2017 Business Leaders of the Year | Skattum Community Award

As Natasha Cartagena Spencer likes to say, the effort of one does not drive ultimate success; it is the efforts of one united team. This philosophy has served her well during her career in the mortgage industry. Having weathered a significant downturn in the sector, she has been able to excel in truly inhospitable markets.

“I’m proud to say our team has toiled in the trenches and come out the other side stronger and wiser,” she said. “And we owe it all to a great deal of hard work and partnership — amongst ourselves as well as those we service.”

When Spencer first came to Shelter Mortgage as its operations manager in 2000, she brought with her a well-rounded skill set and understanding of the mortgage industry. Shelter had just opened its Florida branch, and the company’s focus was on being a builder’s lender. Spencer exceled and led a highly successful operations team. In 2005, when the housing market began to tank, she received a promotion, becoming the youngest vice president and branch manager in company history. Fortunately for Shelter, Spencer embraced the challenge and quickly realized the company needed to reinvent itself.

“That’s when we really started getting involved in the community – knocking on doors, pounding the pavement and asking people for their business,” she explained. “We could no longer rely on just builders to carry us through. I had to travel all over Florida as well as Texas and South Carolina to expand our footprint. We didn’t stay stagnant; we got out of our boxes and comfort zones.”

Spencer takes pride in the fact that Shelter is a relationship-based business. For her, it is never about overpromising and always about over-delivering. When dealing with clients, she treats every one of them based on their unique individual needs and situations. “With one account, I may have to wear a certain hat, and with another account a different hat,” she said. “We get to know our clients’ strengths and weaknesses and then start building from there. It’s what sets us apart.”

After 21 years in the residential mortgage lending industry, Spencer has become adept at building realtor, builder and customer relationships, which has ultimately enhanced long-term business results. She and her team work diligently to nurture these relationships, ensuring credibility and trust – two things critical to success in an industry that has seen its share of ups and downs.

A graduate of Leadership Orlando 2016 and LEAD Brevard Class of 2012, Spencer has taken her leadership abilities out into the community in an attempt to enhance quality of life. At the age of 7, she and her family lost their home while living in New York. The experience motivated her to pursue a career that fulfilled the dream of home ownership and continues to motivate her to actively engage in philanthropic endeavors. She has served in various capacities, including on the board of directors for Junior Achievement of the Space Coast, The Brevard Rescue Mission, Florida Home Builders Association and Habitat for Humanity of Brevard. Spencer also believes strongly in volunteering and actively supports The Henegar Center for the Arts, AMI Kids and the Brevard Zoo.

“I truly like to start out as a volunteer,” she shared. “I need to feel and experience the mission, and it has to tug at my heart.”

Fortunately for the community, altruistic endeavors tug at her heart.

“The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand