Caribbean Life Impact Award recipient, Michelle A. Nicholas, was recently appointed senior vice president, chief diversity officer and director of community development, at PCSB Bank.
The young professional will be instrumental in strengthening efforts to further elevate the institution’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and access, from the bank’s headquarters in Yorktown Heights, NY.
Chairman, President & CEO, PCSB Bank, Joseph D. Roberto, welcomed Nicholas, stating, “Having Michelle A. Nicholas join our team is an exciting opportunity to further elevate our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and access.”
“Her unparalleled dedication to community outreach will enable us to build on our core mission of offering the highest level of service to our customers as caring neighbors and business partners,” he added.
Nicholas, is responsible for shaping the bank’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategy, as well as building relationships with key leaders, communities and organizations throughout its lower Hudson Valley footprint.
“I get to meld my understanding of the financial sector with these experiences to create rounded, robust and informed programming that builds capacity on both sides, for the bank and for our host communities as well. Community banking is real at PCSB Bank,” she added.
“We’ve seen the success of valuing respect, inclusion and representation, and I will continue working with the communities throughout our footprint to ensure that our efforts on their behalf are driven by robust collaboration and relationship building.”
The former executive director of Girls Inc. of Westchester County, Nicholas, a high-powered community leader, said, having determined that the goals defined by the bank and “my passions were in sync, it was easy to transition into the role and to even work out ways in which these considerations may be expanded and addressed beyond what the principals of the Bank and myself had envisioned for this new role.”
“It was this conversation, a gradual unraveling of the vision of the great work that PCSB Bank had begun and my explanation of the underpinnings of these initiatives, how they impacted every aspect of operations and how they could become a welcome, integral and empowering part of the culture of the Bank that I think became the catalyst for my acceptance, in this role.”
The University of Guyana graduate who holds degrees in economics and social work, as well as certifications in project management and diplomatic practices educated, and for whom the position was created, said it was a happy, confluence of interest by PCSB Bank in strengthening efforts to further elevate their commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and access, and “my career trajectory of professional and personal interests in these areas.”
Nicholas brings a wealth of experience to the position. Speaking to Caribbean Life on her July 1, appointment, she said, “We work together to benefit each other — to benefit the communities that we live in. As a Community Bank, we will continue to provide the neighborhood feel of banking throughout our footprint.” She served as Co-chair of Recruitment and Development of the JPMorgan Employee Diversity group for African American Professionals – Ujima.
Black Leaders Changing Westchester, for “Resilience” during the COVID-19 pandemic – Business Council of Westchester, Rock Star Emerging Leader Award – United Way of Westchester and Putnam, Honoree, “30 Black Stars” in USA, and many others have honored her.
“I have always been a dedicated advocate of women’s and children’s issues, as well as a champion for facing and working through issues surrounding diversity, equity and inclusion, and the intersection of community development,” she said.
“My entire career has essentially been focused on these mandates, and one of my mantras has been that “You can grow as a professional while giving much to community service.”
“It is this commitment, as well as my background coming from the small mining town of Linden, Guyana, South America and living the experience of the close-knit nature of that community that is my reference point for so much that I do,” she added.
Nicholas, who continues to give back to Guyana, founded The Nico Consulting, a boutique firm specializing in strategic planning, marketing and communications, and leadership development to national and international entities.
She said the work of service continues through “my nonprofit organization, Sexual Assault and Family Education (S.A.F.E.) Guyana, that provides support for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and those struggling with mental health and other social issues within Guyana and the diaspora.”
She most recently co-created an award to honor Influential Women Leaders in Guyana who are impacting their companies and communities.
“These are the greatest motivators for me — to ensure that the communities I serve receive the support, engagement, and regard for their voice in any development that comes their way.”
“My new role simply allows me to bring all the skills and networks I have acquired in my career together to better achieve in this respect.”
The Guyanese community is proud of the exceptional contributions Nicholas have made at the Ministry of Foreign Trade and International Cooperation as a foreign trade officer, and the many other roles she plays in uplifting citizens of Guyana.
She notes, “My work and career have afforded me some opportunities and exposure for which I remain grateful, and continue to pay it forward.”