As a lifelong resident of Newton and volunteer in the community, Susan Paley was a natural choice for the position of vice president of community relations at The Village Bank. Her work in that position over the last decade also made her a natural selection as one of this year’s Community Bank Heroes.
Born and raised in Newton, Paley graduated from Simmons College in Boston, and began her banking career in 1980, first in commercial and later in residential lending. Over the years, she complimented her day job with a busy commitment to her community. She is a past board president of the Newton-Needham Chamber of Commerce, vice chair of the city’s Planning and Development Board, and a founding member of the Newton Senior Center.
“I was raised to believe that giving back to the community is very important,” Paley said.
So when the position of community relations manager opened up in 2007 at The Village Bank, a community bank with six offices in Newton and one in Wayland, Paley was a natural fit.
“My values match up with the values of the bank,” she said. “We’re a mutual bank. Our depositors are our owners and our neighbors. We’re very much a hometown bank. Our roots are in the community, in strengthening and building our community.”
In her position, Paley is the public face of the bank. She oversees the bank’s charitable giving program, which last year donated nearly $600,000 to local nonprofits and charities. She also directs the bank’s employee volunteer efforts, leading by example. Paley and more than 90 percent of the bank’s employees volunteer their time and talents at dozens of local nonprofits and charities.
“We are present at more than 400 events a year,” Paley said.
And like Paley, many Village Bank employees serve on local nonprofit boards and committees. Paley is currently a member of Newton’s Fair Housing Committee, Council on Aging and Rotary Club. She is also on the board of Historic Newton and treasurer of Newton Cultural Alliance.
Paley is particularly proud of the bank’s holiday community gift drive. The Village Bank partners with Newton’s Department of Health and Human Services to collect and distribute children’s toys to more than 200 local families. Also during the holidays, the bank’s Wayland branch helps collect hats, scarves and mittens for homeless families in metro west Massachusetts.
“Those two drives during Christmas time are very important to me,” Paley said.
In addition to her other work, Paley has organized financial literacy courses at Newton’s two high schools taught by Village Bank employees, and directed the bank’s purchase of an online financial literacy program that is available to the high schools free of charge.
“We want to be part of the fabric of our community,” Paley said. “This is where the bank was born and where we intend to remain. All our loans are made in our market area. All our donations are made in our market area. Our role is to build and strengthen our community.”