Frances Chow Baker: Banker and Community Advocate

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Frances Baker

Frances Chow Baker

Gateway Bank is not only a community bank, it is a leader in community outreach and safety. At the helm is a 14-year veteran and an amazing woman who has raised three children, Frances Chow Baker. She joined Gateway Bank fourteen years ago and is now Regional Vice President. Anyone who meets Baker for the first time at Gateway Bank will notice that her petite figure and warm smile that just emits a caring and passionate personality that is contagious. Chow Baker has recently received the California Legislature Assembly Resolution which recognized her for her work with the Asian Advisory Committee on Crime (AACC) and the Asian Youth Services Committee (AYSC).

Chow Baker was born in England. But as child she lived in a farm in Stockton, California. She attended Stockton’s St. Mary High School and at an early age, showed signs of caring for the community by volunteering countless hours to various charities including United Way, Summer Camp Counselors for physically challenged youth, Senior Centers and Soup Kitchens. With her completion of high school, Baker attended the University of California San Diego where she earned her B.A. degree in Business Administration and later went on to pursue her Project Management Professional certification from the University of Pacific.

In the early stages of her career, Baker was recruited by Bank of America’s training program and upon completion of her first year, she was awarded employee of the year! She also was the youngest manager of Bank of America which for an Asian American is an astonishing accomplishment. With her accomplishments at Bank of America, Frances’ career led her to join the FDIC where she worked for 20 years and received many more awards.

As the current vice chairperson of the Asian Advisory Committee on Crime and board member of the Oakland Asian Police Officer’s Association as well as the supervisor at Gateway Bank, Frances believes in honesty, sincerity, and integrity. Not only is she a leader in the Asian community in Oakland, Baker is a strong proponent of public safety. She believes in readily accessible community resources, domestic abuse prevention, breaking of language barriers and the outreach for others to get help for themselves. AsianWeek had the chance to chat with Baker on banking and public safety.

With your experience in the banking industry, how has the business changed over the years?

The banking industry is moving along with the 21st century. With the advancement in technologies, e-banking is possible.

What makes Gateway bank different than other banks?
Gateway Bank is a community bank and we provide services and products designed to meet the needs of our community. Being a community bank, we establish long lasting relationships with clients in the area.

What is your most memorable moment at Gateway bank?
I remember when Gateway bank grew the Oakland office deposits portfolio from $31 million to $100 million in just 12 months.

How do you feel about receiving the California Legislature Assembly Resolution?
I am very proud and I just really enjoy being a volunteer for the Asian community.

Why is it important for you to be part of the Asian Advisory Committee on Crime? And how did you get involved?
Asian Advisory Committee on Crime (AACC) listens to the Asian community public safety issues and concerns. The AACC chairperson is Oakland Police Department’s deputy chief. It gives the Asian community members a direct connection to the Oakland Police Department. I was invited by the OPD to be a board member of the AACC and a year later, I was elected as the 1st vice chair of the AACC.

As a board member of the Oakland Asian Police Officer’s Association, what are you and the Oakland Police Department doing to better outreach the Asian community about public safety?
The Oakland Asian Police Officers Association is co-hosting the Oakland Asian Community Safety and Awareness with Asian Advisory Committee on Crime this Saturday, Oct. 5 at the Lincoln Neighborhood Center and Park. The Asian officers are very involved in mentoring the AYSC youth and often time they allocated the own time and financial resources to help the AYSC youth.

Oakland Asian Community Fair
Can you elaborate about how the Asian Youth Services Committee (AYSC) impacts the community?
AYSC youth volunteer their time and dedication through community service. They are involved in many community projects such as the Chinese New Year Bazaar, Wa Sung Pancake Breakfast for Seniors, local food bank, Oakland Chinatown Streetfest, Oakland Center for Blind, Thanksgiving dinners for the homeless, toy drives for the low income families, Christmas dinners for the Asian Seniors etc.. The majority of the youth graduated from high school and attend college.

As a past employee of Bank of America, how well do you think the mainstream banks serve their Asian community compared to Gateway Bank?
I think the community banks such as Gateway Bank are just more personable.

Could you possibly name someone who can inspire a strong woman like yourself?
Yes, my mother Tammi Chow. She served on the city counsel of Stockton and was very active in the church community. She was a single mother raising five children and she would always let us decide our punishments. She would have us set goals and then help set up plans to achieve our goals. I really wanted a tree house but I needed the grades, when I got the grades for it, I realized a tree house did not belong on a farm.

What is one thing that you would want to share with the youth who want to join the business?
Just believe in yourself.

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