Since the beginning of time, women have left their mark in many fields including science, politics, education, business, and healthcare. You can fill volumes of trailblazers, history makers, and heroines such as Mae Jemison, Susan B. Anthony, Harriett Tubman, and Sonia Sotomayor.
While it is intriguing to contemplate the worldwide impact women throughout history have made on society, we must also recognize the difference makers walking among us right here, right now in Kansas City who are equally as legendary. Their stories are stories of strength, endurance, and triumph that we all could learn from. One of those individuals is Mrs. Debra Bronston, national president of the Urban Financial Service Coalition, or UFSC, a non-profit financial industry professional association committed to empowering inner-city communities with the tools needed for fiscal success.
Mrs. Bronston’s path to the helm of the UFSC typifies her notable financial services career. Bronston was born and raised in Alexandria, Louisiana. After receiving a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from Grambling State University, she brought her talents to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City as a Financial Examiner. Mrs. Bronston was one of the first black women to serve in this position. She recalls it being a tough transition for her colleagues. It brought uncertainty, as change usually does. “Not knowing where they (her white co-workers) were going to end up because I was hired.” Change in general, and a show of expertise from unexpected sources, specifically - like an African-American woman with formidable expertise in finance - is often discombobulating. However, Bronston and her co-workers successfully adjusted.
After serving as a Financial Examiner, Ms. Bronston earned the opportunity to lead the bank’s diversity initiative. She acted as the employee liaison. In this capacity, she was able to reform the mindset of her colleagues by forming multiple programs that challenged their thinking.
Communication was key. Naturally, people tend to resist change, so she had to become creative in her attempt to gain buy-in. Bronston’s efforts were not only a service to employees, they had practical fiscal impact. Diversity in thought, background, culture, perspectives, experiences, and ideas is statistically verified to improve an organization’s bottom line. The work was long, but the quest for an inclusive environment laid the ground work for a positive 21st century workforce and a better organization.