Detroit credit union names 1st Black woman CEO after 94 years

Sati Smith has come a long way – from a single parent in need of support, to the first African American woman CEO of one of Detroit's oldest credit unions.

On Nov. 1, Diversified Members Credit Union (DMCU) appointed Smith, 53, as the new CEO to lead the organization. 

"I was on welfare, I was a single mother," Smith said. "You just have to continue to work hard, and utilize the passion, have that drive - and you will succeed. Don't ever give up." 

At 26 years old, Smith's father secured a car loan for her – which led her to meet Kathie Trembath. Little did she know, Trembath would later become her mentor and Smith would be taking over her role as she retires.

 Kathie Trembath (L) and Sati Smith (R).

After getting a car, Smith went back to school while working as a teller with Kemba Financial Credit Union, according to the Michigan Credit Union League & Affiliates. She worked her way up while raising her daughter, who is now 31-years-old and works as a loan processor at DMCU.

"You want to encourage your child to accomplish things, so you have to be an example, and that's what I set out to do," Smith said. "I think that Kathie saw something in me. I believe that she saw something that I didn't see at that time."