Alicia Wells-Smith

Senior Vice PResident
Bank of America

Award Profile

Courageous Thinking and Action
For most customers of global financial institutions, mergers and acquisitions are just name and logo changes with more benefits, services and locations. However, behind the scenes there are millions of little details carefully combed through to make sure there is a seamless transition.

In her role as Senior Vice President at Bank of America, Alicia works on a daily basis to define processes that solve complex issues for software systems challenges, regulatory issues, and client relations & security during mergers and acquisitions. During a recent, well known merger, between of Bank of America and U.S. Trust; Alicia and her team worked tirelessly to merge software, product, and data systems together for the two very different financial groups – retail banking and Wall Street. She spent every week in New York City throughout the merger and with her team of 26 tackled the tough issues one by one. They worked to redesign
systems for customer bank statements, to product offering and training systems for bank associates, to ensure a seamless transition for the customers and bank associates.

Vision and Innovation
Transition or change is never as easy as it sounds; in fact its human nature to resist change. However, for Alicia, she finds change exciting. As a seasoned bank executive, she is deployed all over the world with her team to perform gap assessments of the bank’s business application systems during mergers and acquisitions. With boots on the ground she and her team navigate through and assess the challenges and rethink procedures, business solution software and training. Her experience has led her to author a development plan to retrain business units at the bank and is used as a best practice for Bank of America. Her plan shares approaches to assist associate trainings, procedures to test and implement new systems, as well as, assessing client and associate readiness with support mechanisms – post merger.

Inspiring Leadership
We’ve all had someone who guided us in some point of our lives. They advised us and taught us what we need to know to be successful. For Alicia, being a mentor is a way for her to be a resource to the next generation of young people just starting out. She feels that often young people have great expectations, but are unclear of what actions are needed to achieve their success. She takes time every month to meet with younger associates, whether in a formal mentor program at the bank or informal, to ensure they have identified a future path for success. She believes that mentorship is an invaluable resource to any young associate, and a very satisfying way to give back to both young people and her industry. She is never too busy to assist colleagues and young associates that look to better their lives through hard work and determination.

Community Mindedness
Alicia has been an active volunteer in the Rhode Island community for decades. She believes that giving back helps a community be successful at all levels. Whether it’s picking up a paint brush to do a clean-up project for a community center or teaching a Junior Achievement high school program, to holiday presents drives for Children’s Family Services Rhode Island, she is right there to give a lending hand. She is dedicated to her community and works to help it thrive. She serves on the board of directors of the Boston Drum Corps, is a 23
year veteran volunteer for the JA programs and events, and works with Crossroads Rhode Island to help with their Annual Soap Drive.

JA Mission Moment
I was first introduced to Betty Capaldo, then president of JARI at a volunteer recruitment event at Brooks Drugs in 1991. I was impressed with the passion she demonstrated for the JA mission and her excitement regarding the introduction of the new K-6 elementary program. Her ability to translate the mission made it easy for me to see the real impacts that can be made in the community. My first experience in the classroom was delivering the inaugural class for the new K-6 pilot launching in Rhode Island. The love affair began when I stepped into the first grade class at Henry J. Winter School in Pawtucket and felt the energy of the students. The JA Our Families program introduces the concepts of needs and wants which wasn’t something they could differentiate when we began. As the program progresses you begin to see the students start to understand how difficult decisions regarding money can be, especially when funds are limited. These concepts carry through JA programs at all levels helping students build a strong foundation in financial literacy and work readiness. For more than 20 years, I have delivered most of the K-6 programs and numerous programs at the middle and high school level but none will ever be as special to me as that first class with my wonderful teacher Doris and the kids at Henry Winter School. I didn’t know what a life changing moment that would be for me and how impactful the programs JA delivers can be for the community at large.