Wells Fargo has a new region leader

Wells Fargo has a new area leader for the Maryland and D.C. area who has vowed to make building a team in the Greater Baltimore area a top priority.

Darrel German has been tasked with helping to maintain the banks’ reported $31.9 billion in metro-area deposits, which puts Wells Fargo well ahead of the competition in the region.

“Philadelphia and Baltimore are sister cities, there’s a lot of parity between them,” said German, whose official title is senior vice president, Business Banking Area Manager.

“I’m excited … when I look at where we are going, having a military background has allowed me to plan forward and to be strategic and to really look at where we have success and where we can shape the geography.”

Although German has more than 25 years of banking experience, he also served 32 years in the U.S. Army.

Before his stint at Wells Fargo, German served as senior vice president at TD Bank in Philadelphia where he joined the company as a commercial lender through the Commerce Bank acquisition in 2007. That year, German was awarded Commercial Lender of the Year. Before that tenure, he served as executive vice president and chief financial officer at Mikissack & Mikissack LLC, the oldest African-American owned architectural firm in the country.

German, who holds the rank of Colonel in the U.S. Army, served a tour in Iraq in 2002 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He returned overseas again in 2003 to begin a mission in civil military operations.

“My military background helps in a lot of things I do,” he said.

In his most recent assignment at Wells Fargo, German wants to grow the company’s brand awareness in the Greater Baltimore area.

“I want my bankers to be known as the go-to bankers and to help everyone realize their financial needs,” he said.

While the change of scenery and hiring an all-new team might present challenges to some, German brushes it off as a small task that will lead to big gains for Wells Fargo.

“I don’t see challenges,” he said. “I see opportunity. When you frame things as challenges, you automatically are

impeding progress. If you look at the opportunity to excel and navigate around speed bumps, you’re continually making [progress]. When I talk to my team, the glass is always half-full, never is it half-empty.”

While in Philadelphia, German sat on various boards throughout the community and remains active in his military service.

“My first priority is to build a team that will be aggressive, and I’m just really starting the process where I want to lend my skills in this area,” he said.

A graduate of Historically Black Cheyney University in Philadelphia, German also matriculated from the Combined Arms Staff Service and the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.

He serves as a board member for the Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA; the Southeastern Red Cross; the Arden Theater; and the Philadelphia Police Foundation.

All his work has served as motivation to remain positive about helping others and in team building, German said.

“During my days in Philadelphia, when I walked down the street, people knew me as the Wells Fargo guy,” he said. “They knew me as Darrell but they also knew my brand because we were able to get things done.”

When you educate a girl, you educate a nation

As I write this, I am preparing to travel with my colleagues to Nigeria, where I will have the honor of meeting some of the Chibok girls who were released after two waves of negotiations between Boko Haram and Nigerian government officials. It is my fourth trip to Nigeria since April 14, 2014, when the terrorist group shocked the world by abducting nearly 300 schoolgirls from their dormitory rooms. More than three years later, 113 of the original 276 Chibok girls are still being held captive.

Many of the girls who escaped their kidnappers on that fateful night or have since been released have remarkably not allowed this hugely traumatic ordeal to diminish their determination to pursue an education. It is my mission to help ensure that they, and indeed every girl in Nigeria, have the opportunity to go as far as their desire to learn will take them.

Before Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn into office, the president-elect wrote in a New York Times op-ed about the urgent necessity to educate girls so that “they will grow up to be empowered through learning to play their full part as citizens of Nigeria and pull themselves up and out of poverty.” He rightly surmised that the country owed at least that much to the Chibok schoolgirls, whose fate at that time was gravely uncertain. I look forward to working with the nation’s activists and government leaders to examine ways to help Buhari keep that pledge.

There is an African proverb that says, “If we educate a boy, we educate one person. If we educate a girl, we educate a family— and a whole nation.” Fifty percent of Nigeria’s population is female, so it borders on the absurd to not push for them to receive the “best possible education” that Buhari promised in his opinion piece. They will in turn ensure that their children— boys and girls— are educated, which as the proverb suggests will greatly benefit both their families and ultimately the nation by equipping it with a workforce that is prepared to help undo the extensive damage that has occurred during Boko Haram’s reign of terror.

A lack of education has been a key factor in Boko Haram’s ongoing ability to successfully recruit young men and boys and continue to replenish losses incurred in battle with the Multinational Joint Task Force. While the insurgents teach boys, that “Western education is sinful,” educated mothers are living examples of the critical role education plays in determining one’s future success. Those boys grow up viewing a world full of possibility and opportunities and are therefore extremely unlikely to see the appeal of becoming a terrorist.

Girls can change the world and there is no better example of that than the young Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, who was famously shot in the head at age 16 for daring to question the Taliban’s efforts to deny her right to an education. In addition to becoming the first recipient of her country’s peace prize, being named one of Time magazine’s most influential people, and receiving the United Nations Human Rights Award, she is the world’s youngest Nobel laureate. Malala has earned global acclaim for championing education for girls around the world, including Nigeria, and after completing her studies at Oxford University will return to her native Pakistan to continue those efforts.

It is my hope that the Chibok girls, some of whom met with Malala this summer, will be inspired to follow her path, one on which tragedy is turned into triumph.

Frederica Wilson represents Florida’s 24th congressional district, including parts of Miami-Dade and Broward counties. You can follow Rep. Wilson on Twitter @RepWilson.