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2018-19 Nominations for ALTA Board and Executive Committees

ALTA’s Nominating Committee is pleased to present the list of nominations for the 2018-19 ALTA Board of Governors, as well as the Abstracters and Title Insurance Agents Executive Committee and the Title Insurance Underwriters Executive Committee. Nominations will be voted on during ALTA ONE, which will be held Oct. 9-12 in Los Angeles.

Pages from board and exec committee list


What’s Your Culture Profile?

 “Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast” Peter Drucker

Why is company culture important? How does it make one company very successful and one company fail? What can you do to reinforce and capitalize on a great culture or improve one that needs some work?

With all the focus on emerging technology in today’s title and settlement industry, it’s become difficult for many companies to differentiate themselves in this increasingly competitive and changing world.  One of the few remaining differentiators is company culture. 

Randy Bradley, executive vice president of Mother Lode Holding Company (MLHC), will share how MLHC treasures its culture and actively perpetuates and shares it on a daily basis both to recruit and retain employees and to attract and retain valued clients.

In addition, Jim Czapiga, president and CEO of CATIC, will bring attendees through some of the tools and methods he employed in changing CATIC’s culture from one that accepted things “as they were” to one that has employees engaged and focused on its forward-thinking mission, vision and values.

In this engaging presentation, attendees will also hear about Leo French, MLHC’s revered founder, and how he made culture and his company’s values the key focus of his fledgling endeavor 45 years ago and why it’s made the company successful over these many years.

Click here to register for ALTA ONE.

Don’t Be a Claims Casualty

2017 was a very good year for the title industry from both a financial and claims perspective. And yet the industry incurred more than $629 million in claim losses and loss allocation expense. There are reasons to believe that claim losses will be on the rise once again.

Come listen to our nationally recognized panelists discuss the most prevalent national claims trends in raw numbers and dollar amounts and provide you with their insights on protecting your business from both an outside coverage counsel and senior underwriting counsel perspective.  

Real-life stories will be utilized to arm attendees with practical tips to identify and avoid becoming part of these latest trends.  Fraudsters are becoming more brazen and the opportunity for major claims and loss is increasing.  Your business must become even more sophisticated and vigilant in order to not become a claims casualty!

Len Prescott, vice president and Florida state and regional counsel for First American Title Insurance Company, and Mike O’Donnell, co-managing partner of the law firm Riker, Danzig, Scherer, Hyland & Perretti, will speak more in depth about this topic during the session titled “Don’t Be a Claims Casualty” at ALTA ONE. Click here to register.

What’s Your Residential Number?

We all see numbers every day, but do we ever look at the numbers that affect our business?

What if we used the numbers that are out there in the many areas of the title and real estate industry?

Looking at the big picture, also looking down the road to how this will affect our businesses. Are changes coming?

First, let’s look at the macro (global numbers). What are the economists looking at? One piece of information comes from Graphs and Laughs by Dr. Elliot Eisenberg--one of my lender partners was ever so kind to share. Then let’s look at the micro (or regional numbers) provided by the National Association of Realtors. How do they compare to the macro?

Okay, now here comes the fun part of looking at the economics of the title industry. Let’s go to mini micro (your local numbers). In conversing with our Realtor and lender partners, we can understand what our local markets are doing and how to plan for our businesses accordingly.

Val Kircher, vice president at Consumer Title and Escrow in Lincoln, Neb., will speak more in depth about this topic during at ALTA ONE. Click here to register.


Agents and Underwriters: Creating a More Profitable Relationship

The Agent Visit

Act 1, Scene 1

Agency Rep Enters Gold Star Title Agency

  • Agency Rep: Hi! I am Larry, I represent Global Title, we are an underwriter! Could I have a few minutes of your time?
  • Agency Owner Mary:Hi Larry, you do realize this is the last day of the month. I am in between closings and don't have time to see you. Could you schedule a time to meet?
  • Agency Rep: Certainly! Here are some pens and a stress ball! Have a nice day!

 The Policy Call

Act 1, Scene 1

Agency Rep Calls Agent

  • Agency Rep: Hey Steve, it's Susan. I need to talk to you about your policy backlog. We have not seen much volume as far as policies go, but you have pulled a lot of CPLs.
  • Agency Owner: Well Steve, I realize we are a bit behind, but I have been focusing on closings and getting orders out the door, so something had to give. We can catch back up in December.
  • Agency Rep: Susan, you have over 2,000 outstanding CPLs and have issued 30 policies in the last two months. This is a bit concerning.
  • Agency Owner: I see your point, but there is nothing I can do, we are understaffed.

Do these conversations sound familiar? Hopefully they are hyperbole for what can be difficult situations. However, the dynamic between an agent and an underwriter can be difficult. Both have the same goal, getting the transaction closed and issuing the policy to the consumer. However, there are a lot of things that must take place before that happens. With all those moving parts, how do you maintain a symbiotic relationship? 

David Townsend, president and CEO of Agents National Title Insurance Company, and Nicole Plath, CEO and owner of Fortune Title Agency Inc., will speak more in depth about this topic during the session titled “Agents and Underwriters: Creating a More Profitable Relationship” at ALTA ONE. The speakers will help attendees maneuver the landscape of the underwriter and agent relationship and identify ways that it can make your business more efficient and profitable. Click here to register.

Discover Your Leadership Style

“Good management is both an art and a science …. It is tough, challenging and exhilarating.” — Sigmund G. Ginsburg

To be successful as leaders you must have passion, drive and commitment. In this era of unrelenting change, it is harder than ever for our overburdened managers to be passionate about their work. And yet, now more than ever, passion is what sets us apart from others. It’s our commitment to excellent customer service, our drive to build successful top 100 businesses, and most of all, our devoted leadership to promote effective employee engagement.

I began researching servant leadership in the early 1980s while managing several branch offices. I read Managing with Passion; Making the Most of your Job and Your Life by Sigmund G. Ginsburg, and incorporated his recommendations into my personal leadership style. I must say, it changed my life and certainly the direction of my leadership. Ginsburg’s inspiration poised me for position of great power and influence, as well as creating a heart devoted to passionate service to others—including both my staff and our customers.

In today’s brave new world, full of business and social change, we must recognize that as empowered managers, we have the power to serve and lead. Robert Greenleaf, who coined the term servant leadership, believes “Good leaders must first become good servants.” He proposed that the best key tools for a servant-leader include listening, persuasion, using your intuition and foresight, good communication skills and pragmatic measurements.

Leaders committed to excellence understand the importance of successful motivation and good management.

“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.” ― Max De Pree

Natalie I. Lancaster, change leader of Lancaster Leadership Inc., will speak more in depth about this topic during a session titled “Discovering Your Leadership Style” at ALTA ONE. Click here to register.


What’s Past Your Finish Line?

Have you ever noticed that referrals are sort of like the calories you continue to burn after a hard workout? Similarly, can you position your business up to and beyond the closing, so that you can continue to enjoy the extra benefits of repeat business as well?

Pack your sneakers (at least your mental ones) for this fast 30-minute brainstorming session, calledWhat’s Past Your Finish Line? Grow Your Repeat Business.”

What do you do to stay memorable? Have you asked for the referrals?

How do you sustain relationship building best practices when you’re a large organization?

Come ready to enjoy some endorphins and race themed interaction, while discussing different ways to keep your customers coming back for more. 

Sharon Sluder Risch, vice president of marketing and business development at Trident Land Transfer Company, will speak more in depth on this topic at at ALTA ONE. Click here to register.


The Docket: Virginia Court Addresses Need for Corrective Instruments Involving Trusts

The Docket is a monthly TitleNews Online feature provided by ALTA’s Title Counsel Committee which reviews significant court rulings and other legal developments and explains the relevance to the title insurance industry. 

Stephen Gregory, of counsel for the law firm Steptoe & Johnson PLLC, provided today’s review of a decision by circuit court in Virginia that addressed the conveyance of an easement burdening property that had been conveyed into a trust. Gregory may be reached at 75cavalier@gmail.com.

