Banking New England Sept/Oct 2019

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Sandra J. Pattie Honoree Cynthia Merkle, Union Savings Bank

Embracing LIBOR Alternatives

Women In Banking


Women In Banking

Sandra J. Pattie Honoree Gilda Nogueira, East Cambridge Savings Bank






Letter from the Publisher


Women of FIRE Program Agenda


Interest Rates


Community Reinvestment

Franklin Savings Plan for Financial Literacy



On The Job

Is Your Workplace in Crisis?

Citizens Bank Joins with Questlove


Anything but Banking


Perceptions Can Sink or Lift You



Joe Gianni, Market President at Bank of America

On the Move Try to Keep Up


Women of FIRE

Profiles of the Winners


Did You See?

Embracing Libor


New England Women In Banking Program Agenda




Our News Roundup For Banking In New England’s Weekly Newsletter


Burnout In The Workplace September/October 2019 | BANKING NEW ENGLAND 3


Women In Leadership: Banking From A Different Viewpoint


his issue of Banking New England highlights two events – the Women of FIRE (Finance, Insurance & Real Estate) awards and the annual New England Women in Banking Conference – that pay special attention to promoting the prospects of women in financial services. Both are well received events, but both also get some pushback. Why, we’re asked, do we need events focused on women? And if those events exist, should there be banking events focused on men? Certainly, financial services – especially banks and credit unions – have lots of female employees. But the real question has to be what is the leadership path like? VINCE VA LVO Women in lower and mid-level positions are one thing, but what is the opportunity for women to make their mark in the executive ranks? It does everyone a disservice to turn a blind eye to the obvious, that even in an age that is supposed to be empowering for females that women remain a real minority in terms of real power. At the end of September, Cynthia Merkle was elected chair of the Connecticut Bankers Association – the first woman to ever hold that post. Clearly, it’s to the CBA’s credit that she has ascended, but in the association’s long history that she is the only woman to even get in striking distance of the top slot. And there aren’t any other women in line behind her on the association board. That’s not the association’s fault, of course – it can only pull as directors from the top ranks of its members. But it does illustrate that more work needs to be done to fill bank leadership roles with female financiers. As for the question of whether there should be banking events focused on men, our observation would be that almost all of them already are. We were privileged to participate at a recent community banking symposium, and of the 80 or so attendees, fewer than five were women – and none of the speakers were. At the New England Women in Banking Conference, in the eight years that this event has been taking place, no man has ever been a featured speaker on stage. The conference goes out of its way to give women’s voices a chance to be heard – not just as panelists, but as main presenters and keynoters. And at Women of FIRE, the ladies who lead in companies across southern New England are given the recognition they deserve. For those who push and say events that promote women shouldn’t exist, we can only say we agree. But we can’t say that the day when that statement is true is today.




CEO, PUBLISHER & EDITOR Vincent M. Valvo ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Barb Dimauro MANAGING EDITOR Keith Griffin GRAPHIC DESIGN MANAGER Stacy Murray INTERACTIVE DESIGN DIRECTOR Alison Valvo ONLINE CONTENT DIRECTOR Navindra Persaud OPERATIONS MANAGER Kurt Schenher GRAPHIC DESIGNER Scott Ellison Interested in receiving additional copies of Banking New England? Call (860) 719-1991 or email ©2019 American Business Media LLC All rights reserved. Banking New England magazine is a trademark of American Business Media LLC. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. Advertising, editorial and production inquiries should be directed to: American Business Media LLC


Publisher & Editor

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345 North Main St., Suite 313 West Hartford, CT 06117

LUNCHEON AGENDA | October 11, 2019 The Women of FIRE program, presented by Banking New England Magazine and American Business Media, celebrates the most talented, the most ambitious, the most innovative and the most philanthropic women from the Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate industries. Women of FIRE recipients are chosen through a very selective process with nominations solicited from our readers and a panel of judges who weigh all of the nominees, their experience and accomplishments before choosing each winner. This year’s recipients are featured on the following pages and honored at the awards luncheon on Friday, October 11, 2019 at The Verve Crowne Plaza in Natick, MA.

