It was an otherwise ordinary, end-of-season youth football banquet—participation trophy included.
But not for TC Alexander, dad to young Nicholas.
Because he was running late from work in 2002 and nearly missed his son's big event, Alexander had an awakening that night: He needed a new job in a new industry. One that would always have him on time for such events. One that could jump-start his career but also allow him to prioritize what's most important in his life.
He found both in banking and has kept hustling ever since.
Advancing his career and community by taking action is typical for Alexander, according to those who know him well. They laugh when told that he says TC stands for "Total Control."
And then they quickly and warmly describe him as proactive, a planner, change-agent and trusted advisor.
"TC doesn't turn down a challenge. He's the type of person who, if he can do it, he's going to do it," said Leonard Leach, a friend of 20 years and his pastor at Mount Hebron Missionary Baptist Church in Garland, Texas. Leach recalls one such challenge when as the church's youngest-ever finance chairman, Alexander served as the point-person for a campaign that reduced a seven-figure debt by 50%. Continued Leach, "He'll step up, take command and do what needs to be done."
Excited for his future
Getting things done is a way of life for Alexander, and it's at the heart of his new role serving the Dallas area as a community development relationship manager for BOK Financial®.
In what he calls "the best move ever" and "the feel-good moment of my career," he now works with nonprofits, individuals, entrepreneurs and the underserved to improve financial literacy, increase the awareness of available capital and provide mentoring resources to business owners.
Longtime friend Charles Wakley said, "It's the perfect job for him. It fits his personality since he's unselfish. He's always trying to figure out ways for people to do better."
An early win for Alexander in his new role is joining the board of City Square, a Bank of Texas client where he earlier volunteered. The nonprofit offers "a comprehensive array of social services that address four key areas related to the persistence of poverty: hunger, health, housing and hope," according to its website. Not one to sit idly by or seek the spotlight, Alexander promises to challenge his fellow board members to "not just come to meetings and talk about things," but to make an impact.
"I'm getting to help these organizations that help other people. And that's just a passion of mine—helping people," said Alexander.
A desire for more
Raised in Lawton, Oklahoma, Thomas Clifton Alexander was excited to move away after graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Cameron University, also in Lawton.
"One day, I'm looking out of the window, daydreaming," he said. "And it hits me that I'm going to college literally across the street from where I was born! So that's when I decided to leave."
Staying would have been popular according to Wakley, his high school buddy, who added, "He could have been mayor of Lawton, had he run. Everyone loved him; he's the type of person that everyone gets along with."
Subsequent years working long retail hours, including managing restaurants, took him to Dallas, Atlanta and then Fayetteville, North Carolina. Along the way, he married Gladys, now his wife of 22 years. But after living through two hurricanes in Fayetteville, it was time to return to Texas. "I was looking for a better way of life," Alexander said.
Finding his calling
Coming home, he first resumed retail work, but then was encouraged to join the banking industry. Alexander has always had the "gift of gab" and the ability to connect with others. He hit his stride professionally as a branch manager, taking one location from bottom to top in profitability within two years. He later became a business banker, making customers out of prospects and growing relationships with legacy clients.
"He's successful because his work style is truly collaborative and open-door," said Michelle Washington, a 10-year senior business banker at Bank of Texas, who was recruited by Alexander. "He was always available to talk through a deal and take the steps to get it done as long as it was in our best interests, or as he called it, as being 'shareholders of the bank.'"
Alexander's enthusiasm for his new role is due to the client success he's achieved and a desire to both empower community members and save them from the types of inequities he experienced first-hand years earlier.
In a prior industry, experiences, including unequal job requirements for the same role and having a hard-earned performance bonus paid short of his expectations, motivated him to pivot his career path.
Determined, he used these events—ones beyond his control—to take more responsibility for his destiny. By becoming an individual producer in the banking industry, he felt his hard work could be properly rewarded.
He's now been in banking nearly 20 years, more than half with BOK Financial and its affiliates.
Generosity and empathy personified
Alexander hosted childhood friend Wakley rent-free, and with no expectations in return, when Wakley moved to Dallas in search of a job. "He's just that type of person. He'd never mention it; it just comes from the genuineness of his heart," Wakley said. "He's always going the extra mile, doing something for someone, looking out for friends and family. He may look intimidating, but he's got the biggest heart of any guy."
Away from his day job, his care and counsel continue. Alexander is a licensed minister, ordained in the Baptist Church. He's traveled to Zambia on a church mission and provided guidance to the church's youth and music programs. Ever compassionate, he has also read scripture at funerals to comfort those in grief. Pastor Leach calls him "an encourager of people, always finding the best in a situation and willing to counsel parishioners of all ages."
Always the family man
His guidance and active involvement continue at home, too. If that means waking at 6 a.m. to get his young granddaughter a pink donut with chocolate sprinkles before his workday starts, then so be it. He and Gladys—an administrative assistant in the Garland Independent School District who he calls "amazing"—are parents to Joey, 35; Daniela, 29; and Nicholas, 23.
And though it's a busy house, friends report that Alexander actively cared for his grandmother and parents during their health declines, and that he attends as many events as he can for the children of friends whose grandparents live far away. In baseball terms, he's a "designated grandfather."
Many years after nearly missing his then-young son's football banquet, all of Alexander's hustling has provided the proverbial silver lining of more family time. "My daughter has given us two grandchildren, a five-year-old and a two-year-old, who live with us and are my heart," Alexander said.
Nicholas, now a college senior, runs 60-, 100- and 200-meter sprints for the University of Houston track team, coached by Olympic Gold Medalists Carl Lewis and Leroy Burrell. His parents often travel cross-country to cheer him on.
And by responding to his awakening, TC Alexander doesn't risk missing many events anymore.
Top photo caption: The family supporting Nicholas at a University of Houston track meet.