Today, we’re introducing you to a local woman working to give all community members access to the resources they need to succeed.
Tonita Webb is the CEO of Verity Credit Union, Washington’s second oldest credit union, who last year became the first woman and the first Black American to be named CEO in the organization’s nearly 90-year history.
Webb’s passion is sharing her knowledge of financial complexities with everyone, with a specific focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. She credits her commitment to her work to the experiences she’s gained as an Air Force veteran, an MBA, a mother of four, and the empathy and compassion she learned while being raised by her single mother in low-income housing projects in Virginia.
Let’s get to know Tonita, shall we?
Tell us about your role at Verity Credit Union.
I’m the President/CEO and Chief Community Advocate.
What are your goals as CEO in this new role?
For all of our communities to have access to financial well-being and prosperity.
How do you create “thriving communities” in your banking practices?
There is no one way to do it. It really depends on the individual community’s needs. We have to stop trying to force our way on communities and actually talk to them about what they need. We use data, sure, but nothing is more important than the community’s perspective.
How do you work to include communities who are underrepresented in the financial world?
Communities that are financially underserved have typically been taken advantage of and given the wrong solutions. My goal is to build relationships with communities and include them in coming up with the solution. Communities are tired of being talked AT, I want to talk WITH and to partner. A strong partnership starts with building a lasting relationship and for us to listen, not dictate.
Tell us about your work in the local non-profit community.
I work with SEED, a local nonprofit org that aims to improve quality of life in Southeast Seattle by creating partnerships and inspiring investments in housing, arts and economic development – with a special focus on residents with fewer opportunities and resources. I also work with Pioneer Human Services, a social enterprise that partners with communities to transform society by honoring the humanity of people, reducing the impact of discriminatory mass incarceration and empowering people to live safe, healthy, productive lives through inspiration, affirmation and by overturning barriers.
What advice do you have for people looking to increase their own financial stability?
I think this looks different for everyone. Not all communities have the same relationship with finances or money. They often have very different needs. The first step is to research, find an organization that will listen from your perspective, not their own. I recommend talking to a financial counselor or coach tailored to your needs.
What are five local organizations or people every Seattleite should know about?
Verity Credit Union of course!
Black Coffee NW (love the impact they are making in the local community)
These are organizations that have a focus to make this world better and some of them have been hit hard by the pandemic, but they keep showing up.
Interested in being featured or want to share your own cool project happening in Seattle? Send an email to [email protected] with the subject line “TEG Locals to Know 2022” and you just might see yourself in a future newsletter.