Author: Erika O'Shea
Published: Wednesday, 17 Mar 2021
Mina Glenn, Project Manager at H&R Block, is a testament to the power of relationships and perseverance. She is determined to leverage her success to elevate the community around her. After graduating high school in Manhattan, Kansas, Mina dove straight into building a career following the footsteps of family members. “I chose banking because I enjoyed working with money and I had aunts who worked at banks.” Mina landed a position at a local Commerce Bank branch and impressed her supervisor with her drive and ambition.
Their relationship quickly became that of mentor and mentee. “She was the first person to hire me in the banking industry. Every time she got promoted, she came back to get me to work under her. She literally hired me seven different times. She saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself.” Eventually, a step on her career journey led Mina to Kansas City and H&R Block. “One of my co-worker’s husbands worked at H&R Block. When they opened a bank, she decided to go work for them and asked me to follow her.”
At first, Mina wasn’t sure if a mid-career shift was the right choice for her. “I had 15 years at Commerce Bank, working my way up. She was asking me to leave my comfort-zone.” But her co-worker persisted until Mina agreed to give the company a chance, albeit with some reservations. “I decided to go check it out, but I’m very realistic. I am a woman. I am a black woman. I am a black woman with no college education. I knew off the bat I would have to work ten times harder than everybody else. So that’s what I did.”
Mina aced the interview and got the job. Her day-to-day work relies on her aptitude for connection to facilitate work with groups inside and outside of the organization. “It’s my responsibility to make sure everyone knows what they’re supposed to do, and that they do it on time and on budget. It is a tough job, but if you build a relationship people will do what you ask them to do. That’s what has happened between me and the people that have brought me along and that's what I try to do.”
Being a black woman in her industry for nearly three decades, Mina knows firsthand the need for increased diversity and representation. “It is very much a struggle. The higher up you go, the less you see people who look like me. I have always been the one. The one black child in cheerleading. The one black child in the choir. That’s not unfamiliar to me, although it's sad.” The recent societal push for racial equity ignited a shift in direction at Mina’s company. “On the heels of all that happened in 2020, we finally have a CEO who is not just paying lip service. Who really has a heart for community and for people. He has done tremendous things in a short period of time to change the demographic within H&R block.”
Mina is optimistic that the progress she sees now will be lasting, “It’s not going to happen overnight, but I can tell you we are on a great path. We are moving forward every day and it feels good to be part of that that change.” Mina has taken responsibility for creating change too, acting as a leader, mentor, and role-model for women of all ages. In addition to her work as a Junior Achievement Volunteer Mentor, Mina co-chairs the Mentoring Committee for H&R Block’s Women’s Network and is an Assistant Coach for Girls on the Run.
Mina’s history with Junior Achievement started with an early experience in middle school. As an adult, she was excited for the opportunity to return to JA to inspire young minds and build relationships with her peers. Her initial experience leading traditional JA programs snowballed into a decade long partnership with JAKC. “After that first year, the teacher kept requesting me. Then she told other teachers, even after becoming principle. Then all of THEM were requesting me. The train just kept going and suddenly I had done ten or eleven years!”
One moment at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary stands out in her many years of JA service. “I asked everyone to bring out their markers to do an activity. The whole class got up and made a beeline to one student.” Mina was unsure what was happening as the class surrounded the desk of one girl. “She had this dirty little cosmetic bag with a few random markers, crayons, and colored pencils.” Mina asked if there were any other classroom supplies. There were not. The teacher revealed the reason for the shortage, “It has to come out of my pocket, and I can’t afford that.”
Mina was stunned. “It broke my heart. There is no way we can expect kids to succeed when they can’t even have the basics.” This event sparked Mina into action. “I contacted the school. I couldn’t do a whole lot, but I wanted to do something.” Mina pulled from her own savings and rallied her network to make sure students at the school had what they needed to thrive the next fall. “We did drives at H&R Block. I hit up my friends and co-workers. I was able to buy 1500 items to donate. I wanted these teachers to have hand sanitizer, and tissues, and whatever else they needed.”
Mina traces the roots of her community-spirit back to her own upbringing. “I was a child raised by grandparents. They raised nine girls. They put me in a lot of different community organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters and Boys and Girls Club. Places where I was given one-on-one attention and mentoring.” Mina is proud to support programs like those she was a recipient of as a young girl. “I love mentoring young girls, helping them figure out who they are and who they can be.”
She takes special pride in building the next generation’s pathway to success through monthly giving. “I believe in the power of giving. I grew up on welfare and what I would consider low-income. We weren’t dirt poor, but we didn’t have any extra.” Mina feels a strong calling to invest in a world that invested in her. “For me to go from no college education to a six-figure salary…how could I not give financially? The crazy thing is, I don’t even miss it. The blessings keep coming. I look at it as my responsibility and I love doing it. Even when I can’t see them receive the help, I know what it feels like because I’ve been there.”
Mina is passionate about instilling this same attitude into the girls she mentors. “I tell them, it doesn’t matter how old you are, when you have the opportunity, you should give your time, your talent, or your finances. Whichever one you can, at whatever time you can. That is everybody’s responsibility. I have them look me in the eye and promise me that along their journey in life they will do that.”
Mina’s passion for relationship building is creating waves of change in the lives of Kansas City girls and women. “I just want to get my message across to as many as I can: I know where you are. I was there. If I can do it, I promise you can do it. As much as college education is important, just because you don’t get there, or can’t get there, doesn’t mean you are a failure. You can still succeed. It is just a matter of making a plan and putting your mind to it.”