What can be said about Phyllis Mulder? Just ask a few people who have worked with her at Alliant National since she came on board in July 2006, and you’ll hear what seems like 10,000 glowing comments. To an outsider, the accolades may initially sound like nice talk – just something you say about an executive who retires after 14 years with the same company. But as members of the Alliant National family share their heartfelt and personal stories, you realize that it’s all true; you are learning about a woman who not only helped shape a company, but also the careers and lives of seemingly everyone with whom she has come into contact.
Phyllis Mulder joined Alliant National almost at the company’s inception. Dave Ginger introduced Phyllis in ’06 to his co-founders Bob Grubb and Scott Hendrickson. Once they met, no one ever looked back. Since those auspicious beginnings, Phyllis has served as Chief Legal Officer & Executive Vice President at Alliant National, served as President of the Texas Land Title Association, participated in many committees through TLTA and ALTA, and helped the company grow from a handful of agents in a handful of states, to a national organization that today operates in 25 states and supports more than 500 independent agents.
David Sinclair, Alliant National CEO, has worked with Phyllis since 2011. He says Phyllis has played an important role in the company’s transition from a small- to mid-sized title insurance underwriter to a widely respected and recognized industry leader. “Phyllis has been instrumental in the development of the Alliant National culture,” says Sinclair, “and she has allowed us to recruit and retain outstanding people.
“When discussing any issue, Phyllis listens deeply,” he adds. “Phyllis is calm, thoughtful, respectful and kind. She remains steady in the face of uncertainty and unflustered by the whims of others.”
That rock-steady presence is not lost on other colleagues. Margaret Cook, General Counsel & EVP of Alliant National, has worked alongside Phyllis since 2010. Phyllis and Margaret previously worked together for about four years in the early 2000s, and Phyllis recruited Margaret to Alliant National.
“Phyllis is the consummate professional,” says Cook. “She is intelligent, collaborative, humble, and consistent. She genuinely cares about others and brings out the best in them. My favorite part of working with Phyllis is how she empowers her co-workers to succeed and sincerely celebrates their successes.”
Cook shares her admiration for Phyllis’ skills as an attorney. “Phyllis is the calm in the storm when it comes to making legal decisions. She is a natural team player who instinctively values the ideas and suggestions of others. She applies her sharp, analytical mind to think through all angles of a problem, and develops a solution that works for all parties,” she says. “Phyllis is also a master of the English language and enjoys learning and sharing. One day, she came upon and circulated a case where the outcome hinged on the lack of an Oxford comma – to the delight of the serial comma proponents on the Legal Team.”
Alliant National co-founder and long-time colleague of Phyllis, Bob Grubb, gathered a number of comments from Phyllis’ colleagues to celebrate Phyllis’ retirement on a recent company call. Here are just a few of the accolades:
“Jean Bailey, Vice president and Regional Underwriting Counsel for the Southwest Region, said that, due to Phyllis’ deep understanding of the English language, when Alliant National issued a bulletin, it was meticulous, brilliant and the most carefully read bulletin in the industry.
“Brenda Cannon, Underwriting Counsel, Florida, said that when she was considering joining Alliant National, it meant a lot to her that the CLO was a woman, which is not at all common in the industry. ‘I felt an immediate connection with Phyllis.’”
And from Bob Grubb: “Her way of being is the single biggest factor in having Alliant National be so respected in the industry.”
Phyllis is an extraordinarily warm person and brilliant attorney. Forget for a minute that, in addition to being Chief Legal Officer at Alliant National, she also hikes, practices yoga, is an avid bird watcher, spends considerable time in national and state parks – and has run dozens of half-marathons. It’s her humanness that touches the hearts of her colleagues. “I’ll always remember the delight in Phyllis’ voice whenever her daughter called,” says Cook. “Of all of Phyllis’ accomplishments, it’s easy to tell that she’s most proud of being a mother and raising a beautiful, smart, and independent child.”
Likewise, Sinclair knows well the warmth and humanness that is Phyllis Mulder. “Phyllis is a balancing force,” says Sinclair. “One of my favorite parts of working with her is that, regardless of moods or mindsets, she is always available to listen and make a personal connection.
