LGW Features Member Terri Copeland ('15)

"LGW has an amazing pool of talent, past and present.  I think the new team and board of directors are breathing new energy and fresh insights into the organization and I see the fruits of those labors already.  The board, staff and alumni are working very diligently to create and implement a new vision that matches the times in which we currently live in the region. I am extremely proud to be an active member." -Terri J. Copeland ('15), S.V.P. and Territory Executive, Community Development Banking, East, PNC Bank


Meet Terri 

Terri J. Copeland is Senior Vice President and Territory Executive for Community Development Banking at PNC Bank. In this position, she manages teams of professionals responsible for developing, maintaining, and implementing programs and investments that support the sustainable economic development of low and moderate income (LMI) communities within the eastern territory of PNC's footprint. 

A native of Washington, D.C., Ms. Copeland has 30 years of community development experience in commercial, retail and residential real estate development, lending and/or supportive service environments. She joined PNC from the District of Columbia Housing Finance Agency, where she served as the agency's Public Relations Manager. Prior to that, Ms. Copeland served as Senior Vice President and Community Relations Manager for SunTrust Bank, Greater Washington. 

As an active member of the community, Ms. Copeland currently serves on the local advisory boards of Bright Beginnings, Inc., the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) and the D.C. Local Initiative Support Corporation (DCLISC). She is also a member of the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers, she is active on WRAG’s Affordable Housing Action Team. 

Ms. Copeland enjoys traveling to warm coastal climates, jet skiing, reading and occasionally playing golf. She holds a B.A. in Economics from The University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. in International Finance from The George Washington University. 


Q&A with Terri Copeland 

How did you get involved with LGW’s Signature Program? 

TC: I had considered applying for many years before I actually did so. I kept deciding that it was unlikely LGW could significantly add to my professional network. How wrong I was! I'm so grateful to God that I was convinced by my colleague, Sonia McCormick, to reconsider. It has been one of the best decisions of my life. Not only did it build my network in ways unimaginable, it gave me new, lifelong friendships to boot. I consider those as real gems in the fast-paced world in which we live. 

Can you describe a truly special LGW Moment from your experience - a connection you made, something you pursued because of LGW or a distinctive memory? 

TC: During Arts Day, I was placed in the poetry group. What came out of me during that exercise was deep rooted and very personal. I'd never written poetry before but found it to be quite cathartic. When I had to stand in front of the entire class to read it, I felt completely vulnerable and had no idea what sort of response I'd receive. So true to my nature, I dove into the deep end with only two options, sink or swim. The love and compassion I received back, helped me heal a very old, deep wound. I will never forget it. 

The second special moment was so much fun it triggered a personal revelation: "I don't have enough of this (fun) in my life!” Anyway, it was my Mindtrust’s performance during our closing retreat. We performed a choreographed dance routine to Taylor Swift’s song, Shake it off. Not only did we KILL our performance, the song has become the new soundtrack to my life. So nowadays, when things start feeling a bit overwhelming, I just shake it off! 

How would you describe LGW - the alumni, leadership, staff and overall mission of the organization? 

TC: LGW has an amazing pool of talent, past and present. I think the new team and board of directors are breathing new energy and fresh insights into the organization and I see the fruits of those labors already. The board, staff and alumni are working very diligently to create and implement a new vision that matches the times in which we currently live in the region. I am extremely proud to be an active member. 

Tell us something most people might not know about you. 

TC: For most of my adult life, I have traveled solo to lands near and far. When the option is available, I often ride jet skis in the middle of the ocean in a foreign country where I know no one and no one knows me. It’s a little crazy but what an adrenaline rush!

How do you envision the future of the region? What about LGW’s role in that future? 

TC: I envision a future region that works more collaboratively rather than competitively. I am encouraged by recent efforts, some of which have been spearheaded by LGW. The Thought Leadership Series: Affordable Housing Solutions immediately comes to mind. It is an initiative launched by the class of 2015. The first class to ever win the annual Best Class Award during its class year. Then won it again the following year. Class of 2015, Enough Said! The best LGW class EVER! Did I mention that that is my class? J 

How does your work impact the future of the Greater Washington region? 

TC: PNC is actively engaged in multiple aspects of the region, a few examples of which include, workforce development efforts, affordable housing issues and racism in America. The Regional President, Mike Harreld, is a past chair of the DC Workforce Investment Council and he and the bank are actively engaged in continuing progress in that area. Additionally, the bank exercised courage and vision as it hosted a Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers (WRAG) 6 part series entitled, Racism In America, a difficult but desperately needed conversation around white privilege and systemic racism and their generational effects. The bank is also actively engaged in financial support as well as management engagement in another one of the region’s greatest challenges, the lack of housing affordable to a large segment of the region’s workforce. 

Can you share with us any important lessons in leadership picked up along your own personal path? 

TC: When I was 4 years old, I was placed in foster care for the next 3 years. Being separated from parents and siblings had a way of building self-reliance pretty quickly. It was there I was introduced to Jesus Christ. That experience was the beginning of a life long journey of following God's path for me (of course going astray too along the way). That decision to follow God, rather than man, created the leader in me. Many believe you're not a leader if no one is following you. I believe I'm a leader if I follow no one else. Personally, I don't need a following.