Thank you for helping us honor these exceptional women. PRESENTED BY

11:30 am Welcome Reception / Networking 12:00 pm Guests seated for lunch 12:15 pm Opening Remarks 12:25 pm Lunch 12:45 pm Keynote Speaker – Kristina Tsipouras Kristina Tsipouras is a 34-year old serial Entrepreneur and Massachusetts native who saw a need for a fresh new networking group in town and founded Boston Business Women. Today, the group has nearly 20,000 active members. Kristina’s most recent success is in her brand of beauty products, Moroccan Magic | Clean Beauty. After only 3 years in business, Moroccan Magic lip balms are available in Target, CVS, Walgreens, Wegman’s, Stop & Shop, Bed, Beth & Beyond, Whole Foods and other national retailers and everyone from The Today Show to the cofounder of Apple, Steve Wozniak to Oprah Winfrey’s make-up artist, calls it, “the best new drugstore lip balm.” Kristina is also founder of Busy Girl Boston, ZOOS Greek Tea, a published author, Huffington Post blogger, and an active mentor and volunteer to young women interested in entrepreneurship. She and her brands have been featured in USA Today, Forbes, The Boston Globe, and many other high-profile publications.

1:00 pm Award Presentation NEW ENGLAND

2:30 pm Conclusion


September/October 2019 | BANKING NEW ENGLAND 5

BANKERS What Lisa’s nominator had to say about her: “For nearly 25 years Lisa Berube has been involved in the banking industry. Throughout those years, she has made a name for herself both as a businesswoman and as a community leader.” How did you get into this field? What keeps you motivated to stay? I was always interested in the financial field. I started as a part-time teller while I was attending school. It evolved into obtaining my insurance and financial licenses, in which I started my career in the Investment world. Then finally after becoming a mother, I decided I didn’t want to commute anymore and accepted a branch manager’s position to be closer to home and discovered that I truly enjoy building relationships with my local communities thru helping with their financial needs.

Lisa Berube AVP/Branch Manager Residential Loan Officer Essex Savings Bank

Have you had any great female mentors? What is the importance of mentoring and is this something that you focus on?

Mentoring is so important in every aspect of your life. Mentors cultivate you by sharing their knowledge and insight. I do focus on mentoring my staff in different ways, from how to handle a difficult interaction to how to achieve personal and professional success. What is your favorite book? My favorite book is Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. After reading numerous books by Austen, I’ve pondered on how life has changed for women in the past 200 years, for instance women do not need to depend on marriage for social and economic security or even to conceal their own intelligence.

I’ve had many female mentors throughout my life. It started at home with my mother, who joined the work force in the ‘70s. English was her second language and she was able to move up the ranks with tenacity and determination to become a manager of a very large company. I’ve followed her advice during the course of my own life.

What do you consider your greatest success?

What her nominator had to say: “Roxann’s professional accomplishments make her a natural for this recognition.”

mentor because I firmly believe in the power of mentoring and the benefits for all stakeholders including the mentor, mentee and the organization.

How did you get into this field? What keeps you motivated to stay?

What is your favorite book?

I had aspirations of becoming a physician. During a semester break from Dartmouth College, I worked in a seasonal position as a bank teller at a Boston community bank. That experience changed my career trajectory. I began each workday motivated to make a difference. It was rewarding to build trusting relationships with customers and identify financial solutions to assist them in achieving their goals. I remain as motivated today as I was when I first made the decision to become a retail banker because the one constant among the many changes is that people still remain the center and focus of our industry.

Roxann Cooke Consumer Banking & Wealth Management Regional Director JPMorgan Chase & Co

I myself have been honored to work with extremely knowledgeable and visionary female mentors during my professional career, who are always willing to give support and sound advice when needed. They have guided me to be the best that I can. I am truly appreciative to every one of them.

