Women inspire us every day, whether they’re shaping strategy in the workplace, or shaping the next generation as mothers, sisters, grandmothers and mentors. Women’s History Month is an opportunity to say “thank you” to the everyday heroines who elevate our ideas and shoulder our struggles. Our March blog pays tribute to the women who help us rise to the occasion with grace and intention. Learn more about us–and our sources of inspiration!
Featured Female Leaders:
Tell us about the women who inspire you the most.
My 89-year-old mother, who still works, inspires me. For sure, her strong work ethics have been instilled in me. She has taught me to expect and accept challenges as opportunities to grow and expand my knowledge, understanding and commitment to others. –Shelly M. Gross-Wade, FSC First President & CEO
Even after experiencing many atrocities, Fannie Lou Hamer worked tirelessly to advance voting rights for Black people in Mississippi. In June 1963, after being arrested subsequent to a successful voter registration drive, she was brutally beaten, leaving her with lifelong injuries. However she was undeterred, ultimately receiving national acclaim when she co-founded the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), which challenged the local Democratic Party’s efforts to block Black participation. –Kathryn R. Clay, FSC First Board Chair Emeritus and Greater Washington Area Market Manager, Community Development Banking Division, PNC Bank
My mother and sisters have inspired me most in both my personal and professional life. The impact of their leadership, confidence and achievements, while remaining humble, influenced and helped me navigate a career path traditionally dominated by men. More importantly, their examples and coaching have allowed me to influence the next generation, including my daughter, who is an aspiring entrepreneur. – Beverly Everson-Jones, FSC First CFO
FSC First uplifts small businesses, sparking job growth and opportunities. How does FSC First support women entrepreneurs in particular?
Though FSC has been woman-led for over 20 years, with Shelly Gross-Wade serving as President and CEO, I am proud to say I was the first woman Board Chair for FSC First (Jan 2016 – Dec 2018). This role afforded me a close, collaborative relationship with Shelly. It was exciting to experience her passion for all entrepreneurs, but women entrepreneurs in particular. I am very proud of FSC when I think of the many women entrepreneurs who have benefitted from our services. -Kathryn R. Clay, FSC First Board Chair Emeritus and Greater Washington Area Market Manager, Community Development Banking Division, PNC Bank
FSC First is a fund manager for the State of Maryland’s Small Minority and Women-Owned Businesses Account Program. With this program, 50% of all approved or funded loans help women start or expand their businesses. In addition, all 11 of our current loan programs support women-owned businesses. These programs provide financing for the purchase of real estate, machinery, equipment, leasehold improvements, inventory, furniture, fixtures and working capital. -Dawn Medley, FSC First Senior Vice President, Business Finance Programs/EDI Fund Manager
In the first quarter of 2022, FSC First helped several women entrepreneurs secure funding to purchase real estate to house their businesses. This is a strategic advantage on the road to financial independence, as it shows women their power to build wealth. –Beverly Everson-Jones, FSC First CFO
What aspects of your workplace culture nurture women’s achievement?
FSC First is led by a dynamic team of women executives: the President/CEO, Chief Financial Officer and the Senior Vice President. While this is coincidental and not by design, it makes a positive impact on the operations of the organization. –Diane Brown, FSC First Board Chair & Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer of Prince George’s Community Federal Credit Union
FSC First’s management team is composed of dynamic and inspiring women. Together, we are driven to find more ways to lend more money to more businesses, with fewer barriers. -Dawn Medley, FSC First Senior Vice President, Business Finance Programs/EDI Fund Manager
I coach and encourage women at FSC First to compartmentalize the demands in their lives. That does not mean every demand will get equal time, but more so, to ensure that they benefit from a balanced life. In my opinion, these women are great at multitasking (career, volunteer, family, friends and faith-building) but often place themselves last in caregiving. I encourage them to set aside time (typically Wellness Wednesday), to focus on self. I also encourage them to seek opportunities to fuel their passion, recognizing that we are multi-faceted jewels that need restoration and refinement from time to time. -Shelly M. Gross-Wade, FSC First President & CEO
Women need support and resolve to prioritize their passions and advance their goals. FSC First celebrates the changemakers who help women blaze new trails, as they’re needed more than ever. If you’re a woman entrepreneur seeking financial assistance, our loan programs, LevelUp series and Women in Entrepreneurship Panel provide the inspiration for your aspirations.
Wishing you a Women’s History Month full of empowerment and gratitude!