UFSC President’s Message Recapping the 50th Anniversary Celebration

Dear members,

Did you enjoy our gathering from April 10th to 12th to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Urban Financial Services Coalition (UFSC)? Because I most certainly did!

I am filled with profound gratitude for everyone who has contributed to our extraordinary journey. A special thanks goes out to all past, current, and new members who traveled from across the country to join us in commemorating this significant milestone!

This milestone isn’t just about what we’ve achieved together; it’s a tribute to your dedication and belief in our mission. For half a century, UFSC has been a catalyst for change, ensuring the equitable participation of minority professionals in the financial services industry. We’ve turned aspirations into achievements, dreams into realities—and let me tell you, that’s no small feat.

As we look back on our past, we are reminded of the pioneers who laid the groundwork for this organization. How privileged we were to have Charles Stewart, one of the founding fathers of the National Association of Urban Bankers (NAUB), among us! His recounting of how he, Nathaniel Harris, and Robert Samuels established the National Association of Urban Bankers was truly inspiring. His wisdom served as a guide for us as we navigate the challenges and opportunities of the present day.

The first day of our celebration was a journey down memory lane, focusing on our origins and past accomplishments. I must say it was a nostalgic journey. We were privileged to have past NAUB presidents Damita Barbee, Anne Bush, and Richard Holmes share their stories and experiences on how they navigated the industry during their leadership. Their inspiring narratives and aspirations for our future have left an indelible mark on our hearts. The UFSC past president panel with Ola Truelove-Ross, Adrienne Whitaker, Ditu Kasuyi, Diane Evans, and Roderick Hayes shared thought-provoking insights to how they lead the organization and their commitment to see the organization grow the next 50 years. We were delighted to have esteemed guests Thomas Hoenig, Esther George, and Jeff Schmid, both current and former President and CEOs of Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

But our gathering here in Kansas City was not just about celebrating our past. It was also about embracing the future with open arms. The second day of our celebration exemplified this spirit!

Through engaging discussions led by distinguished leaders from the Federal Reserve Bank System and beyond, we explored topics ranging from artificial intelligence to the evolving landscape of remote work and emerging technologies. And at the heart of it all was a profound exploration of diversity, equity, and inclusion and the Gen X panel led by a Global Expert Emily Graham along with pillars that will shape the financial services industry for generations to come.

But that’s not all!

Our interactive session with Aisha Scott, Founder & Chief Leadership Executive for Time to Impact 365, was a masterclass in leadership. Participants learned best practices for engaging, leading, and empowering coworkers, peers, and teams in a multigenerational workforce. Participants left with a better understanding of the nuances of each generation represented in the current workforce, how to adapt their management style to lead a multi-generational team, and how technology aids and hinders generational collaboration.

But it didn’t end there. We were privileged to receive an insightful economic update from Joe Gruber, Executive Vice President, Director of Research, and Chief Economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. His perspectives on the current state of the economy were invaluable. Raphael Bostic, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, shared his wisdom on creating an economy that works for everyone. His emphasis on inclusive leadership and economic opportunity resonated deeply with us.

We were honored to receive a congratulatory video message from Kala Gibson, Executive Vice President of Fifth Third Bank. His acknowledgement of our accomplishments and firm commitment to diversity demonstrates the progress we have made and the impact we have had in the financial services industry.

Our conversations with CEOs who shared their vision for the future were enlightening. They challenged us to lead multiple generations in this rapidly evolving landscape and to ensure that we are well-equipped to meet the challenges of tomorrow. The presence of leaders from across generations not only validates the importance of our work but also inspires us to reach even greater heights in the years to come. We capped the event off with a soiree at the Negro League Baseball Museum located at the historic 18th and Vine St. That was such a great time.

Lastly, the leaders of our organization gathered for a strategic planning session, the air crackled with anticipation. In the end, we outlined a roadmap for the future, setting our sights on new horizons and daring to dream bigger than ever before.

We look back with pride, but we also look forward with hope and determination. Our theme, “Cheers to 50 years and beyond,” captured the spirit of optimism and possibility that permeated every conversation, every interaction, and every decision we make. We honored our past accomplishments while charting a course for continued growth and impact.

Finally, I am deeply thankful to our sponsors, speakers, volunteers, partners, and the planning committee. The support of our sponsors has been instrumental in turning our vision into reality. We are grateful for the time, energy, and skills of our volunteers. And the planning committee’s dedication and attention to detail have ensured the smooth execution of our plans. You are the heartbeat of UFSC! Your commitment and hard work have not gone unnoticed. 

As we move forward, we will carry with us the lessons learned and connections made during this historic event. Let’s reaffirm our goals for tomorrow. Let’s promise to keep curiosity alive and expand minority representation in financial services.  The path is clear: we’re dedicated to boosting awareness and access to financial services in underprivileged communities. We aim high to build a top-notch job bank in our career center platform with experienced minority professionals in the financial sector and committed to building the next generation of leaders in the financial service industry.

United by our shared purpose, there is no limit to the positive impact we can achieve together. Know that the best is yet to come! Are you prepared to seize it? Are you ready to partner?

Cheers to 50 years of UFSC and many more years of success and impact.

Thank you. 

Theodis Watson, President
Urban Financial Services Coalition
[email protected]