You might suspect Rolland is the chairperson of a foundation or other nonprofit organization, focused full time on the needs and hopes of a specific cause. Instead, Rolland is the market president for Denver and state president for Colorado at Bank of America Corporation. In that role, Rolland oversees Bank of America’s corporate social responsibility activities including philanthropic giving, community development lending, employee volunteerism, diversity efforts and arts and culture projects. Rolland is also the managing director, Heartland market executive, for Merrill Lynch U.S. Wealth Management, a subsidiary of Bank of America. As the Heartland market executive, Rolland is responsible for a market ranging from Arkansas to Colorado, including twelve states in all, 950 Merrill Lynch advisors and more than $90 billion in client assets.
While it may seem to be a curious combination—part philanthropist, part wealth manager and supervisor—Rolland wears both hats with aplomb. In fact, to Rolland, they appear to be brothers of the same mother. Each are elements of a corporate need to educate, give back and be responsible members of a greater community.
Roots in Money
Rolland comes by her skill set naturally. Her mother passed away when Rolland was seven years old. To Rolland, her mother was a woman who put in hard work every day, and this deeply influenced Rolland. Even prior to her mother’s passing, Rolland recalls that she was “wired to work with money since I was five years old.” Growing up in the flatlands, Rolland remembers that she “always wanted to work in an office with a big window in a skyscraper.”
After her mother passed away, Rolland was raised by her three older sisters. It is from these siblings that Rolland developed one of her very core values, as Rolland describes it, “giving a hand forward and a hand back to women.” This phrase helps define Rolland’s efforts today in all of her roles. Interestingly, Rolland seems a feminist in the classic sense of the term, not the negatively charged political sense of the term. She never discusses any issue, from wealth management to corporate social responsibility, in terms of exclusion. Rather, raised by women and with a strong sense of her own mother, Rolland desires to “pay it forward” to other women.
Even as a teen, Rolland would shop at dime stores, and then take those prices and shop those prices at other dime stores. Later, Rolland attended the University of North Dakota, which required a two hour drive to school each day for three years. During that time, she went through four cars after colliding with everything from moose to bear.
It was during this time, when she was so intensely dedicated to her work, that Rolland had her second defining moment. Rolland went to school half the day, but also worked for a financial services firm making cold calls. During that time, Rolland was also cold-called by an outside investment firm. That firm convinced Rolland to spend her $5,000 Christmas bonus she had received from her job on a soy bean investment. Within weeks, the investment was worthless. Rolland felt the sting of a dishonest broker taking advantage of an eager young woman and she vowed to herself two things: First, that she would never do that to others or let anyone under her charge do that to others. Second, Rolland promised herself to help develop and mentor other women to become financially savvy and independent.
In 1993 and after graduating from UND with a bachelor’s degree in financial management, Rolland turned her education and determination to Merrill Lynch as a financial advisor; she became a million dollar producer within six years, based largely on providing services for divorced women. She moved to Denver in 1999, a city she now describes as “our real center.”
Today, Rolland spends 70 percent of her time as the managing director, Heartland market executive, for Merrill Lynch U.S. Wealth Management. In her market region, Rolland oversees 950 employees instilling a “cohesive purpose and culture in an attempt to make sure we are delivering one cohesive company to our clients.”
Rolland was born in northern Minnesota, in the small town of Thief River Falls. She met her husband, Rob, also a Minnesotan, at a party on New Year’s Eve on Lake Minnetonka. He was a big boater, and obviously had to give that up when they moved to Denver. The family has now replaced boating with skiing, particularly in Vail, where they own a second home.
The couple has two young children, Keaton and Connor. Keaton, Rolland says, is deeply committed to hockey, despite several concussions. “Connor,” she relates, “is deeply committed to being anything his older brother is!” In addition to skiing, the family is active in the golf community at Columbine Country Club, and Rolland is also an active runner.
Corporate Social Responsibility
In addition to her work as a wealth manager and director, Rolland spends time as the market president for Denver and state president for Colorado at Bank of America, tasked with championing the company’s business strategy and overseeing Bank of America’s corporate social responsibilities. According to Brian Moynihan, Bank of America’s chief executive officer, “Jodi’s extensive experience and leadership will guide her and her team in serving the Denver community.”
Bank of America’s corporate social responsibility efforts are significant and diverse, and focus on corporate giving, employee volunteerism, arts and culture. These efforts focus, according to Rolland, “on getting our employees, customers and clients to think about giving back every day to their communities.” For example, Bank of America employees volunteered two million hours in 2013, and B of A has donated 1,000 homes to veterans. A majority of the volunteerism is local—in Colorado alone, Bank of America employees contributed 12,000 hours in 2013; the organization gave $1.2 million to local nonprofit organizations and, since 2010, has given away 21 homes to wounded veterans and low income families. None of this volunteerism or giving is mandated or rewarded. It’s simply part of the culture. According to Rolland, part of this culture of corporate social responsibility can trace its roots to the company’s founder, AP Giannini, an Italian immigrant. After the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, California and subsequent fires, Giannini walked the streets handing out loans to her citizens, many of whom were immigrants themselves, in order to rebuild the community when no one else would.
One of Rolland’s favorite projects is the Student Leaders program where high school student leaders are paired with local nonprofits, and paid by Bank of America. Both the students and the nonprofits mutually grow and develop. This is part of what Rolland calls the “ground up approach” to developing both corporate and community social responsibility. At this point, Bank of America has recognized over 700 nonprofits and trained over 1,200 leaders nationally.
Similarly, this year Bank of America awarded Warren Village $200,000 and extensive leadership training in designating Warren Village as the recipient of the Neighborhood Builders award. Warren Village is a Colorado nonprofit providing affordable housing, childcare and family services to low-income single parent families in the Denver area. Through this program and many others, Bank of America, with the help of Rolland, its employees, clients and customers, put their money where their mouth is when they say they have a commitment to corporate social responsibility.
Rolland is on the board of the Denver Junior Achievement and the National Leadership Academy, a Denver-based program that engages high school students in leadership training, service learning and civic engagement. Rolland has also served on several additional boards, including the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, the Pacific Symphony, the Orangewood Children’s Foundation, the Women’s Philanthropy Fund and the Garth Brooks Touch ‘Em All Foundation. Rolland is particularly fond of her “Women, Wealth & Wisdom” event for women clients. At this half-day event, hundreds of women gather to learn about other women’s journeys and hear speakers discuss health, human trafficking, and other current events. Rolland describes this event as a “thank you to all of the women in our community.”
Rolland could have taken the lessons of youth and college and turned inward and been quite successful managing and acquiring wealth. Instead, Rolland turned outward, and shares her passion with others and genuinely lives by her own credo: Rolland gives forward and gives back.
BIO: Scott S. Evans is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the University of Virginia School of Law, a single father of two, a business litigation attorney, writer and high school lacrosse coach living in Centennial. Scott has freelanced for various newspapers, magazines, journals and academic publications including The Wall Street Journal and the Manchester Union Leader.