Lenny McNeill recognized as 'One of the Most Influential Black Executives'

August 04, 2022

McNeill leads the team that developed U.S. Bank Access Home initiative. 

"The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you figure out why.” – Mark Twain

When Lenny McNeill reflects on the 30+ year journey that led him to his role as executive vice president, strategic markets and affordable lending for U.S. Bank, it all goes back to that powerful quote.

McNeill was recently named one of the Most Influential Black Executives in Corporate America by Savoy Magazine, a third-time honor for the Los Angeles-based executive. This list showcases an elite representation of African-American men and women who have been recognized for their executive and business leadership in national- and global-leading corporations.

Since joining U.S. Bank in 2013 to lead the mortgage sales team in greater Los Angeles, McNeill’s passion for and focus on equity and helping the underserved and overlooked allowed him to carve out a new position at the company. It is one that oversees a growing team that applies advanced market analytics to enhance affordable homeownership programs throughout the country. This creates long-term growth to benefit U.S. Bank business lines and all of the communities it serves. Now, six years later, McNeill has developed a team of seven to support this important work.

“When you have been in the industry as along long as I have, you see a lot of things. And one of those things is disparity,” shared McNeill. “From homeownership to jobs to access to credit, you see it. It’s real.”

Most recently, the strategic markets and affordable lending team under his direction launched U.S. Bank Access Home, which is a part of U.S. Bank Access Commitment™, the company’s long-term approach to building wealth and redefining how it serves diverse customers and create more opportunities for diverse employees. The initiative includes a $3 million investment over the course of the next three years, focused first on the Black community where the disparities are the largest.

“I applaud Lenny's leadership and commitment not only to U.S. Bank, but to larger societal causes such as working to close the homeownership gap,” said Tim Welsh, vice chair of consumer and business banking for U.S. Bank. “Lenny’s spirit is infectious and inspires all of us and can't help to rub off on those who cross paths with him. On behalf of all of us at the bank, we congratulate Lenny on being named one of the most influential Black executives in the country.”

In addition to expanded access to financial information across all markets, U.S. Bank is providing a nearly $1.6 million investment from the mortgage business to support a wide range of outreach, engagement, and educational efforts across five initial markets: Milwaukee, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Las Vegas, Little Rock, and nationally with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

McNeill says Access Home is the pinnacle of his team’s work and recalls how a really bad day at work sprouted the idea for how to roll-out a program like Access Home, before it even existed.

“It was the day Black homeownership rates had gone down,” he shared. “I just thought, how is this possible?”

Data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in the second quarter of 2022 showed Black homeownership at 45.3% and Hispanic homeownership at 48.3%, compared to 75.3% for non-Hispanic white Americans.

McNeill channeled his frustration and the disheartening data to concept programs that could be piloted in markets with the lowest African-American homeownership rates. Today, that work is coming to life in cities like Milwaukee where, through the U.S. Bank Access Home initiative, U.S. Bank has partnered with Acts Housing to provide financial education programs to help hopeful homebuyers move closer to their goal of moving into their first home.

Through the Acts Housing Homebuyer Power Pack, a cohort of nearly 140 potential homebuyers will learn about what credit is, why it’s important, how to establish and maintain good credit, and the ins and outs of credit scoring. They’ll also have access to experts on goal setting and managing their money, among other topics over the course of 12 months.

To help increase representation of Black individuals in the mortgage industry, the strategic markets and affordable lending team is also creating a mortgage loan officer development program that includes a full year of technical and community outreach training for new-to-industry loan officers in partnership with housing agencies, community leaders and minority realtor trade organizations.

The program is targeted to the significant talent pool within the Black community that has shown strong leadership skills and sales acumen but have not considered mortgage as a viable career opportunity due to limited outreach from the industry.

U.S. Bank hopes to grow the program to include more diverse candidates and ensure its sales team and leadership pipeline reflect all of the communities it serves. A recently launched trainee program for residential appraisers is also underway to increase Black representation in appraiser roles; additional programs are in the works to address needs in other diverse segments.

“I want people to see our commitment. We aren’t perfect, but we have a strategy and are doing what needs to be done,” McNeill shared. “In time, if we stay the course, we will see the results.”

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