Blake E. Wallace spent six years in the banking industry before coming to $139 million asset Staley Credit Union in Decatur, Ill.
“It was enjoyable in many ways,” Wallace says of his days in banking, “but after awhile everything seemed to be only about the numbers. Once I got here at Staley, I had some unlearning to do; the differences in philosophies were that great. But I soon learned that on the credit union side the focus was more on people—‘People Helping People’ is our motto here—which is my bread-and-butter outlook on life.”
Wallace says Staley is like a close-knit neighborhood. “People feel welcome and safe here, and both staff and members open up to each other pretty easily,” he says. “It’s great being a part of a company that shares those same values of community involvement.”
Inside of Staley and out, Wallace happily wears several hats. In addition to his branch manager/loan officer responsibilities, he spearheads Staley’s annual efforts in a local food drive and works with Big Brothers/Big Sisters. He also represents the Greater Decatur Black Chamber of Commerce at various civic and business events, and writes a monthly column on financial literacy for the chamber publication.
He used to fear public speaking, but now relishes making presentations and speeches. “I rarely turn down an opportunity to speak,” he says. “I’ve spoken at high schools and at Millikin University regarding how to become financially literate and build good credit. I can vouch from personal experience—as a teen I made some mistakes that taught me the importance of good credit.”
Wallace loves jazz and hip-hop, two genres he says are not as far apart as many might think. “Jazz is about a mood, and hip-hop took some elements directly from jazz, so it’s easy for me to like them both.” When his puppy was having a hard time sleeping, Wallace put on some tracks from jazz legend John Coltrane to soothe him. It worked. So it’s no surprise that he named the pooch Coltrane.