After nearly an hour-long interview, it was the last question I asked Macala Carter that proved the most interesting.
“Tell me about that tree sculpture on your desk,” I asked.
“Oh, I love trees,” came the response from Carter. “Did you know that trees have roots that are two or three times greater than what you see above ground? They support the tree. I have this little tree to remind me of how important my support system is here in Lincoln.”
Carter is senior retail manager for Great Western Bank with responsibility for the retail focus at 20 branches of the bank, from Falls City to Atkinson. Retail in the banking world is the customer service aspect – the tellers, the personal bankers, everyone who deals with the customers. For Carter, that means she provides leadership, encouragement and guidance to more than 100 employees of Great Western.
Originally from Alliance where her father was in banking, Carter came to Lincoln to attend the University of Nebraska. She returned to Alliance and hoped to work in banking there. But it wasn’t long until she realized that she missed Lincoln.
“I sold my house in Alliance, quit my job and moved back to Lincoln in 2002,” she said. “I had no job or family here, but I knew that I loved Lincoln and wanted to be here. Lincoln is a big small town.”
When asked why she loves Lincoln, Carter noted, “There are a lot of people in Lincoln who grew up in small towns. There’s just something special about people from small towns … the familiarity, the care and the support that they bring to Lincoln. No matter where you go, people smile at you, they say ‘hi,’ they wave back. I like that.”
Wanting to put down deeper roots in Lincoln, Carter participated in the Leadership Lincoln Executive Series in 2017-18.
“In that class, I learned what makes Lincoln tick, what social issues we face, how we work together to make this city even better,” she said. “Each month, when our class was over, I’d draft an impact statement, listing the things that I could do, that I could encourage my colleagues to do. We all have an obligation to give back.”
And giving back is exactly what Carter has done. She serves on the board of Family Services of Lincoln, helping provide quality programs and services to assist and strengthen individuals and families in Lincoln. She’s vice president of the Lancaster Foundation for Adults with Mental Disabilities, an organization devoted to helping individuals with mental challenges. And, she’s helped recruit volunteers for Leadership Lincoln’s Poverty Simulations.
Carter is a single mother. Her son Gavin is a student at Nebraska Wesleyan University. He’s played football there. Her daughter Ensley is involved in theater at Christ Lincoln School.
“They’ve given me a broad spectrum of educational experiences, from athletics to creative arts,” she noted. And, she added, “My support system here in Lincoln has been incredibly helpful in raising my children.”
When asked about the challenges of working with the people in 20 branches scattered across eastern Nebraska, Carter’s reply was, “I send them an uplifting quote each Monday, we have TED talk Tuesdays, and I encourage them to be involved in their communities.”
And about that tree: “I’ve given one of these trees to each of my managers to remind them just how important it is to be deeply rooted in their communities.”