As one of only a handful of women in the United States who can claim ownership of a mortgage-banking company, Susan Branscome, a self-professed sports enthusiast, knows how to play the game in a male-dominated arena.

“Business is a sport. You just don’t get physically injured as much!” she says.

After working for large corporations for 13 years, Branscome stepped out on her own in 1998, founding Q10 Triad Capital Advisors Inc., a mortgage-banking firm that now boasts a $530 million commercial mortgage-servicing portfolio.

“Being an entrepreneur, although risky and requiring much energy, means I can make my own rules,” Branscome says.

But, although she has 28 years of experience in commercial real estate lending and mortgage banking, Branscome’s most meaningful investments may be giving back to other women and to the community. Branscome was one of 10 founding members of the Cincinnati chapter of Commercial Real Estate Women in 1993, where she has served on the board and as president. In CREW, experienced professionals serve as a resource to those new to the profession. Branscome also has served on the University of Cincinnati’s Board of Executive Advisors in Real Estate, mentoring young women in real estate throughout their college years.

In 2007, Branscome helped organize Beyond the Glass Ceiling, a seminar specifically designed to help women leap career hurdles while balancing family life and personal goals. She’s now planning another seminar for 2009. Branscome also volunteers with Life Success Seminars, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people achieve “a positive and empowered way of living.”

“Balance is difficult for all career women,” Branscome says, “But my advice is always to find something you love to do and make sure you work it into your schedule — every week.”

As a frequent contributor to professional journals, Branscome often speaks as an expert in her field and is working on a book to help career women avoid common pitfalls.

“I know Susan as a writer, first of all,” says Mary Pierce Brosmer, a 2007 ATHENA finalist and founder of the non-profit organization Women Writing for (a) Change, through which Branscome has taken classes.

“She realized the effect of writing on the community and began to invest in the larger picture,” Brosmer says, “When we were transitioning to a wheelchair-accessible building, Susan threw in her time and help. She is a generous, focused person; a force field of good will. I’d like 12 more like her.”

Through her company, Branscome donates about $25,000 annually to myriad charities, including Boys Hope Girls Hope of Greater Cincinnati, the local branch of an international organization that helps children in challenging circumstances rise to their full potential.

“I love Susan,” says Sister Melanie Bair of BHGH, “She does much more than just sit on our board; she gets personally involved and makes that connection with our clients, even bringing in her own two children to help. She’s a great lady, an over-and-above kind of person.”