This article originally appeared on Washington Business Journal and was written by Tristan Navera. It has been given minor edits before re-posting.

For countless businesses in Greater Washington, 2020 was a chance to step back and reflect on what their mission was and how they were doing it.

PhoenixTeam’s leaders had time for soul-searching, too.

Arlington-based PhoenixTeam is still a relatively new business, having formed in 2015 so its culture remains malleable. At the same time, it has grown to 140 employees, so the systems put into place now have an outsized impact on how it continues to grow. So when it began thinking about diversity, the company found it wanted a more ingrained way to measure how it was doing.

“Financial technology and housing are some of the least diverse sectors, but we need to reflect the diversity of the customer base,” said Tela Mathias, managing partner and COO.

PhoenixTeam’s “IDEA” initiative — Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access — was its all-encompassing strategy. The program relies on a four-pronged approach that includes education, policies, open dialogue, support, and understanding to educate its workers and ensure the workplace is empathetic and inclusive.

And so, it’s a holistic approach, Mathias said, because it requires employees to understand the moral and business need to build a diverse workforce so that they can support the initiative. The ultimate goal is “a culture of support and understanding” as its employees are more aware of one another’s business and personal challenges and how to help. Three activities a month ranging from discussions of emotional intelligence, empathy, prejudice, discrimination and celebration of heritage and holidays across a diverse community, with a few focused on Pride, pronouns and stronger allyship with the LGBTQIA+ community.

Doubling down on that investment, the company built a relationship with Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation to hire a chief diversity officer, draft a $75,000 budget and continue training and implementation of its IDEA initiative. After an audit with JustUs Health, the company also removed gendered language from its employee handbook and restrooms, added conscious inclusion training and updated its website with information about the LGBTQIA+ community and substance abuse. This year, the company plans more workshops to target recruiting, bias, leadership and emotional intelligence, with a goal to work more with the HBFF to determine what other resources to offer the LGBTQIA+ community.

“These things don’t come into your understanding naturally,” Mathias said. “You have to make room for them.”

The company’s recruitment efforts had to fall in line too, as it posts open positions on diverse job sites and has a single recruiting, interviewing and hiring experience for all candidates. Once people are aboard, they’re now included in one of eight employee resource groups, including one for LGBTQIA+, each a private channel that allows them to connect with others of similar life experience and background.

That’s because the company’s customer base has had to contend with these struggles, too. PhoenixTeam has many customers in the federal government, for instance, including veterans working with the Department of Veteran Affairs to stay in their homes. It’s meaningful work, but it requires understanding people with a wide range of life experiences.

It’s not just that the woman-owned business benefits from a broader array of perspectives as it tries to go to market in a diverse world. But these kinds of teams are turning out to be more resilient in the long run, too. The company landed on Inc. Magazine’s “Best Places to Work” list for the second time this year after a survey put 99% of team members engaged with “high favorability, advocacy, intent to stay and discretionary effort” and 96% feeling leaders put people first.

Analyst Jaedri Wood, reflecting on the past two years, summed it up in her comments. “People want to work for a company that has a positive impact and prioritizes the quality of their work over the quantity,” she wrote. “Team members are more invested in delivering positive change than solely improving the company’s bottom line.”

Marcia Carter-Griffith has been with PhoenixTeam for six months now, thriving in her roles as Data Analytics Consultant and Senior Functional Analyst. She has already utilized our Continuous Learning opportunities to take a course in Agile Methodology and received her Scrum Master Certification! Marcia also appreciates how our Village “takes the time to discuss important issues that affect our lives outside of work like mental health, our communities, and the people around us.”

Her top bucket list item is to see the Egyptian pyramids and if she could have coffee with a historical figure, Marcia would choose Dr. Mae C Jemison, an engineer, physician, and the first Black woman to travel into space when she served as a mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour.

Leaders and companies are recognized for programs, practices and policies that advance LGBTQIA+ equality and leadership in the workplace throughout the Greater Washington Area and beyond. 

ARLINGTON, VA, May 20, 2022 – PhoenixTeam is a Washington Business Journal Business of Pride in the Greater Washington area honoree! The award recognizes companies and business leaders for outstanding practices in advancing LGBTQIA+ leadership and equality, and blazing the trail for diversity and inclusion in the corporate world.  

