In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Regions Bank is celebrating associates, nonprofits and business owners who make a powerful difference in the communities they serve. Here, meet Kristina Justice, who leads Regions’ branch-banking teams in southern Georgia and eastern Alabama.
Spend a moment speaking with Kristina Justice, and you quickly see what she holds dear. Family. Faith. Community. Heritage.
They’re all connected. And in many ways, they shape how she relates to the people and businesses she serves as a consumer banking manager.
Kristina has had many opportunities for professional growth during her 12 years with Regions. But no matter her role, her approach to uplifting others remains the same. Recently, she shared her journey with us.
Tell us about your journey over time, and how that journey took you to Columbus, Georgia.
I am originally from Sacramento, California; this is where both sides of my immediate family are from. Both of my grandparents on my father’s side are from Michoacán, Mexico. My grandfather, who has 15 siblings, came to the United States when he was 16 to help his parents. My grandparents on my mother’s side were from Mexico and Spain. My parents met in high school, and shortly after my father graduated, they married, and he joined the Army. Throughout his career in the Army, he was stationed at Fort Kobbe, Panama, and Fort Benning, Georgia, where he retired after 25 years. Apart from my two brothers and parents, my entire family still lives in California, and even though I travel back to California once a year to see my family, Georgia is where I have spent most of my life and is where I call home.
Financial professionals serve a unique role in any community. How has your background enabled you to make a difference for people in the communities you serve?
My parents kept my brothers and me very involved in church growing up, and through church, we were always serving the community. At a young age, I dedicated one Saturday a month to tutoring kids in reading and math. I always welcome the opportunity to help wherever I can. Since I have been with Regions, I have had the opportunity to sit on a few committees: United Way, Teen Challenge, the Boys and Girls Clubs, and the monthly Leadership Breakfast at Columbus State University. The one that holds the closest place to my heart and is personal for me is the Special Olympics. I have volunteered with Special Olympics for 16 years, and during my tenure with Regions, my work family has been a huge supporter for something I hold so special and dear to my heart.
What drew you to volunteer with Special Olympics? What has it taught you over time?
My daughter, Kristianna, was born with a port-wine stain on her face. I was fortunate to have a pediatrician who knew exactly what her birthmark was – Sturge-Weber syndrome. She immediately ran some tests and referred us to a neurologist. From 3 months of age, she has had seizures and spent her first Christmas in ICU. Although she has had so many challenges, she is the strongest person I know, and God knew exactly what family to put her with.
I learned about Special Olympics through her physical therapist. Kristianna started with Special Olympics through competitive cheerleading when she was 3 years old, and it took off from there. Every year, Fort Benning holds a Special Olympics for surrounding counties, and the happiness that fills the air and field is immeasurable. I volunteer and help cheer the kids on or help them cross the finish line. I have learned so much throughout these years supporting the Special Olympics; no matter what their challenges are, or obstacles they face, they are happy, they are supportive of each other, their joy is contagious, and their smiles make me appreciate life so much more.
How have customers responded when they see they can work with someone who understands their needs and can share with them solutions to help reach their goals?
I believe at times we will naturally gravitate toward people we see ourselves in – or people we feel we can relate to. Some responses I have received from our Hispanic customers is that they are happy to see diversity, and even more so, someone who they can relate to. The ability to understand their needs and help them reach their financial goals has helped me build loyalty with my customers and is what keeps them coming back. My customers have been some of my biggest referral sources, and although I’m leading several branch teams, rather than working in one specific location, I still receive calls, and I’m always happy to help!
What are your views on community involvement and the responsibilities of Regions associates to give back?
First, let me start off by saying I love this question! It always goes back to culture for me, in all things. Regions’ workplace culture is grounded in putting people first in everything we do whether that is here within the bank or out in the community. I cannot tell you how grateful I am to work for a company that has such strong core values, great leadership, encourages us to give back and even provides matching donations to charities we support! Regions’ commitment to our communities through the What a Difference a Day Makes volunteer program offers us the ability to extend support to something meaningful while serving the community we live in. I truly believe everyone should give back, however they can.
How do you celebrate and share your history and heritage with family – and with the next generation?
The great thing about being American and having a Hispanic heritage is we like to celebrate. Family is the most important thing, and any occasion we can get together to celebrate, we embrace. Growing up, through my Hispanic heritage, we celebrated Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), Three Kings Day, and a girl’s commitment to God and their coming to age by having a Quinceañera. These celebrations had such a huge impact on me as I was growing up, and I am fortunate that my husband, who is not Hispanic, embraced my heritage as his own, and we celebrate these as a family. Several years ago, my daughter had the opportunity to make her commitment to God at her Quinceañera, and it was beautiful.
My heritage is very important to me, and I will encourage my children to continue to embrace their heritage and celebrate with their own children.