Alumnus Rodney Hood finds his calling helping others

Carolina alumnus Rodney Hood has made a career out of serving underserved communities. As chair of the National Credit Union Administration, he is now taking that mission to the federal level.

Rodney Hood speaks at a meeting.
Photo courtesy National Credit Union Administration.

After he graduated from Carolina in 1989, Rodney Hood briefly contemplated putting a budding business career on hold to enter the ministry.

A passion for public service honed at Carolina — paired with a missionary trip to Zambia and Zimbabwe — set Hood on a path to serve others.

“From the moment that you get to Carolina, it’s about service. It’s about leaving the campus community stronger and better than when you found it,” he said. “That emanates from all of the students. From the time you get there, you’re surrounded by people that all want to serve.”

The clerical collar ultimately wasn’t the key for Hood to serve others. Instead, it was years in the banking industry and a Senate confirmation that has allowed the Tar Heel to change the lives of millions of Americans.

For the past three decades, Hood has been helping members of underserved communities achieve their dreams of purchasing their first homes, launching businesses and accessing finances to attend college and earn a degree. He now brings that mission to the federal level and serves communities across the country as the 11th chairman of the National Credit Union Administration.

“I’m doing a lot of the work that I care about passionately — helping people from low-income backgrounds, minority backgrounds and disabled communities,” he said. “I’ve been able to have my whole career based on the ethos of helping the least among us.”

Soaking in Carolina

Hood has childhood memories of staying up late to watch Carolina basketball on television. He was a junior at Myers Park High School in Charlotte when he realized UNC-Chapel Hill was where he belonged.

“I just knew that Carolina was the place where I really wanted to study,” he said. “It was a place where I felt comfortable, and I felt that Carolina was a microcosm of the world we live in.”

It was about that time that Hood also realized he had a knack for business — accounting in particular. In high school, he began taking college courses at UNC-Charlotte through INROADS, a program that helps people of color for careers in corporate America. That program led to an internship with one of the nation’s top accounting firms at the time, Arthur Andersen, where he first learned accounting, finance and management consulting.

Even with that experience, instead of majoring solely in business at UNC-Chapel Hill, Hood took a multidisciplinary approach and studied political science and communications in addition to business.

Outside the classroom, Hood added more learning experiences as an honor court justice, senior marshal, member of the debate team, leader of the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, a brother in the Theta Chi fraternity and a residential advisor at Granville Tower.

For four years, Hood said, he was a sponge soaking up all he could. And it paid off.

After his short-term missionary trip to Africa following graduation, Hood began his business career in GE Capital’s competitive analyst program. From there, he spent the next three decades moving up in the banking industry, seeking ways to use that skill set to improve communities.

Giving back

Driven by his passion for serving others, Hood focused his career not on merely gaining more impressive titles or adding to his bank account, but instead on finding jobs that allowed him to give back.

That first opportunity came in his mid-20s when he became a community reinvestment officer for what is now Bank of America. In this role, he helped marginalized and vulnerable communities have access to credit, working with families to help them acquire loans to buy homes.

“I had an opportunity to really help people reach their potential and help people reach their dreams,” he said. “It’s very powerful and very poignant to be able to do that.”

His career path included stops at Wells Fargo and North Carolina Mutual Insurance, and eventually to Washington D.C. in 2003 as deputy administrator of housing at the Department of Agriculture, where he managed a $50 billion housing portfolio.

“USDA has a very large housing portfolio in rural America, and a lot of my work was to assist in helping provide capital access to rural residents and rural businesses,” he said.

His federal government work was extended in 2005 when he received Senate confirmation to serve as vice-chair of the National Credit Union Administration, which insures deposits at credit unions and supervises the country’s credit union system. He served in that role for four years before returning to the private sector as a corporate responsibility manager at JPMorgan Chase, where he worked toward financial inclusion for underserved communities.

Then, in 2019, Hood was called back to serve in the federal government when President Donald Trump nominated the Tar Heel to serve as chair of the National Credit Union Administration. He was confirmed by the Senate and sworn-in to the role by Vice President Mike Pence on June 27, 2019, becoming the first African American to lead a federal banking regulator.

“Rodney Hood has been a leader in the financial industry for 25 years. He’s dedicated his career to helping others achieve their dreams,” Pence said. “And now, he’s stepped up to serve our country in an even bigger way by protecting consumers from harm and ensuring integrity, accountability, and transparency throughout the financial industry.”

In his job, Hood oversees $1.6 trillion of assets and serves 120 million families across the country. The position combines many of the various roles he’s held throughout his career, including bringing strong financial resources to underserved communities.

It’s an opportunity that Carolina and years of work prepped Hood for.

“Carolina definitely prepared me for a lot of the work that I’m now doing in business,” he said. “It came from having that interdisciplinary focus where I was able to look at business but also be able to communicate it, and from the political science piece, being able to look at some of the public policy implications.”

It’s also the pinnacle of his lifelong journey to serve others.

“I get to make a lot of people very happy — either the dream of homeownership or the dream of getting the loan they need to start a business or the loan they need to send their children to college.”