“As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. so famously reminded us, ‘the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.’ This award reminds me that when we have power and privilege, it is our responsibility to use it to bend the arc towards justice,” says Tela Mathias, Managing Partner and COO. “To create access where it did not exist previously and invent a new way of doing business, one that realizes fairness and a commitment to the core values we practice at PhoenixTeam. It’s in our blood as a company and a community.” 

PhoenixTeam’s commitment to diversity and inclusion sits at the core of our company as a minority and woman-founded business in the overwhelmingly male and white-dominated financial technology and housing industries. In alignment with our dedication to representation, PhoenixTeam launched the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (I.D.E.A.) initiative in 2020 to empower our village members to reinforce the appreciation and acceptance of all through education and empathy. PhoenixTeam is also home to eight Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), including a LGBTQIA+ group, where team members may share, listen, and learn about and within their respective communities. In conjunction with I.D.E.A. and ERGs the Phoenix Way aims to educate Phoenicians and ensure a compassionate workspace where people of all identities feel safe and accepted.

PhoenixTeam has also led external diversity and inclusion efforts alongside the Hazeldon Betty Ford Foundation (HBFF) to make high-quality substance-use healthcare accessible to all, with an emphasis on the LGBTQIA+ community. Through the partnership, several initiatives were launched within the HBFF including continuous I.D.E.A. training and implementation, and an LGBTQIA+ audit alongside JustUs Health, a nonprofit by the Minnesota AIDS Project and Rainbow Health Initiative dedicated to health equity for the LGBTQIA+ community. 

To learn more about PhoenixTeam company culture and the values that lead the Phoenix Way, visit 

View the complete list of Business of Pride honorees and more information regarding the Awards Event here.


Melanie Lewis, Partner

About PhoenixTeam: 

PhoenixTeam is a woman-owned small business that specializes in the consumer lending and financial services space. Partnering with government agencies, financial institutions and technology providers, PhoenixTeam brings top-tier talent and expertise to deliver the best mortgage loan experience for our clients and those seeking homeownership. As a full-stack product company that emphasizes a continuous learning culture, PhoenixTeam leverages unique and creative methods to develop and deliver on our client’s strategy and vision. For more information, visit us 

ARLINGTON, VA, May 10, 2022 – PhoenixTeam has been named to Inc. magazine’s 2022 Best Workplaces list for the second year in a row. The list is the result of a comprehensive measurement of American companies that have excelled in creating exceptional workplaces and company culture. From thousands of applicants, Inc. selected 475 honorees this year based on management effectiveness, benefits and perks, fostering employee growth, and overall company culture. These categories were assessed via an employee survey conducted by Quantum Workplace. 

“PhoenixTeam would like to thank Inc. for recognizing us as one of the best places to work two years in a row,” says Tanya Brennan, CEO and Managing Partner. “Our vision is to bring joy and purpose to software development within the mortgage industry. This means delighting our clients and giving our team members opportunities and tools to achieve their goals and make an impact on the world. Seven years later, having grown to almost 140 people, we continue our journey to inspire our team to be their very best.” 

What put PhoenixTeam on the Best Workplaces list:   

  • 99% of team members are engaged with “high favorability, advocacy, intent to stay, and discretionary effort” 
  • 96% of team members feel that “senior leaders of the organization value people as their most important resource” 
  • The top word that best describes the PhoenixTeam environment according to the survey respondents is “supportive”  

For additional information on what makes PhoenixTeam a Best Workplace, visit The full Best Workplaces list is featured online at and will be in the May/June 2022 issue hitting newsstands on Tuesday, May 17, 2022. 

Melanie Lewis 

About PhoenixTeam
PhoenixTeam is a woman-owned small business that specializes in the consumer lending and financial services space. Partnering with government agencies, financial institutions and technology providers, PhoenixTeam brings top-tier talent and expertise to deliver the best mortgage loan experience for our clients and those seeking homeownership. As a full-stack product company that emphasizes a continuous learning culture, PhoenixTeam leverages unique and creative methods to develop and deliver on our client’s strategy and vision. For more information, visit us  

ARLINGTON, VA, April 1, 2022 – PhoenixTeam is a 2022 Washington Business Journal Best Places to Work in the Greater Washington area honoree!  

