In honor of Women’s History Month, Village Bank is recognizing some of the women who made that history in the financial services industry:
Abigail Adams (1744–1818): Adams is probably best known as the wife of founding father and former president John Adams, but did you know she was also a brilliant investor? Overseeing the family household, she invested their money in government bonds and securities — ignoring John Adams’ request that she use it to purchase and lease farmland. One researcher has credited her for growing and securing the family’s wealth.
Hetty Green (1834–1916): The daughter of an heiress and a successful businessman, Hetty was born into money, and she had a natural aptitude for it. She opened her first bank account at eight and by the age of 13 had taken over the accounting for the family business. Known as the “Witch of Wall Street” because of the mourning clothes she wore after her husband’s death, she was also known as the “richest woman in America,” thanks solely to her wise investments.
Victoria Woodhull (1838–1927) and Tennessee Claflin (1844–1923): These two sisters with oversized personalities (Woodhull ran for president in 1872, 48 years before women could vote) opened the first women-owned brokerage firm on Wall Street in 1870. Financially backed by Cornelius Vanderbilt, the firm, Woodhull, Claflin & Company, was a resounding success from the start, thanks to its client base of society wives, widows, teachers, small-business owners, actresses and even a few high-priced madams. Unfortunately, the firm closed three years later, thanks to the “Panic of 1873,” but Woodhull and Claflin continued to (literally) make headlines with their own newspaper.
Maggie Lena Walker (1864–1934): Remarkable on many fronts, Walker was the first woman to charter a U.S. bank, and she served as its president. In 1920, the bank helped its members purchase an estimated 600 homes. The daughter of a former slave, she was also an activist for African American and women’s rights and founded the Richmond (Virginia) Council of Colored Women and cofounded the Richmond chapter of the NAACP. As she aged, she became disabled by paralysis and used a wheelchair but continued her work at the bank until her death in 1934.
Muriel “Mickie” Siebert (1926–2013): Siebert was the first woman to buy a seat on the New York Stock Exchange at a time when the only women allowed on the floor were clerks and pages. In 1967, she founded her own firm and applied for a seat on the exchange. Ten years later, she was named Superintendent of Banks for the State of New York, overseeing all of the banks in the state and regulating approximately $500 billion.
Rosemary McFadden: McFadden became president of the NYMEX in 1984, making her the first woman president of a major stock or commodities exchange in the U.S. In her role, she introduced oil trading to the exchange and opened offices in Asia and Europe. Today, she is chair of the board of trustees for the Jersey City (New Jersey) Economic Development Corporation.
And we’d be remiss to not call out our own president and vice chairwoman, Aleesha Webb. Webb began her career on the frontlines of Village Bank, working as a teller. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in banking, corporate, finance and securities law, she received her MBA in finance and management from the University of St. Thomas. She worked as the vice president of Minnesota Bank & Trust and the senior vice president at Sunrise Banks before returning to Village this past fall. Under her direction, Village Bank became an SBA Preferred Lender — a status the bank obtained in record time: 60 days versus the typical yearlong process. Being an SBA Preferred Lender will enable Village Bank to continue to grow the communities it serves by investing in the very thing that helps communities grow: small businesses.