The Main Point…
In Part One of our two-part series, we wrote about why Thread Capital consistently serves and celebrates women. If you missed it you can read it here. For Part Two we want to shine a light on the women who work at Thread Capital and why they do the all-important work of helping entrepreneurs with access to capital, coaching, and connections.
The Women of Thread Capital – Part Two
The eight women who work at Thread Capital represent diverse backgrounds, an impressive base of knowledge in a variety of topics, and, as children, had very different dreams for their lives. What unites them in this time and place is a commitment to Thread’s mission and the desire to help others achieve success. In this issue of The Main Point, we’ll introduce you to these eight outstanding women sharing excerpts from recent conversations.
JaLisha and Marilyn
Durham native, JaLisha Richmond, Director of Lending oversees the organization’s loan originations, coaching, connections, and customer service efforts. “I really enjoy seeing the success of my clients and the changes they are able to make in their communities,” she says “Creating jobs. Supporting family.” This sentiment was echoed by Marilyn Huebel, Thread’s Executive Administrator and de-facto den mother, “Yes, fighting for the underdog!”
Richmond’s passion for helping others started at a young age. “I’m unsure what five-year-old JaLisha envisioned,” she shared, “but I can say my earliest memory of career aspiration was in a helping capacity. I have always been community-focused and have shaped my roles around what I thought others needed.”
All that played out in what she chose to pursue after earning a bachelor’s in Chemistry. She was an AmericCorps member, spending time working with several nonprofits in the southwest. When she returned to her native community, it was only natural for her to come to work at the NC Rural Center where she was a program associate, before transferring to the Thread Capital team.
Marilyn, originally from Buffalo, NY but who has lived most of her life in Illinois, spent the first half of her five-decade career in the corporate world. A couple of highlights include serving on a team at AT&T focused on
the breakup of the Bell System, and as an independent contractor working with Fortune 500 companies nationwide where one project resulted in ten years of employment at ShoreBank, the country’s first and largest CDFI. She started a blog and published a book before joining the CDFI Accion Chicago, as Director of Administration. Marilyn retired in 2020 but missed the work and joined the Thread Capital team in 2021 at the height of the pandemic. At Thread, she supports the team to ensure they have the resources and assistance they need to do their individual jobs and work cohesively to advance the mission.
It is not hard to imagine that theology major Marilyn, as a five-year-old, wanted to be Annie Oakley, “which, in my mind,” she says, “was serving and protecting those in need while wearing a cool outfit. I guess that is what I do today, though more casually dressed!”
Shannon and Camila
Shannon O’Shea, Director of Operations, and Camila Molina, Loan Officer, are not surprised that their work at Thread reflects early aspirations. Shannon studied biology, genetics, and Spanish before pursuing a Master’s of Science in Public Health and Masters in Business Administration. “When I was a kid, I wanted to be a photojournalist and/or wildlife conservationist and work with National Geographic,” Shannon says. “It may be a stretch to connect that to my work today, but I eventually realized that the things I have been passionate about over the course of my life are all intersectional, and coming at them from an economic development lens was a good fit for me.”
Originally from Eastern North Carolina, Shannon leads Thread’s processes and systems, continuously evaluating performance and seeking opportunities to improve and grow Thread’s mission to strengthen and expand an entrepreneur’s access to capital. A mother of three, and with family all over the state, Shannon is happy that her career path has led her to a place where she can serve hard-working North Carolinians every day.
Camila, originally from Cali, Colombia, studied journalism and Hispanic literature because, “Growing up I realized that I enjoyed writing and telling stories about my community. I was also attracted to the notion that
journalists hold elected officials and institutions accountable.”
She did work in two of Raleigh’s newsrooms before coming to Thread. Now Camila works directly with clients who are seeking capital, coaching, and connections, and leads Thread’s outreach to the Spanish-speaking community to enhance Thread’s mission. “Clients drive my work! By the time some clients apply for a small business loan with Thread, they’ve heard “no” from other lenders,” she says. “I want to be the person who gives them an opportunity and invests the time to help them be successful.”
Tosh and Rachael
The women of Thread inspire each other on a daily basis reports Tosh Comer, Coaching and Connection Manager. “Thread Capital women challenge me to enhance my talents and hone my abilities. They are also adamant about championing me to take charge and ensure my voice is heard, regardless of who is in the room.”