Nominees are selected from feedback collected in employee surveys that evaluate company communication and resources, individual needs, manager effectiveness, personal engagement, team dynamics, and trust in leadership. Award winners are chosen based solely on survey results, so this honor is granted to PhoenixTeam by our team members themselves and makes this recognition even more special. 

“Being recognized as a Washington Business Journal Best Places to Work honoree validates our continued focus on our people,” says Tanya Brennan, Managing Partner and CEO at PhoenixTeam. “They are the special forces who solve the hardest problems in mortgage technology and help realize the PhoenixTeam vision to bring joy and purpose to software development.” 

View the complete list and more information regarding the Best Places to Work in Greater Washington Awards Event here: 

PhoenixTeam ranks at No. 41 with two-year 244% growth rate.

ARLINGTON, VA, March 15, 2022 –  PhoenixTeam places No. 41 out of 131 companies on the Inc. Regionals fastest-growing private companies in the Mid-Atlantic! Ranked within the top rising businesses, PhoenixTeam boasts a two-year median revenue growth rate of 244% and is one of 50 repeat honorees. The Mid-Atlantic region includes Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia.

The 2022 Inc. Regionals serves as an extension to the Inc. 5000 list and includes six major U.S. areas: Pacific, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Midwest, Northeast, and Southwest, with the Mid-Atlantic region averaging a growth rate of 161%.

“It is an honor to be recognized by the Inc. 5000 as one of the fastest-growing, privately held companies in the Mid-Atlantic region two years in a row,” said Tanya Brennan, Managing Partner, and CEO of PhoenixTeam. “We are humbled. We are grateful. We are excited for what we have planned to help even more federal housing agencies and commercial sector clients deliver their mission and business goals resulting in better outcomes for veterans, farmers, and homeowners.”

Additional Inc. Recognitions:

  • PhoenixTeam made the 2021 Regionals Mid-Atlantic at No. 52, raising the ranks by 11 spots since then.
  • Inc. Magazine’s Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies has featured PhoenixTeam twice before as No. 911 in 2021 with a three-year company growth of 242% and revenue increase of 532% and as No. 1160 in 2020 with a three-year revenue growth of 389%.
  • Phoenix received recognition as an Best Workplaces in 2021 in honor of our continuous efforts to create a workspace that cultivates growth, value, and offers flexible work hours, affordable health insurance plans, and unique benefits.


Melanie Lewis, Partner

About PhoenixTeam:

PhoenixTeam is a woman-owned small business that specializes in the consumer lending and financial services space. Partnering with government agencies, financial institutions and technology providers, PhoenixTeam brings top-tier talent and expertise to deliver the best mortgage loan experience for our clients and those seeking homeownership. As a full-stack product company that emphasizes a continuous learning culture, PhoenixTeam leverages unique and creative methods to develop and deliver on our client’s strategy and vision. For more information, visit us

Practitioner Leigh Moos’ favorite thing about her role at PhoenixTeam is delivering clients value at scale within the mortgage industry. “We care about having an authentic impact for the people who matter most. It is great to influence positive change and advocate for opportunities that result in happier, healthier, more equal, and more knowledgeable communities, team members, and clients.”Leigh holds that the best professional advice she has received is to maintain a work/life balance. She accomplishes this with support from PhoenixTeam leadership, friends, and family. Outside of work, Leigh enjoys watching her son play college baseball and her daughter perform. She also loves to travel, take day trips, or long vacations. Her favorite destinations include Disney, Key West, New Orleans, and New York City.

Being a Business Analyst at PhoenixTeam is Michael Oliver’s first job in his career. He never knew how willing his team members would be to help the “new guy.” “The people here at PhoenixTeam care and want to see me succeed. The experience in my first six months has been full of great times, and many answered questions.”

As a kid, Michael always dreamed of having a Jeep Wrangler. He achieved that goal, and his next step is to lift it and put some big tires on it! As far as a dream home, the combination of a modern style home with a log cabin color pallette would be his choice.

