Photo of flowers with inductee name Shirley Nelson

Shirley Nelson was inducted into the Business and Professions Category in 2015.

My Story

Shirley Nelson began her career in banking as a teller in Alaska. She moved to Alameda County with her toddler son in the 1960s and, as a single mother, got work as a teller. When a promotional opportunity arose, she was offered the job for a salary 50 percent less than a male counterpart. She took matters into her own hands and started Summit Bank in 1982, in Oakland, where it continues strong today. Summit Bank is now the oldest community bank in Oakland, with more than 400 months of profitability, and it has been a central player in the development of Oakland and Alameda County. Shirley also is the founder of the Summit Bank Foundation which provides full scholarships to local youth who otherwise would be unable to attend college. The foundation also launched a financial literacy program for inner-city youth. Shirley has rebuffed offers over the years to move her bank, underscoring her commitment to Oakland and Alameda County. Shirley has been named one of the Top 25 Women Bankers in America and in December 2014 was named Community Banker of the Year by the Independent Bankers of America. She has long been a role model for women in banking and finance, as well as a mentor to women in business and schools.