Maybe it's something in the corn. Famed Iowan agronomist Norman Borlaug saved one billion people from starvation by developing high-yield wheat grains in the 1950s and '60s. The Van Buren twins out of Sioux City-Dear Abby and Ann Landers-helped readers coast-to-coast with daily advice on doing unto others.

Now, Des Moines' Cara Heiden is doing her part to impact millions of lives. The co-president of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage is on a professional and personal crusade to stave off catastrophe from the mortgage crisis, and ensure that borrowers on the precipice of foreclosure are safe at home.

Through the Wells-led HOPE Now Alliance, she's helped kickstart an alliance of lenders, servicers, consumer advocates and regulators to encourage subprime workouts and loan modifications on poorly underwritten loans-ones which she and other Wells Fargo leaders had refused to offer during the who-cares heyday of self-stated income and negative amortization option ARMs. "What was particularly successful with HOPE NOW was getting the aggressive outreach to customers and get them talking with their servicers," says Heiden, who's also part of the Bush administration's Council on Financial Literacy to develop best practices for future subprime lending. "It's pretty amazing the intimidation that borrowers feel when they are struggling."

It also has been a way to maintain profitable servicing levels, as originations remained flat at $31 billion last year for Wells Fargo. Wells was one of only three top-tier lenders (along with JPMorgan Chase and First Horizon) to earn a profit in 2007. (c) 2008 U.S. Banker and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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