life was transformed when her parents became homeowners. The Almodovars had moved from Puerto Rico to Brooklyn in the 1950s, and they kept their goals and hard work centered on going from renters to homeowners. On the day they got their first home, their joy was so palpable that, even as a five-year-old, Almodovar understood that it was a life-changing moment for their family.

As the CEO of Fannie Mae, the leading provider of mortgage financing in the US, Almodovar sets the stage for other families to have that same life-changing moment that they can pass on to the next generation—literally and figuratively.

“One of our strategic objectives is to make the housing system fairer for everyone,” says Almodovar, who stepped into the CEO role in 2022 and slated to also take on the role of president in 2024. “And when we look at who our future homeowners are, they are people of color, 70 percent of whom are Latino.”

It’s why she thinks so fondly about her parents’ journey and the life-changing opportunities that their financial decisions have afforded her. Almodovar often mentions how she still believes that generational wealth is built through homeownership and how that generational abundance isn’t limited to just the physical asset of the house but also the intangibles—the hard work, commitment, and perseverance that transcend generations when a goal like this is achieved.

“To be the first Latina Fannie Mae [CEO], to be the only Latina today on the Fortune 500 is a big deal, and I feel a huge sense of responsibility,” she says. “I bring that sensibility of many immigrants in this country, that I have a sense of gratitude for what the mainland gave to my parents, and that my parents could then pass on to me and me to my children. This is the only place in the world where one generation to the next can see that growth. This is a place of opportunity, and I bring that to my work because if you work hard, hopefully, you’ll see the benefit of your efforts.”

Under Almodovar, over eight thousand employees work to realize Fannie Mae’s mission of facilitating equitable and sustainable access to housing. For context on the scale of the company’s impact, Fannie Mae has a balance sheet of $4.3 trillion and financed one in four single-family mortgages in the US in 2022.

All the while Almodovar, who credits her career success to hard work and mentorship, continues to build upon her role as a leader both at Fannie Mae and, externally, as the company’s first Latina CEO and the only Latina CEO on the Fortune 500 at the time of this writing.

“This is the only place in the world where one generation to the next can see that growth. This is a place of opportunity, and I bring that to my work because if you work hard, hopefully, you’ll see the benefit of your efforts.”



Priscilla Almodovar
Fannie Mae

America’s Fortune 500 Latina CEO

Almodovar knows that others will study her leadership style and career on their journeys to pave their own paths in the business world, especially other Latinos looking to lead companies of their own. Therefore, she is open to sharing her insights and lessons learned both with Fannie Mae employees and with the business world at large.

For instance, she wholeheartedly believes that while she is one of a few, she will not be the last Latina CEO with this level of influence.

“I do believe it’s going to change,” Almodovar says. “This past year, there’s now more than 10 percent of women on the Fortune 500 as CEOs [and] that was not the case before. Also, when I started my career, the Latino population was 9 percent of the population, [and] today it’s almost 20 percent. And by the way, Latinos are having higher levels of educational attainment [and] their wage growth is higher than the general population. They’re also seeing a faster pace of homeownership. So, it is Latinos’ time.”

When categorizing the specifics of her leadership style, she prides herself on her openness and a deep-seated belief that we each hold powerful talents that can make a big impact in corporate America. In Almodovar’s case, a proclivity toward partnerships and listening to others may be of one those powerful talents.

“I genuinely believe that everyone contributes to our mission and what the company and industry is trying to achieve, and I’m a big

believer in partnerships, especially in housing. Housing requires every sector to be working together,” Almodovar explains. “I think listening [also] is a very important tool, and it’s something I try to work on every single day.

“[As] a leader, I don’t know everything,” she adds. “No leader could know everything, so because [of this] I like to ask questions. I think there’s confidence in that ability to ask questions . . . I [also] like creating that sense of team and ownership. I like to win like everybody else, and if we all know where we’re heading, it really makes a big difference.”

Her third leadership pillar is her belief that hard work and continuous feedback can move the needle on a personal and team level. She is very animated when discussing the importance of highlighting others’ successes, as well as the leadership imperative to note when there is room for improvement.

“When someone does a job well done, I’m the first person to call it out and [to] explain why it was well done. Similarly, if someone doesn’t do a good job, I’m the one to share constructive suggestions on how they can make it different. And I think people acknowledge [that], people see that, and they want to work with someone who values their contribution.”

When asked about when, throughout her first year as Fannie Mae’s CEO, she feels like all three of her leadership pillars coalesced, Almodovar recalls a specific moment early in her tenure. At the end of her first quarter, they faced the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank.

“To see the company in action, how we came together, how we communicated with our stakeholders, how we assessed our risk, I was able to see firsthand the impact and scale of our organization during a potential time of crisis across the financial sector,” Almodovar says. “It really accelerates one’s learning when you’re in it. [We have an] amazing team of people. They’re smart, very committed to what we do, and it’s that mission—what Fannie Mae does—that brings the entire company together.”


Searching for Home

It’s normal—even expected—for Latinos to think of multiple different places or people when we think of the word home, or hogar. Our definitions of home are complicated by our family’s ties to their homeland, by our own immigration stories, and by the spaces where we feel we belong (or don’t).

Priscilla Almodovar is no different. “When I think of home, I think of our first home,” she says. “I remember when my parents bought their first home, I was five years old, and I still remember I had my own bedroom, which was a really big deal. That home, and the home I have today, [are] places where [we] can just be who [we] are.”