Have you had any great female mentors? What is the importance of mentoring and is this something that you focus on? My female mentors authentically share their personal stories including the challenges that they experience in navigating the stereotypes and roadblocks in a predominantly male-dominated industry. They share strategies to overcome these challenges and they lifted me as they climbed the corporate ladder. I pay it forward and serve as a

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My greatest success besides my marriage and motherhood would be the relationships I’ve established throughout my community, personal and professional.

My favorite book is titled, Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. President Lincoln was forward thinking and realized that the key to success during times of change is to invite those with different perspectives to the discussion and to inspire and create an environment where they are heard and their contributions are recognized and valued. I achieved success throughout my career because I relied on this same philosophy of inclusive leadership to assemble teams who are entrepreneurial, forward thinking and who challenge the status quo to continuously improve. What do you consider your greatest success? One of my favorite songs is titled, “If I can help somebody as I pass along, then my living shall not be in vain.” This song summarizes my belief that success is measured by the lives that I’ve inspired and positively impacted. My greatest success is to witness the success of those that I’ve helped either personally or professionally. My greatest personal success is witnessing the personal growth and journey of my two daughters as a result of the efforts and foundation that I established.

BANKERS What her nominator said: “As an effective and results-driven leader, Barbara motivates employees by encouraging personal and professional growth.” How did you get into this field? What keeps you motivated to stay?

Barbara Curto AVP, Marketing Manager Chelsea Groton Bank

I started my career at a marketing agency in Philadelphia, on both the public relations and advertising sides of the business. My clients were from a range of industries. When my husband and I relocated to Southeastern Connecticut, I began looking for corporate marketing positions in the industries where I had experience. I feel fortunate to have joined the marketing team at Chelsea Groton Bank. Over the last 4.5 years, I’ve worked to learn as much as I can about banking from my colleagues who are veterans of the industry, attending various conferences, and completing the Connecticut School of Finance and Management, a two-year program that gave an in-depth look at all facets of banking and leadership. While banking has been around for a long time, regulations, the economy and how people bank are always changing. Figuring out how to respond to these changes is an exciting challenge in bank marketing. I am also motivated by the mission of Chelsea Groton. Working for a company who focuses on helping individuals, families and businesses to get their start, plan for their future, and find success feels really good. I’m also

Have you had any great female mentors? The marketing agency where I worked was a women-owned business and had a number of strong, smart female leaders. I had one manager in particular who challenged, encouraged, and guided me through the early years of my career. My current manager has also been a mentor. She’s been in banking her whole career. I’ve learned a lot about banking and management from her, but most importantly, she encourages work-life balance. She checks in on me, not just the status of projects I’m leading. What is your favorite movie? “Best in Show” is a great movie. Humor is so important, and everything about this movie makes me laugh. What do you consider your greatest success? My husband and I have two daughters. While we’re still at the early stages of parenthood, nothing brings me more joy, or has taught me more about releasing control and managing my time than being a mom.

From her nominator: “Michelle believes in and is passionate about the credit union philosophy of people helping people.”

Have you had any great female mentors? What is the importance of mentoring and is this something that you focus on?

How did you get into this field? What keeps you motivated to stay?

I have had many people, not just females take the time to offer me advice and guidance over the years. I have been lucky to have caring people that can look past themselves and share their knowledge and experiences in all different paths in life.

It was not my intended path in life to be the CEO of a credit union, or to be in the financial industry at all. I found myself in a situation that most of us find ourselves at some point or other in our lives where I had left a job but still had bills to pay. I decided to contract with a job placement company with the intention of just finding work to get me by. The very first job that they showed me was a full-time teller position at Franklin First Federal Credit Union: 40 hours a week and a paycheck that was more than I was previously making sounded great to me. I interviewed for the job and the fates started to align.

