Let’s introduce you to Alba Fernandez, age 48, a divorced mother of two children, ages twenty and eleven. She currently is the Vice President Team Leader of Community Lending with Community First Fund and serves on several chamber boards. Born in Barranquilla, Colombia she came to the United States in 1989 and is a proud Reading High School alumnus. From an early age, she lived most of her childhood with her grandmother, aunts, and uncles who helped raised her both in Colombia and in the US. Even as a young girl Alba showed a genuine interest in helping people. When she was enrolled in the bilingual program in middle school, she was called upon by her teachers to serve as a translator to her classmates.
In 1995 she began working as a bank teller for Great Valley Bank while she attended Reading Area Community College. She progressed to a management position over the years in various banks. She eventually received her bachelor’s degree in finance while juggling a career, marriage, and motherhood. Then in 2016, she began working as a Senior Community Lender, helping business owners in Berks County to fulfill their dreams of entrepreneurship and provide capital, education, and technical assistance to those underserved communities that have been demarginalized. While she enjoyed her banking career and was able to help many people and businesses achieve their dreams, she felt she was at a loss as she couldn’t help the people that really needed it the most.
Community First Fund is a non-profit Community Development Financial Institution that helps even out the economic disparities that people of color, immigrants, and women face when looking for capital to start or expand their businesses. Alba played an avid role in providing financial assistance to many business owners during the COVID-19 pandemic as many struggled to keep their doors open during the past 3 years. All this while being a single parent. It’s not easy but she is passionate about helping others. Here are a few words from Alba.
“I feel that the power to empower other women is in all of us! Encouraging other women to be unapologetic and entirely themselves is the loudest form of love for other women! Being supportive without expecting anything in return and always being a cheerleader for all women who are fighting for their goals and dreams.” -Alba Fernandez
Women we need to take time for ourselves and that doesn’t just mean getting our hair and nails done but rather possibly seeing a therapist, taking time to just breathe, learning to say “no” and not feeling guilty about it. And most importantly being supported enough to know that nothing is expected of us and that we can feel safe being our imperfectly perfect selves.
Rosa Julia Parra
Founder of Palo Magazine