If you ask homeowners in certain neighborhoods around Baltimore City if they have heard of Guy Stafford, you are likely to get an enthusiastic, yes.

For the past thirteen years, Stafford, once a senior vice president with 1st Mariner Bank was the link between low-income families and their slice of the American Dream, homeownership. He has played a significant role in helping those who reside in low-income neighborhoods around Baltimore City obtain home loans.

In addition to helping people find mortgages, he spent a lot of time teaching financial literacy to young adults. Stafford teamed up with Operation Hope, a non-profit program that fosters financial literacy in local schools, to spread knowledge about how to most prudently accumulate wealth and spend money.

Stafford, who also carried the title of community reinvestment officer at 1st Mariner, said he joined Operation Hope to educate young adults in urban communities on financial literacy, managing money, understanding the banking system and helping young people make wise financial decisions for their future.

Stafford told the AFRO, “I began my career in the consumer financial industry, and therefore banking seemed to be a natural progression.”

In 1982 Stafford began his banking career at a Citibank New York branch in Baltimore. He later moved to 1st Mariner in 2000. As the senior vice president and community reinvestment officer some of his responsibilities included giving back to the community in which he worked.

“I made lending available to low-income families, participated in community and outreach efforts and offered community investments,” said Strafford.

Stafford is a son of Baltimore. He attended Baltimore city schools, graduating from Northwestern High School.

He grew up in a single-parent household, some of it spent in a hard-scrabble neighborhood where the seeds were planted within Stafford to promote financial literacy and community reinvestment. He said, “For a short period of time I lived in Murphy homes public housing and I wanted to improve on the overall living environment of those who lived in those areas.” His mother worked as a manager at a mental health facility for thirty years.

Strafford said he prides himself on the new development of the Murphy homes projects. He said, “About fifteen years ago, Murphy homes was demolished and Enterprise homes built newly constructed homes there.”

“With the new homes constructed, I helped the last fifty families obtain loans in order to purchase homes within that community, currently known as Heritage Crossings.”

Once labeled as a crime-ridden area, the cluster of government subsidized housing units has been converted into townhouses primarily for former Murphy residents who commonly referred to their neighborhood as “the projects.”

The turn-around, he said, “makes me feel good especially since I lived there for a short period of time… I helped families get into affordable good homes.”

After thirty-one years in the banking industry, Strafford reflects a new wave of bankers who are trying to connect with their customers and communities on a personal level.

On May 17, Stafford left 1st Mariner Bank to become M&T Bank’s vice president and community lending manager. Strafford said he was recruited by M&T Bank to duplicate his success at 1st Mariners.

Strafford currently remains actively involved with Operation Hope and says he is committed to spreading the word about financial literacy to Baltimore school students.


Blair Adams

AFRO Staff Writer