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DBT40 Honoree: Amy Walls

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Age: 39
Principal, Community Affairs,
Discover Financial Services (New Castle)

What her nominator said about her:  Amy is an advocate for the underserved. During her tenure at Discover she has leveraged her position to increase opportunities for the disadvantaged and to promote economic development and community revitalization throughout the state while meeting the bank’s Community Reinvestment Act goals. She has served as a leader within the organization and as a leader in the community who is often called upon to solve complex problems.Amy’s work has touched the lives of thousands of Delawareans through her team’s efforts to create and preserve affordable housing and historic properties, the creation of an immigration loan program for people seeking citizenship or family unification, the creation of new economic development loan programs to grow and retain businesses in the state and the launch of a Social Impact Fund that yielded the state’s first Pay for Success initiative.

Professional accomplishments: Amy’s has been recognized in the community with the James B. O’Neil Award for Excellence in Economic Education by the Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship in 2019, Leon N. Weiner Fair Housing Award by Housing Opportunities of North Delaware’s (HOND) in 2013, the James H. Sills Jr. Leadership Award by the Delaware Community Reinvestment Action Council in 2011 and Savings Star Award by the Delaware Financial Literacy Institute in 2005. Additionally, the bank was honored by the Consumer Bankers Association with its Joe Belew Award for Community Development in 2011, 2014 and 2018 for projects where Amy served in a leadership capacity. In November 2019, Amy will be awarded the Stanford L. Bratton Award by First State Community Action Agency. Amy is a 2010 alumna of Leadership Delaware and continues to serve on the Advisory Board. During her tenure at Discover, she has received multiple leadership awards at Discover including three President’s Plate Awards and the Pinnacle of Excellence Award.

Leadership examples: Amy recognizes the value of creative financing to ensure that economic and redevelopment opportunities are realized throughout Delaware. She established a robust State Historic Tax Credit purchase program at Discover that facilitates investments in the preservation of historic properties throughout the state including those at the DuPont Building, the Grand Opera House, and The Ursuline School.  She has led, from her position as chair of the NCALL Loan Fund, an effort to bring an allocation of New Market Tax Credits to Delaware and serves on Cinnaire’s New Markets Tax Credit Advisory Committee. Finally, her team worked with the City of Wilmington to launch Grow Delaware, a small business loan program that the City can utilize to grow and retain businesses in the city. The economic development loan program has since expanded to a statewide initiative, Grow Delaware, and a Sussex County initiative, ExciteSussex.

In the philanthropic sector, Amy serves on the board of Philanthropy Delaware. She has utilized Discover grant funds to create training opportunities for nonprofits through the creation of a matching scholarship fund at DANA that helps organizations obtain needed consulting services. Amy is a strong advocate for affordable housing in Sussex County, leading the advocacy efforts of the Sussex Housing Group to impart strategies into the affordable housing and land use section of the Comprehensive Plan.

Next on the horizon: Delaware communities are ever-changing and I look forward to developing new ways that I can leverage the bank’s Community Reinvestment Act resources and goals with outside programs so that I can make a meaningful impact in Delaware. Local, state and federal governments continue to develop and deploy new tools like Opportunity Zones, Downtown Development Districts, tax credits and loan programs to spur opportunities for people and communities. I believe that there is a role for the private sector, and for me from my position, to support and grow those opportunities.  

Community service: To support affordable housing she currently serves on the board of the Leon N. Weiner Education Foundation, an organization that’s dedicated to providing education and enrichment opportunities to residents of affordable rental housing throughout the state. Each year Amy spends time teaching the children financial education and helps with at least one enrichment activity for the children and their families (this year it was a Dress for Less fashion show). She also serves on the board of NCALL, an organization that provides housing counseling services, technical assistance and loan programs. From that position Amy chairs the Loan Fund Committee that manages a portfolio of over $50 million in loans for affordable housing, community facilities, economic development and community revitalization.

Amy serves on Cinnaire’s New Markets Tax Credit Advisory Committee and CDFI Advisory Committee, helping to bring investments and loan capital to projects in Delaware. Amy is also a board member of Philanthropy Delaware, where she enjoys working with other philanthropic organizations to develop best practices in grant making.

She’s an advocate for people of all abilities and has served as a board member of Easter Seals of Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore for over six years and currently chairs the Resource Development Committee.  Amy is also a member of the Delaware Technical Community College Development Committee, the Advisory Board of Leadership Delaware, the Consumer Banker Association’s CRA Committee and volunteers with Housing Alliance Delaware for the annual Point in Time homeless count.

Amy with her mother.

Favorite superhero: Dr. Who is not exactly a super hero but he has super-powers and is my favorite pop-culture character.

Growing up, I wanted to be:  A teacher. My first job was as an education director at a museum associated with Salisbury University and I learned quickly that working with children was much harder than I anticipated and was also not for me.

What I’m reading: I just finished “Dad is Fat” by Jim Gaffigan, which is a hilarious account of fatherhood. I am just kicking off Malcolm Gladwell’s “Talking to Strangers.” I really enjoy his podcast “Revisionist History.” I drive a lot and podcasts keep me entertained in the car and provide learning opportunities. I like Ear Hustle, Science VS, and Planet Money, to name a few.

Family and education: My husband is E. Scott Bradley and we’ve been married for 11 years. I am a graduate of Salisbury University in Maryland with a bachelor’s degree.

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