Kala Gibson

Title:  Executive Vice President – Chief Enterprise Corporate Responsibility Officer and Head of Business Banking

Current / Past Place of Employment:  Fifth Third Bank since 2011.  Comerica Bank 1991 -2011.

How many years have you been in the region?  7 years

Where are you originally from?  Detroit, MI

Age: 48

Kala Gibson serves as executive vice president, head of Business Banking and chief enterprise corporate responsibility officer. In Business Banking, he oversees strategic planning, operations, sales force, credit fulfillment and product development for Fifth Third clients with annual revenues up to $20 million. In December 2020, he added oversight of the Bank’s Community and Economic Development efforts, including Community Reinvestment Act lending and investment, and environmental, social and governance efforts. He’s also chairman of the Bank’s Executive Diversity Leadership Council. Kala joined Fifth Third in 2011 as a senior vice president and Business Banking executive for Eastern Michigan. He started his career at Comerica Bank in Detroit and has over 29 years of experience in retail, community and small business banking; middle market and asset-based lending; and credit administration.

Kala earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Grand Valley State University and an MBA from Michigan State University. Kala serves on the board of the National Urban League and National Minority Supplier Development Council. He also serves on the Executive and Finance committees of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. He’s board chair of Mortar, a Cincinnati urban entrepreneurship organization, and a member of the ArtsWave board of trustees. Kala has received several awards for his civic and professional contributions, including the Michigan Chronicle’s Men of Excellence and Crain’s Detroit Business 40 Under 40.

What do you love most about the Cincinnati Region?  The people are the biggest reason I choose to stay in Cincinnati.  Cincinnatians are very passionate about their communities and continue to be focused on making this an inclusive and diverse region.  I also love the history and architecture in the region.  I enjoy exploring the city and meeting with historians to hear about Cincinnati’s rich contribution to American History. 

Looking at your professional career, outside of family and friends, where have you garnered your support?  The center of my support and strength comes from my relationship with my God.  I very much believe that God has blessed me in ways that I would never have imagined growing up in Detroit.  Outside of my spiritual support, I’ve had support and guidance from African American banking pioneers who saw something in me that they felt needed to be nurtured and developed.  It took a village and I’m so grateful for their belief in me.

What is your most proud moment in recent history?  In the early days of the pandemic, I led the Bank’s response to the needs of our Small Business Owners.  Through our efforts, my team delivered over 40,000 Paycheck Protection Program loans totaling $5.4 billion.  We also processed thousands of payment and fee waivers to assist businesses in navigating through the pandemic.  We worked 18-hour days for weeks, operating in a virtual environment to serve our communities and our country.

What legacy do you hope to leave behind? I’ve always believed in the power of financial inclusion and equality.  African American communities have historically been left behind and have missed the opportunity to live the American Dream through home ownership and entrepreneurship.  My hope is that I can use my influence and position in the industry to permanently reverse this trend.   I also hope to attract more minorities to the industry to hold our institutions accountable and help shape policies that will prevent this from happening in the future.

What piece of advice have you received along the way in your career or life journey that has stuck with you?
Luck and fairness are overrated.  Luck is simply the intersection of opportunity and preparation.  You are responsible for your own preparedness, so when opportunity arrives, you can capitalize.

Tell us about something that most people do not know about you: Other than a banker, I wanted to be a pastor.  I would ride my bike to church, Sunday school and bible study.  I had a cross that I wore around my neck for years and could recite the books of the bible in order.  My mother convinced me that I loved money too much to be a pastor, so I decided to become a banker.    

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