Thread Capital’s Compliance and Operations Manager Rachael Klayman agrees. As a child, she wanted to be a journalist or an author and originally pursued a degree in Communications. Those early goals are something she feels relates to the work we do at Thread. “When I was young, I loved writing and I loved stories,” she said. “Because of this, I decided I should be an author or a journalist. I feel like it relates because the work we do at Thread Capital empowers people, both employees and clients, to write their own stories and begin to build the lives they want to live.”
Rachael, who also has a Certificate in Nonprofit Management, ensures sustainable procedures and practices to uphold Thread’s mission. She has worked in nonprofit management for many years and is passionate
about building systems to create and allow equity and access for all. “My ancestors have taught me,” she says about what drives her in her work at Thread, “that we are not obligated to complete the work of healing the world, but neither are we free to abandon it.”
Tosh, who holds a Masters of Entrepreneurship from Western Carolina University, is responsible for strengthening North Carolina’s small businesses through coaching and connections. She connects clients to reliable resources within North Carolina. She is always finding new resources and opportunities for Thread’s clients and works tirelessly to stay on top of new programs and organizations that can help further our clients’ success. “I love helping small business owners meet their goals or exceed their wildest dreams for their business,” Tosh said. “I often say, much like a child, entrepreneurs need the support of their villages to create sustainable longevity.”
Jesse and Toya
Thread’s newest team members are both Loan Associates. As a five-year-old, Jesse Harris alternated between wanting to be a doctor or a grocery cashier. “I was equally fascinated with the “beep” at the checkout scanner as with my grandmother’s set of Life Magazine books detailing medical advances in the 20th century,” she says. “Perhaps my impulse towards each of these divergent jobs was rooted in the face time with the local community each position requires, or maybe in my mind I realized visits to both doctor and supermarket were crucial to maintaining a healthy life.”
“When I was five, I wanted to be an astronaut,” Toya Williams says. “I feel it applies to me today because I still like the idea of exploring something new.” As Thread’s newest member, Toya will work with clients in all stages of the lending process helping them and their small businesses thrive. “I’m just starting at Thread Capital,” she continues. “I love the idea of working to assist small business owners.”
Jesse, currently wrapping up an MBA, is originally from Hoke County. Like Toya, she works with clients as they seek to further their small business dreams. Jesse’s passion for collaborative working and learning leads her to strongly value the Thread team’s emphasis on coaching and connections in addition to capital opportunities.
“After working in multiple areas of finance, including investments, nonprofit lending, insurance, and more, I envisioned myself landing somewhere just like Thread Capital,” she said. “A place where women, people of color, rural folks, and all other businesspersons are understood as themselves the powerhouses behind building a strong and more equitable local economy.”
Toya is from Wilmington but currently lives in Greenville, she is an Applied Psychology major who most recently was the Unit Director for the Grady-White Boats/E.R. Lewis Family Boys and Girls Club. She shares that she hopes her work helping children reach their full potential will translate well to her new role. “I’ve seen the impact I’ve made on people through my previous job and I feel like I can do the same with Thread Capital,” she says.
Words of wisdom
These eight remarkable women of all backgrounds, age, and experience, come together every day to foster Thread Capital’s mission, working to ensure that small businesses in underserved communities have the resources they need to thrive. We asked all of them in closing what advice they would give their younger selves. Below, their answers reflect their personalities and desire to help our clients and teammates achieve their goals, and for that, we celebrate them!
Marilyn: “Follow your gut.”
JaLisha: “Don’t let societal limitations hinder you.”
Shannon: “Don’t let anyone convince you that your strengths are your weaknesses.”
Camila: “Welcome mistakes. The best personal growth opportunities are lessons learned from mistakes.”
Tosh: “Give yourself grace when things don’t work out the way you’ve planned.”
Jesse: “Self-compassion is an important art. Good work for others comes from taking care of yourself first.”
Toya: “My journey isn’t going to be the same as my peers and that’s totally fine.”
Rachael: “I would share this quote by author Soraya Chemaly. “Reenvisioned, anger can be the most feminine of virtues: compassionate, fierce, wise, and powerful. The women I admire most… have all found ways to transform their anger into meaningful change. In them, anger has moved from deliberation to liberation.”