Faces of the Atlanta Fed: Amy Goodman of Cash Operations
Amy Goodman earned her degree in special education. It took her just a year to realize that the profession wasn't for her.
Even so, her teaching skills proved to be an asset for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
In 1980, the Bank was looking to hire someone who understood the new Monetary Control Act and could explain it to external constituents. Goodman took a job in the Atlanta Fed's New Orleans Branch as an operations clerk and wound up giving presentations to financial institutions about the new legislation (which, among other things, required all banks to abide by the Fed's reserve rules) and the Federal Reserve.
"I got to read the regulation, interpret it, and go out and teach others," Goodman said. "It was a great introduction to the Bank."
Now, 38 years later, Goodman continues to teach and share her knowledge with others inside and outside the Bank. Since 2009, she has been vice president and head of the Atlanta Fed's cash business line, overseeing all currency and coin operations that serve financial institutions throughout the Federal Reserve's Sixth District, which includes Georgia, Alabama, Florida, and parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Through the Miami Branch, the District also manages a large international currency operation, primarily servicing countries in Latin America and Central America. (Goodman discussed her work and the Atlanta Fed's cash operations in a recent episode of the Economy Matters podcast.)
She has been based in New Orleans, where she was born and grew up, her entire career. She has held leadership positions in the Bank's accounting, human resources, securities services, District cash services, support, payments, systems, and planning departments.
Once a teacher, always a teacher
Throughout her time at the Bank, Goodman has been guided by her teaching instincts. Like a dedicated educator, she is passionate about her subject matter. As head of District cash services, she leads staff in Atlanta, Miami, Jacksonville, and New Orleans, and she travels throughout the Federal Reserve System to work on national policy and strategic initiatives. "I think I have the best job in the Bank," Goodman says.
The Bank has changed much since the 1980s, when the office had a governmental look and feel, she said. The working environment is less formal in some ways now, she added, but high performance remains the goal. "The Bank has done a great job in staying contemporary, staying meaningful," Goodman says.
Over the years, there have been challenges. She remembers being assigned to the securities services department to turn around operations after a management overhaul. "We had incurred 100 percent management turnover and the staff was demoralized," Goodman recalled. "It was a scary situation."
But, as a good teacher would, Goodman and her management team rose to the challenge and got the job done, working 50 and 60 hours a week for many months ahead of an extensive audit by the Bank's board. The work paid off when the department received a stellar review, which Goodman credited to her staff.
"She has consistently set a high bar for her team, and she really drives and inspires a pursuit of excellence," said Christina Wilson, a vice president in the Bank's Jacksonville Branch who works in cash services and reports to Goodman. "The value she brings is a ton of historical knowledge and great interpersonal savvy. She has built wonderful relationships across the System such that people call on her often for strategically important work assignments."
Away from the office, Goodman indulges her love of pets, reading, and cooking French and Cajun dishes. A mother of two, she reaches out to help other children. This past year, she and her husband housed two students from Honduras under a program offered through her church. The students, a boy and girl, came to the United States to attend twelfth-grade classes in hopes of continuing their education beyond high school. (In Honduras, secondary school typically ends in the eleventh grade.) Currently, Goodman devotes her weekends to two female visiting students. "It's been a wonderful experience for us," she said. "It keeps us young and fresh."
Goodman gives back to the community in other ways, too. She serves on the board of trustees for the New Orleans Metropolitan Association of YMCAs and is past treasurer of United Way of Greater New Orleans. She admits she has a soft spot for the YMCA, where she met her husband as a teenager and made friends "from all walks of life."
A tough but fair mentor to others
Those who have worked with Goodman said she has high standards but is fair and nurturing. She gives honest feedback, telling subordinates things they may not want to hear to help them improve. She has been a longtime participant in the Bank's mentoring program. Many staffers who were under Goodman's wing now hold Bank leadership positions.
"She delivers what could be a difficult message in a way that preserves the dignity of the person," said Evette Jones, a vice president based in Atlanta who is responsible for cash operations and oversight of centralized support for the Bank's Operations and Administrative Services division.
Jones, who started her career in the New Orleans Branch, said Goodman was a calming, encouraging influence who helped her succeed by pointing out unwritten rules of the workplace and giving advice on how to handle certain office situations. "When you have an issue and you ask Amy, she always has a thoughtful, wise response," Jones said. "She's a great representation of what we want in our Bank leadership—someone who is very approachable with wisdom to impart and a willingness and desire to do so."
Given her teaching roots, it's no surprise that enabling others to flourish is important to Goodman. "People will figure out pretty quickly if you're climbing the ladder on the backs of others," she said. "The way to truly succeed in life is to be that hand that takes people along with you on the journey."