Micah Grant
SAFE Credit Union Assistant Vice President of Communications Micah Grant

Telling your story during Black History Month

Micah Grant believes in the power of altruism and collaboration.

February 1, 2022

Micah Grant says his main role at $4.1 billion asset SAFE Credit Union in Folsom, Calif., is “collaborator.”

While serving as SAFE’s assistant vice president of communications, he’s also vice chair for California Black Media and board president of Natomas Unified School District.

Credit Union Magazine recently caught up with Grant to discuss his career path, Black History Month, professional diversity, and his personal interests.

Credit Union Magazine: What led you to credit unions, and to SAFE Credit Union specifically?

Micah Grant: Opportunity. I've always been interested in advancement and career growth, and when you look at the credit union movement it's about people helping people.

That's very attractive to me. If there's an opportunity to grow and help people at the same time, even better.

Q: How do you describe your current role?

A: I’m a collaborator. A lot of managers and leaders unfortunately think that because they're the manager or leader, that means they're the smartest person in the room. As you grow older, you find that leadership is about connecting people and being a servant leader.

I try to be a servant leader and make sure the people around me are successful.

Q: What’s the best way to create a collaborative culture?

A: Authenticity and spending time with the people you're working with. Authenticity can't be faked. And the more you gear yourself toward altruism, the better you'll find your relationships and your work-life balance.

Q: Have credit unions and financial services always been your interest?

A: No, I come from the political arena. In the evenings, I'm an elected trustee on a school board in Sacramento for Natomas Unified School District.

So this was a career shift for me, but at the base of it these things are the same. If you're a public servant, you're a servant.

If you are in the financial services industry, it's your job to help people and connect them to things that will help them enjoy life and set them up generationally. There's a lot of overlap between those two professions, and it's a real sweet spot for me.

Q: What message do you want to get across about credit unions and how they help people?

A: The focus on people and being service-oriented. SAFE does a lot in the philanthropic area and promotes volunteerism.

Those are core values everyone embraces.

Q: What does Black History Month mean to you?

A: Black History Month is a time where Black people can share their culture and their history in a way that resonates with them. It's about taking control of that history and telling a different tale.

A lot of Black Americans in this country have had that story told for them. Ideally, we wouldn't need Black History Month. I certainly support the mission and the efforts behind it.

Earlier in my career, diversity was not something that was necessarily at the forefront. As a Black American, you had to navigate corporate structure or political structure very delicately.

And you'd have to find a way to be an advocate for diversity and expanded outreach into certain communities. But you'd have to do so effectively and living with what W.E.B. Du Bois would describe as “double consciousness,” or the sense of looking at one’s self through the eyes of others.

Double consciousness is a gift that has made me more valuable and more effective. Now that diversity is at the forefront, it’s a tremendous opportunity for anyone who is looking to better themselves.

Q: How will SAFE recognize Black History Month?

A: We have internal employee resource groups (ERGs). We let the ERGs dictate the pace of celebration and how it should be celebrated.

Our executive team fully supports these ERGs. It's a mutual learning opportunity for folks who want to get some insight to certain communities and be able to share the message of what's being promoted.

Q: Why is it important to recognize this month and other days like it throughout the year?

A: Diversity is a strength. There's certainly a compelling business reason why diversity makes sense.

But just from an altruistic standpoint, if people go to work and feel that they're represented and that there's an attempt to understand them, they’ll give freely, work harder, and be happier.

That's ultimately what SAFE Credit Union wants and what our executive team hopes for.

Q: Was there a time when you started to feel the focus on diversity was more at the forefront?

A: Barack Obama’s election. Even though we share a different political persuasion, there was a definite magnitude and sea change for a lot of Black Americans to see what is possible in this country.

Growing up, I would hear how we would never see a Black president. I heard that for 20-plus years. And when it happened, it showed there's no cap to our achievement. It was groundbreaking.

Q: What do you do with California Black Media?

A: California Black Media is a nonprofit network. We're like The Associated Press for Black newspapers.

We connect all the Black outlets throughout the state. We provide content and do news reporting in the way that's connected to the Capitol in terms of what’s legislatively important.

We want to share with Black Americans in California what's happening at the local, state, and federal levels. That news reporting hasn't always been strong, and that's the gap that we've filled.

Q: What do you enjoy outside of work?

A: My wife and I are avid gamers. We are hardcore on the Xbox Series X. We have a little daughter, who plays with us now.

I'm into competitive shooting and exercising. I like to run and play basketball.

Q: What’s the best vacation you’ve been on?

A: This may sound trivial but, I love going to Six Flags in Valencia with my wife and daughter. It’s so much fun. You can't have a bad day at Magic Mountain. That is impossible.