“Phyllis seeks to find the positive in literally everyone,” he adds. “She works with the information supplied and develops the very best product to meet the needs of others.”
But perhaps the most telling aspect of Phyllis leaving Alliant National after 14 years of service, is how Phyllis feels about exiting – and about her stewardship of Alliant National. “The biggest thing I will miss when I leave are the people who make up Alliant National,” she says. “That is what I will miss the most.
“What an honor it has been to work with individuals who are so caring, professional, honest, smart, fun,” she adds. “I have learned something valuable from each person I’ve worked with. I am grateful for the lessons, the mentoring, the laughs, and the help along the way.
“What a gift – throughout the last 14 years to be able to say, ‘I love my job – I love what I do – I love the people I work with,’” she says. “This has been an amazing learning and growing journey. I am proud of our company’s growth, which has resulted from helping others achieve their goals and objectives. How rewarding to work at a company focused on serving our agents, our people, our industry, and all of our stakeholders.”
The evidence shows that Alliant National returns the sentiment. Well done, Phyllis Mulder, Esq.
Losing a child is a tragedy no parent should ever have to endure. While there are few words and even fewer comforts to be offered to those who have experienced such a loss, the team at The Compassionate Friends is doing its best to be there in the face of the unthinkable.
Sandra Harrison experienced such a loss on her wedding anniversary when her son, 26-year-old Cory Trevor Harrison, was fatally hit by a drunk driver. Though she wasn’t alone in her grief, Sandra realized that facing such a tragedy requires a community. It wasn’t until after the loss of Cory that she found The Compassionate Friends, a foundation that offers a sense of togetherness and self-help options for grieving families in need.
Since discovering the group, Sandra found a partnership and a focused purpose, within her community, all driven by The Compassionate Friends’ cause. While The Compassionate Friends, open to anyone who has lost a child, grandchild or sibling, offers self-help options to everyone near and far, it takes enough interest in one location to build a local chapter.
After three separate families contacted the organization, the Bay County, Florida chapter was founded in January 2015. Since then, the group meets every second Monday of each month. With the current pandemic, the chapter meets on a scheduled Zoom call.
The mother and grandmother will be stepping in as chapter leader of her local group in July. In the meantime, she’s shifted her focus to a memorial garden to honor her son and other children lost. With the help of local government and the other members of her chapter, including the current chapter leader, Carol Ladouceur, Sandra and other chapter members are now building the Children’s Memorial Garden.
“I don’t like going to my son’s grave,” she says. “I want to go where it’s uplifting.”
Sandra wants to help offer her community a comforting and peaceful place to go where they can honor their loved ones without the negative connotations of a graveyard. Rather than feeling surrounded by death, Sandra and her community’s organization wants to offer a place that can be a celebration of life for her lost son and the lost family members of her community.
Their bid for the garden was enthusiastically backed by local city commissioners of Lynn Haven, Florida, and other chapter members. Some families went together on benches for their loved ones, while others opted to sponsor trees, bushes and other greenery to adorn the garden. There will be cenotaph walls that will be covered in bronze plaques – a place where anyone who has lost a child, grandchild or sibling can pay to have them memorialized.
As a non-profit, the Bay County chapter had to be clever about how to go about the creation of their garden. Purchases of plaques and charitable donations go directly to the creation and upkeep of their garden. There will be a fountain for the garden, offering an added level of tranquility for those who come to honor their lost loved ones.
The Children’s Memorial Garden was set to be completed in June 2020 with a dedication. A Walk to Remember was scheduled for May 30, 2020. Anyone can donate directly via Venmo*. Sandra has devoted a large amount of her time to the project, and looks forward to seeing the garden and fountain completed. She noted that the setting – about 1000 feet from North Bay – couldn’t be any better, and hopes that others will find it as peaceful as she does.
