Vanessa T. Reed is the regional external affairs manager for Comerica Bank.
Reed, who has a bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of New Orleans, joined Comerica Bank in 2000 as a credit specialist in the commercial real estate division. Today, she leads a team that works closely with the bank’s nonprofit partners.
As an active community leader, she serves as chair of the board of directors at Change Happens and the Fort Bend Church accounting team ministry. Rolling out spoke with Reed about her work at Comerica and the important qualities Black female leaders bring to an organization.
Tell us about your role with Comerica Bank.
I oversee external affairs operations for Arizona, Florida, Michigan, and Texas markets. I also have some influence in regard to our California Market initiatives. My primary role is to serve as the liaison between the bank and the communities we serve; providing nonprofit partners with resources to meet their critical needs, including but not limited to affordable housing, business training, and financial education.
As a Black woman, what do you consider your superpower to be?
I think my superpower is making sure that everyone’s voice is heard and that they feel like their issue is important and acknowledged. I think this helps not only in the community but also in general, in life. Being able to recognize that before you can solve a person’s issue you have to acknowledge that there is an issue.
What key skills make you unique as an African American female leader?
I think it goes back to that superpower and understanding the underlying issue, figuring out what rules apply, doing the analysis and then taking that to come up with some type of solution. So, I may do some talking, but the lion’s share comes from listening to people.
Why is it important for women of color to have leadership roles and decision-making capacities?
It’s an awesome responsibility to serve others, especially when you are at the table and are considered a key decision-maker. I recognize that the contributions are not only significant to my success, but it’s also my responsibility to bring awareness to issues that are critical to the success of others. My goal has always been to lead but also to create a pipeline for other leaders coming behind me. Women of color have so many barriers. Some of them are real, some are environmental and some are self-imposed. It’s important that as we elevate we should be elevating others.
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