Beatrice Kelly Turned her Devotion to Community Into a Career
Throughout a career in banking that has spanned nearly three decades, Beatrice Kelly (MSM ‘07) has remained staunchly committed to community and financial literacy. Currently, Kelly serves as Senior Vice President and Director of Community Development Lending for Comerica Bank. “Our goal is to provide access to capital focused on underserved communities, women, minorities, and small businesses and while helping families achieve the dream of home ownership,” Kelly says. She and her team Center questions such as: Is there enough affordable housing for families? Is the bank helping to revitalize the areas that need it most? “Everyone needs equal access, right? Small business drives economies to grow,” she says.
Many small businesses shut down during the pandemic, and some, unfortunately, shuttered for good. But on the flip side, there was so much Innovation and creativity – and new businesses sprouted like phoenixes from the ashes. Kelly says that makes her excited for the future, and she’s particularly passionate about buoying Black-owned endeavors. She grew up on Detroit’s East side. “I always tell my boys, ‘I used to walk to the corner store; I used to walk to the dry cleaners. Those were all small businesses.’ That’s the key to bringing back the community, bringing back a sense of the neighborhood.” Kelly adds, “I’m proud to work for an organization that recently committed $5 billion in providing access to capital for small businesses.”
Her newest role with Comerica is based in Dallas (she returned to the bank in October 2020 after a nine-year hiatus), but she will continue to serve Michigan, Florida, Arizona, California, and Texas.
Kelly started her career as a Comerica teller in 1994, “at the bottom of the Food chain,” she says. “But I was super happy to serve.” Still, Kelly says she saw all the other opportunities around her and aspired to move up the ladder, and so she continued her education. Over the years, she worked in different areas: treasury management, trust operations, and business banking. She also spent time recruiting and training college graduates on the fundamentals of banking and commercial lending and how to understand credit. “It was very important for me to reach out to minority students and say, ‘Hey, have you thought about a career in banking outside of the traditional frontline roles?’”
She graduated from Walsh in 2007 with a master’s in management. “The reason I was attracted to Walsh was the fact that it is a business school. it’s right there in Troy – very flexible for working individuals and very connected to the community,” Kelly says.
Her “dear mentor” Aubrey Lee, a trustee emeritus of the Walsh board of trustees, spoke highly of the institution. Lee became the National Bank of Detroit’s first Black branch manager in 1966 and went on to become a prominent fixture in the city’s financial sector; he died in 2015. He received an honorary doctorate of law from Walsh.
“I believe in the power of relationships,” Kelly says. “One of the keys to my success is the connection to the community. This work is hard work but very rewarding when leading with the heart. I’m very true to myself, and I’m very true to our community.”