Personality: Darrell Tyler

Spotlight on Richmond Heritage Federal Credit Union board chairman

2/1/2024, 6 p.m.
Darrell Tyler firmly believes that material advancement in society is nearly impossible without a financial institution’s backing or involvement.

Darrell Tyler firmly believes that material advancement in society is nearly impossible without a financial institution’s backing or involvement.

That philosophy led Mr. Tyler, a senior research analyst at the University of Richmond, to become active in Richmond’s nonprofit financial community.

Several years ago, he joined the Richmond Urban Financial Services Coalition, the Virginia Credit Union League and the Richmond Heritage Federal Credit Union to provide his expertise and knowledge, and also to help the organizations increase their numbers.

The national Urban Financial Services Coalition (formerly the National Association of Urban Bankers), was founded in 1974 by Robert J. Samuels and Nathaniel Carroll Harris Jr. The coalition supports programs that offer practical benefits for minority financial services professionals, banks and financial institutions.

The Virginia Credit Union League, founded 90 years ago, supports credit unions through advocacy, professional development, and business solutions.

On Jan. 5, Mr. Tyler became board chairman of the Richmond Heritage Federal Credit Union, “a voluntary, nonprofit, cooperative association of individuals sharing a common employment bond,” according to its website.

Chartered in 1936, RHFCU was established to provide Richmond Virginia School Board and Virginia Union University employees and family members a means to save and borrow money. In later years, the charter was amended to include employees and families of Richmond Community Hospital and Virginia Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Co., reads its website.

As the only remaining financial institution led by and focused on African-Americans in the city, Mr. Tyler sees RHFCU as being critical for assistance and access to resources that historically are not always available for communities of color and lower-income residents.

RHFCU, as Mr. Tyler puts it, brings a unique view to the process for its more than 2,000 members.

“We take a more holistic look at the loan applicant, versus just a flat-out application and a credit score and their debt- to-income ratio and all those other things,” Mr. Tyler said. "We try to look at the person and what they’re trying to do and what they’re trying to succeed at. We take those things into account where other entities might not.”

Mr. Tyler says that his main objective as board chairman is to restore confidence in Richmond Heritage Federal Credit Union’s leadership, operations and reputation.

Some strategies for achieving those goals include:

• Growing an asset base of $30 million or more through fair and competitive financial products and services.

• Growing and nurturing productive partnerships that increase awareness of the credit union’s presence and ability to support the financial needs of those we serve.

• Providing revenue-generating opportunities to help us grow and better enhance the services we provide to our current and future members.

• Addressing staffing issues through continued education, training and professional development

• Positioning the credit union to provide for the financial needs of a new and different generation for the next 100 years.

“I think the credit union is moving in the right direction,” Mr. Tyler said. “The people that you come into the credit union to see, they know you, they’re there to help you. They’re there to do the member right.”

Meet someone who is dedicated to providing fair and equitable lending practices and this week’s Personality, Darrell Tyler:

Volunteer position: Chairman, board of directors, Richmond Heritage Federal Credit Union.

Occupation: Senior research analyst, University of Richmond; retired Army Reserve sergeant major.

Birthplace: Richmond.

Where I live now: Henrico County.

Education: Master’s degree in science and bachelor’s degree, Virginia Commonwealth University. Also a certified board member.

Family: Wife and two adult children.

Richmond Heritage Federal Credit Union is: Minority-founded and operates a federally insured credit union and is designated as a Minority Depository Institution.

Mission: Our mission is to provide our members with an efficient, effective and well-managed financial institution that meets their fiscal needs with financial products and services.

Founders: 10 founding members, all of whom were Virginia Union University graduates and Richmond Public Schools employees.

Location: 50 W. Commerce Road, Richmond.

Previous board chairman: Dr. Umar Kenyatta.

No. 1 goal or project as board chairman: Restore confidence in Richmond Heritage Federal Credit Union’s leadership, operations and reputation.

No. 1 challenge: Growing assets and revenue generation will allow us to service our members more efficiently and provide a more user-friendly online presence and mobility.

Ways I have witnessed Richmond Heritage Federal Credit Union make a difference for its membership and community: As an Asset and Liability Management Committee member, I have witnessed a few productive loans go through approval. I know if this were a for-profit tier-1 bank, the risk would have been too much for approval. But that is precisely why we exist.

We partner with: Mentor partner Self-Help Credit Union; Supported by Inclusiv and the Virginia Credit Union League; Sponsorship/partnership Bon Secours Hospital

How I start the day: I start my day with coffee, my phone and Bloomberg.

The three words that best describe me: Strategist, conscientious and concerned.

If I had 10 extra minutes in the day: Spend it with my family. My wife and I wanted to raise independent, productive citizens of the Commonwealth, but that comes at a cost. As soon as they become adults and intellectually engaging to talk to, they are off doing their own thing. The best times were when we sat around the dinner table and just talked.

If I could host a dream dinner party, my special guest would be: Robert Smith of Vista Equity. His story of how he rose is worth a listen, especially his philanthropic efforts.

Best late-night snack: Fruit or popcorn.

The music I listen to most: Jazz … Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Gershwin, Miles Davis, the Marsalis family, Charlie Parker and Sade.

Something I love to do that most people would never imagine: Collecting signatures on national bank notes from African-American National Banks that existed during the national bank period.

A quote that inspires me: “If you can change your mind, you can change your life.” ― William James

At the top of my “to-do” list: Make sure I’m OK­ — physically and mentally.

The best thing my parents ever taught me: Don’t run from adversity. Face it and learn from it.

The person who influenced me the most: There have been many, but Lt. Col. Lee Vessels of King William County, U.S. Army veteran of World War II, Korea and Vietnam, and a commandant of cadets of the John F. Kennedy High School JROTC.

Book that influenced me the most: “The Negro as Capitalist: A Study of Banking and Business Among American Negroes” (1936) by Abram Lincoln Harris Jr. (Richmond, Va.) of Howard University. It started as research on a couple of historically Black national bank notes. However, I was quickly awestruck by the accounts of the absolute resilience of the Black entrepreneur man and woman. We come from stock that did not give up — period.

What I’m reading now: I mostly read research socio-economic research articles. However, right now, I’m reading “White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America” by Nancy Isenberg. I kinda knew this from my experiences in uniform; however, this book records just how much impetus this nation’s founding fathers and grandchildren placed on class. That echoes to this very day.

Next goal: I enjoy board work and governance, so we’ll see.