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Celebrating Kim D. Saunders During Women’s History Month

Kim D. Saunders
Kim D. Saunders

Women's History Month is an opportunity to spotlight the contributions of women who have left an indelible legacy. The theme for 2024 is centered on figures who advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion. That's why the National Bankers Association chose to celebrate Kim D. Saunders, a woman who dedicated her career to reducing the racial wealth gap and uplifting those around her. We were also fortunate to have her serve as the immediate past President & CEO of the National Bankers Association.


Ms. Saunders helped launch, lead, and restore minority depository institutions (MDI). She not only shattered the glass ceiling in banking, showcasing her capabilities in a male-dominated field, but she opened the door for countless other women. She was only the second woman to lead Consolidated Bank & Trust Co. in Richmond, which was in crisis when she took over. Ms. Saunders replaced the management, which had led the bank into severe financial trouble after 100 years of operation. As President and CEO, she turned it around and guided its' successful sale to a Washington institution, where she remained at the helm for two years during the transition.


It was fitting that Ms. Saunders, another woman of color who broke barriers should take over that role at Consolidated Bank and Trust Co. The bank was founded by financial pioneer Maggie L. Walker in 1903, the first African American woman to charter and serve as a bank president. Ms. Saunders was also the President & CEO of M&F Bancorp, Inc. and its wholly-owned subsidiary Mechanics & Farmers Bank in Durham, North Carolina, as well as Executive Vice President of City First Bank in Washington, D.C.


Despite all her other career achievements, Ms. Saunders's most significant professional legacy was transforming the mission-driven financial services landscape. She witnessed first-hand the lack of economic development and job growth generation in low- and moderate-income (LMI) areas. Recognizing the significant need, she launched the MDI Keeper's Fund. This national tier one capital fund was developed to specifically invest in MDIs that lent to small businesses and individuals often overlooked and underfinanced. By enabling those MDIs to remain healthy, Ms. Saunders ensured they could continue to give back to the communities that needed them the most.


She also dedicated herself to numerous nonprofit, government, and private boards and councils. In addition to serving at the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta and the Milken Institute she was a long-term board member of the National Bankers Association, and later became the President and CEO from 2018 to 2021.


Although sadly, Ms. Saunders passed away on July 29, 2023, her work as a tireless advocate devoted to closing the racial wealth gap will live on. Her professional and personal legacy profoundly affected millions of people across the United States. By helping MDIs make significant social and economic impacts in their communities, she increased access to credit and financial services for many individuals and families who were historically underserved. Whether in the corporate world or public service, Kim Saunders's legacy extends beyond her individual achievements, inspiring generations of women to strive for excellence and break barriers.

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