Sati Smith: One Of America’s Oldest Financial Institutions Appoints First Black Woman As CEO After Almost 100 Years

by Gee NY

Sati Smith has etched her name in history as the first Black woman to assume the role of CEO at Diversified Members Credit Union in November.

The credit union is a venerable financial institution in Detroit with a legacy dating back to 1929.

Reports seen by ShineMyCrown suggest that Smith, 53, stepped into this groundbreaking position early this month, succeeding her mentor Kathie Trembath, who retired after nearly two decades with the organization.

In a recent news release, Smith expressed her pride in this historic achievement, emphasizing its significance for the broader community.

“This is a major accomplishment not only for me and my family but for the entire community,” Smith stated. “It sends a strong message to women and other minorities that we can break glass ceilings. We can accomplish what we want to accomplish. My sincere hope is that this will inspire others.”

Established 94 years ago, Diversified Members Credit Union had never witnessed the appointment of a Black woman as CEO until Smith assumed the role.

Board Chair David H. Brooks III praised Smith’s promotion as the beginning of new goals and heights for her career and a new chapter for DMCU.

“The board of directors is proud of Sati’s accomplishments,” Brooks remarked. “We know she’ll be an outstanding mentor and role model, and we look forward to her leadership and innovative initiatives to come.”

Reflecting on her journey, Smith shared her story with Fox 2 Detroit, highlighting the challenges she overcame to reach this pivotal point in her career.

“I was on welfare, I was a single mother,” she recalled. “You just have to continue to work hard, and utilize the passion, have that drive – and you will succeed. Don’t ever give up.”

Sati Smith (R) took the role after Kathie Trembath, her mentor, retired.

At 26, Smith’s father secured a car loan for her, setting in motion a series of events that led her to meet Trembath, her mentor. Encouraged by Trembath, Smith returned to school, earning the necessary credentials to advance in the company.

Now, as the 53-year-old assumes the CEO role, she reflects on her journey, raising a daughter who herself works for the organization.

“You want to encourage your child to accomplish things, so you have to be an example,” Smith shared. “I think that Kathie saw something in me. I believe that she saw something that I didn’t see at that time.”

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