Willie Spears is a resident of Pineville, Rapides Parish, Louisiana. Mr. Spears enjoyed a very successful career in banking and community development. His retail banking management and community development experience covers a span of 40 years with two community banks and a large regional bank. The latter 20 years of his banking experience was focused on CRA compliance and community development. In 1995, Mr. Spears was responsible for organizing the Hibernia Community Development Corporation and obtaining approval for the corporation from the OCC. He was then named president of the CDC, with responsibilities of recruiting staff, preparing budgets, developing strategies, as well as, policies and procedures. Under Mr. Spears' leadership, the CDC earned the reputation of being one of the most successful and productive bank owned community development corporations in Louisiana. The CDC's outstanding results earned it one of the highest BEA Awards issued by the U.S. Treasury Department to a Louisiana based bank. He led the initiative to organize and capitalize a CDFI that provided a predevelopment and real estate acquisition loan pool for budding community development corporations. Mr. Spears was recognized in Time Magazine for his innovative community development initiatives in New Orleans, La.
He is best known for his use of exemplary negotiating and people skills to develop successfulpartnerships with non-profit, for-profit and governmental community development practitioners throughout his market area. He has been extremely successful in leveraging millions of dollars in multiple layers of financial resources such as grants, tax credits, and equity and near-equity investments to produce successful and sustainable community development projects. A few of the projects include: Rivers Frederick Square in New Orleans, La, that involved the construction of 24 new affordable homes contained on a full city block; Mount Zion apartments in Alexandria, La, a 20 unit affordable rental project for senior citizens; Project Renaissance, an owner-occupied rehabilitation project for Senior Citizens living in the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans and numerous other scattered site developments in Louisiana and Texas. Most of the projects involved the use CDBG grants, HOME funds, Federal Home Loan Bank grants and private investments to make the projects financially feasible. One of the projects included the use of the developer's fee to purchase and install computers in the homes of families with school age children. The Hibernia National Bank "Dream "residential mortgage loan program portfolio product, spearheaded by Mr. Spears, used flexible but prudent underwriting requirements that provided over $75 million dollars in residential mortgage loans to LMI homebuyers was another major accomplishment.
Mr. Spears is a graduate of Grambling State University and the LSU School of Banking. He was recently inducted into the Grambling State University School of Business Hall of Fame for his accomplishments in the field of banking and finance. He has served his community well by serving on the boards of directors of various organizations such as the New Orleans Neighborhood Development Collaborative, the Central Louisiana Community Foundation, City of Alexandria Small Business Incubator and the City of Shreveport Redevelopment Authority.