PowerHouse Women — Kathy Pleasant
Power, like women, is not a monolith; it comes in many forms. How women harness their power is as complex as the female species itself. Some lead by example, some take risks, some are not afraid to show their strength, others stay humble and behind the scenes. What all these PowerHouse Women have in common, however, is passion and the uncanny ability to turn a dream into a reality. They all believe in what they do and use that sense of purpose to become the best in their industries. Meet one of the five PowerHouse Women featured from the Louisville area who work to inspire others, cultivate change in their fields, and blaze trails wherever their leadership gifts guide them.
If you need a small business loan in Louisville, you will probably hear Kathy Pleasant’s name. She is, after all, vice president and director of Small Business Association (SBA) lending for Republic Bank & Trust. However, apropos to her name, Kathy Pleasant is not only a PowerHouse in the field of small business lending, she is also quite pleasant. Kathy’s ability to showcase her expertise by helping budding businesses achieve the financial backing they need to grow stems from her philosophy that, in business, you should always be accessible and willing to work hard.
HOW DID YOU REACH SUCCESS?
I owe a lot to God for putting the right people in my path to support me. I have created strong and supportive teams everywhere I went.
WHAT IS POWER?
Power is having the ability to influence. I always focus on the positive and try to make a positive and immediate impact on my clients and community.
ADVICE TO THOSE SEEKING A CAREER PATH?
Find your niche and do it really well. Others will begin to see your hard work, but it may take time. It won’t happen overnight — sometimes it takes years — but hard work will always pay off. If it means you have to stay until 8pm, then that is what you have to do. I started to get recognized as an expert in my field because my bosses realized how hard I worked. It took three years, but my reputation was built in the community, and that changed my career.
My children are very important to me. I taught them how to transfer skills and run a business (we once owned a Baskin Robbins). One of my sons has followed in my footsteps and now runs a CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution). I’ve always taught them the proverb that if you give a man a fish, he eats for a day. If you give him a rod, he feeds himself for a lifetime. My son is helping to feed a multitude of folks, and I taught him everything he needs to know.
HOW TO HELP EMERGING PROFESSIONALS?
Be present and be accessible. I am always accessible, and I will always pick up the phone the first time. I call everyone back, and you don’t know how that has changed my career. People are shocked — they aren’t used to that type of attention. I don’t care if you need a loan for $5 million or $5,000, I will always return your call and help you get what you need.
HOW DO YOU USE YOUR POWER FOR GOOD?
I share my resources and see my primary role as an educator. I tell people how to prepare and get the financing they need. I use my background and network of referral sources to help build the financials that will help small businesses become successful.
HOW KATHY GOT INTRODUCED TO BANKING
Kathy began working two jobs after graduating from Western Kentucky University — one at WHAS and another, part-time position at the Chamber of Commerce. The latter introduced her to the world of banking, and she was soon recruited by the bank across the street from her office. She became intrigued by the world of banking and community development through small business lending. In the 90’s she began working at the Louisville Community Development Bank, where her charge was to make loans for low- to moderate-income neighborhoods such as Smoketown, the West End, Germantown, Clifton, and Phoenix Hill. She has transferred these skills across a 30-year career and has built the SBA program at many banks across the city.