Dr. Karama Neal has been named president of Southern Bancorp Community Partners (SBCP), a nonprofit development finance organization and loan fund. SBCP works with Southern Bancorp Inc. and Southern Bancorp Bank to increase access to capital in underserved markets through financial education support, public policy advocacy, and flexible lending.
“After a national search, I’m proud to announce that the SBCP Board of Directors has selected as the organization’s next president, Dr. Karama Neal, SBCP’s current chief operating officer and an industry leader in the area of financial inclusion and economic mobility,” said Southern Bancorp, Inc. CEO Darrin Williams
Neal joined SBCP in 2009 as a senior grant writer, and rose through the ranks to COO in which she manages family economic security and public policy programs and personnel.
“My personal mission centers on promoting equity in opportunity, and given SBCP’s focus on economic opportunity in disinvested areas, I am honored to be selected its next leader,” said Neal. “Our strong, committed team helps so many people reach their goals, and I am excited and humbled to be able to continue and expand this important work of helping our clients and customers build lasting wealth.”
Her most recent work has included leading efforts to create a Bank On Arkansas coalition that will encourage banks and financial institutions to offer products and services to Arkansans who are underbanked and unbanked. She also worked on the development of Southern Bancorp’s new Opportunity Center initiative, which is aimed at connecting community members with Southern’s financial development and lending services.
A Little Rock native and Central High School graduate, Neal received her bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, her master’s degree in bioethics and health policy from Loyola University in Chicago, and her doctorate in genetics and molecular biology from Emory University in Atlanta. She is also a graduate of the Impact Investing Programme at the Said business School at the University of Oxford.
Her outside involvement includes serving as a trustee of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, a steering committee member of the Arkansas Asset Funders Network, a commissioner for the Arkansas Access to Justice Commission, and member of the board of directors for the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis’ Little Rock Branch.
She is the author of several articles and publications ranging in topic from genetics and bioethics to heir property and rural economic mobility, and is a frequent guest speaker and panelist on asset building, economic inclusion and other subjects. Neal lives in Little Rock with her husband, Kwadjo Boaitey and their daughter Ayoka.