After being founded in England over 50 years ago, The Compassionate Friends has since expanded operations in the United States. The group works in chapters, and as of today has over 600 chapters in all 50 states, Washington D.C, Puerto Rico and Guam. The Compassionate Friends’ mission statement states that “when a child dies, at any age, the family suffers intense pain and may feel hopeless and isolated. The Compassionate Friends provides highly personal comfort, hope, and support to every family experiencing the death of a son or a daughter, a brother or a sister, or a grandchild, and helps others better assist the grieving family.”
Sandra Harrison and her Bay County chapter are living up to that mission in spades with their current project. No one ever wants to experience loss, particularly that of a child, but the love of a supportive group and community, such as Sandra’s, proves that love can sometimes mitigate grief and shore the bereaved up when the unthinkable happens.
*To donate to the Children’s Memorial Garden, search for “Children’s Memorial Garden” on the Venmo app. Donations can be made there.
Alliant is excited about our newest addition to the Southwest Underwriting team!
Alliant National is pleased to announce the addition of Erica Stoltz as Texas Underwriting Counsel for the Southwest Region! Erica joined Alliant National on March 23rd and she has been working closely with the underwriting team for the last two months learning internal processes and requirements. During this time, she has demonstrated the genuine ability to understand complex underwriting issues and the ability to communicate clearly and effectively with title agents. Erica holds an undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University and went on to graduate from Texas Tech University School of Law. Her experience as a Disaster Relief Attorney for the U.S. Small Business Administration became immediately valuable as the government rolled out the PPP Disaster Relief Loans where she provided immediate, first-hand knowledge to Alliant National on the best way for affected companies to apply for disaster relief funds.
As a title insurance professional, she learned the industry from the ground up serving as a clerk/runner for a law firm, and then she worked in the Title Commitment and Policy Department for a title agency in College Station while at Texas A&M. Following law school and her time at the SBA, she became an Examining Attorney for a large independent agent in Dallas/Fort Worth where she spent many years performing in-house underwriting for both residential and commercial transactions. After a few years out of the industry raising a family, she is back in the game!
We are very excited to have her join the Southwest Underwriting team!
Jim leaves an impressive legacy that spans more than four decades in our industry.
It is with admiration and gratitude for a job well done that we announce the retirement of Jim Hensley, our Midwest regional agency manager. Jim has been transitioning toward retirement for several months, and his last day with Alliant National will be May 29th.
As he enters this new phase, Jim leaves an impressive legacy that spans more than four decades in our industry. When Jim joined our organization in 2013, his deep operations experience on both the agent and underwriter sides made him a crucial hire for Alliant National. We’ve seen tremendous success in the Midwest thanks to his efforts.
But we didn’t just gain an amazing title professional when we hired Jim Hensley; many of us gained a mentor and friend. When you talk to Jim, you always know you’re speaking with someone who lives a life of service to others. His faith, and his love for his family, his country and the people in our industry comes shining through.
In these months as Jim neared retirement, he worked tirelessly to ensure that Regional Manager Manoj Purohit and his team are well positioned to meet the needs of our agents moving forward. I am personally grateful for the time Jim has invested in our company and in teaching me about commitment to this industry.
The future is bright, but like us, we know many of you have come to rely on Jim, his straightforward honesty, and his uncommon ability to find the right words, even in difficult times. We all will miss him.
Feel free to join us in wishing Jim and his family a happy retirement!
Alliant National Title is Excited to Announce the Promotion of Jean E. Bailey.
Jean joined Alliant National early last year after a stellar career as in-house counsel and Chief Title Officer at Rattikin Title Company, and she has adapted extremely well to the risk decision-making process as an underwriting attorney for Alliant National.
She has also done a terrific job in communicating with agents such as this Texas agent who said: “Excellent underwriting assistance by Jean Bailey, thank you! Wow. Another well-known underwriting counsel we both know with a different company would push the math back to us!”
And another agent who said: “I wanted to let you know that I am extremely pleased with Jean Bailey. She is very pleasant to work with and very helpful. She went out of her way to assist in a difficult transaction; even called and spoke with the client to help them understand the requirement. I have truly enjoyed working with her and will continue to contact her for all my underwriting needs. She is Amazing!!!”
Visit our social media to Congratulate Jean on her well-deserved promotion.