Sibcy Cline Employee Spotlight: Damon DiBari

“My success is based on everyone’s success, and I truly enjoy being a part of everyone’s life and livelihood.”
  • Name:  Damon DiBari, CFP, ChFC, MBA 
  • Title: Senior Loan Officer 
  • Birthplace: Providence, RI 
  • Current home: Downtown Cincinnati’s West End
  • Proudest accomplishments:  Becoming a Certified Financial Planner and running three marathons 
  • Favorite local hangouts: Salazar’s in OTR and Washington Park’s bar area 

The virtual world that we live in now was only an imagined reality in the world Damon DiBari grew up in. “It’s like something from the 80’s sci-fi movies,” Damon says, “not something we thought we’d actually see in our lifetime. Now it is just the norm, the way we do business every day.” 

During the pandemic, the mortgage business couldn’t just come to a grinding halt, so making those sci-fi fantasies a reality has been a necessary move. People needed to buy and sell homes, so a pivot was the only option.  “In any industry, you have to have the ability to make a 180 change based on whatever the market is. You have to come up with your own method,” he says.

According to Damon, Sibcy Cline has proven its ability to shift in response to changes in the market and he believes that ability is what has made the mortgage division successful during COVID. “Covid pushed me to my limits on how efficiently I can handle our business.  I have changed processes, added new teammates, became virtual in a new virtual world.” 

In his 8 years with Sibcy Cline, Damon has been able to find a space for himself as a financial planner who gives advice and information to clients, rather than simply quoting rates and terms for a loan. One of his favorite parts about his job is the freedom it gives him to innovate and create personalized plans with clients, something he couldn’t do in his previous roles as a stockbroker and private banker. “The bigger banks I worked for in my career did not have that option. Here I can come up with a plan and Sibcy Cline helps me see it through.” 

It’s this kind of “personal touch” banking and the ability to innovate freely that Damon finds most rewarding in his job as a financial planner. “I have built excellent relationships that have been like family.  My success is based on everyone’s success, and I truly enjoy being a part of everyone’s life and livelihood,” he says.   

And the challenges that come along with that are not something that he shies away from. Rather, he sees fluctuations in the market as opportunities to learn and change so you can be better prepared for the future. “With the millennials seeing the housing crisis in 2008, they have been better prepared. They have saved carefully and are ready to buy houses. Right now, even with the Coronavirus, this is going to be the smartest group of buyers I’ve seen in my entire career. They know more, they’ve seen more,” he says.  

As someone who has seen tremendous change in his lifetime, Damon speaks from experience. In his own neighborhood in Cincinnati’s West End, he’s seen a huge shift from one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the U.S. to what is now often referred to as “the Paris of the Midwest”.  “After college I got my first apartment downtown, right after the riots happened. It was rough time for downtown, before OTR was what it is now. You could find a property for $10,000 which are now selling for $500-600,000. It was a different time,” he says.

Being in the middle of so much urban upheaval in the early part of the 2000’s was far different than Damon’s upbringing on the outskirts of Cincinnati. “My parents moved here from Rhode Island and My dad worked for GE, so I grew up in Fairfield and West Chester in the 80’s, which was mostly farmland. I went to college at Miami, which was also pretty far out there…a gorgeous campus, but not in the middle of anything.”  

In spite of his rural-suburban roots, something about the urban life appealed to Damon. “They built a pocket neighborhood there in 2005 on the West End, where they built 15 brownstone rowhouses. I passed by there and I fell in love with them the first time I saw them,” he says.  Damon bought one of the brownstone houses and has lived there ever since, with no plans to leave. “Especially with the new FC stadium going in—I’m a big fan—I’m going to own that house forever,” he says.  

Another thing that Damon loves about the downtown life is being so close to the music scene. “I love music. I go to 20-30 concerts a year. I’m a Bunbury fan and I’ve been every year since its inception.” Damon’s also looking forward to downtown’s newest concert venue, The Icon Center. “It’s unbelievable. That is going to be a gem in the city.”  

It may seem like a distant reality to gather again in an indoor concert venue to enjoy live music, but Damon is confident that it’s not only imaginable, but possible. “Things will evolve,” he says, “there will always be something new, something we haven’t thought of.” 

Employee Spotlight: Paula Wilton

 “I enjoy working for a family-owned company and it truly feels like one big family.”
  • Name: Paula Wilton
  • Title: Executive Assistant to Lisa Lakeman, CFO
  • Hometown: Cincinnati
  • Current home: Cincinnati
  •  Favorite local hangout: Cincinnati Art Museum

A combination of both math-minded and artistic, Paula Wilton spends her life walking the line between the analytical and creative. The pursuit of balance is her zone, and she has done it well—few people can move so easily from left-brain to right-brain tasks and perform well. But for Paula, jumping from spreadsheets to painting murals is all in a day’s work.  

In the early days of her career, after earning her degree in graphic design, Paula worked as Donor Research Coordinator for the Cincinnati Art Museum, a job where she discovered her love of numbers while preparing financial reports for the Board of Directors. The position at the art museum was the perfect balance of number-crunching mixed with creative stimulation.  

“I absolutely loved the fact that I was surrounded by art! I would take afternoon walks through the galleries to clear my head. I could satisfy both sides of my mind—the mathematical and the creative. It was the best of both worlds.”  

Paula took a career break from the museum after her second child, returning to work later part-time for a family-owned wine business in Anderson Township, Wine World. There she went back to her creative roots by designing displays, gift baskets, and creating monthly newsletters—but her love of accounting held strong and eventually she took over as bookkeeper for the store as well.  

