LaRae Orullian, the oldest of four children, grew up in a town outside Salt Lake City. Her mother, a traditional mom, taught her to cook, sew, mend and iron. LaRae remembers their lovely home and vegetable gardens and “a happy childhood in a warm cohesive family.”
LaRae was in high school when she got a summer job as a bank messenger girl. Within two weeks, she was promoted to coin wrapper, then to file clerk, and then loan processor, and on up until she headed the Federal Housing Administration’s Title One Department. Wishing to continue that success, she decided to venture to Wall Street to become a businesswoman. On her way to New York, she stopped in the first city of significant size, which was Denver. She began as a secretary but planned to make her move to bank officer—a position held primarily by men. To do so she would have to attend banking school, where banks traditionally sent men to attend. LaRae spend fourteen years in night school until she graduated with three certificates from the American Bankers Association’s (ABA)American Institute of Banking.
She made her next breakthrough in 1969, when the National Association of Bank Women awarded her its first scholarship to the graduate banking school at Ohio State University. She used her vacations to spend two weeks a year on campus and did the rest by correspondence, graduating with the top 5 percent of her class in a degree in real estate finance.
In 1976, several women interested in forming the Women’s Bank asked her to join their founding group. Serving would have been a conflict of interest with her duties at Guaranty Bank, but she agreed to advise them. Mary Roebling was named chair person of the board, she became LaRae’s inspiration and mentor. She agreed became the president and CEO of Women’s Bank.
She went on to hold the highest position of any woman in the banking industry. She was the first president and chief executive officer of the Women’s Bank in Denver, a leader among the nation’s minority banks with an outstanding record in growth, profits, and service to women and small business. When the Women’s Bank formed Equitable Bankshares of Colorado, a bank holding company, she became president and chief executive officer and later vice chair of Equitable Bank of Littleton, Colorado. A devoted community activist, Orullian helps provide educational seminars for women in banking, sits on the World Board of Directors of the Girl Scouts, and has chaired the boards of Frontier Airlines, Colorado Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and Rocky Mountain Administrative Services Corporation.