Most Powerful Women in Banking: No. 13, B of A's Andrea Smith

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Chief Administrative Officer, Bank of America

Charlotte, N.C., has long been a community of haves and have-nots. A 2014 study found that among the nation’s 50 largest cities, Charlotte ranked last in economic mobility.

But two nights of street violence last fall, which followed the fatal police shooting of an African-American man, made addressing economic inequality a bigger civic priority for the city where Bank of America is based.

“It created more of a sense of urgency,” said Andrea Smith, a B of A executive who is at the forefront of local efforts to take on the economic conditions that are widely seen as having contributed to the civil unrest.

In January, Smith became chair of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, and she is leading a nascent effort to focus the organization on local job creation and career readiness.

In March, Smith was named co-chair of the Leading on Opportunity Council, a group formed to devise a plan to address the city’s economic divide.

Smith is a 29-year B of A veteran who became the company’s chief administrative officer in 2015. Her responsibilities include global corporate strategy and oversight of the annual regulatory stress tests. She moved to Charlotte in 1994 and, with the exception of a brief stint in New York, has lived there ever since.

The street violence in September 2016 was unsettling to many Charlotte residents, including lots of bank employees.

During the unrest, B of A advised thousands of employees to stay home. At the end of one workday, protesters gathered outside the bank’s headquarters holding signs that said “Legalize Being Black” and “Black Lives Matter.”

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After those events, Smith launched “Courageous Conversations,” an event designed to discuss what was happening in Charlotte and how B of A employees could have a positive impact. Similar events have since been held in other cities that are part of the bank’s footprint.

“Let’s talk about what happened here. And let’s talk about it in St. Louis. And let’s talk about it in Baltimore. And let’s talk about it in Dallas. There was no shortage of places to have these conversations,” Smith said.

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