Later Paula desired a full-time position, which led her to Sibcy Cline. Paula’s rich career and life experiences made her exactly the right fit among the well-rounded and varied backgrounds of Sibcy Cline employees. “I enjoy working for a family-owned company and it truly feels like one big family,” says Paula.  

Since her start at Sibcy Cline 6 years ago, Paula has embraced the opportunity to dive deeper into the world of accounting and hone her skills. “I enjoy a variety of tasks. While everything runs on a cycle in accounting, each day still brings new challenges and opportunities to learn,” she says.  

And for Paula, the learning doesn’t stop at 5 o’clock. She’s still active in a wide variety of creative pursuits. Her biggest love right now? Rehabbing a home out in Felicity with her boyfriend. “It’s a lot of work, but I know it will be well worth it when we are sitting in our home and looking around, knowing we did it all ourselves,” she says. Despite all the time and effort it takes to gut and rehab a house, Paula manages to squeeze in some relaxation, “I love to read out on our balcony, overlooking the river.”  

Sibcy Cline Employee Spotlight: Renae D’Andrea

“Everyone has the ability to take a great photograph. I love to prove people wrong.” -Renae D’Andrea, Sibcy Cline Photographer
  • Name:  Renae D’Andrea
  • Title: Photographer
  • Hometown: Bridgetown
  • Current home: Harrison
  • Proudest career accomplishments: 1.  Receiving as a civilian the distinguished Military Challenge Coin from a 4-Star general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers   2.  Meeting and photographing many celebrities
  • Favorite local hangouts: El Mariachi and Triple Cats in Harrison, OH. 

“You don’t have to be a model or actor to look like a star,” Renae D’Andrea proclaims confidently–and she should know. With over 30 years of experience taking headshots, Renae has photographed a wide range of subjects, including Gregory Hines, Danny Glover, Barbara Bush, Roger Staubach, Barbara Walters, and Archbishop Desmund Tutu. Another memorable political figure that Renae photographed was the former Prime Minister of Pakistan (and first female Prime Minister) Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated just weeks after the portrait was taken.

Although she’s photographed those who are well-accustomed to being the focus of the camera lens, most of Renae’s subjects start out with more hesitation. Many assume they aren’t photogenic and their headshot won’t turn out great.

“Everyone has the ability to take a great portrait,” says Renae. “I love to prove people wrong.”

Renae’s compassion for her subjects is rooted not only in her experience in working with so many people over the years, but it also arises from her own feelings about getting her photo taken. “I absolutely dread it,” she says, ” so I know what’s going on in the minds of the people in front of my camera lens.”

“80% is mental and 20% is preparation,” Renae says, “And I’ll do whatever I can to make it a great experience.”

After graduating from Antonelli Institute of Art & Design with a her associates degree in fine arts (’88), Renae spent her early career gaining experience by taking personality portraits of local musicians and bands to use as promos, as well as portfolio images for models and actors. She later returned to Antonelli to teach portraiture techniques and lighting from 2006-2008.

Building her own portfolio of portraits while honing her technical skills has resulted in a successful photography career for Renae, who joined Sibcy Cline full time in 2020. “I strive to stay current with trends and continue to incorporate it into my photography,” Renae says.

Sibcy Cline Employee Spotlight: Katy Nelson

“I love going into homes and finding potential for a work of art.”
Katy Nelson
  • Name: Katy Nelson
  • Title: Photographer/Videographer/Drone Pilot
  • Hometown: Anderson
  • Current home: Milford
  • Proudest career accomplishment: One of the first licensed drone pilots in the U.S.
  • Favorite local hangouts: Plainfolk Café in Pleasant Plain and Cincinnati Nature Center

Bringing a keen aesthetic sense and a compassionate sensitivity to the Sibcy photo/video team, Katy Nelson is a photographer/videographer/drone pilot who considers the work she does a “dream job.”

“I love going into homes and finding potential for a work of art,” Katy says.

A graduate of Wright State University with a degree in fine arts, Katy focused on pursuing sculpture as her art and was the Student Sculpture Technician for WSU, assisting with photography and maintaining the tools/facilities. After her graduation in 2009, she taught at the Dayton Art Institute until her interest and experience in photography led her to a job in the photo/video department of Sibcy Cline in 2010—and she’s never looked back.

“I’ve always been inspired by place and a sense of home,” says Katy. In her work using photo and video, Katy loves to find the ways that she can create a work of art using client’s homes as the subject.

“My mom was in real estate and I always loved looking at magazines like Architectural Digest which feature homes,” says Katy.

Another thing that is rewarding to Katy in her work is the technology that is constantly evolving. “It’s not stagnant,” she says, “and I’ve been excited to be a part of the adaptation of new tools that allow us to do more for our clients.” One of those new tools has been the recent use of drones to create aerial videos of the exteriors of homes. “I was really excited to be one of the first licensed drone pilots in the country,” says Katy.

Having grown up in Anderson and now making her home as a resident of Miami Township near Milford, Katy loves more about her job than just taking photos and videos. “I love working in this region,” she says.

In her off-time, Katy spends time enjoying the outdoors near her home as well as painting colorful nature scenes from her favorite travel spots, the national parks. “It’s our goal as a family to travel to as many national parks as we can,” says Katy. Together with her boyfriend and her daughter, Katy has been to 10 national parks. “But I still call Ohio home!” she says.