Michelle Dwyer President/CEO Franklin First Federal Credit Union

proud of the contributions the bank makes to the community through donations, financial education, and employee volunteerism.

The motivation to stay was that there were always opportunities for me to advance and learn. I felt supported in my roles and knew that I had people that trusted and believed in me. I understood that if I kept pushing and working toward my goals that I would be able to eventually use my positioning to help effect change at the credit union and most importantly use that change to affect my community.

Mentors and mentees are one in the same. Every person you come in contact with impacts the way you listen, speak and interact and that there is a lesson to learn from each of those people. I have taken on the role of mentor a few times but have found that in the process of guiding and advising another person they, in turn, have guided me to understand how to be better. What do you consider your greatest success? Being able to encourage employees to learn, expand and find themselves in their careers, even if it isn’t with Franklin First. I have watched employees transform over the last three years from young ‘paycheck’ employees to ‘career driven’ employees. I find a feeling of success when I see others find success.

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BANKERS Her nominator said: “While starting in economic justice led to an influential career in finance and insurance, Kathy is equally accomplished and fierce about using her leadership to do good, give back, and mentor women to leap high professionally.” How did you get into this field? What keeps you motivated to stay? I have had the benefit of representing financial services clients in complex litigation matters as outside counsel and in various capacities as “in house” counsel. In both roles, I was able to significantly develop my legal skill set while contributing inside and outside the company. I am motivated by my incredible colleagues across the bank. They commit considerable volunteer hours to non-profit organizations and inspire me to see beyond the work on my desk to the customers and communities we serve.

Kathleen C. Henry EVP, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary Eastern Bank

Have you had any great female mentors? What is the importance of mentoring and is this something that you focus on? One of the most rewarding aspects of my experience here has been my Eastern lady banker squad. The senior women leaders in this unofficial peer mentor group took me under their collective wing as I integrated into the bank, offering

friendship and fun alongside their excellent work. These women are the soul of the bank and a true touchstone for me at work. I am also lucky to have my sister. She is 18 months older, knows me better than anyone, is a huge source of support AND has spent her career in the Boston insurance and reinsurance industries. My sister has been mentoring me since I was born. What is your favorite book? My favorite book is The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. I love this book because it is a women-centric Biblical story, narrated by a woman (Dinah) about the life of ancient women and their sacred time together in the red tent. The story of what women share is timeless. What do you consider your greatest success? What I am very proud of and grateful for is managing my demanding professional life with my wonderfully demanding personal life. The fact that I did not throw the towel in professionally when I had three children under 2, that I was able to hang on, work through those years of sleep deprivation, extreme fatigue, and incredibly difficult bouts of wanting to be home more and work less (or frankly, not at all), so I could be with my children all the time instead of some of the time.


INSPIRES Eastern Bank is committed to advancing women and their careers which is why we are proud to support the

Women of FIRE Awards. Congratulations to all of the honorees, including our very own talented leader, Kathy Henry. Thank you for inspiring us with your impressive achievements every day. Eastern Bank proudly gives 10% of its net income to local charities. To learn more please visit

Member FDIC

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BANKERS Kathleen’s nominator said: “She is committed to helping her community and ensuring her neighbors have the tools they need to forge healthy financial futures.” How did you get into this field? What keeps you motivated to stay? Getting into this field was entirely a happy accident. I had just graduated college and was looking for a job. I saw a job posting in the newspaper for a financial planning associate (whatever that meant). The position called for math skills and the ability to use Excel, so I immediately applied. I went through a couple of rounds of interviews and despite having no idea what a mutual fund was or what asset allocation meant, miraculously I was hired by a very well-respected boutique wealth management firm to support the firm’s senior advisors.

