Industry Leader Rises in the Ranks at Southern Title

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New Executive VP and COO, Gary Cortellessa, brings a litany of experience to the legacy of Southern Title.

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Gary Cortellessa

I want to strengthen our partnership with the agents to help them grow their business and our company beyond our existing borders. We can only be successful if our agents are successful.

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The newest member of Virginia-based Southern Title Insurance Corporation’s management team is a seasoned professional, with a career spanning three decades as an attorney and title insurance executive. He has worked within the major hubs of the title insurance industry’s geography – New York, Chicago, and Washington DC. As the newly appointed Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Southern Title, Gary Cortellessa, is hitting the ground running.

“My first priority is to bring together a combination of teamwork, improved communications, and leadership to get everyone working toward the same goals,” said Cortellessa. “There has been so much change in the real estate and title industries caused by the real estate downturn, that communications took a back seat to dealing with the challenging marketplace.”

As a priority, Cortellessa plans to shift this trend by establishing core teams in the company’s profit centers. “Not just teams of sales people, but all key positions – customer service, underwriting and administration. It takes all of us pulling in the same direction to delight our customers and grow our business. ”

Prior to his appointment, Cortellessa served as Mid-Atlantic Regional Counsel for Southern Title, so he is already quite familiar with the company. “Southern Title’s greatest strength is that we’re a regional company with deep roots in Virginia,” said Cortellessa. Southern Title has served the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest and Southeastern regions of the country since 1925 and is licensed in 22 states. “We offer an alternative to the major four national underwriters. Southern Title partners and consults with agents. Our greatest resources are, and have always been, our people, our knowledge, and our relationships.” Cortellessa understands the importance of building and growing these relationships.

In 2009, ALPS acquired Southern Title as part of its family of professional services. Established as the defining legal liability insurance company over two decades ago, ALPS has expanded into a comprehensive service provider. “The benefit of the ALPS relationship is that Southern Title is part of a larger financially strong organization, and the focus ALPS brings in strategic planning and implementation is key,” said Cortellessa.

The ALPS and Southern Title partnership is bolstering areas of opportunity, including prompt underwriting support, continuing education programs for our customers, and service-enhancing tools for clients. “There are ongoing efforts to strengthen a variety of synergies, which will grow the company based on joint efforts,” said Cortellessa.

Cortellessa’s resume demonstrates a breadth of experience in virtually every aspect of the title insurance industry as well as real estate law. Cortellessa holds a BA from the University of Bridgeport, a JD from New York Law School, and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

His background reads like a wish list of professional assets for Southern Title’s VP and COO position – P&L management, marketing, strategic/tactical planning, acquisitions, strategic alliances, regulatory matters, new business development, change management, and legal affairs. Cortellessa also has experience in local and national underwriting of commercial and residential transactions, closings, real property law, title insurance law, regulatory matters, claims administration and management.

He is a past president of the Virginia Land Title Association. He has also served as a court appointed Receiver and an expert witness in cases involving title insurance, settlement agents, and real property transactions. Cortellessa has served in senior level positions in management, marketing and the legal area for major national underwriters, including First American Title Insurance Company and Chicago Title Corporation. He also owned a title insurance agency in Bethesda, Maryland.

Southern Title is positioned for the industry’s new era. “We are actively recruiting new agents to join our family of agents,” Cortellessa said. “I want to strengthen our partnership with the agents to help them grow their business and our company beyond our existing borders. We can only be successful if our agents are successful.”

Southern Title Insurance Corporation is an agency-driven company, dedicated to making independent agents successful. For over 80 years Southern Title has provided hands-on, personal service to agents and their support staff. Southern Title is a wholly-owned subsidiary of ALPS Corporation, a preeminent provider of professional liability insurance, with an emphasis on protection, stability, and commitment to the legal community. For more information, visit


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Laura Churchman
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