The banking space in America is dominated by whites although, in recent times, some people of color have made great strides in the industry. Today, there are more than 20 black-owned banks operating in America and seeing to the banking needs of underserved communities.
The financial industry continues to see Black women breaking barriers, the latest being Sati Smith, according to this press release. She has been named the first Black woman CEO to lead Diversified Members Credit Union (DMCU), based in Detroit, MI.
She replaces Kathie Trembath, the ex-CEO of the company. Trembath has been Smith’s mentor and has worked with the credit union for nearly two decades.
“Sati’s promotion marks the beginning of reaching new goals and heights in her career and is also the start of a new chapter for DMCU,” David H. Brooks III, Diversified Members Credit Union Board Chair, said in the news release. “The board of directors is proud of Sati’s accomplishments. We know she’ll be an outstanding mentor and role model, and we look forward to her leadership and innovative initiatives to come.”
Commenting on her elevation, Smith said it’s a major accomplishment, not only for her and her family but for the entire community. “It sends a strong message to women and other minorities that we can break glass ceilings,” she noted. “We can accomplish what we want to accomplish. My sincere hope is that this will inspire others.”
Diversified Members Credit Union, which started operations in 1929, serves nearly 30,000 members. It has $500 million in assets and employs almost 100 team members at its locations in Detroit, Clawson, and Novi, the news release said.
Becoming the first Black woman CEO to lead Diversified Members Credit Union (DMCU) did come easy for Smith. In an interview with Fox-2 in Detroit, she recalled how she had to overcome her difficult background.
“I was on welfare, I was a single mother,” Smith told the outlet. “You just have to continue to work hard and utilize the passion, have that drive — and you will succeed. Don’t ever give up.”
Prior to her current position, she was a teller at Kemba Financial Credit Union. She also served as a data processing clerk, IT manager, branch manager, operations manager, and chief operating officer with DMCU before her current position.
Smith does not have a high school diploma but pursued a college degree after obtaining a GED. She got a degree in Social Work from Wayne State University and a Master of Arts from Ashland Theological Seminary.