Torchlight | Spring 2015

Wells Fargo's investment in community boosts students and graduates

Wells Fargo

Veterans Success Center staff member and military dependant Camille Paulos '15 visits with Wells Fargo Lead Regional President David Galasso.

Abraham Pelaez’ military career was ended by an unexpected adversary: asthma.

The Army National Guard reservist was attending Sacramento State on the GI Bill, planning to complete ROTC training to become an officer in the Army, when he learned that allergies to Sacramento’s many trees were causing breathing problems that would make him ineligible for future service.

Pelaez ’08 (Ethnic Studies), store manager for Wells Fargo’s Madison and Auburn Office in Sacramento, had a career “about-face,” made easier by his employer and Sac State’s Veterans Success Center.

“I had never worked in finance before so I used the Veterans Success Center to help me put together a resume,” Pelaez says. “When I interviewed at Wells Fargo, the manager hired me immediately because he knew that with my military training I would be reliable and hard-working.”

As Pelaez has moved up the ladder, he’s made sure to pay it forward. He leads resume-writing and interview skills workshops at the Veterans Success Center. And he hires veterans, something he has in common with Wells Fargo.

“I know veteran candidates will have the same qualities my manager who gave me my first job saw in me,” he says. “I am thankful for what the military taught me which is why I try to give back as much as I can.”

“Wells Fargo is committed to serving, supporting and hiring veterans. It has been part of our culture for the 163-year history of the bank to work with and hire vets,” says David Galasso, lead regional president for Wells Fargo in Northern and Central California. “Supporting Sacramento State’s veterans service programs is a natural partnership for us—creating opportunities for graduates to stay and work locally. The transition tools and resources the Veterans Success Center provides the veterans are invaluable and we are proud to be part of their growth.”

But hiring veterans is just one way that Wells Fargo reaches out to the communities where it does business. In addition to its support of the Veterans Success Center at Sac State, the company also provides financial education to students, sponsors the College of Business Administration’s Sacramento Business Review and is a member of its Corporate Associates Program. They are even opening one of their first “cyber branches” at the Hornet Bookstore this summer to make it easier for students to do their banking.

“Our involvement with Sacramento State really reflects the vision and values that guide us as a community bank,” says Kevin Barri, president of Wells Fargo’s Community Foothills Market. “It’s about making our communities strong and successful to be the best they can be. We are only as strong as the communities we serve.”

Kären C. Woodruff, vice president and community affairs officer for Wells Fargo’s West Region Community Relations, says the company also strives to lead by example by supporting organizations with the greatest need and where its teams members are involved.

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo Store Manager and Army Veteran Abraham Pelaez hires veterans, as well as Sac State alumni like business specialist Cammy Tuyen '11 and personal banker Michael Jimenez. 

“Wells Fargo is proud to provide both financial and human capital. Engaging with our communities allows team members the opportunity to connect in a big way,” Woodruff says. “Funding organizations our teams support is a way of leveraging their time and talent.

“We like to be part of a collective. We hope to inspire others to get involved and support their community.”

Barri adds, “It’s not about how big you are. It’s about how and what you give back to the community. We volunteer, we share our resources, we provide funding--that’s what defines us as a community bank.”

For Pelaez, it’s a source of gratitude and pride. “I’m so thankful,” he says. “It’s what makes Wells Fargo such a great company. I’ve never seen an organization that invest so much in community.”

The Veterans Success Center is stronger with your partnership: support scholarships, provide internships, become a mentor and more. Please contact Suzette Riddle at (916) 278-3533 for more information.