In Business for All Stakeholders

In addition to serving as leaders during moments of crisis, Fannie Mae’s team is committed daily to innovating the housing finance system to better serve those whose American dream includes homeownership.

“I like to say that [at] Fannie Mae we’re a tech company that happens to be in mortgage credit,” Almodovar shares.

The use of technology helps spearhead the company’s commitment to constant innovation and equity within homeownership. Under Almodovar’s leadership, the company has continued to build out its educational resources, which help empower first-time homebuyers to believe that homeownership is not only possible in the future but also attainable in the present day.

For instance, with the use of artificial intelligence, Fannie Mae lenders are now able to identify rent payments in a renter’s bank statements and allow them to factor that into their underwriting decisions.

“Our flagship HomeView program is in Spanish, and it really gets to the core of a lot of the myths that exist around homeownership, particularly in the Latino community,” she explains. “Issues about credit, what’s good credit, what’s not good credit, what to do with your personal information, social security numbers, and that credit is not a bad thing. [Because] I think culturally, the Latino community thinks that credit is not a good thing.”

At Fannie Mae, another flagship program, HomeReady, empowers the next generation of homeowners by busting the widespread myth that individuals need a 20 percent down payment to buy a home; instead, with the program, the down payment is only 3 percent for qualified borrowers.

No matter the organization or level, Almodovar is proud of how her every part of her career has always served a greater purpose. She has focused on bridging gaps in the housing space that allow families, just like her own parents, to believe that homeownership is for them, too.

“I’m a big believer in partnerships, especially in housing. Housing requires every sector to be working together.”

CEO Soft Skills

For instance, Almodovar set the roots for her career in the housing space over twenty years ago. She has been the president and CEO of Enterprise Community Partners, the managing director and co-head of real estate banking at JPMorgan Chase, and the president and CEO of the New York State Housing Finance Agency, the State of New York Mortgage Agency, and the Affordable Housing Corporation.

Each organization she helmed taught Almodovar how she could use her role, expertise, and ability to empower her team to create pathways for a new generation of homeowners.

“I think with everything in life, whether professionally or personally, you can’t do it alone,” Almodovar says. “It takes a lot of partnerships [and] it takes a lot of support . . . I personally get a lot of pleasure as a leader when I see my support elevate someone. I think it just keeps generating others to do the same.”

The cycle of mentorship and reverse mentorship is a cornerstone of Almodovar’s leadership style. She understands how it’s possible to create even more impact when you know who you can turn to for support and when someone knows they can also turn to you.

“I’ve been very fortunate to cultivate relationships that have stayed with me for twenty, thirty years,” the CEO says. “You tap them throughout [your career], and I think that allows them to counsel you because they get to know you, and you get to know them and their sensibilities.”

Almodovar adds that, at Fannie Mae, her approach to open communication and intentional mentorship at all levels opened up new avenues of innovation for the company’s culture and staff. An innovation which, culture leaders often note, is core to developing the more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces of the future.

“I think there are leaders amongst all of us,” she says. “At my early town hall, I told the entire company: call me, give me your ideas, stop by. People took me up on it, but it was not the culture of the place. It’s a very collaborative and consensus-driven place, but it’s also very process-oriented as to how decisions get made and how communications are done. Here I was, someone who was very open to talking to everyone and seeing everyone, so the good news is I think the company has realized that it’s all just my desire to learn, to be able to serve the company, and to serve what we do.”


3 Key Steps to Buying a Home

Priscilla Almodovar still believes wholeheartedly that homeownership is the number one way to build generational wealth in America, and she graciously laid out some first steps for readers who want to embark on their own home ownership journey.

Step 1: Ask Yourself, “Do I have to save for a down payment?”

Think about how much you have saved or how much you need to go, especially when you consider products like Fannie Mae’s HomeReady product, which only requires 3 percent down payment.

Step 2: Start Building Credit

Beyond opening a credit card, learn how you can use your current expenses to build credit. For instance, using your rent payments as proof that you follow through with your monthly payments.

Step 3: Keep Track of What Could Hurt Your Credit

Remember, it’s not just about what can help build your credit but also about what can bring it down if you don’t keep an eye out for it. Fannie Mae’s education modules can help you better understand what a healthy credit journey can look like.

“I can be pretty tough, too. I hold people accountable. I expect excellence. I work very hard; [it’s] something I learned very early.”

As she closes in on her first year as CEO, Almodovar is committed to continuing to center innovation, opening lanes of communication, and delivering on a greater mission because she knows that, together, all of these decisions can have positive ripple effects on society and the industry at large. Her ability to reach out and reach in has already proven effective in her day-to-day role.

“One thing I do in terms of my leadership is I do reach out [because] I do think you need all types [of people], all levels in a room coming up with ideas, and that’s where innovation starts,” she says. “I see people [and] I like listening to different points of view . . . I am very open, and maybe this has to do with being a person of color myself, but I am very open to different styles. I always tell my children that being nice goes a long way. And look, I can be pretty tough, too. I hold people accountable. I expect excellence. I work very hard; [it’s] something I learned very early.”

And it’s that combination of hard work, empathy, and self-awareness that has helped her continue to build on her family’s definition of “home” and expand on it by reaching in to support other people on their own home journeys. This writer believes it is no exaggeration to say that Almodovar’s work will leave a lasting legacy for the country’s housing finance system, and that this legacy will likely impact every one of our readers in one way or another.


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Look at the complete 2024 Leading Latinas list