E! News: What has your experience been like as a Latina navigating the mortgage industry?
PA: My superpower is being Latina. A large part of our success has been our outreach to underserved communities and people looking at my company and seeing themselves in our narrative. When companies and corporations seek to penetrate a demographic, it should be represented by the demographic. Oftentimes, companies will go after the Latino market, but they don’t hire a Latino.
In the beginning, I was scared and walking on eggshells, hoping not to offend. But I’m a woman and I’m a Latina, so I gotta rock who I am. I want to thrive, I want to win. We’re looking up to males, but why aren’t they looking up to us? It’s because they don’t know how to. There’s still a struggle, but I’m hoping for the next generation, because of women like me speaking up, it will be different.
E! News: What inspired you to create your own company?
PA: I married really young, at 24, and had two kids. By the time I was 30, my first husband left me. All of a sudden, he walked out the door and was gone. My safety net was gone. I found myself a failure, being a divorcée and, at the time, we were in a down cycle in mortgage. So not only was I depressed but there was no work. My parents helped me through that struggle and it took me about a year to get on my feet. At that point in time, I couldn’t commit to a nine-to-five job…so that was the early step of my self-employment.
Then, I got set up with this wonderful man, who I now claim as my husband, and he was a successful entrepreneur. He invested all of the profits of his own company in the tech sector during the tech boom and…we became really, really, really rich. But overnight, we became really, really poor. I’m like, “Why don’t you come to work with me? Why don’t you come to mortgage?” So he dove right in. We synergistically were the merger that nobody could do—he’s really good at everything I’m not good at, and I’m really good at everything he’s not good at. It was a good partnership and we started building this company, New American Funding. We’re going to celebrate our 20th year next year.