Wells Fargo Names Michelle Lee Top East Coast Community Banking Exec

Michelle Lee, who had been the company's Northeast community banking chief, is a prime example of successful talent development at Wells Fargo.

Michelle Lee didn't plan on being a banker. Now, she's about to become one of the most influential bankers in the country.

Lee, currently the executive vice president and Northeast regional president at Wells Fargo, is moving from her Summit, N.J. base to Charlotte, N.C., where she will replace Laura Schulte as the company's head of community banking for the entire East Coast.

Schulte is retiring at the end of the year.

Lee started with Wachovia, now owned by Wells Fargo (No. 17 on the 2014 DiversityInc Top 50) 31 years ago, mainly as a way to appease her parents. Michelle Lee isn't an Ivy Leaguer. Her degree isn't in finance or accounting.

She graduated from the Boston Conservatory of Music with a degree in applied voice.

"From the age of 5, I never considered doing anything other than music. I think I was born singing. I had this great dramatic soprano voice and ended up going to Boston Conservatory," she told DiversityInc CEO Luke Visconti in a 2012 interview. "My mother is from Cleveland, my father from Blakely, Ga., and they came to my recitals and asked, "Why don't you think about teaching or something a little more conventional?" To get them off my back, I applied for a job at the bank. I thought that was a nice, respectable career. I started as a teller."

Lee soon found herself fascinated and began attending classes at the American Institute of Banking after work. Eventually, she fought through stereotypes and was accepted into the company's management-training program.

"I remember talking to my assistant manager. She's an African-American woman and she gave me an example of another really talented African-American woman who had applied for a similar program years before and didn't get into it," Lee recalled. "She said, 'I'm just trying to give you a reality check. They're never going to take a Black girl in that program.' I was accepted into the program. I was the only African American and probably was the only person who wasn't just out of college.

"There were probably 25 people in the class. They were all white men and women just graduating from Ivy League schools. I show up for class. I have on my very best Sunday dress. I'm in a royal-blue dress with flowers on it, and I walk into this class with this sea of dark navy, dark brown, dark gray suits. I knew immediately one of these things is not like the other."

Lee was hired as an assistant manager at a branch in a predominantly-Latino Newark, N.J. neighborhood and later promoted to a failing branch in East Orange, N.J., where nearly 90 percent of the population is Black.

What she didn't realize at the time was that her rapid ascent through the company and her turning around of the East Orange branch—it went from failing audits to passing with flying colors in just three years under Lee's leadership—relied on many of the pillars of diversity management.

"I had this inquisitive nature about banking. I wanted to understand how it worked," Lee said of her start in the industry. "There was this woman in the back room who basically did all of the proof work. I ended up taking on little tasks for her, running numbers and learning. Here was this informal mentor. She was willing to train me to be the backup person when she was on vacation or when she had a day off."

That continued into her management role in East Orange.

"I think about what made this team not behave like a team—they didn't care, didn't align with the company's vision and philosophy around serving our customers. It really was about helping them see the value that they could bring to work every day," Lee said. "I didn't think that I was doing work around diversity because that was before all of the focus on diversity and awareness training. But when I think back on it, it was about the same core values.

"Part of it was sharing, creating a vision for the team. We knew why we were coming together every day. We came to some common agreements around how we wanted our customers to feel and how we wanted our customers to experience us and what we wanted our work environment to be like.

"Then celebrating success; giving people candid feedback; letting them know here is what's standing between where you are and where you're trying to go; being a great coach, mentor and not shying away from giving people tough feedback."

As the head of Wells Fargo's community banking operations in the Northeast, Lee has been responsible for more than 460 branches, over 5,000 team members and $100 million in revenue.

Her branches have provided nearly $10 million through their CityLIFTSM program to help homebuyers with down payment assistance in Jersey City, Newark, the Bronx and Brooklyn—part of Wells Fargo's $220 million nationwide effort that's helped 8,000 families become homeowners.

"Jersey City, Newark, the Bronx and Brooklyn were significantly affected by the housing crisis," Lee said. "The CityLIFTSM program will help families achieve successful homeownership which is not just about having enough money on hand and qualifying for a mortgage. It's also about knowing how to navigate the home buying process, what to expect once you become a homeowner, and having a trusted advisor to turn to when questions come up."

Wells Fargo has not yet appointed Lee's replacement in the Northeast, but Lee has worked to develop a diverse team that can step in.

"On my expanded leadership team, there are 21 people: 12 are women and four of those women are African American."


Steve Bannon, former White House chief strategist, said that slain civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would be "proud" of what President Donald Trump has done for Blacks and Latinos in the U.S.

Bannon was the CEO of Trump's presidential campaign. Trump gained supporters by calling Mexicans rapists, committing to building a wall between Mexico and the U.S., allowing Black people to be physically assaulted at his rallies and lightly disavowing the support of white supremacists.

"Martin Luther King ... he would be proud of what Donald Trump has done for [the] Black and Hispanic working class, okay?" Bannon said on "This Week" Sunday.

On Sunday, King's daughter, Bernice King, CEO of The King Center, re-tweeted a post from The Washington Post reporter Eugene Scott who referenced a similar claim Bannon had made previously. She included a response, simply stating: “Absolutely not."

In May, King tweeted:

Bannon said in March at an event with far-right French politicians that they should "wear" accusations of racism "as a badge of honor."

Let them call you racist. Let them call you xenophobes," he said. “Let them call you nativists. Wear it as a badge of honor. Because every day, we get stronger and they get weaker."

Bannon said on Sunday that he was “talking specifically about Donald Trump and his policies."

