For Lisa Lee, everything starts at home. Growing up, the New Orleans native was surrounded by a warm, supportive network of family who nurtured her passion for volunteerism, and the desire to aid community health and development by leading through example.
Her late father, the Rev. Vernon S. Joshua, led the 1,000-member congregations of New St. Mark Baptist Church, located at 1630 Simon Bolivar Avenue in New Orleans, and Second St. John Baptist Church, located at 242 Avondale Garden Road in Avondale. Her mother, Helen S. Joshua, a New Orleans school teacher, actively supported her father’s ministry work. Today, the pair’s historic enthusiasm for community outreach continues to motivate and guide her actions.
“They gave above and beyond. Instances and examples like these make you ask yourself, ‘What is my reason for being here? How can I be a resource to others?’” said Lee.
It is a question she continues to answer in her roles as a financial center leader for Hancock Whitney and as a Community Connection participant, where she greets Baton Rouge-based residents and small business owners with the same support and resources she herself experienced.
The LSU alumna works closely with the Louisiana Small Business Development Center (LSBDC) and Southern University, where the LSBDC is housed, to provide financial literacy classes and special workshops to small business owners. LSBDC offers small business owners confidential counseling, group training, and business information to aid Louisiana residents with the tools they need to expand and diversity in their local economies. The organization has various centers located throughout the state.
Lisa Lee leads a financial education class on savings and credit.
“The LSBDC’s work is critical because they help clients with their business plans, to provide direction, guidance, and access to outside resources, such as financial leaders like myself. Their programming gives business owners a basis to get started on the right foot,” said Lee.
Her current LSBDC offerings bubble over with practical planning options on topics such as savings, credit, underwriting, and more. The hours of class offerings and tools she’s offered to the resource center and their clients are countless, as her volunteer work with LSBDC started a decade ago, before joining the Hancock Whitney team in 2018. The most rewarding moments are the small, unexpected interactions with her community members, said Lee.
“Someone reached out to me the other day and said, ‘Hey, I was on the LSBDC Zoom call the other day and overheard your presentation. I’d like to get some direction and information,” said Lee, beaming at the thought. “And it was gratifying to be able to assist him with getting the financing he was seeking.”
Lisa Lee's partnership with the LSBDC has helped numerous small business owners on their path to success.
While business owners and the LSBDC gain from Lee’s 31 years of financial expertise, she notes that the partnership is symbiotic. “We are able to gain new clients, provide resources about our services and products, and develop new connections. It’s an incredible way to connect with our neighbors,” said Lee.
Whenever she’s onsite at her financial center locations, whether at the Harding Blvd Financial Center or the Plank Road Financial Center, she approaches her clients with the same warmth. This one-on-one approach won over the trust of a local baker who wanted to expand their home-based business into a larger, more sustainable business model. The client went on to apply Lee’s plan and achieve positive steps toward future personal and financial success.
“I love helping people. I think there’s gratification in knowing that when you sit with someone, you’re being truthful, you’re being honest, and you’re providing them with direction. So when they leave the bank, you know, they feel like someone has truly helped them.”
She encourages her fellow Hancock Whitney associates to become familiar with their passions and ease into community involvement through their interests. “We’re all working here for a reason. What is your reason for being here? How can you see yourself become a financial resource for your clients?” said Lee.