Jacqueline Howard, Ally Financial | Most Powerful Women: Next

Senior director, corporate citizenship

For Jacqueline Howard, Ally Financial’s focus on the issue of economic mobility is personal.

Her interest in helping close the wealth gap — a 2016 Federal Reserve study showed the median net worth for black families is about 10% that of white families — prompted her to steer Ally toward a more concerted effort on this front.

“We have a responsibility in banking to drive money mindfulness and help people understand their finances,” she said.

As senior director of corporate citizenship, Howard, who is African-American, has created a strategy for the Detroit company around helping underserved consumers build wealth. This includes various financial literacy initiatives, charitable giving and volunteerism.

But, even more, she has tied these efforts together into a holistic corporate social responsibility program.

Her work has earned her a spot as one of the 15 women on our inaugural Next list. (An extension of our Most Powerful Women in Banking program, the list is meant to highlight high-achieving women in the leadership pipeline who are age 40 and under.)

Ally’s partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and entertainer Sean “Big Sean” Anderson is one recent highlight. Through the Moguls in the Making competition in March, 50 students from historically black colleges participated in a weeklong challenge, where they devised and pitched business plans to a panel of judges. Winning teams received prizes and a chance to intern at Ally, with the latter meant to expose diverse young people to banking careers.

Ally’s shift away from “checkbook philanthropy” to a more thoughtful approach entailed getting other areas of the company involved, from investor relations to marketing.

People are increasingly looking to do business with companies that do good, and Ally needs to be able to share how it is positively impacting the world, Howard said.

“Jacqueline is an enterprise thinker who coordinates cross-functional working groups. She seamlessly works across the company with employees at all levels.” — Alison Summerville, business administration executive

“We are looking at it less of just being philanthropic with giving grants and volunteering, because it is so much bigger than that,” Howard said. “Investors and customers are demanding it.”

In addition to her professional accomplishments, Howard, 38, serves as an inspiration on a personal level. She is open about her own life challenges, including losing her mother at age 12 and being diagnosed with breast cancer at age 30. “Having survived that, it took away a lot of my fear,” Howard said. “I am willing to go after what I want, success or failure. Those experiences taught me to live in the present.”

Nominating executive: Alison Summerville, business administration executive

What she says: Summerville is impressed with Howard’s leadership skills, which she said are evident in how Howard went about shaping Ally’s corporate social responsibility program. Her approach: Articulated a long-term vision. Established strategies to achieve it. Inspired followership. It helps that Howard is “a clear and concise communicator,” Summerville wote in nominating her for the Next list. Howard used that skill well, first to win the support of C-suite executives and the board of directors for her ideas, and then to get employees excited about executing on those ideas. “Jacqueline is an enterprise thinker who coordinates cross-functional working groups. She seamlessly works across the company with employees at all levels,” Summerville said.

Chemical Bank Promotes Financial Literacy Month by Teaching Children to Save

Chemical Bank employees used their banking knowledge last month to encourage and inspire more than 8,800 students in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana to become life-long savers as part of National Financial Literacy Month and National Teach Children to Save Day.

As part of Teach Children to Save Day, Chemical Bank Representatives provided basic financial education to second graders at schools across the Midwest. In celebration of their 100th Anniversary and the 20th Anniversary of the Teach Children to Save Program, Chemical Bank also ran a contest through social media where they gave out $100 gift cards for teachers to purchase schools supplies with.

“It is a pleasure working with local elementary schools to educate and inspire students to become regular savers,” stated James Robinson, Chemical Bank’s Southeast Region President. “Our Teach Children to Save Program introduces children to the concept of saving in addition to developing skills for financial success as our employees work to improve the overall quality of life in the communities we serve.”

The classroom visits involved reading and discussing a storybook about Dollar the Silver Squirrel, Chemical Bank’s mascot. Activities following this lesson included sharing money related goals and learning how money grows with time. After the session, students were encouraged to save their money at home in a piggy bank or container and when it is full, bring it to their local Chemical Bank and deposit it into their youth savings account.

In addition to the Teach Children to Save Program, Chemical Bank actively reaches out to our youth by regularly visiting local schools, hosting student tours, participating in Junior Achievement and offering a minor savings account designed to help children learn to save. Chemical Bank’s financial literacy efforts have also led them to be recognized by the Michigan Bankers Association as Financial Literacy Award Winners. To learn more, under the About Us tab click on the Financial Literacy link at ChemicalBank.com.

Chemical Bank encourages children and their parents to visit the “For Kids” page at www.ChemicalBank.com/aboutus/for-kids to download the free Banker Jr. financial literacy mobile app. Banker Jr. teaches young children ages 2 through 12 how to set savings goals, keep track of their accounts and other money concepts via a fun and interactive learning platform!

Chemical Financial Corporation is the largest banking company headquartered and operating branch offices in Michigan. The Corporation operates through its subsidiary bank, Chemical Bank, with 249 banking offices located primarily in Michigan, northeast Ohio and northern Indiana. At March 31, 2017, the Corporation had total assets of $17.64 billion. Chemical Financial Corporation’s common stock trades on The NASDAQ Stock Market under the symbol CHFC and is one of the issuers comprising The NASDAQ Global Select Market and the S&P MidCap 400 Index. More information about the Corporation is available by visiting the investor relations section of its website at www.chemicalbank.com. Member FIDC, Equal Housing Lender.