fidelity National Title Group’s
Tallahassee operation, where he managed the production and trained and managed
Tim has done an excellent job of growing our footprint in
his area, including managing examiners and our production system.
Now he’s agreed to answer our call to use his exemplary
title and management skills in the broader role of statewide Florida production
He will continue to reside in the Panhandle area while
managing all our title production staff and processes.
“Joining the Alliant National Team presents me with some new
challenges and opportunities, and I’m really looking forward to helping Alliant
National’s independent agents serve their customers more fully and stand out
from the competition,” Tim said, adding that throughout his career, he’s “grateful
to have had the opportunity to foster excellent business relationships along
some of the best beaches in the world and around the state capital.”
Tim’s mature, kind and experienced voice joins our statewide group of seasoned and compassionate searchers and examiners, all of whom pride themselves on delivering the best title products we can.
The claims and Florida underwriting departments have collaborated to create a paid internship program at Alliant National.
The internship program was created to foster greater awareness and interest in our unique industry, by engaging with students at local law schools.
The program kicked into gear last March, with the selection of the program’s first intern, Kamilah Brennen. Kamilah attended George Washington University for her undergraduate studies and is currently attending Florida A&M University College of Law. She is in the Top 5 percent of her class and graded onto the Law Review.
In her downtime, Kamilah enjoys playing softball, basketball, and mountain biking. She also enjoys reading and watching sci-fi books and movies.
Kamilah will be working at our Oviedo office and will have the opportunity to shadow the underwriting and claims teams, and observe other departments’ functions.
We interviewed several applicants at local law schools, and Kamilah stood out to us as a very caring and bright applicant. We are very excited to have Kamilah with us!