Interviewed by: Ronni Bleich
Name: Jean Partridge
NYSLTA Role: President
Company and Title: Benchmark Title Agency, LLC, Chief Counsel & Managing Member
Q. Why do you enjoy working with the NYSLTA?
A. I get first-hand knowledge of what is happening in the industry which keeps me more informed, and most importantly, it fosters good working relationships among all industry players, including, title searchers/abstractor’s, agents, and underwriters who all come together to make change. I got involved in the Association because I wanted to be part of the solution as opposed to just complaining about the issues facing the industry. As the song from the show Hamilton goes, “I wanna be in (the room where it happens).”
Q. What do you plan to focus on this year, as President of the NYSLTA?
A. As President of NYSLTA, I would like to focus on three main things:
- Mentorship – I am attempting to help ensure the future of the industry, by strongly encouraging more participation by members who are not yet involved in the Association. To that end, we now have two mentorship programs running simultaneously. I know it can feel intimidating to attend your first meeting or join a committee but it is important to remember “everyone has their first day …” Check out the Mentorship Program update for more info.
- Education – Through CE and CLE programs and by keeping members abreast of changes affecting the industry. Check out the CE/CLE Schedule and Title Tidbits section and Industry Updates for more info.
- Advocacy – We need to advocate for our industry in the Legislature and with the DFS and others when our members are deemed stakeholders. This includes increasing lobbying efforts and fostering better relationships with our regulators.
Q. What are you most proud of?
A. Somehow being able to manage being a working mom, who raised two (2) wonderful children and running a successful business with my business partner, Tom DeCaro.
Q. What do you enjoy doing while not working?
A. I love going to the theater and travel, which I am missing very much now. I also enjoy watching movies, cooking, and spending time with my family and friends.
Q. When did you start in the title business and how did you get started?
A. In 1985, while I was in law school, I started working part time for L&H Abstract. I was initially responsible for inputting data from index cards to their first computer (a word processor) and creating their “index” system. I was also a typing title reports. After law school, I was offered a full time job where I was basically involved in all aspects of title: examining, reading, recordings, closing, etc. Then, in 1998, First American Title acquired L&H Abstract and I remained with First American until 2005, when Tom DeCaro and I started Benchmark.
Q. Do you have any pets? What’s he/she like?
A. I have a Golden Retriever named Scout (she was named after Scout Finch in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’). She loves people and other dogs, and she is very affectionate, playful and loyal. She is really a wonderful family pet.
Q. What’s your secret talent that no one knows about?
A. I love to decorate and have been told I have a knack for interior design and remodeling.
Q. Where is your favorite place in the world?
A. Any beach! I love the smell of the water and the feel and touch of the sand. All my senses come alive at the beach.
Q. What is your favorite TV show?
A. Real Housewives! I find sometimes I just need mindless entertainment; I also enjoy medical shows like Grey’s Anatomy and House.
Q. What is your favorite movie?
A. “Dead Man Walking” and “I am Sam”. I am huge Sean Penn fan. I also really like “Life is Beautiful”. If you haven’t seen these, I recommend!
Q. What’s your favorite movie or song quote?
A. “Snap out of it!” ~ Loretta Castorini (Cher’s character in Moonstruck) Side note: Read Ronni’s interview with James Thanasules. Too weird!)
Q. What is one thing you have learned about yourself during this pandemic?
A. I find I get bored very easily. I can’t just sit around and relax. I need to be working on some sort of project.
Q. Have you tried anything new or different during this pandemic?
A. I tried to give my husband a haircut! I was not too successful.
Q. Tell me something not everyone knows about you.
A. I love to sing, but I am extremely tone deaf. It doesn’t stop me from performing Karaoke every chance I get!