Even though Women’s History Month concluded in March, we haven’t finished honoring the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. As part of this year’s celebration, GOOD Morning Wilton is running a series highlighting the significant contributions by women of Wilton.
For our next installment of the series, we invite you to meet Wilton resident Carol Johnson, Vice President, Fairfield County Bank, who works in banking but it’s her heart of gold that is most valuable.
This year marks the 20 year anniversary for the Wilton office of Fairfield County Bank. And for Carol Johnson, vice president and branch manager of the Wilton office, that means she too is celebrating 20 years of service to the Wilton market.
Ironically Johnson didn’t have any intention of going into business. A newly minted graduate from Providence College with a degree in English Literature, Johnson was first focused on her post-college exploration of Europe.
“When I returned, my boss from my summer job at Union Trust Company contacted me and asked if I would be interested in a full time position that had opened up,” Johnson recalls. “I had liked the summer job and I had learned a lot, so I thought I would take it until I figured out what I wanted to do.”
Today, Johnson has spent her entire career in banking.
“It just worked at Union Trust Company. While initially a community bank, we went through two acquisitions – First Fidelity and First Union – both of which brought us into a larger organization, and we became part of a regional bank,” says Johnson. So even though I never left, there was significant change while I was there and I did a fair amount of travel outside of my local home office as First Union was headquartered in North Carolina. That kept things new and interesting.”
Johnson didn’t think about leaving until Gary Smith, president of Ridgefield Bank, approached her and asked if she would be interested in leading the team tasked with expanding the bank’s presence in Wilton.
When Johnson spoke with Smith, she was struck by how much Ridgefield Bank reminded her of Union Trust Company. “This was a real community bank. Its focus on philanthropy and its regard for the community struck a chord with me.” says Johnson. “It was also very entrepreneurial. The plan to expand into a new market was really exciting.”
It also served as a bit of a return to her roots as Johnson had spent a significant time in the Wilton office of Union Trust Company.
“I have always felt that Wilton is a very special and unique place. There is such a strong sense of community here. So many people give and continue to give of their time and talent to make Wilton the very best it can be.”
Johnson herself, is among those who have made a long-standing commitment to the community. She has always been very passionate about volunteering for local organizations. Currently, she sits on the Board of Directors at the Wilton YMCA and serves as a trustee at the Wilton Library. In addition she is a past president of both the Wilton Chamber of Commerce and the Wilton Rotary, both of which she continues to serve.
“Volunteerism was instilled in me as a child. My parents always volunteered and I guess it’s just in my DNA. I never really thought too much about it, I just did it.”
That intrinsic interest to help and impact someone in a positive way is one of the reasons Carol has remained in her role at Fairfield County Bank for 20 years.
“The great thing about working at a community bank, is that the focus is obviously on the community. Fairfield County Bank recognizes the importance of volunteerism and the impact it has on strengthening Wilton. The bank is very supportive of my efforts.”
Of course, during all of her 20+ years career, she has seen and experienced it all, including the evolution of women in the workforce. When asked about recent news stories regarding the treatment of women in the workplace, Johnson replied, “I doubt there is one woman that hasn’t been exposed to inappropriate behavior. I don’t dwell on those experiences, but I am so happy that we have arrived at a place today where women can finally speak up about it without fearing the consequences.”
She continues to look to the future, and is impressed with the younger generation. “At a recent visit to Our Lady of Fatima School to distribute atlases, a young fourth grade girl stood right up and immediately asked me about my job, how I spent my day, and what I liked most. It was so great to see that kind of interest to learn more in a young child.”
It’s stories like that about getting to interact with the community that are at the heart of why Johnson loves what she does. That’s especially true when she is able to help people with their financial needs and objectives.”It’s incredibly rewarding to see people do the things they dream about doing. Let’s say they come to me for a loan to start a business. I get to be part of that journey; I get to watch them grow and succeed. It’s so much fun.”
You rock Carol!! Go Friars. Don
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