Patti Griswold: Inforum Board Chair

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Patti Griswold, senior vice president, retail banking, Comerica, was recently elected Inforum board chair and is the first person from West Michigan to serve in this capacity. West Michigan Woman chatted with Patti about her background, her successes, and her new role with Inforum.

Patti Griswold moved to Grand Rapids from Fort Wayne, Indiana, her hometown, in 1989. A manager with Hudson's (department store) who'd been promoted to the Grand Rapids store, she thought she'd be here a short time before moving on to Minneapolis, where Hudson's was headquartered. But she fell in love with West Michigan, changed to a banking career, and has called Grand Rapids "home" ever since.

Patti, who's been in banking for twenty-one years, joined the Comerica team in 2003 as senior vice president, retail banking. She's the regional manager for Comerica Bank's West/Southwest region of banking centers and leads thirty-four banking centers in Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, and Midland. She's responsible for new customer acquisition, client retention and expansion, talent development, and market growth. Patti also serves on Comerica's national Retail Bank Strategy Team and on Comerica's Women's Initiative, which strives to make Comerica the "bank of choice" among women business owners, professionals, and community influencers.

Supporting women is important, and Patti's Inforum involvement has been exciting and tremendously fulfilling. Inforum, which began fifty-two years ago in Southeast Michigan, offers ongoing programming in the West Michigan, Southwest Michigan, Capital Region, Great Lakes Bay, and Southeast Michigan regions of Lower Michigan. Patti was part of the original group of nineteen women who worked to bring the organization to West Michigan in 2005.

"We worked hard over that summer to bring our respective networks of business associates and friends together, secure local corporate investors, and garner overall community support," Patti said. "Our inaugural event that year was a capacity-crowd of nearly eight hundred. That was affirmation that we were fulfilling a real need for professional women in Grand Rapids."

Membership grew quickly, more corporate investors came on board, and Inforum was solidified as the destination organization for female professionals in West Michigan. Patti served on the West Michigan Regional Council, which she chaired from 2007–2009. She joined the board of directors in 2007, first as an ex officio member as the West Michigan Council Chair. She next became an elected member and served on the executive committee. In June, she became the first board chair from West Michigan. "I believe that really underscores Inforum's growth and commitment as a statewide organization." Patti also believes Inforum is the best choice for connecting strategically and personally with other accomplished women.

"Whether you are an established professional, a senior executive, or just starting your career, Inforum has much to offer. We bring people and ideas together through major speaker events, skill-based workshops, executive receptions, industry groups, and affinity groups that are led by members for members around common interests." Inforum Center for Leadership, the Inforum research and education arm, is a trusted ally and organizational resource for companies looking to elevate their talent base. ICL's proven leadership development programs serve a broad range of professional women at different stages and types of careers, from emerging leaders, to high-potential executives, entrepreneurs, veterans, and corporate board leaders. Inforum West Michigan marks its ten-year anniversary in 2015, and is planning a yearlong celebration. "Watch for exciting things to come!"

Many roads have led to Patti's successes. "I am thankful for the experiences I had as a young adult. I spent the first five years of my career in direct sales. That experience shaped and forever changed my mindset. I learned to maximize my time, think on my feet, and create my own success. I also developed the mindset of looking for the possibilities and not allowing myself to become mired in the obstacles. I have been able to apply that thought process to every position that has followed. It sounds simple, but the implications are broad. It has helped me to solve complex problems, navigate effectively through change, and lead my team to achieve consistently high levels of performance."

Patti's successes have helped her have an effect on her community. She considers herself fortunate to work for a company whose commitment to diversity and community impact mirrors hers. Comerica encourages volunteerism: In the past year, colleagues volunteered almost 44,000 hours at 460 Michigan nonprofit organizations and served on the boards for close to two hundred of them.

For others seeking to make a difference, Patti advises, "Follow your passion and invest your time and resources in organizations that are meaningful to you. I've found that taking on a committee or other leadership role is an excellent way to lend your talent, expand your network, and positively impact the community."

Written by Amy L Charles, the editorial director for West Michigan Woman.


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