Maggie Walker

Maggie Walker was the first woman president of a bank in the United States.  And she was African American born to a washerwoman former slave.  Not only did Walker start the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank, she had first served as the head of the Order of St. Luke, a fraternal organization of African Americans that ran a mutual insurance program--which was also started by a woman.  

Walker also opened a department store called the St. Luke Emporium, which brought work and better goods to African Americans in Richmond.  It lasted less than 10 years, apprarently shut down by obstructionist white merchants. Walker also founded the St. Luke Herald too--to get out information about the organization which claimed nearly 20% of Richmond's African Americans as members. Women also made up half the officers in the society, which started out by offering burial and illness insurance.  

Beyond innnovating, Walker was an astute businesswoman.  The bank started with $8,000 and its assets climbed to $500,000 under her tenure and its existence made it possible for many African American families to receive mortgages. By 1925, the order of St. Lukes had $8 million in insurance and employed many women clerks.  

Walker is the subject of a project by fellow innovator and graphic artist Noah Scalin, whose company Another Limited Rebellion runs creativity workshops for business. Scalin and ten IT professionals at an unnamed financial institution worked together for one day to create this portrait of Walker.  It's made entirely from shredded US currency and was displayed for two weeks.

Unfortunately, Walkers is not featured on any real currency, but her Richmond  home is a historic site.