Senior Vice President AND Community Banking President
for the Delaware Valley Central Market
Wells Fargo & Co.
Michele Lawrence broke barriers when she took on the role of senior vice president and community banking president for Delaware Valley Central Market, becoming the first African-American woman president for Wells Fargo & Co. in the state of Pennsylvania. Navigating the corporate structure was challenging. “I had to learn the unwritten rules and find someone who was willing to share these rules with me,” says Lawrence.
She worked as a teller while pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Rutgers University. During that time, she met the bank’s regional president and decided that she would have her job one day. Her big break came when she was a branch manager in New Jersey, at the time of the merger of CoreStates Bank and First Union Bank. “I applied for the financial sales leader to lead a district and secured a position leading one of the larger overlapping markets in the central region,” she explains.
Lawrence fulfills her desire to help improve financial education in the African-American community by teaching financial literacy and coaching women. “It’s not just about finance, it’s also about life skills and professional skills building,” says Lawrence. After learning that three new prisons were being built in Pennsylvania based on projections for the lives of 8-year-old boys with poor reading scores, Lawrence established Saving Our Boys, a not-for-profit organization working to prepare young boys for success beyond high school via character building and leadership development. Each previous cohort actively mentors new cohort of young men. Lawrence now dreams of starting her own charter school to give children access to a level of education that is not available to them in many public schools.
Away from her work at Wells Fargo & Co. and from her community service, Lawrence enjoys singing and has even recorded a gospel album with a community group.