Four Women Who Are Making a Difference: Across the Merrimack Valley, women fill the corner offices and boardrooms in all types of professions and businesses. Here is a look at four female leaders who are making a difference in the workplace each day.
ANN LALLY – President and CEO, Salem Co-operative Bank
It took Ann Lally one semester into her first year at Loyola University in Chicago to realize she was in the wrong major. The dental field just wasn’t the right path for her.
She transferred to the business school at New Hampshire College (now Southern New Hampshire University). These days, Lally is celebrating 31 years at Salem Co-operative Bank, where, in 1997, she became the bank’s first female president after having served as its treasurer.
The New Hampshire bank was founded by community leaders in 1922 to serve the town’s residents and businesses. It’s a mission Lally is committed to following.
“I’m a person who likes to lead by example,” she says. Her office has an open-door policy for all of Salem Co-ops’s 60 employees and for the bank’s customers as well, many of whom drop in regularly during their visits. After all, her office is located in the lobby.
Passionate about volunteering, Lally encourages her employees to contribute to the community, too.
In 1997, Salem Co-op founded Salem Community Benefit, Inc. to help address the needs of the communities it serves. The bank’s commitment to the town and the surrounding area is clear. Last year, donations and contributions from Salem Community Benefit totaled $93,000. In addition, the Bank provided donations and support of $113,000.
A big supporter of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salem, Lally was an active member of a task force that oversaw the creation of a new teen center for the community. The bank pledged $610,000 to help launch the fundraising efforts.
Lally is also active with the Greater Salem Chamber of Commerce and previously served on the Southern New Hampshire University Board of Trustees. She currently serves on the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation’s advisory board for the Manchester region. She is also a member of the steering committee for the Stand Up Salem coalition which was organized to prevent and reduce substance misuse primarily focusing on Salem youth. In 2003, Lally became the first woman to chair the New Hampshire Bankers Association.
Traditionally a field that draws more men, particularly to the higher ranks, banking has been changing in recent years.
“There’s a lot more female managers than there used to be,” Lally says.
While technology has also changed the industry, Lally says the bank continues to enjoy strong relationships with its customers.
“Community banking offers a unique opportunity for consumer issues and small business needs,” Lally says. With today’s technology, customers have the ability to visit the bank or use electronic means to complete their transactions. “Community banks are well-placed to be able to offer both and do both well,” she says.
The bank opened a second branch in Methuen in 2010. The location was selected because of the “many synergies” it shares with Salem, according to Sarah Rastello, Salem Co-op’s senior vice president of retail banking and business development.
“Methuen’s population and demographics are similar. Salem is a destination point for many Methuen families [for activities] such as shopping and dining,” she says.
The bank has donated to numerous organizations in Methuen, including the YMCA, the Merrimack Valley Immigrant and Education Center, the Michael B. Christensen Community and Family Support Center, Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley and the Festival of Trees.
“I’m very proud of all the relationships that I’ve had and been involved with through the bank,” Lally says, including customers, business leaders and fellow bank presidents. “That’s very fulfilling.”
Lally escapes her hectic job for a few camping trips each summer with her sisters. The oldest of eight children, she says her large family may have been a bit of an adjustment at first for her husband, Peter, who is an only child.
The summer getaways fall somewhere between roughing it in the woods and “glamping,” or glamorous camping, Lally says.
“We use a trailer, not tents,” she admits. “It’s a pop-out.”
Salem Co-operative Bank
Check back in a few days for Part 2 of this series, highlighting Kathy Aiello of Atlantic Hospitality Group .