“His economic nationalism doesn't care about your race, your religion, your gender, your sexual preference," he said.

The Trump administration's “zero tolerance" immigration policy is currently separating children of undocumented immigrants from their mothers and fathers.

King tweeted on Sunday:

Wells Fargo Observes International Day of Family Remittances, Offers Fee Waiver

Company to waive ExpressSend remittance transfer fees to all countries, payout locations June 15–18.


Originally Published by Wells Fargo.

Wells Fargo & Company announced it will commemorate the International Day of Family Remittances by waiving all transfer fees for ExpressSend ® remittances sent June 15–18.

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13 Organizations Awarded $12.1 Million From Wells Fargo to Support Diverse Small Businesses

Funding awarded to local Community Development Financial Institutions.


Originally Published by Wells Fargo.

Wells Fargo & Company announced that 13 Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) around the U.S. have been selected to receive $12.1 million in lending capital and grants under the Wells Fargo Works for Small Business: Diverse Community Capital (DCC) program. The recipients are private, nonprofit financial institutions that are dedicated to delivering responsible, affordable financial products to underserved populations and communities. Many of the small and micro businesses CDFIs serve may not be ready to access capital through conventional financing methods.

The Diverse Community Capital recipients are:

  • BOC Capital Corp. - Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • California Capital Financial Development Corporation – Sacramento, Calif.
  • Cooperative Development Fund of CDS for Shared Capital Cooperative - St. Paul, Minn.
  • Cooperative Fund of New England – serving New England
  • Entrepreneur Fund – Duluth, Minn.
  • First American Capital Corporation – West Allis, Wis.
  • Hartford Community Loan Fund – Hartford, Conn.
  • Local Initiatives Support Corporation – serving Los Angeles
  • Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA) – San Francisco
  • Mountain BizWorks – Asheville, N.C.
  • New Jersey Community Capital – New Brunswick, N.J.
  • PeopleFund – Austin, Texas
  • Rainier Valley Community Development Fund – Seattle, Wash.

Diverse Community Capital funds will be used by the awardees to increase lending to diverse small business owners; help more diverse small business owners get the coaching and education resources they may need to grow their business; and improve, create or add resources, materials, products, or programs to better serve their target market.

Under the program, awardees also have the opportunity to participate in a social capital component, delivered by Opportunity Finance Network, a national network of CDFIs. Social capital opportunities include an online learning community, working groups on specific topics, consulting, peer learning and mentoring.

"Now in its third year, the DCC program's impact on communities has been compelling," said Connie Smith, Wells Fargo's Diverse Community Capital program manager. "DCC awardees are increasing access to capital and development services for diverse small businesses in their local communities. These awards are inspiring collaboration and innovation in the CDFI industry every day."

In fiscal year 2017, Diverse Community Capital awardees closed more than $284 million in loans to diverse small business clients. That represents a year-over-year increase of 23 percent for the first 18 awardees and a 63 percent increase for the next 26 awardees. Awardees closed nearly $103 million to black or African American entrepreneurs and more than $75 million to Hispanic or Latino entrepreneurs. In addition, 76 of all development services offered by DCC awardees were delivered to diverse small businesses. Most awardees reported at least one new or changed program or product designed to increase capital deployment to their clients.

"When local businesses succeed, so do the communities where we live and work," said Mike Rizer, director of Community Relations at Wells Fargo. "By financing community businesses — including small businesses, microenterprises, and nonprofit organizations — CDFIs spark job growth and retention in communities across the U.S."

Today's announcement marks Diverse Community Capital's fifth installment, or round, of awardees since 2015. Wells Fargo has committed an additional $100 million over the next three years to CDFIs serving diverse small businesses.

To earn back your trust, Wells Fargo has renewed its commitment to you. See our re-established goals at http://www.wellsfargo.com/renew.
We are re-committing to you and re-inventing how we serve you, delivering banking features like Card-Free ATM Access, and Debit Card On or Off for when you misplace your debit card. We have changed our sales policies and culture to fix what went wrong and make things right, knowing an apology is just the beginning.

White Officer Called Black Police Chief N-Word, Threatened to Beat Her to 'Death With a Banana'

Despite proof of a series of racist and threatening Facebook posts against Tiffany Tims, an Ohio officer hasn't been fired.

Screenshot from Facebook Messenger / WCMH NBC4

UPDATE May 30, 2018 at 10:38 p.m. ET:

On Wednesday night the Nelsonville City Council unanimously voted to fire police officer Joshua Braglin. The vote came during a city council meeting attended by numerous protesters.


A white male police officer from Southeastern Ohio made racist and threatening Facebook posts against Hocking College Interim Police Chief Tiffany Tims, who is Black. Nelsonville Police Officer Joshua Braglin hasn't been fired. So, community organizers have scheduled a protest for Wednesday evening.

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Black Rape Victim Awarded $1B Settlement

Sexual assault plagues women of color at higher rates than white women — and many assaults on Black women go unreported.

Hope Cheston addresses a press conference. / SCREENGRAB VIA 11ALIVE

A Black woman who was raped at the age of 14 was told by a jury, "You're worth it" — the "it" being $1 billion.

Hope Cheston, now 20 years old, was awarded a $1 billion settlement by a jury in Clayton County, Ga.

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After a Typhoon of Publicity, Harvey Weinstein Charged with Rape

Allowed to turn himself in with pre-arranged bail already taken care of.


There was one more red carpet for Harvey to walk down. At 7:30 this morning, the alleged rapist walked into a Lower Manhattan police station surrounded by cameras flashing and reporters shouting his name.

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