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From Wall Street to bankruptcy to mortgage success

An abrupt change of plans

A major renovation to the place turned it into a reproduction of the historic home of George and Martha Washington, where her parents also lived with her and her husband. “We couldn’t find an old house to renovate,” she said. “We ended up building a replica of Mt. Vernon and had weddings there and did a lot of catering. It was a wonderful experience.”

But then a serious car collision on one of those winding country roads put her out of commission, and ended her days as an innkeeper. “I took a couple of years off and home schooled my kids.” But eventually, she needed to get back to work: “My husband asked, ‘are you ever going back to work?’ A relative actually worked as a Wells Fargo loan officer and she said ‘you know what, you got a background in finance, you’re personable. Why don’t you consider the mortgage industry?’ And so I took a course, went to boot camp, got hired and never looked back.”

In the 20 years since, Bernard has worked at a handful of companies. Her first job was at American Home Loans in Tyson Corners, Va., before moving on to stints at Carteret Mortgage Corp., Dynamic Capital Mortgage Inc., Prime Residential Mortgage (then called Jacob Dean Mortgage Inc.) and Advantage Mortgage Group among others.

Surviving the Great Recession

The Great Recession hit while she was at Carteret Mortgage – the once mighty lender that was unable to survive the mortgage meltdown. As she described it, the event was a true test of her mettle.

“They closed up,” she said of Carteret. “Nobody was getting mortgages; everybody was losing their homes. My husband was selling Mercedes vehicles – nobody was buying those.  We lost multiple homes and went through bankruptcy. We went through some hard times. But at the end of the day my husband and I looked at each other like: we have each other, we have our health, we have our family, we have our faith. So we just kept going. We had to move home with my parents again – which was fine!”

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