Shamim Okolloh ('12) has joined Encore Bank as Vice President, Community Outreach Officer.
Okolloh oversees Encore Bank’s outreach program in Central Arkansas with a focus on financial inclusion for the underserved minority community that is often unbanked and underbanked.
The new position allows Okolloh to bring her personal experience with homebuying into her work. In 2017, as a first-time and first-generation homebuyer, Okolloh said that she remembers how easy it was to be intimidated by the idea of starting the homebuying process. As an immigrant – Okolloh is a native of Nairobi, Kenya – and single parent, she wasn’t sure where to begin. However, people and resources throughout Little Rock helped her understand and navigate the process.
“With this support I was able to attend a homebuyer’s class, work on my credit score, access down payment assistance and have a joyful yet dynamic few weeks being under contract,” Okolloh said. “I had an amazing team – my mortgage officer and realtor – who helped me pull through it all. I was fortunate to have had a relationship with them prior to buying my first home. Having been through this experience, I know how important relationships can be in banking.”
Burt Hicks, a fellow Clinton School graduate in the class of 2013, is the President and Chief Strategy and Growth Officer for Encore Bank. After spending more than four years working for Simmons Bank in Little Rock, rising to President and CEO of Simmons’ First Investment Group, Hicks co-founded Encore Bank in 2019.
“We are so excited to welcome Shamim Okolloh to the Encore family,” said Hicks. “The work she has done for the Arkansas Foodbank and Heifer International is inspiring, but even more important than her experience in public service is her passion to serve and make a difference in the lives of others. Also, as a fellow graduate of the Clinton School of Public Service, I am confident her education has well prepared her for her new role at Encore Bank.”
Before joining Encore, Okolloh spent more than seven years as Arkansas Foodbank’s Member Services Coordinator. Additionally, she worked with Heifer International as the nonprofit’s East Africa Program Coordinator. Now, she is looking forward to being the type of banker who builds relationships with her clients.
“I want to hear their story and what future they want to create,” she said. “I want them to know they can trust me and our talented team at Encore Bank to provide them with the financial services that are the best fit and align with their goals.”
One specific area of social change that Okolloh will focus on is increasing home ownership among minority residents. The financial implications of home ownership provide a sound investment and stable costs, impacting individuals and families by building equity and increasing financial security.
“I approach my work as a public servant with a passion for social change,” Okolloh said. “I’m grateful to the leadership at Encore Bank for wanting to build something different and for being intentional about giving minorities access to wealth building opportunities. There is a huge racial gap in our society and home ownership is one of the best assets to build and preserve generational wealth – so it’s critical and important to me. I wake up every day knowing that as a banker I have an opportunity to learn, grow and impact minority families and small business owners that come across my path. It’s more than a job – it’s living in my purpose.”
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