Meet the New Community Affairs Officer

August 25, 2014
By Erika Ramirez, Community Affairs Officer


New Community Affairs Officer brings passion for issues affecting LMI populations and workplace diversity.

Throughout my career, I have had a passion for issues affecting low- and moderate-income populations and diversity in the workplace. By working in community and economic development, asset building, financial education, workplace diversity and inclusion, equal employment opportunity and human resources I have developed strategies that promote advancement and opportunity. My passion for these issues stems from my childhood and personal experiences.

Growing up on a migrant workers’ farm in rural northeastern Colorado, I experienced firsthand the challenges faced by low-income and underserved families and communities. Among these challenges were limited affordable housing, employment options, access to medical services without insurance coverage, banking and financial services and a basic lack of understanding about resources and the way businesses and the corporate world work. Add to these challenges those that come from not speaking English and the stereotypes that people may associate with immigrants.

As I began to understand more about these challenges, particularly the struggles of my mom, family, friends and others, I decided that whatever I did when I “grew up” I was going to work hard and dedicate myself to helping others. While I did not know then what community and economic development were, I soon started to realize the important role that assets, financial security and education play in improving the lives of people and communities.

I watched my mom work long hours in the hot sun and harsh weather as a farm laborer, first in the fields on a crop farm and then on a turkey farm for more than 22 years, and wished she did not have to work so hard. She had limited employment opportunities and we lived in company housing that often was subpar. Despite her working and living conditions, she was happy to have a job and was always committed to working hard and creating opportunities for her daughter (me). She instilled in me the importance of education in helping move people out of poverty and encouraged me to aspire and dream of things beyond my immediate world. She also taught me about giving back to your community and helping others.

I worked hard, excelled academically and pursued a higher education while my mom kept working on the turkey farm. After graduating college, I moved to the “big city” of Kansas City and immediately fell in love with it. I was a farm girl living in the city; however, as I explored my new city and certain urban neighborhoods, I was saddened to see many of the same challenges I experienced growing up in rural America. In some instances, these challenges were even more striking. A renewed sense of wanting to help and giving back was ignited.

Stepping into the professional world, I went to work for a financial services company and quickly discovered that I was not fulfilled in my job because I was not helping the community or giving back. I decided to change careers and entered the nonprofit sector where I was first exposed to the world of community and economic development and a new passion was created. I received great satisfaction from helping aspiring and existing small-business owners learn about financial education, entrepreneurship and build assets that could improve employment, housing and other opportunities.

After four years of direct delivery of nonprofit programs, I was drawn to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, largely because of the Bank’s public service focus, mission and organizational values. I joined the Bank in 2007 as a senior analyst in Facilities Management and soon transferred to Community Development, where I led several initiatives, including nonprofit sustainability and consumer financial stability. I have spent the last three years in human resources as manager and diversity and inclusion coordinator with responsibility for the Bank's diversity and inclusion workforce strategy and talent management support.

I am excited to enter my new role and return to my roots in community and economic development and reunite with a top performing team and community partners. I know there is much work to be done in building strong, sustainable communities and leveraging resources to help low- and moderate-income families and communities. I look forward to working and partnering on innovative community and economic development programs that improve our communities.

Please contact me at erika.ramirez@kc.frb.org with your com­ments or suggestions or if the Community Development team and I can assist you with anything.