EVP and Head of Mortgage Banking Hilary Provinse Reflects on Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Legacy
Change Happens One Step at a Time
Fall has historically been my favorite season, both personally and professionally. Personally with the excitement of the start of school and the anticipation of the coming holidays and professionally with the start of the sprint to the end of the year that I find invigorating. But this year I have found myself dreading it. Despite the crispness of the air, the colors of the trees becoming brighter and the birds congregating and moving south—all the hallmarks that usually would have me flying high—I have been feeling down.
I have bemoaned the darkness starting earlier and the looming cold poised to limit our time outdoors. My daughters have both been learning remotely at home and consequently are often at each other’s throats. Each night I have read the news on my iPhone and pulled my pillow over my head, overcome by the racial inequity embedded in our national fabric and the polarizing political divisiveness that the coming election has brought to the fore.
More than six months into the pandemic and with the knowledge that it will likely be at least another six months before an effective vaccine would be widespread, I found myself feeling blue.
So down into the spiral of self-pity and ennui I went. I tried all my usual tactics to lift my spirits—practicing gratitude for all my blessings, exercising the blues away and focusing on the positives—but despite it all, I was stuck.
To top it off, on September 18, Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away. As I sat on the couch with my husband and our two daughters, watching the RBG movie and quietly sobbing, it hit me.
Here was this tiny woman who had faced what must have seemed like insurmountable challenges, just putting one foot in front of the other, deliberately, every day to fight for goals that were as audacious as they were consequential. In her own words, she recognized that “real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.” And she took those steps, tirelessly, with resilience and persistence, day after day, year after year to tear down cultural barriers for women and fight for justice and equality for all Americans.
This got me thinking, what would Ruth Bader Ginsburg do if she were in my circumstance? WWRBGD? I turned to her words and her legacy for inspiration.
Throughout her career, Ruth often found herself mired in uncertainty and adversity, but she didn’t allow herself to be derailed by it. “Don’t be distracted by emotions like anger, envy, resentment. These just zap energy and waste time,” she famously said. A lofty goal I can strive for.
Another of her great quotes was, “So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great, good fortune.” How true I find this today. For many of us, the Pandemic has slowed down our frenetic pace and given us much more time together as families. I need to cherish that and focus on action.
But her guidance I come back to most is this: “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” In my wallowing, I had lost sight of my passion and my privilege—to lead others in pursuing what I believe truly matters. I care deeply about building a world where my daughters—and children from all backgrounds—have even greater opportunities than I did. In my role as a leader at Berkadia, I am passionate about making the CRE industry more inclusive and giving more women and minorities a seat at the boardroom table to become decision makers so that our industry looks more like our world.
I love being at Berkadia, where we don’t rely on flash and self-promotion, but we invest in the tools, technology and infrastructure that empower our people and allow us to deliver value to our clients every day. I love building and growing the team and watching them succeed, knowing that my work is never done, but that each day is a step toward creating real, enduring change.
Thank you RBG for helping me get my head back on straight and, more importantly, for fighting for a more equitable America that has afforded me the opportunity to build a career and life that 60 years ago would have been inconceivable.
-EVP and Head of Mortgage Banking, Hilary Provinse