After becoming CEO of North Brookfield Savings Bank in 2008, one of the first things Donna Boulanger changed was its approach to philanthropy.
“The bank was always very good with monetary gifts, but we didn’t always give of our time,” Boulanger said.
One of the charities that struck a chord with Boulanger was Camp Putnam in New Braintree, which serves at-risk children from central Massachusetts. Boulanger and other North Brookfield Savings Bank employees helped build a new arts and crafts building that opened this year, after the bank donated $10,000. Employees also raised $5,000 selling cookbooks with recipes submitted by customers and staff, with the proceeds going to rebuild cabins.
“Just seeing the impact that camp was having, we felt this was something the bank should be involved with,” Boulanger said.
Boulanger also revamped the bank’s connection with five local high schools, replacing the basic student banking program taught by employees with a more sophisticated financial literacy course.
Standing Behind Her Employees
As the bank’s first female CEO, Boulanger has recruited a diverse management team, with a majority of senior management positions now occupied by women. Boulanger said she simply set out to find the most qualified candidates for the jobs.
“We very much have a culture of inclusion,” she said. “Someone mentioned to me that when you come into North Brookfield Savings Bank, the staff is very happy to see you. As a community bank, I want to people to have a good working environment because that translates into our community relations.”
Boulanger fosters a positive workplace by being quick to acknowledge extra effort, said Patricia Ostrout, the bank’s vice president of retail banking and Boulanger’s nominator for a Women of FIRE Award.
“She just doesn’t point out things that could use some additional improvement; she’s very quick to comment on peoples’ skills and what they do out of the ordinary,” Ostrout said. “My first impression of her was that she is a president who stands behind her employees.”
Boulanger’s leadership has resulted in significant growth for the bank, with assets rising from $167 million to $216 million. She oversaw the acquisition of Ware-based Family First Bank that was completed in June.
Boulanger’s profile within the industry has risen with her appointment last year to the First District Community Depository Institutions Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, which advises the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston on issues facing New England communities. In January, she was elected to the board of directors of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston. She also was the first woman elected to serve on the board of the Depositors Insurance Fund, where she chairs its audit committee.
On the community level, Boulanger serves on the board of the North Brookfield Youth Center and the audit committee for the Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts.