Celebrating Caribbean American Heritage Month: Meet Ana Paniagua

In celebration of Caribbean American Heritage Month, we wanted to spotlight someone on the NewFed team. Meet Ana Paniagua, SVP Controller at NewFed Mortgage Corp, Georgia sports fanatic, lifelong tennis enthusiast, and driven optimist with roots in the Dominican Republic.


To kick this off, tell us how long you’ve been with NewFed Mortgage, what your role entails, and what you’d consider your expertise.

“I’ve been with NewFed for over a year and a half. I am the Controller, so I’m responsible for everything and anything accounting related. That includes high-level accounting, managerial and financial activities that are all within the company. It is imperative for us to maintain accurate and timely records of all of our transactions.

Fun fact – I did look it up just for this – in April of this year, we recorded over 4600 transactions in the accounting department. Obviously that plays an intricate part in managing the health of the company. So that’s what we do.”



What does Caribbean American Heritage Month mean to you?

“I’m laughing because I honestly had no idea such thing existed. Therefore, I’m going to say I have never celebrated it and it doesn’t mean much to me. However, I’m everyday Caribbean American. So I’ve never thought about it like ‘oh, what do we do this month?’ You know? We celebrate as things come up!

I’ll give you an example. I know you’re going to ask about some of the Caribbean traditions. In the United States, we celebrate Mother’s Day on the 2nd Sunday of May. In Dominican Republic, we celebrate it on the last Sunday of the month of May. So we celebrate both! We’re not giving gifts on both, but we get together to celebrate. I’ll call my aunts in Dominican Republic or cousins on that last Sunday, and they call us on the second Sunday. It’s all just very intertwined.”



What’s something specific to your heritage that you want to highlight and hope you can pass on to your family, friends, and community?

“I think we’re a very welcoming group of people, very open. And I think we could all be that way.

In particular, my family has always worked hard and we are overly optimistic. There’s always an opportunity in disguise, no matter how bad things are. So, if I had to share something from my family, that would be it. Continue to work hard and it’ll pay off eventually. Be optimistic about it. You have that opportunity to embrace even the hardships. Something will come from it.”



Tell me a little bit about what brought you to the mortgage industry. How did you get your start?

“I used to work for a marketing company, and they had a few sister companies. One of them was a mortgage lender. There was this Controller who managed all of the companies and I ended up working my way to Assistant Controller.

Well when we parted ways when the bubble hit, I decided to go for my masters. She (the Controller) reached out to me and said ‘hey, come work for me as a contractor, flexible hours, do your masters.’ And that’s actually how I got into the mortgage industry in 2017. I worked for them as a contractor and when I graduated, I joined them full time. I was there until I came here to NewFed!”



What made you move to NewFed?

“Growth, a great opportunity to grow and learn. You can’t beat that.”



Do you see an opportunity for mortgage professionals to better serve, or better reach the Caribbean community?

“I think, at NewFed, we’re offering some good marketing tools to our loan officers. And I think we can use that to open ourselves up more to the Latin community. Maybe by using a catch phrase that feels inclusive. I’ll give you an example.

The Atlanta Braves have a HUGE fan base. They call it ‘Braves Country’ because it goes as far as Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, some of North Carolina and obviously Latin America and the Caribbean. They have this catchphrase “Home of the Bravos.” They are including the Latin community, which is a huge fan base of theirs because baseball is huge for us. So I think we could all do a better job of finding ways to connect with communities like this. In the end we’re helping people build homes, own homes – it’s not just about mortgages. And it shouldn’t feel exclusive.”



Love that idea! *Catchphrase loading*
What do you enjoy most about your job?

“The people. I work with very talented and dedicated people who relate to one another very well. We are all working for the same goal. We’re striving to improve processes and enhance productivity. At the same time, we’re maintaining quality and accuracy in the work that we’re doing.

Plus, we have fun in the process! We like to joke, and we like to have fun. We spend time getting to know one another. This is basically my home away from home when you think about it – as many hours as we work. To be able to collaborate at the same level, and for them to bring out the best in you and you bring out the best in them when you’re spending 1/3 of your time with them, I think that’s important.”



What’s your personal mantra and where did it come from?

“It’s in Spanish – ‘Ni un paso para atrás ni para coger impulso‘ – which means ‘don’t take a step back, not even to push off.‘ This means keep moving forward no matter what. It comes from my mom! She always says that no matter what happens, just keep moving forward. Just don’t even look back. Don’t take a step back. Just keep focused no matter how hard it gets.”



Tell us a bit about your life outside of work. What do you like to do? Do you have any hobbies or talents?

“I love to play tennis! I’ve been playing doubles for many years now and love it. I am trying to play singles to improve my doubles. I also play piano, and right now, I’m trying to learn how to play golf, and I need a lot of work.

I’m a huge Atlanta sports fan. I love the Georgia Bulldogs, so I did go to the Championship game in Indianapolis last year. That was amazing! I’m also a fan of the Braves (home of the Bravos), the Falcons, and the Hawks.

I love to sing and I love to dance! Especially to Latin music. I used to be in a folkloric dance group, and you’ll definitely catch me singing at my desk throughout the workday.”



Thanks for sitting down with us, Ana!

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