If service to a mission or cause is a measure of success, the Urban Financial Services Coalition’s new president Debra Bronston may require a new measurement scale. Her modesty sometimes inhibits her from sharing her many accomplishments that include receiving the Martin Luther King Drum Major for Service Award issued by President Barack Obama, being only the second person in her 5 maternal family generations since slavery to finish college and becoming the first African American to hold an official position at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City where she worked for 31 years.
As others like her, Ms. Bronston has faced obstacles in her career pursuits and efforts to empower communities. However, she managed to rise to the top and become the SHERO she is. No cape required; her only super powers are persistence, focus, dedication and quality. Mediocrity is not included in her vocabulary. Doing your best the first time is Ms. Bronston’s mantra that she reinforces and demonstrates in her new leadership role with the Urban Financial Services Coalition (UFSC).
UFSC, formerly known as the National Association of Urban Bankers, is a non-profit professional trade association in the financial services industry established in New York City in 1974 by bankers Charles Stewart, the late Robert Samuels, the late Nathaniel Harris and other minority industry pioneers. These men recognized the need for and were dedicated to a grass roots effort for African Americans to network in a manner that would enhance their professional knowledge and advancement in the financial services industry and pave the way for those following them.
The organization grew from 5 chapters in Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Little Rock and New York to 3,000 members, nearly 50 chapters in the United States and Canada and a vast number of corporate partners. Struggling economic conditions and mergers, acquisitions and workforce reductions in the financial services industry have created challenges to the organization’s success. Ms. Bronston is not discouraged by the challenges and has unwavering dedication to her 20-year affiliation with UFSC that began with the Greater Kansas City Chapter.
“ UFSC remains a relevant organization undergoing a changing of the guards, demographics, skillset requirements, access to information and resources. Stakes are higher than ever before and require that we be more strategic about how we generate funding; attract, retain, develop and engage our multifaceted members; hold each other accountable for individual and collective performance; and measure our results. All hands on deck are needed”, according to Ms. Bronston.
A native of Alexandria, LA
Ms. Bronston joined the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City as a Financial Examiner immediately after graduating from Grambling State University, Grambling, LA and receiving a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration. As one of the first women of color in that role, she broke new ground and was able to build strong relationships and gain the respect and admiration of colleagues, team members and senior management. For 11 years, she successfully managed detailed examination engagements for large and complex banks and bank holding companies across the Tenth Federal Reserve District and achieved the status of Commissioned Financial Examiner of the Federal Reserve System.
Ms. Bronston was offered and accepted the opportunity to spearhead the bank’s diversity initiative. She left the world of regulating banks and for 20 years, created groundbreaking diversity programs, overcame resistance to change and exhibited the courage to challenge conventional thinking. Her work resulted in positive and measurable change, helped advance the careers of hundreds of employees and vastly improved the organization as a whole.
After retiring from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Ms. Bronston began a year of self-assessment and reflection and determined that she had a continued desire to share her talents. She became a Project Staff Consultant with a global leader in talent and career management workforce solutions that designs and delivers solutions to align talent strategy with business strategy. Simultaneously, Ms. Bronston created her own firm, On-Point Career Strategies that allows her to guide business executives, professionals and entrepreneurs to places where their career destinies and values meet.
Does this sound like an individual who has “retired”? According to Ms. Bronston, she has only switched hats by continuing to play to her strengths. “Helping others to manage their careers and leading UFSC is what I like and do well. Being surrounded by strong, dedicated and diverse leaders helps me to better perform and achieve the organization’s mission to be the pre-eminent financial services organization that provides professional development programs, supports educational advancement and promotes economic empowerment for its members and minority communities at large. As a team, we have agreed that UFSC is important and a priority in our lives. We must work together because after all, there is no “I” in team”.