For the past 38 years, Susan Lapierre has combined her banking career with community activism in her native Cambridge.
As senior vice president of community relations and Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) officer for Cambridge Savings Bank – a job she has held for the past four years – Lapierre oversees community outreach and CRA activities, and is the bank’s liaison with community groups and nonprofits. She also serves as senior vice president of the Cambridge Savings Charitable Foundation and directs the Bank’s CSBsmart financial education program.
“What separates Susan from other community bank executives is her nearly 40 years of involvement and activism in Cambridge and surrounding communities,” said Michael J. Delia, president and CEO of East End House, an after-school program for low-income families in Cambridge.
A graduate of Cambridge public schools, Lapierre has “tirelessly volunteered to serve local organizations that are dedicated to helping those most in need,” Delia said.
Lapierre chairs the board at East End House, serves on the board of the Cambridge Housing Assistance Fund and is president of the Cambridge Rotary Club.
She is an advisory board member of the Somerville Homeless Coalition, Cambridge Community Television (CCTV) and the Community Design Resource Center of Boston.
“I am constantly changing my hat, whether it’s trying to coordinate something on the Bank’s behalf or fundraising for a local nonprofit,” Lapierre said. “It takes a lot of my personal time, sometimes two to four nights a week and sometimes on the weekend. And that’s in addition to a normal office job.”
But the long hours are rewarding – both for herself and the bank, she said.
“It’s really the fact that we care about the community and we are involved,” she explained. “My role is to go out and be the face of the bank to the community and find out how we can help.”
Lapierre joined Cambridge Savings four years ago, after a 34-year stint at East Cambridge Savings Bank. One of her first efforts was to roll out CSBsmart, the bank’s financial education outreach program.
The program has reached more than 5,000 individuals – from kindergarteners to senior citizens. Lapierre spearheaded the recent creation and production of “Money Matters,” an innovative Youth Underground Theater production which uses drama to create a dialogue about money and financial education.
“I pitched the idea to [the theater group] of doing a performance about money, knowing that teens need to understand these critical issues about managing money before they come into their credit-worthy years,” she explained.
The young playwrights – inner-city youths aged 13 to 18 – interviewed friends, families and neighbors about personal financial decisions, with questions including: “What has been your best purchase? Do you consider yourself a saver or a spender?”
“Money Matters” debuted in January at Central Square Theater in Cambridge for inter-generational audiences, and is now being performed in city schools for students.
The production is unique in financial education, Lapierre noted, because it’s “teenagers teaching their peers about these important skills,” rather than adults lecturing about the importance of saving money and having good credit scores.
Lapierre is a graduate of the Massachusetts School of Financial Studies and the American Institute of Banking. She majored in marketing communications at Emerson College.