Alvin Shah

Managing Partner

Alvin Shah

Managing Partner

Alvin Shah, Managing Partner at First Opinion Mortgage earned his BBA from Georgia State University’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business, achieved in 2002. Today, Mr. Shah is a distinguished executive with more than 18 years of experience in the business and has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Executives for dedication, achievements, and leadership in mortgage financing. He serves on the board as a district governor for the mortgage bankers association of Georgia. He is also an active member of the advisory council for the Lenders One mortgage cooperative. In 2020 Alvin was highlighted on the cover of Vision Magazine, a prominent magazine in the mortgage industry, as a servant leader. This accolade came because of his relentless attitude towards helping others grow. 

For almost the past decade, since 2013, Mr. Shah has notably served as Managing Partner at First Option Mortgage, where he leads a team of more than 300 people and takes pride in helping them reach their financial goals. In his role with First Opinion Mortgage he is responsible for spearheading the sales and business development initiatives of the organization. He is also involved in corporate strategy, including capital markets, operations, and the overall vision of the company. In addition to his daily tasks, Mr. Shah likes to educate others, as he takes the most pride in watching people grow personally and professionally within the company and in the field as a whole. 

Mr. Shah intends to continue expanding First Option Mortgage into a highly respected and recognized mortgage company nationwide. He attributes his success to persistence and perseverance.  He always remembers to give back to the community and charity when he can, believing that service should become a natural piece of life once a certain level of success is attained.



As one of two Founding Partners at First Option Mortgage, LLC we opened our doors in January 2004 with one mission in mind, provide a better life for all of those that we do business with, and employ.

As a Partner of First Option Mortgage, our responsibility includes establishing our organization’s long-term vision and mission and overseeing our business practices to make sure that our goals and values are met. Working to develop our objectives and policies, we meet with our company’s executive team to determine that business is being operated in accordance with these objectives.

Constantly managing our financial results, we are responsible for leading the design of new products and services as well as Investor relationships. Serving as one of the organization’s public faces, it is our responsibility to convey the company’s mission to our employee’s, partners and the general public.

Kurt Nikolai

Managing Partner

Kurt Nikolai

Managing Partner

VP Secondary Marketing
Mike Kiessel

Mike grew up on a dairy farm in Michigan and moved to Atlanta in 1993 without a job. A family friend was in the mortgage business and offered him a summer gig in collections to make some money. Almost 30 years later Mike is still in the mortgage business. After 9 months in collections, he moved into corporate accounting, where he started the department at Primary Capital Mortgage. He was looking to move to underwriting, when the President of his company asked if he had ever considered Secondary. By 2004, Mike was running the Secondary department, a role he’s had ever since (less a 3-year stint running Sales). Mike has experience in both Wholesale and Retail lending, as well as working with Jumbo loans prior to joining FOM in 2020.

Mike has been married to his wife Wendy since 1997 and they have 1 son, Colby, who is in high school. Mike spends his free time, and majority of his travel budget, watching his son play lacrosse all over various states. Once his son graduates, Mike and his wife plan to get back to traveling more again.

VP Credit Risk
Clay Jones

Clay Jones, VP of Credit Risk, collaborates with other teams and team leaders to manage loan risk at First Option Mortgage. As a part of those collaborations, Clay works with an amazing Team of Underwriters and their Lead, Brooke Templeton. Clay is “homegrown” in that he’s either worked in or managed nearly every category of mortgage jobs at First Option. He believes that “risk” is just a word and not always a bad one.
“It’s what we do every day when we decide to get up and take on the world. Understanding the risk, and how it can affect us, is what is important.”

Clay is a “boring family man.” He’s lives in a suburb of Indianapolis, IN with three children aged 8, 13, and 15 and a wonderful wife.

VP Operations
Kevin Strika

Kevin Strika is the Vice President of Operations of First Option Mortgage and a proud MBA graduate of the Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business. Since joining First Option in 2013, Kevin has focused on streamlining and optimizing many key areas of operations including processing, closing, post-closing, servicing, compliance, and reporting. In addition to his operations background, he is also the Encompass LOS administrator for First Option and has leveraged a myriad of settings, tools, and features to further operational goals and drive efficiencies in the actual daily operations of the company.

Kevin is also a lifelong Atlanta resident and proud father of two.

IT Director
Stephen Lee

A native of metro Atlanta, Stephen joined the First Option team in January of 2022 and is responsible for the overall technical vision and direction of the Information Technology team and the entire company as a whole.

With a diverse background ranging from small to medium managed services businesses to large corporate infrastructures, Stephen is well equipped to successfully lead First Option Mortgage into the future of tomorrow's technology. Solutions-oriented, Stephen's primary responsibilities include analyzing First Option's current technology and developing solutions to improve processes, security, and reliability.

HR Generalist
Jackie Kovarovics

Jackie was born in Schaumburg, IL and grew up in Orlando, FL for most of her life. Native to the Atlanta area since 2012, Jackie worked within the retail leadership sector for Urban Outfitters and Apple before coming to First Option.

Jackie has a son studying mechatronics at KSU and a firecracker 13 year old, plus an awesome pup, Oy, and 2 cats, Dee and Calcifer. She thrives on learning and feedback, so please never pass up a chance to reach out and share your needs so she can help you grow within your role and within First Option!

Supervisor - Marketing & Events
Alex Joyner

Alex grew up in Peachtree City, GA and graduated from the University of Georgia in 2017. She joined the First Option Marketing team in 2021.Her favorite part of being on the marketing team is the chance to work with all the different teams, departments, and wonderful people from all across First Option. She is passionate about event planning and loves managing our corporate events. She is also incredibly grateful for her awesome marketing teammates here at FOM!

Outside of work, Alex enjoys traveling, baking, and going to concerts & trivia nights. She lives in Decatur, GA with her husband, their dog, and their three-legged cat.