Thinking back to his not so long-ago college days, his advice to himself now is; “Trust your instincts. It will all work out the way it is supposed to.”

There is no greater gift than the time you get to spend with a friend or a loved one. With Matt’s love for music, he would choose to spend some time with James Marshall Hendrix jamming to some music.

As for a dream home, “how cool would it be to live in a cob construction home?” Matt loves the look and sustainability of these homes and would love the opportunity to live in one.

Matt’s college education in fine arts didn’t bring him to his career in IT, it was the need to have job stability and the ability to financially support his family. “You can’t go wrong with a career in computer science, and it is something I have really found a passion for.”

Matt was drawn to PhoenixTeam by the amazing things he heard about the company culture from a fellow team member. “I can crunch data anywhere, but having an awesome group of fun people in the trenches with you every day is what takes it to another level!”

PhoenixTeam attended The Mortgage Industry Standards Maintenance Organization (MISMO) Fall Summit in Washington, DC, from Monday, September 20 to Friday, September 24, 2021. PhoenixTeam is MISMO Bootcamp Certified and is honored to facilitate 17 of 35 working group sessions. During these sessions, the company is able to decode new industry insights to empower and enable mortgage professionals. 

Three PhoenixTeam Practitioners, Tawanna Wagner, Practitioner, Jessica Dennis, Senior Practitioner, and Becky Griswold, Senior Managing Practitioner, lead the charge and facilitate the sessions in Phoenix style.  With over 60+ years of combined history in mortgage technology services, Tawanna, Jessi, and Becky drive these groups with in-depth, hands-on experience. They dynamically drive the workgroups to develop strategies and partner with volunteers to bring visions to life. 

PhoenixTeam proudly facilitates the following: 

  • Title & Closing CoP informs industry professionals on how to manage data elements needed to order, update, or cancel title services from a title insurance company. 
  • Mortgage Insurance CoP teaches practitioners to develop data specifications and mapping guidance. 
  • Fee Collaboration DWG instructs mortgage experts on how to develop and promote application fee names and definitions for universal understanding. 
  • Credit Reporting CoP focuses on the data elements that request, track, and cancel credit reports in mortgage lending.
  • Loan Application Data Exchange DWG explains the business-to-business exchanges that reflect data in the Uniform Residential Loan Application (URLA). 
  • Private Label DWG documents the development of a standardized mortgage asset dataset for residential mortgages.
  • Business Reference Model CoP helps mortgage professionals to develop a business practice model for events throughout the loan process.
  • Property & Valuation CoP analyzes property reporting through valuation services and collateral risk assessment. 
  • AWG Brown Bag covers the development of the Uniform Mortgage Data Program (UMDP) loan application with industry professionals.
  • MISMO 4.0 Next Gen DWG, addresses the new MISMO Reference Model and new challenges in the industry and technology.
  • Closing Instructions DWG, creates standardized closing instructions for lenders and closing agents.
  • Architecture Work Group reflects on the viability and best practices for using Metadata.
  • Origination CoP looks at the origination lifecycle and process of application, underwriting, and closing with MISMO attendees.
  • Mortgage Insurance CoP develops data specifications and mapping for mortgage insurance.
  • Servicing Transfers DWG shares the practice behind building a cost-effective base process.
  • Business Glossary DWG informs participants of vital mortgage industry language using the MISMO Business Glossary.

PhoenixTeam members Aloise Schmitt, Practitioner; Gary Klein, Senior Business & Systems Configuration Analyst; and Paul Weakley, Partner and Solutions Architect, participate in additional key work groups.


MISMO, a non-profit of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), serves as a channel of information for companies in the mortgage industry with over 175 member organizations including mortgage lenders, banks, and credit unions. 

About PhoenixTeam

PhoenixTeam is a women-owned small business and full stack technology company that partners with clients to enable homeownership through mortgage technology solutions. PhoenixTeam’s goal is to improve the home purchase experience for borrowers and help financial institutions, technology providers, and government agencies achieve their desired outcomes. PhoenixTeam specializes in serving federal housing agencies and the mortgage industry, helping deliver better business solutions through technology implementation excellence. 

For more information, visit