Wednesday, May 12, 2021

African Americans in Banking: Craig Kirkland

African Americans in Banking: Craig Kirkland

A trailblazer in Nevada’s financial industry, Craig Kirkland holds a senior leadership position at Nevada State Bank as the Executive Vice President and Director of Retail Banking, overseeing its branch network throughout the state. This Vegas-born local grew up on the historic Westside of town in a predominantly Black neighborhood. Kirkland, who is of mixed heritage, was heavily motivated and influenced by his parents, who both worked in education. They instilled in him a deeper appreciation of Black culture, the value of getting an education, and the importance of taking pride in the community. After high school, he continued his education at Occidental College, pursuing a degree in Political Science with a focus in Economics. 

Craig Kirkland

Having grown up surrounded by educated and professional relatives, friends and family, Kirkland was inspired to find a career that would allow him to grow in a professional field. His first opportunity was in the management training program for a bank in downtown Los Angeles. He never looked back. While there, Kirkland noticed the lack of African Americans in the banking industry and even fewer at the executive level. He later used this as a driving motivator to dedicate his career to improving financial literacy, especially among the younger generation of minorities. 

“I wish I knew to ask for help when trying to break into the world of banking,” said Kirkland. “We continue to see a lack of financial education and not enough active recruiting at a young age. I now strive to be the mentor I never had when starting my journey, and I work to position banking as a noble profession.” 

As part of his dedication to promoting financial literacy, Kirkland recently started a blog series, Craig’s Common Cents, that can be found at www.nsbank.com/twocents. Kirkland is excited to share his personal experience and lessons learned on a wide range of topics relevant to personal and business finance, including demystifying the home mortgage process and why now might be a good time to start a business. 

As a strong, committed community leader, Kirkland is actively engaged as an executive mentor, and he participates in several charitable projects. Having volunteered with his family for the Las Vegas Rescue Mission at a young age, Kirkland’s path came full circle when he joined the nonprofit’s board in 2008. He is currently its secretary/treasurer and regularly volunteers his time while also organizing Nevada State Bank’s involvement through multiple donation drives and colleague volunteer opportunities each year. Kirkland is also the Chair-Elect for the Nevada Bankers Association executive board of directors and serves on the Henderson Chamber of Commerce board of directors and executive board. 

“At Nevada State Bank, I have led the Corporate Diversity & Inclusion Council for several years and many ongoing community outreach initiatives,” said Kirkland. “As Nevada State Bank rolls out a new minority lending program this year, I hope to help more Nevadans secure capital to build financial confidence and explore their possibilities.” 

Throughout his more than 30-year career, Kirkland has worked in several positions, including branch manager, regional manager and division manager. He looks forward to helping others break into the industry and to creating a stronger African American presence in banking. His commitment to community and to career development are core values he shares with Nevada State Bank. 

“For anyone looking to start a career in finance, begin to strengthen your written and verbal communication skills, as well as embrace life-long learning in this ever-changing industry,” said Kirkland.

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