Sati Smith is breaking barriers in banking. She has been named the first Black woman CEO to lead Diversified Members Credit Union (DMCU), based in Detroit, MI.

She will replace former CEO Kathie Trembath, who has been her mentor and worked with the credit union for nearly two decades, according to a news release.

“Sati’s promotion marks the beginning of reaching new goals and heights in her career and is also the start of a new chapter for DMCU,” David H. Brooks III, Diversified Members Credit Union Board Chair, said in the news release. “The board of directors is proud of Sati’s accomplishments. We know she’ll be an outstanding mentor and role model, and we look forward to her leadership and innovative initiatives to come.”

Smith shared, “This a major accomplishment, not only for me and my family but for the entire community. It sends a strong message to women and other minorities that we can break glass ceilings. We can accomplish what we want to accomplish. My sincere hope is that this will inspire others.”

During an interview with Fox-2 in Detroit, Smith details some of the hardships she overcame to reach this career milestone.

“I was on welfare, I was a single mother,” Smith told the outlet. “You just have to continue to work hard and utilize the passion, have that drive — and you will succeed. Don’t ever give up.”

Smith worked her way to the top, spending more than 25 years as a Kemba Financial Credit Union teller and later wore hats such as data processing clerk, IT manager, branch manager, operations manager, and chief operating officer with DMCU, before her recent post.

Although she never obtained a high school diploma, she earned a GED to pursue college studies. Smith later received a Bachelor of Social Work from Wayne State University and a Master of Arts from Ashland Theological Seminary.

What’s more, Smith does not stand alone in her success. She is now joined by her daughter at DMCU, who works as a loan processor.

“You want to encourage your child to accomplish things, so you have to be an example, and that’s what I set out to do,” Smith explained to Fox-2. “I think that Kathie saw something in me. I believe that she saw something that I didn’t see at that time.”