Aksel Nielsen Award
Founded 1976
Presented annually to an individual within a member firm who has demonstrated outstanding performance and commitment to the Association through committee work or service on the Board of Directors.

Mortgage Bankers Association National President 1949

Mr. Nielsen immigrated to Colorado from Denmark at the age of 9. He was educated in the Denver Public schools and the YMCA night school. Like many immigrants he started with an entry level job at Morey Mercantile Company. In addition he was hired to be the bookkeeper for the Dowd Family. On a Dowd family trip to Texas their daughter met and married a young Army officer who would become Nielsen’s lifelong friend. The young officer was Dwight David Eisenhower. The General stopped in Denver for two days of fishing and relaxation with Nielsen before leaving to become the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe.

Mr. Nielsen began working at the Title Guaranty Company in 1925. Hired as a loan originator he moved up to become the company’s owner and Chairman. He retired in 1965. He founded the Mortgage Investment Company in 1953.  In 1968 Mortgage Investment Company was merged into the First National Bank of Denver. The company was renamed First Denver Mortgage Company. He retired from mortgage banking to manage personal investments in 1968.

Mr. Nielsen was elected President of MBA in 1949.  The MBA's Distinguished Service Award was named for him in recognition of his contribution to industry education. He founded the MBA's School of Mortgage Banking at Northwestern University, School of Management in 1948. As an example of his long term commitment to education, Mr. Nielsen served as a trustee of the University of Denver where he held an Honorary Doctor of Public Service degree.

During the Eisenhower administration he had been asked many times to take on a role in government. He resisted that saying that” the president needed a friend” however he did lead an industry effort to look at the reorganization of the government's housing and mortgage finance systems. The recommendations in part, lead to the consolidation of a number of separate activities into the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

He was a director of United Airlines, First National Bank of Denver, Empire Savings, United American Life, Web Warning Institute, Air Force Academy Foundation Museum of Natural History, Presbyterian Hospital and many other civic and community organizations.

Award Recipients
Year Name
2020 Deanne Stodden
2019 Cole Sjoholm
2018 Not Awarded
2017 Sabrina Nowling
2016 Kim Federspiel
2015 Jim Kaiser
2014 Dick Solheim
2013 Tom Donnegan
2012 Bruce Jordan
2011 Carol Peterson
2010 Tom Kimball
2009 Stacey Harding
2008 Eric Mowery
2007 Sahnnon VanSickler
2006 Kim Starley
2005 Terry Jones
2004 Patty Ruwoldt & Kathy Stein
2003 Jerry Davis
2002 Anne Lovett
2001 Gayle Campbell & Debi Taylor
2000 Tony Hernandez
1999 Karen Sipes
1998 Carol Waller
1997 Lori Richardson
1996 Al Killeen
1995 V. Lynne Sandlin
1994 William M. McLeod
1993 Cheryl Winterbourne
1992 Shirley Francois
1991 Rod Johnson
1990 Paulette Wisch
1989 Debra Collins
1988 Rebecca DeMoss
1987 Richard Bishop
1986 Melissa Neam
1985 Audrey Hahn
1984 Steve Leto
1983 Lynda Stovall
1982 Susan Miller
1981 Toni Ann Anderson
1980 Barbara Hall
1979 Kathy Clark
1978 Pat Giroux
1977 Peter Adu
1976 David Rimmell