Kathleen Kenealy Managing Director & Senior Wealth Advisor Boston Private

There are a lot of aspects of my job that keep me motivated to stay. I love that my job allows me to embrace both my nerdy-technical-spreadsheetloving side as well as my people-personrelationship-driven-do-gooder-side. I also love that this field is constantly challenging me and always provides new opportunities to learn and grow.

after college. I am grateful for the success I have had in my career, and I truly believe that I would not have come this far had I not started my career learning from her. One of the things I remember the most, and have a great appreciation for, is how much time she spent patiently answering my questions and teaching me along the way. I think mentoring is incredibly important, especially in an industry that is still so predominantly male. I believe we all become stronger not only when we accept help, but also when we help others. What do you consider your greatest success? I was truly honored to be chosen by the Red Cross of Massachusetts as the “2017 Development Department Volunteer of the Year.” I have been involved with the Friends of the Red Cross Boston Young Professionals Council for almost five years and served as its president for two. In addition to raising thousands of dollars through our fundraising initiatives, we have also logged thousands of volunteer hours helping out at the food pantry, installing smoke alarms in homes in at-risk neighborhoods, staffing blood drives, packing medical supplies for the Boston Marathon, and more.

Have you had any great female mentors? The greatest female mentor I have ever had was my boss at the wealth management firm I joined

What her nominator said: “Pam is an exemplary commercial lender whose community outreach, leadership and focus on small business success has been so widespread that she was honored by the Small Business Administration’s Rhode Island District Office as the Financial Service Champion for 2019.” How did you get into this field? What keeps you motivated to stay? I stepped out of a successful 20-year aerospace manufacturing career in 2007 into financial services to spend more quality time with my family.

Pam LaBreche Assistant Vice President Navigant Credit Union

As a member of the Navigant team it is our corporate mission to improve the financial lives of those we serve. This mission, together with helping entrepreneurs realize the dream of business ownership is what motivates me to remain in financial services. Have you had any great female mentors? What is the importance of mentoring and is this something that you focus on?

mentor those who seek out support from me as well. What is your favorite book? movie? TV show? “To Kill a Mockingbird” – because I admire Atticus Finch’s courage to stand up for what he believes in. My favorite movie is Hitch – I loved the notion of the unpopular guy/girl being given the power/ courage to win over the boy/girl of their dreams and the chemistry between Will Smith and Kevin James. Any sappy Hallmark show with a happy ending is my favorite TV show. What do you consider your greatest success? My family is without a doubt my greatest success. My husband of 29 years this month has supported all of my business endeavors and my children, Patrick - 28 and Paige - 26, who are my inspiration for all that I do.

I have been very fortunate over the course of my career to have several great mentors. I encourage my colleagues and friends to seek out mentorship as an invaluable tool to survive in today’s corporate environment. I enjoy the opportunity to

September/October 2019 | BANKING NEW ENGLAND 9

Rockland Trust is honored to support Banking New England’s Women of FIRE

Congratulations to all the recipients including our very own Chief Marketing and Customer Officer, Jennifer Marino.

Thank you for the talent, ambition, and innovation that you bring to our local businesses.

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BANKERS Her nominator said: “Jen has revolutionized and modernized the bank’s marketing department and strategic approach to the bank’s relationship with customers.” How did you get into this field? What keeps you motivated to stay? I began my career in financial services about 12 years ago starting in insurance. I transitioned to banking about four years ago. I got into this industry with the interest in understanding how consumers and business owners make decisions about their financial services providers. I am motivated to stay because I realize the importance that financial services has in the lives of people. Finances are an intimate and critical part of a business, family, or individual being successful.

Jennifer Marino Chief Marketing and Customer Officer Rockland Trust Bank

Have you had any great female mentors? What is the importance of mentoring and is this something that you focus on? I have had female managers and mentors along the way that challenged me to reach my full capability as a leader and individual performer. They have also been a resource for me to come to when I needed advice both personally and professionally. I believe having a mentor and providing mentorship to others is a rewarding and necessary part of leadership. I am always looking for opportunities

What is your favorite book? My favorite book from a professional perspective is Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek. It talks about the idea of building not only an effective team but how to build trust and respect with your team so that they are willing to give discretionary effort towards a common goal on their own. What do you consider your greatest success? The number one thing I consider my greatest success are the twin boys my husband and I have raised. They are now 22 years old and I could not be prouder of the men they have become. The perseverance they demonstrate every day as they pursue their dreams and the determination to make them come true is something I admire in them. I wish I had that kind of maturity at that age!

