Kara Ford
Industry Relations Manager
Federal Reserve Financial Services


Kara Ford is an experienced payments professional with a strong background in banking, offering 13 years of expertise in driving exceptional financial service offerings for commercial, retail, and small business clients. Kara’s entailed work history with Zelle, RTP and FedNow solutions, implies she is a seasoned leader known for successfully implementing transformative payment experiences with the goal of enhancing bank customer satisfaction and customer operational efficiency. Currently with the Federal Reserve, Kara is responsible for industry outreach initiatives related to Federal Reserve Financial Services programming that targets key payments stakeholder partnership success while advancing Fed strategic objectives.

Notably, Ford was one of 30 women selected to participate in the inaugural Money2020 RiseUp accelerator program - a program aimed at addressing the gender imbalance in leadership positions in fintech and Financial Services sponsored by Money2020 and Visa. She was also a finalist for the USA Women in Payments Rising Star, which is awarded to a woman under the age of 35 who have working experience in the financial services or fintech industry and are excelling in their career. At the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank, Kara was a recipient of the President's Award for Excellence, given to individuals who deliver the highest level of work and results within the Chicago FRB for her work on FedNow.

How is the nominee propelling the industry forward?

Kara relies on her experience, intellect, a passion for data, and a strong network of industry contacts to be her generation’s change agent. Her current leadership position on the Federal Reserve’s Industry Relations team provides her a platform for opportunity and empowers her to be a driver for change; one that positively impacts those involved or benefitting from a robust payment system.

Kara has been an effective leader in her collaborative work involving FedNow program management and content development. Kara architected and led the development of the FedNow enablement journey and persona initiatives that proved to be instrumental in the successful launch of the FedNow network in 2023. That effort continues to have a positive impact in the education process for organizations going live on the FedNow network and the operational pipeline development and onboarding processes.

Kara’s impact is not limited to financial institutions as she continues to be instrumental in the development of the broader payments landscape. She oversees the ongoing growth management of the FedNow Service Provider Showcase, a key platform that educates and creates awareness of service providers capable of enabling connectivity to FedNow services and use cases expansion.

Where do you see the nominee succeeding in the future?

Kara is determined to succeed and her passion to serve the industry will propel her to new heights. The combination of her nine years private industry experience and four years serving with Federal Reserve Financial Services, the public payment infrastructure provider, affords her a unique perspective for ideating upon and influencing the evolution of the U.S. payment system. Regardless of the payment system participant, Kara has the desire to create an excellent experience for users and will continue to be instrumental identifying areas for improvement.

Internal to FRFS, Kara is a figurehead as she champions diversity, equality and inclusionary initiatives while helping FRFS embrace organizational change. Kara continues to make time to mentor young and seasoned professionals alike by teaching them how to think more critically, bound only by the key tenants of FRFS.