A Conversation With Tamara Gurney

How long have you been volunteering in the community?

Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, I’ve spent most of my professional career here and have been actively volunteering for over 30 years.

How long have you been volunteering for The Valley Economic Alliance?

I have been associated with The Valley Economic Alliance for over 15 years.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I have spent most of my professional career in the banking industry, though not originally by design. I was initially interested in pursuing a career in law, however, married with two young sons and only a high school education I needed a job to help support the family and most of the entry level positions at that time were in banking. I went to work for Bank of America in the North America Division Correspondent Bank Group. After becoming a single mom, I accepted employment as the Assistant to the President of a small community bank located in Sun Valley, which was closer to my home and my children.

In the early 1990’s I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and graduated with Honors from Bank Administration’s School for Community Bank Management at the University of Wisconsin. I stayed with the bank for almost 20 years, until it was sold, rising over those years to the position of EVP Chief Operating Officer. After the sale of the bank was completed I began looking around for other opportunities and with the encouragement of some former clients, co-workers and friends, I decided to start a new community bank and continue to serve the area I had been active in for over twenty years. Mission Valley Bank opened in July of 2001 and recently celebrated its 15-year anniversary posting the best results in its history. Technology continues to change the landscape of all businesses; banking is no different. I am looking forward to helping the Bank continue to evolve to meet the changing financial services landscape along with the needs and challenges of the next generations entering the business world.

My sons have grown up to be amazing men, the oldest settling into a career selling organic produce after a stint in the Navy during Desert Storm. He has given me three beautiful grandchildren whom I adore. My youngest pursued his education ultimately graduating with a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts. He is a writer, mostly of poetry, and enjoys the simpler lifestyle of Northern California.

What is one of your Passion Projects that you are working on?

Over the years, there have been so many passion projects, it is hard to pick just one. Having been a single mom who had to work to support a family, I have always been drawn to organizations that provide support and assistance to women like myself who find themselves in similar situations. Childcare resources, single mothers outreach, and other related programs have been a passion of mine. Education is another passion of mine. I enjoy assisting with scholarships, particularly for single mothers, and returning Veterans to help them assimilate back into society.

Most recently I have been involved with the founding of Community Foundation of the Valleys, an organization whose mission is to connect philanthropy in the Valley with local nonprofits. We’ve all heard about the trillions of dollars in wealth transfer that is beginning to take place as we, the Baby Boomers, age. It is critically important that we educate people living in our Valleys on the great work these organizations are doing right here in our communities—in healthcare, child services, education, homelessness and poverty. Keeping the money here will serve to revitalize the areas we work and live in. I believe we also have a responsibility to cultivate the next generation of philanthropy here in our Valley.

Why do you continue to be a member of The Valley Economic Alliance?

As a businessperson, I believe The Valley Economic Alliance plays a critically important role in providing resources to business owners and entrepreneurs to assist them in every facet of their business from start up through expansion and transition. The education, training, and connections they assist businesses with are much needed to help keep our Valley strong and flourishing.