Barbara’s nominator wrote: “Her skills are not limited to the workplace but to our communities as well through her volunteer work. Barbara gives of herself selflessly to the communities we serve.”

firmly believe in leading by example. I also feel that it’s important to share the knowledge I’ve acquired with future leaders in order for them to grow, advance, exceed and groom future leaders themselves.

How did you get into this field? What keeps you motivated to stay?

What is your favorite book?

I worked in the restaurant industry for many years and one day I had a close friend tell me that I was wasting my talents and education. She insisted that I needed to pursue a career in the financial industry. What keeps me motivated to stay is not just my passion for it but that fact that I really do love my job, co-workers and customers. Every day is different and I enjoy the challenges as well as finding solutions that benefit our employees and customers. Have you had any great female mentors?

Barbara Palmer VP of Retail Sales & Development Southbridge Credit Union

to be a mentor to women I work with as well as volunteering my time to young women that may not have the opportunity of mentorship. Additionally, it introduces me to what young women are thinking about today and what motivates them to be their best. I am always pleasantly surprised to learn how intelligent and inspiring so many young women are!

My mom. She has always had a “can-do” attitude! I never realized that my mom had a handicap until I had someone ask, “What’s wrong with your mom?” She was the “neighborhood mom” who helped with anything and everything, the boy/girl scout “den mother” who always took everyone in and NEVER let anything or anyone defeat her.

My favorite book is Jaws. I felt like I was really there experiencing every little detail. Truthfully, I read it all in one day because I just felt it was so well written. Honestly, when the movie came out, it made me love the book even more! What do you consider your greatest success?* MY GIRLS! Being the mom of two daughters who are now adults has made me realize that I serve not just as a role model to them but also to others. My youngest is Chrissy and she has Down syndrome. She continues to steal not just my heart but the hearts of others. My oldest daughter, Melissa, is my reflection. She encompasses the work ethic that’s carried through my family for many generations and I couldn’t be prouder of her. They both continue to serve as my driving force and motivation along with my mom. They’re all a blessing in my life.

Mentoring is of utmost importance to me as I

September/October 2019 | BANKING NEW ENGLAND 11

BANKERS Samantha’s nominator said: “Despite nearly three decades in banking, Samantha continually looks at our industry with a fresh perspective.” How did you get into this field? What keeps you motivated to stay? I’ve spent all of my adult life in banking. Early on I had the privilege of working in various roles, including retail, deposit operations, sales, retail lending, and collections. These various roles gave me a big picture view of banking which has helped me immensely in my role in marketing.

Samantha Pause Chief Marketing Officer Mascoma Bank

What keeps me motivated is the fact that every day is different. I am fortunate to work for a company that is committed to living up to our corporate values. We are a Certified B Corporation which means we are held accountable to meeting the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. Our company is made up of people using business as a force for good. Have you had any great female mentors? What makes a great mentor? To me, it is someone that can ask tough questions and push me outside of my comfort zone. In the middle of my career I had a colleague who did just that. She never

What her nominator said: “Rebecca’s honest and straight-forward approach to life and her dedication to her work and family are much to be admired.” How did you get into this field? What keeps you motivated to stay?

