SHALLEY A. JONES First vice president Chase Federal Bank, Miami
When Shalley A. Jones finished college, she contemplated a career in social work. Instead, she wound up in a management training program at a Miami thrift that would set her lifelong course in banking.
Refusing to forsake her first love, she has combined a passion for social work with a knack for financial dealings. Today, Mrs. Jones is first vice president of $1.5 billion-asset Chase Federal Bank, an independent Miami thrift, and a well-known advocate for low-income housing.
While many bankers are just waking up to the problems of affordable housing and community reinvestments, Ms. Jones, 37, has been lending to the poor for years.
In her first job as a lending officer, Ms. Jones recalls holding financial counseling sessions with low-income and minority people: "I just found that it was a matter of equipping that individual with enough knowledge to have enough information to sit across from a loan officer and not be intimidated.
"I found that they would do whatever they had to to make their mortgage payment," she continues.
She was recently elected president of the National Association of Urban Bankers, which represents minorities in the profession. From that vantage point, she believes she can encourage divesity in the work force, helping local economies as well as banks.
While in her first job at a thrift, the Miami native began work on a master's degree in management at Florida International University. She got her bachelor's and business administration degrees from the University of Miami.
For the last 6 1/2 years, Ms. Jones has worked at Chase, where her duties include ensuring the thrift's compliance with the Community Reinvestment Act.
Banks are generally moving in the right direction on community reinvestment, she believes, but could do more.
"Our biggest hurdle is getting these low-income applicants to walk in the door," she says of the banking industry. "I don't think we're reaching the masses, no matter what our intentions are."
The other big stumbling block is convicing institutions that a "loan to a low-income individual does not equate with charity," she says.
She balances the roles of banker, wife, and mother with a frantic schedule of meetings in a host of community groups, including Habitat for Humanity and the Metro Miami Action Plan. The latter group, founded in 1983 after race riots, aims to address the disparities between blacks and others in the community.
"You can't eliminate hate," Ms. Jones says, "but you can eliminate discrimination."