Carla approaches every situation intent on making a positive difference. She has served as the inaugural chair of the TIAA Young Professionals employee resource group, a member of the TIAA Charlotte volunteer council and is currently active in the TIAA Women's employee resource group. She's equally involved in her community.
As a leader in TIAA’s Digital business, Carla supports her team by seeking opportunities to empower them to lead while she supports from behind. "My expectation is that my team members are recognized as leaders and amazing partners to business and IT."
But Carla's story becomes extraordinary when she talks about her son.
Never giving up
Carla became a foster parent to her son when he was a 10-day old premature baby. At six months, he was returned to his mother by the court, although she was drug addicted and lost her parental rights to her 10 other children. Seeing how ill-equipped his parents were to care for him, Carla gave up her foster license and supported his mom as a private citizen—this included buying groceries, a car and even a house.
Despite the time and resources Carla dedicated to him, his biological parents' drug abuse and mental health issues impacted him to the point that he attempted suicide at six years old. "When I saw the system failing him yet again—I knew I had to fight for him and finally found the right attorney who agreed to take my case."
For six years, Carla was told there was no path to adopt him, but she never gave up—and was finally granted permanent custody late last year.
Carla points to the many ways TIAA helped her during her journey. "There's no way I could have done this without the support of this company, my managers, my peers and colleagues." This support and various company benefits—like the Employee Assistance Program—helped Carla achieve her dream.
Carla has made a huge difference in his life, but he's also changed hers—you can hear it in her voice when she talks about him. "He's made me a much better person. Personally and professionally I've grown so much."