Rebecca Thomas SVP Marketing Triangle Credit Union

I stumbled into marketing while studying for my bachelor’s degree. My then employer transitioned me from their retail store to their back office as part of the marketing team. I loved the creativity and study of human behavior that came along with learning how to market and the exposure to electronic marketing methods and software. After a few years, my husband and I moved out of state and I continued commuting hours to Boston. Wanting to start a family, I began looking for opportunities closer to home. A Triangle Credit Union member, I naturally applied for the eCommerce Specialist opening. The culture within the credit union was uplifting like nothing I had experienced, and I realized that it wasn’t just Triangle’s culture that hooked me, it was the credit union movement. It is exciting to see traditions that are being rewritten within the finance industry. It motivates me to continue to pursue alternative thought and champion changes. Have you had any great female mentors? My grandmother, Alice O’Connell Runci, was my

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let me off the hook. If I had a problem that I was trying to solve, or a situation that I was avoiding, she would force me to approach it head on. To this day when faced with an uncomfortable situation, I think back to questions I know she would ask me to make sure I am not taking the easy way out. As I look back on my career, I realize that most of my growth came through the help of a mentor. We all need help along our journey. What is your favorite movie? My favorite movie is Mary Poppins. It shows the impact one person who looks at life in a different way can have on the world around them. What do you consider your greatest success? My greatest success is I have been in this industry for over 35 years and I still look at my job with the same open mindedness and curiosity that I always have. There is always more to learn: new and better ways to do things. I search out ways to improve my leadership skills, to understand my industry more, to learn about new tools and new technology available. My curiosity and my tenacity has helped me continue to grow.

greatest mentor and encouraged me to pursue not only my masters, but to dig in and ask “Why?” Grammy’s tough love and high expectations allowed me to become a better leader for the team I would eventually manage, but also encouraged me to accept challenges with a strategic outlook. She taught me to surround myself with people who support my goals and always reminded me of how every choice creates a lesson. She also taught me that the most daunting challenges become the most rewarding if I am hard-headed enough to meet them. What is your favorite movie? I love any Mel Brooks movie, mostly because I love Madeline Kahn, but also because they are ridiculous and that’s my favorite type of humor. I grew up watching “Blazing Saddles,” “Young Frankenstein” and the like, with my dad and the best part was watching him cry with laughter. What do you consider your greatest success? My greatest success is my family. By family, I of course mean my husband and two daughters, but by extension I include the family that has been cultivated in my team. There is cohesiveness, utility, accountability, and unwavering trust. That is something rare and amazing.

BANKERS What her nominator said: “Whether Kathy is working nationally on behalf of the banking industry or tirelessly in the community to impact our friends and neighbors, she is committed to making a difference.” How did you get into this field? What keeps you motivated to stay? My dad was a banker and I would often accompany him to his office at a small community bank. When I was in college, one of my professors arranged for me to interview for a teller job, in an industry he felt was a better match for my skills, and the rest is history. I just celebrated my 41st year in banking.

Kathy Underwood President and CEO Ledyard National Bank

I find the industry rewarding in that we are helping clients achieve their goals every day. A career in banking can be very diverse. I have worked as a teller, a loan clerk, a credit analyst, a private banker, a collections officer, a commercial lender, a president, and have loved all aspects of every job. Have you had any great female mentors? What is the importance of mentoring and is this something that you focus on? I had many mentors at any one time and owe my career to them. It was my mentors who were advocating for me, pushing and pulling me to

What her nominator said: “She is an educator, community leader, manager and innovator whose work leading HarborOne U has improved lives and benefited communities across Southeastern Massachusetts.” How did you get into this field?