Citation: Janet Kruck v. Mark Krisak, et al., 2018 WL 2386671 (May 23, 2018) Circuit Court of Fairfax County, Virginia; Bernhard, J.

Facts: The dates are crucial to this case which concerned the conveyance of an easement burdening property that had been conveyed into an inter vivos trust. Austin Foster granted an easement to his sister, Janet Kruck, for the use of a septic/drain field on his property. That easement was dated 9/30/74, but wasn’t recorded until 6/13/06. On 4/15/06, Austin Foster conveyed the servient tenement to himself as trustee of the Austin Foster Revocable Living Trust. The deed into the trust was recorded 6/21/06. In the interim, Mr. Foster individually granted an amendment to the easement (providing access to the septic/drain field) on 6/9/06, which was recorded with the earlier easement on 6/13/06. The Foster property eventually became owned by defendants Krisak, who contested the right of plaintiff to the use of the second easement. The following chart was embedded into the decision:

Transaction Description

Transaction Date

Date Recorded

Easement #1



Conveyance of parcel to Trust



Easement #2



Fee simple title conveyance to Edward and LeeAnn Foster



Foreclosure conveyance to current owners/Defendants



Holding: The parties stipulated that Mr. Foster’s sister was an innocent purchaser for value without notice of the transfer into the trust prior to the grant of the easement. The defendants maintained, however, that the bona fide purchaser protections only extended to persons who acquired ownership interests in land and an easement was not such an ownership interest. Therefore, the defendants argued, because the property was in the trust and not owned by Foster individually, the second easement was void. The court agreed with the defendants’ point of law on bona fide purchasers and easements but held that the grant of the easement by Foster after he had transferred the servient tenement into the trust of which he was the sole beneficiary operated as a partial revocation of the trust to the extent of the easement. Therefore, the court held the easement was valid and binding on successors in interest of the servient tenement.

Relevance to the Title Industry: Title examiners have long been attentive to the ramifications of trust property. Industry practice has been to call for corrective instruments if an individual conveys or encumbers property that the person had previously transferred into his or her trust. Kruck tells us that may not be necessary. The opinion contains a detailed analysis of when and how a conveyance by an individual may be viewed as a revocation or partial revocation of the trust.

Where are Our Future Leaders?

By Frank Pellegrini

Leadership is not a matter of one’s I.Q., academic degrees or a prestigious alma mater. It has nothing to do with an imposing physique or deep, well-resonated voice. Heredity, good luck or being in the right place at the right time don’t factor in at all.

Leadership does not demand unquestioned loyalty. True leaders are followed by others enthusiastically; without threats, fears or insistence. Those led seek to follow true leaders because they want to, not because they are compelled to.

Leadership is not to be confused with triumph or success. Leaders have to face defeat; but, true leaders are never paralyzed by the prospect of failure.

Most importantly, leadership grows from trust. A true leader earns and nurtures the trust of those led.

True leadership is hard to describe, but never mistaken. It is forged from deep conviction in one’s values, unwavering ethos, sincere empathy for those led, honesty, and clear communication. Leadership, in its purest sense, cannot be given or bestowed; nor can it ever be taken or assumed. Leadership is honed and perfected through faithful adherence to certain essential, irrefutable and deep-seated principals.

Great leaders are entrepreneurial. They are excellent communicators. They are creative, empathetic, inquisitive, confident, inspirational, authentic and worthy of trust.

Did you know that the average age of the U.S. workforce is 42, but the average age of workers in our industry is nearly 46 years old? What will happen when it’s time for you to retire?

Frank Pellegrini, president of Prairie Title Services Inc., will explore how to identify and develop the future leaders of our organizations during the session “Finding Your Company’s Future Leaders” during ALTA ONE. The discussion will focus on the attributes of great leaders and how those skills, qualities and characteristics are deployed to establish and maintain an environment of trust, mutual respect and collective development. Come ready to discuss how to set your company up for future success by recognizing and fostering your future leaders. Click here to register.