Savoy, the leading African American business and lifestyle magazine, recently dubbed University of Dallas alumnus and Gupta College of Business Hall of Fame recipient Irvin Ashford Jr., MBA ’00, among its 2020 list of elite Black executives. The listing garnered Ashford industry recognition along with the likes of Robert Smith, billionaire founder of Vista Equity Partners, out of more than 500 prospective candidates.
Chief community officer at Dallas-based Comerica Bank, Ashford oversees community reinvestment nationally and all associated activities, including development, lending, community investments, volunteerism and data analysis. Ashford also leads Comerica’s diversity business resource groups.
Since graduating from UD, Ashford has built his 20-year career at Comerica on the foundation of service to the community by using business as the vehicle to drive greater change. “These innovative trailblazers have led efforts to foster growth for some of the country’s highest-performing companies throughout and beyond the U.S. market,” said L.P. Green II, publisher of Savoy.
According to his Savoy profile, Ashford and his team established the Comerica Money $ense program to address the critical need of teaching sound financial principles to a wide range of audiences, from prekindergarten students to senior citizens, as well as small businesses.
In June 2020, Comerica announced a $1 million commitment over four years to the National Business League as part of a national partnership that will launch the Black Capital Access Program — "a one-stop online platform for Black-owned business" — that will become available in all 50 states in 2021.
The Dallas Business Journal followed up with Ashford — a two-time recipient of the DBJ’s Minority Business Leader Award — and interviewed him on “How Comerica has ‘doubled down’ on its efforts to serve local small businesses, individuals.”
“Not only the external affairs group, but also the committed Comerica bankers have doubled down on assisting and serving (community) needs, and those needs are various with regards to banking and financial services,” said Ashford. “The needs of small businesses and the needs of business in general are vast,” he added. “There’s no one thing that we do. We’re basically a jack of all trades as it relates to providing technical assistance, information, financial information to the businesses we serve.”
UD inducted Ashford into the Gupta College of Business Hall of Fame in 2019 for his significant contributions to community and economic development initiatives in diverse and underserved communities. Ashford was also among 33 business school graduates honored in the 2019 Class of Influential Leaders by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) — the world's largest business education alliance.
Ashford serves as a trustee for the Webb School in Bell Buckle, Tennessee, where he was among the school’s first African American graduates. He is a Woodrow Wilson International Studies and Public Policy Fellow, an American Marshall Fellow and a British American Project Fellow. A graduate of Oberlin College, he holds dual master’s degrees — in public affairs and business administration — from the University of Texas and University of Dallas, respectively.
From entertainment to sports, business to politics, design to style, Savoy is a cultural catalyst for the African American community that showcases and drives positive dialogue on and about Black culture.
The National Business League is the first and largest nonprofit, nonpartisan and nonsectarian Black business professional and trade association, founded August 23, 1900, by the iconic Booker T. Washington. It has more than 120 members nationwide.
Comerica is strategically aligned by three business segments: The Commercial Bank, The Retail Bank and Wealth Management. Comerica focuses on relationships and helping people and businesses be successful. Comerica reported total assets of $76.3 billion in 2020 and celebrated its 170th anniversary in August 2019.