40 Under 40 The Class of 2014

Jessica Wales

Consumer and Business Banking Center Manager, PeoplesBank, age 36

Jessica-Wales-01Associates at PeoplesBank are never surprised when Jessica Wales asks if they can volunteer for a special event or fund-raiser, and know it could mean they end up serving hot chocolate on a freezing day or wearing an elf suit.

“I have a lot of great friends and co-workers who are up for anything, and especially around the holidays, when you can make a difference in kids’ lives; everybody just wants to help out,” she said.

While donning an elf costume last fall, Wales helped lead one of the most successful branch openings in the history of PeoplesBank, and in the weeks leading up to the opening of the new LEED-certified branch in Northampton, she created and led TeamPossible, a group of branch associates that visited local businesses to perform random acts of kindness, treating customers to free burgers, ice cream, and coffee.

The effort resulted in a record $6 million in new deposits during the initial four months of operation. A driving force in efforts to implement environmentally friendly technology at the new branch, including iPad account opening and video drive-up teller service, Wales has applied those same leadership qualities to Northampton Area Young Professionals, securing speakers for its Leadership Luncheon Series, as well as assisting the FDIC Money Smart program at Junior Achievement and serving as a past member of the fund-raising and marketing committees for the United Way of Hampshire County. For the past seven years, she’s helped the United Way’s Allocation Committee, a group that qualifies organizations’ request for funds.

“You get your heartstrings tugged at these interviews,” Wales said. “I don’t know if people in Western Mass. understand all the services available to them, but there are amazing volunteers out there who put their heart and soul into the organizations they’re representing.”

It’s her love of her hometown of Northampton that has her recruiting PeoplesBank associates to volunteer at Santa’s Train and Earth Day Clean Up in Look Park, the Hot Chocolate 5K Run, and the Northampton Center for the Arts’ annual First Night event. Her own personal time has her sharing afternoons with her partner, Jeremy Cotton, scuba diving or skydiving.

By land, sea, or air, Wales is always up for a challenge and making a positive difference in peoples’ lives.

— Elizabeth Taras

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