Berkshire Brings on Board Lazu as Chief Experience & Culture Officer
JUL 17, 2019 - 6:35 am
Berkshire Bank tapped longtime community organizer and activist, Malia Lazu, as its new executive vice president, chief experience and culture officer. Lazu will head up Berkshire’s diversity and inclusion work, including the implementation of its Be FIRST Initiative.
For over 20 years, Lazu has worked to profoundly shift culture and transform cities and organizations to make them more reflective of and responsive to the communities they serve. Beginning her work as an organizer in Boston at the young age of 19 years old, she worked with politicians, activists, and community members to shift the voting landscape of the city.
Lazu has had a long and impressive career in the city of Boston and beyond, having served as a senior advisor and organizer for actor and philanthropist Harry Belafonte where she led efforts to decrease youth violence in marginalized communities. She then went on to start her social impact firm Urban Labs.
Inspired by her work as a culture creator, Berkshire Bank hired Lazu at the end of 2018 to lead their diversity and inclusion initiatives, both internally and externally. She was instrumental in the recent launch of the Be FIRST initiative, which aims to employ a range of community-centric products and programs to solidify Berkshire Bank’s service as a community bank. These programs include internships that help to build a pipeline into the company and a new storefront program that provides a meeting space for entrepreneurs.
Berkshire CEO Richard Marotta sought to institutionalize her work on diversity and inclusion by bringing Lazu into the bank full-time.
“In her short few months working with us, Malia has already put her mark on our efforts to connect with the communities we serve. She was critical in the launch of our Be FIRST initiative where we are building programs like high school internship programs, our storefront initiative, and more to better connect with our neighbors. This new role will ensure that Malia and Berkshire have the opportunity to build on the foundation she has created,” said Marotta.
Ms. Lazu added, “I am tremendously honored and excited to begin this new phase of my career. It’s not often that people make the transition from the field office to the corporate office. I see my new role as critical and integral to the mission I’ve invested the last 20 years of my life to, which has been and continues to be building stronger and more empowered communities.”
With $13.9 billion in assets, Berkshire provides business and consumer banking, mortgage, wealth management, investment and, insurance services through 132 branch offices in New York, Connecticut, Vermont, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, including through Commerce Bank.
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