Women's Journal

Gortria Banks: “A Mind for Service, A Heart for the People”

Gortria Banks
Photo Credit To: Gortria Banks

In the world of business and leadership, success stories are often told with an air of glamor and prestige. Tales of individuals who have climbed the corporate ladder to reach the coveted C-suite positions can seem like fairy tales, shrouded in mystery and privilege. But sometimes, the most inspiring stories come from those who started from humble beginnings, who faced adversity and discrimination, and who, through sheer determination and a heart for people, rose to the top. Gortria C. Banks, a native Memphian, is one such individual whose journey from entry-level to the C-suite is not just inspiring but a testament to the power of hard work and unwavering commitment.

As a University of Memphis alum and a retiree of Shelby County Government (SCG) with 31 years of dedicated service, Gortria Banks has a rich background in both finance and human resources. Her journey is a shining example of how one can become an accomplished leader, all while maintaining a deep sense of humility and a passion for serving others.

When asked what makes her the best in her niche, Gortria’s response is profound: “Having the mind of a servant and a heart for people.” In a world where leadership is often associated with authority and indifference, Gortria’s perspective stands out. Her journey began at SCG as a young teen, fresh out of high school and taking an entry-level position. Over the years, she diligently worked her way up to the C-level, a journey that has shaped her into the leader she is today.

Gortria’s rise through the ranks at SCG is a testament to her character and resilience. She reflects on the challenges she faced, from disparities in promotions to a lack of engagement from management and even the hostility she witnessed within the organization. Rather than succumbing to these challenges, Gortria made a conscious decision to be the change that was needed. She says, “My purpose in my heart is to be the change that we wanted and needed to see. It may sound cliché, but I was.” Her determination to create a better work environment for herself and her colleagues was the driving force behind her ascent.

Gortria’s journey underscores the importance of determination and hard work. She emphasizes the significance of setting goals and celebrating small victories, even in the face of adversity. It’s a reminder that success isn’t always a smooth path; there are bumps along the way. Yet, each obstacle has a purpose, and it’s our commitment and resilience that ultimately lead to success.

Gortria’s story is a compelling narrative of someone who remained steadfast and focused on her goals, even when the path was far from a bed of roses. Her experiences demonstrate that sometimes our expectations may not align with reality, but that doesn’t mean we should give up. Instead, it’s an opportunity to learn, adapt, and continue moving forward.

Gortria’s career at SCG was marked by numerous accomplishments that highlight her expertise in finance and her dedication to making a positive impact. As the Finance Administrator for General Sessions Civil and Criminal Court, she, along with the help of her amazing team, identified $1 million in costs that had not been disbursed to stakeholders. This discovery not only highlighted her commitment to transparency and accountability but also led to a significant improvement in internal controls to prevent such oversights in the future. Banks credits the help of a friend for giving her an understanding of internal controls. 

In addition to her roles in finance, Gortria has been actively involved in the Shelby County Government, serving on the retirement board and the budget committee. Her certifications as a Certified Public Administrator and a Certified Nonprofit Accounting Professional reflect her commitment to continuous professional development.

Currently, Gortria holds the position of Assistant Executive Director for the Community Legal Center, a role synonymous with that of a Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer. Her leadership continues to make a significant impact in her community and the organizations she serves.

Beyond her professional accomplishments, Gortria Banks is a true leader both in her career and in her community. She served as Treasurer for the DWSC and is now taking on the role of Vice-President for 2023, as well as Treasurer for the Shelby County Democratic Party. Her dedication to these roles exemplifies her commitment to community involvement and activism.

Furthermore, Gortria’s volunteer work underscores her passion for helping others and supporting causes that promote diversity and women’s empowerment. Her community involvement is a testament to her belief that leadership is not confined to the workplace but extends to making a positive impact on society.

Gortria C. Banks’s journey from an entry-level position to the C-suite is a story of determination, hard work, and a heart for people. Her background in finance and human resources, coupled with her passion for serving the community, makes her a truly accomplished leader. Her story serves as a source of inspiration for anyone aspiring to achieve success, reminding us that even in the face of challenges and adversity, with the right mindset and unwavering commitment, we can reach the highest levels of leadership. Gortria is one perfect example that leadership is not about privilege but about service, dedication, and a genuine concern for others.

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