Former NCUA Chairman Rodney E. Hood Joins Zest AI’s Board of Directors

Zest AI team
February 14, 2024

Financial inclusion advocate endorses AI lending technology to increase economic equity

LOS ANGELES, CALIF. February 14, 2024 — Zest AI, the leader in AI lending technology, is honored to welcome the former National Credit Union Administration Board (NCUA) Chairman, Rodney E. Hood, to its Board of Directors. A longtime champion of economic empowerment and financial inclusion, Hood brings 30 years of both public and private financial services experience to the now five-person board, which also includes Upfront Ventures Partner Aditi Maliwal, Matrix Partners General Partner Dana Stalder, and Insight Partners Managing Director Jon Rosenbaum.

“It’s a privilege to welcome Rodney to our Board of Directors,” said Zest AI CEO Mike de Vere. “I’ve admired his work and tireless advocacy for financial inclusion from afar for years, so this is a humbling milestone for our company. From his commitment to ensuring an equitable credit system to his fearless and forward-thinking mindset, Rodney embraces AI technology for good. I couldn’t imagine a more qualified advisor.” 

“I’ve said it before, and I’ll continue to say that financial inclusion is one of the defining civil rights issues of our time,” said Hood. “With its patented technology, proven fair lending models, regulatory expertise, and mission to drive economic equity, Zest AI is one of the strongest advocates for and solutions to this issue. Given our shared commitment to economic prosperity, the decision to join Zest AI’s board was an easy one. I’m looking forward to digging in and becoming an active participant in developing and distributing an innovative solution to the problem I’ve dedicated my career to addressing.”

Hood’s historic tenure at the NCUA began in 2005 when former President George W. Bush nominated him to serve as Vice Chairman. In 2019, he was nominated to serve again, this time as NCUA Board Chairman, making Hood the first Black American to lead a banking regulatory agency. He served as a board member until January of this year. During his time with the NCUA, Hood helped the board develop an effective regulatory framework, respond to the COVID-19 crisis, and promote diversity, equity, and financial inclusion. Following the killing of George Floyd, he launched the Advancing Communities through Credit, Education, Stability and Support (ACCESS) initiative and also established the agency’s first Office of Financial Technology and Access. 

Prior to his NCUA appointment, Hood was at the forefront of corporate responsibility at JPMorgan Chase, where he managed national partnerships with non-profit organizations promoting financial inclusion. Before that, he worked as a national director in Wells Fargo's community development lending division, where he helped launch affordable housing projects while working with Habitat for Humanity and NeighborWorks America on educational resources. 

To date, Zest AI has deployed over 400 active models and is backed by a comprehensive patent portfolio for its industry-leading AI technology. Zest AI has a 100% retention rate for its credit union customers and has helped lenders increase approvals by 49% for Latinos, 41% for Black applicants, 40% for women, 36% for elderly applicants, and 31% for AAPI applicants, all while holding risk constant. Zest AI is also proud to have been selected among hundreds of fintech companies for the Forbes Fintech 50 list this year, recognizing firms that continue to innovate, grow and adapt despite lower valuations and a collapse in venture capital support.

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