Berkshire Bank taps longtime community organizer for a critical role to transform banking
BOSTON, MA (July 16, 2019) Berkshire Bank has taken another step reflecting its commitment to deepening relationships with the communities they serve by tapping longtime community organizer and activist, Malia Lazu, as the new Executive Vice President, Chief Experience and Culture Officer. In this role, Ms. Lazu will head up Berkshire’s diversity and inclusion work, including the implementation of its Be FIRST Initiative.
For over 20 years, Ms. 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 tirelessly with politicians, activists, and community members to shift the voting landscape of the city.
Ms. 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 Ms. 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.
CEO, Richard Marotta, was impressed with the value of her work on diversity and inclusion and sought to institutionalize it by bringing Ms. 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,” commented Mr. 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.”
Berkshire Bank is recognized for its entrepreneurial approach, relationship customer experience, and distinctive culture embracing and celebrating the diversity of all customers, employees and, suppliers - as its commitment to diversity continues to grow. 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 Commerce Bank, a division of Berkshire Bank. Berkshire Hills Bancorp (NYSE: BHLB) is the parent of Berkshire Bank. Berkshire Bank was named one of Massachusetts' Most Charitable Companies by the Boston Business Journal in 2018. To learn more, visit www.berkshirebank.com, call 800-773-5601 or follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and, LinkedIn. Berkshire Bank is the official bank of NESN's Boston Bruins coverage. Life is Exciting. Let us help.®