|Volume 3, Issue 3, 2003||Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas|
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Texas' CAC Members
Janie Barrera is founding president and chief executive officer of ACCION Texas , a nonprofit microlending agency headquartered in San Antonio. ACCION Texas provides both group and individual loans to economically disenfranchised small businesses in Texas. Barrera positioned the organization for three Community Development Financial Institution awards totaling over $3 million. She serves on JP Morgan Chase Bank's Advisory Board in San Antonio and National Community Advisory Board, Washington Mutual Bank's Texas Advisory Board and the Texas Association of Community Development Corporations. In 2000, she was named Financial Services Advocate of the Year by the Small Business Administration's San Antonio office. She was appointed to the CAC in 2002.
Barrera participates in two CAC committees: the Community Affairs and Housing Committee and the Compliance and Community Reinvestment Act Committee. The latter focuses on CRA-related matters, small business credit availability, and the costs, benefits and uniform enforcement of consumer financial regulations, issues that are of special interest to Barrera in her role at ACCION.
The CAC's advisory function gives the Governors an opportunity to hear informed comments, suggestions and recommendations regarding banking regulations and consumer laws, Barrera says. She says the professional mix on the council is very beneficial: "The Governors want to hear from all sides—the bankers, the nonprofits and the consumers."
Having nonprofit representatives like Barrera on the council gives voice to the people nonprofits serve. At the last CAC meeting, Barrera gave a 15-minute presentation on ACCION Texas. "Microlending is such a new field in the United States, and this was an opportunity for individuals from all over the country to learn about the industry," she says. "Policy impacts people. People must have representation and contact with policymakers."
Manuel Casanova, Jr. is executive vice president and director of the International Bank of Commerce (IBC) in Brownsville. He oversees the lending, compliance and international departments and co-chairs the bank's CRA committee. A certified public accountant, he previously worked as a bank examiner for the office of the comptroller of the currency. He is a board member of the Brownsville Economic Development Council and active in the Greater Brownsville Multi-Bank CDFI, National Bankers Association and Junior Achievement. He was appointed to the CAC in 2001.
Casanova finds the council relevant in discussing topics and regulations that impact banking and consumers. Before he became a member, Casanova was unfamiliar with the CAC's activities. He currently chairs the Compliance and Community Reinvestment Act Committee and serves on the Depository and Delivery Systems Committee.
Casanova feels that by interacting with other CAC members, he has gained a better understanding of nonprofits and is more receptive when approached by these organizations. He has shared this awareness with colleagues at IBC to help them better understand nonprofits, affordable housing and financial literacy. "Nonprofits can be good business once you understand their mission," Casanova says.
Larry Hawkins is president and CEO of Houston's Unity National Bank, a minority-owned bank serving primarily a low-income population. He began his banking career 31 years ago as a part-time teller while attending college. He has been the head of Unity National since 1990. Hawkins is active in numerous organizations, including the Greater Houston Partnership, Independent Bankers Association of Texas, American Red Cross, Boy Scouts of America and YMCA. He joined the CAC in 2002 and serves on the Consumer Credit Committee and the Depository and Delivery Systems Committee.
Hawkins says CAC participation has broadened his scope and raised his awareness of predatory banking practices. "A bank product may have been created to provide a service, but through abuse it can evolve and become predatory," he says. "This can be seen in overdraft payment products where consumers overdraw and the institution loads up the fees.
"The council takes a close look at how the laws and structure of our system really impact the everyday guy on the street—the consumer—and tries to resolve some of the issues," he says.
e-Perspectives, Volume 3, Issue 3, 2003