Jim Houston was excited about Community Promise the minute he heard about it. “When I was approached about helping to create a credit union that would serve the low economic population in Kalamazoo, I jumped at the opportunity,” Jim says. “I have long been concerned about the proliferation of payday lenders and rent-to-own businesses in the Kalamazoo area. I saw this as a chance to do something about the situation.”
Jim has served as the chair of the board that is putting the credit union together since 2010, and he feels fortunate to be leading a dedicated and talented group of volunteers. “We have a group of very talented individuals with vast experiences in the financial field,” Jim notes. “Their experience has been invaluable, and I look forward to continuing the relationship with these fine folks after Community Promise opens.”
Jim’s own life experiences spurred his interest in joining the team. “Personally, I know what it is like to be part of the low income/economic strata in this country,” Jim says. “I was born in a very poor area in rural Alabama in 1943. My family moved to Detroit after my Dad was discharged from the military, hoping to gain a better life.”
Jim’s family moved to Dowagiac when he was in high school. Jim then attended Western Michigan University, earning a BA, MA, and PhD in Accounting and Finance.
Jim has worked for several businesses in Southwest Michigan, including, the Kellogg Corporation, International Research and Development Corporation, and First of America Bank. Jim and his wife Marianne have been married for 44 years, and have two sons and four granddaughters.
Since his retirement in 2000, Jim has devoted time to serving on various committees and projects in the Kalamazoo community. He has taught at both the high school and college level, and believes that he is busier than ever. “I look forward to continuing to serve the Kalamazoo community however I can,” Jim says, “and I particularly look forward to the day later this year when Community Promise opens its doors so that everyone in Kalamazoo can have access to fair and affordable financial services.”