Detra Miller and Alex Fennoy have been named the ABA Foundation’s 2020 George Bailey Distinguished Service Award winners for their efforts to expand banking services to underserved communities. The two bankers will be recognized today at the ABA Unconventional Convention.
Now in its sixth year, the George Bailey Distinguished Service Award recognizes a non-CEO bank employee who demonstrates outstanding initiative, commitment to their customers and community, and the ability to inspire others. The ABA Foundation selects the winner after a review of nominations submitted by banks of all sizes across the country. This is the first time in the award’s six-year history that two bankers will be honored with the George Bailey award.
“At a time when our industry is looking for meaningful ways to expand access to banking and promote financial inclusion, Detra and Alex provide incredible examples for other bankers to follow,” said Rob Nichols, ABA president and CEO. “They came up with creative and innovative ways to reach underserved communities in Baltimore and St. Louis. Their work was too impressive to pick just one winner, and we’re thrilled to recognize them both for their efforts.”
Detra Miller, M&T Bank
Detra Miller serves as an administrative vice president of minority business banking at M&T Bank in Baltimore. She is being honored for her commitment to helping female and minority entrepreneurs overcome the obstacles of starting, sustaining and scaling a small business in Baltimore and the surrounding area.
Since joining M&T Bank’s business banking team in 2018, Miller has made it her mission to find growth opportunities for business owners in the Baltimore area. She has worked with the Baltimore City Mayor’s Office of Minority & Women-Owned Business Development and the Maryland Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs to develop a network that provides business owners with workshops on how to gain access to capital and grow their business. Her efforts were met with such a positive response that it led to the establishment of a Minority & Women-Owned Business Team at M&T Bank in June 2019.
Miller’s strong ties to her community have played an essential role during the COVID-19 pandemic. She worked diligently to help Baltimore-area businesses secure nearly $1.2 billion in Paycheck Protection Program funding, and she and her team continue to provide assistance to struggling minority and women-owned businesses in Baltimore.
She continued her outreach to multicultural businesses this summer by hosting a panel discussion in late June for M&T Bank titled Bringing Multicultural Business to the Forefront: Understanding What’s Important, in addition to working with bank leaders to develop a small business investment fund that could be seeded by the bank.
Meanwhile, M&T Bank is considering how it can extend Miller’s minority-focused business banking team to other locations within the bank’s footprint. She has started working with bankers in the Greater Washington and Pennsylvania markets on similar initiatives in those regions.
Alex Fennoy, Midwest BankCentre
Alex Fennoy serves as executive vice president of community & economic development at Midwest BankCentre in St. Louis. He is being recognized for his efforts to provide accessible banking services in low-income neighborhoods in the surrounding St. Louis area.
Fennoy joined Midwest BankCentre in 2010 and has since helped create multiple pathways to prosperity in underserved communities. He led the charge to open two full-service bank branches in Pagedale, Mo., and on the campus of Friendly Temple Church, a 12,000-member church based in North St. Louis City. The church is located in the Wells-Goodfellow neighborhood, a community that is 99-percent African American and historically underserved when to comes to banking services.
Fennoy is also a champion for financial education. As co-chair of the St. Louis Regional Financial Empowerment Coalition, Fennoy helped establish Bank-On Save-Up St. Louis, a financial education program that has seen more than 20,000 new bank accounts opened for previously underserved individuals. He also helped develop the “Life Happens” product line at Midwest BankCentre aimed at combatting daily challenges to financial security through accessible personal and business loans, and checking accounts.
Additionally, Fennoy led an effort to help local nonprofits secure PPP loans in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to Fennoy, more than 100 nonprofit agencies and faith-based institutions received funding through Midwest Centre Bank – representing nearly 10 percent of the 1,150+ organizations the bank assisted through the PPP program.
“Alex and Detra have worked tirelessly to ensure underserved communities in St. Louis and Baltimore have access to the resources and banking services they need to be successful,” said Corey Carlisle, executive director, ABA Foundation. “I hope you will join me in celebrating their incredible efforts and that others follow their lead.”
In addition to the George Bailey Distinguished Service Awards which goes to an individual bank employee, the ABA Foundation also recognizes banks annually for their commitment to their communities in seven different categories. For a full list of the 2020 Community Commitment Award winners, as well as honorable mentions, visit aba.com/awards.