Maureen Wilkinson VP Community Education CRA Officer HarborOne Bank

I started as a teller while still in high school and found I enjoyed working with money. I pursued a degree in Finance as a result and have worked exclusively in financial institutions essentially since graduating from college 30 years ago. Through the years, I have held various positions, including President/CEO of three award-winning credit unions. While my positions have evolved over time from working directly “with money,” I reap what I call “psychic income” from helping others achieve financial well-being – this “psychic income” comes from facilitating direct financial support to others in the community and from providing education experiences that lead a person to achieving their personal financial goals. Have you had any great female mentors? What is the importance of mentoring and is this something that you focus on? I had a great female mentor - a nun from Anna Maria College named Sister John. Sr. John was always challenging me, trying to get me to think outside the box. Sr. John taught me to look beyond

take the next step when I wasn’t sure I had the confidence to do it myself. The mentor that made the biggest impact on my life was my dad. At a critical point in my career when I was asked to be the district president at a large regional bank, I didn’t know if I had the skills, wanted the stress, or could be successful. I actually turned the job down. Fortunately, dad made it very clear that I was being an idiot. The next day I accepted the job. It was the best career decision I ever made. What is your favorite movie? It would be “The Little Mermaid.” This movie came out when my oldest daughter was 3. It was one of the first movies we went to see in the theater and she just loved it. What do you consider your greatest success? Raising three daughters that are smart, confident, kindhearted, funny, independent, and successful who are working hard to change the world. At the end of the day when I think how fortunate I am that I have a career that I love, and volunteer work that is inspiring and meaningful, it is these three young ladies that I am most proud of.

the material world and understand that service to others is the true sign of a successful life. I have strived to live out Sr. John’s legacy in my own daily work by mentoring others throughout my career. I have been fortunate to be in a position during the past decade in which I spend the majority of my work time as a mentor for others. What is your favorite book? My favorite book is Built To Last by Jim Collins. I particularly like the concept of building a visionary and successful company with enduring habits and practices that transcend any one individual leader. What do you consider your greatest success? I consider developing HarborOne U as my greatest success. In 2009, I had the opportunity to lead the expansion of HarborOne’s award-winning MultiCultural Banking Center into taking on a broader role in the community, transforming the center into what became the innovative HarborOne U. The U is committed to informing, educating and empowering residents, youth and small business owners in areas of financial education and life skills. Due to the goodwill generated by HarborOne U, members of the community have embraced financial services from HarborOne Bank, opening 10,000 new accounts and capturing over $150 million in new business since the Center’s inception.

September/October 2019 | BANKING NEW ENGLAND 13

BANKERS Her nominator said: “Ericka is an exceptional person and has become an exceptional leader who always puts the good of others before herself.” How did you get into this field? What keeps you motivated to stay? I began my banking career in 1998 (at then Eastern Savings and Loan) on the recommendation of my grandmother. I had moved to Connecticut on a transfer from California with a retail corporation. Once I arrived, the job wasn’t quite what I was promised. My grandmother had been an officer for Eastern in the 1980’s and highly recommended it. So, I applied and was hired into the banking industry. I instantly fell in love with community banking. Have you had any great female mentors?

Ericka Winstead First Vice President, Loan Operations Manager Eastern CT Savings Bank

Lisa Griffin, our current CEO and president, is an excellent mentor. She has shown that hard work and dedication are key to our success. Of course, I wouldn’t be here today without the mentoring and guidance from my mother. My mom was one of the hardest working women I have ever known. Without mentoring you can succeed, but you can T:7.25” and value in never really grasp the appreciation having your teammates succeed alongside you. My

greatest task in a day is to make sure that my staff is not only prepared but ready and eager to take the next steps in their careers. My favorite quote is from Winston Churchill: “ We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” What is your favorite movie? My favorite movie is “Overboard,” I have probably watched it a thousand times. Why? Probably because of the pure fact that it doesn’t matter where you come from, what materials things you have in life or the material things you possess; it’s about hard work, caring for people and ultimately just learning to love the life you have. What do you consider your greatest success? My greatest success is the life I have built. I have a beautiful loving family, a great career and quality friendships that will last a lifetime. I was a young mom, married at 19 and I didn’t come from a wealthy or even middle-class family. I knew to succeed I would need to work hard, take the punches as I grew and keep striving for my goal. My goals have changed; however the foundation that I built my work ethic and family on has always been solid.

Congratulations to the Women of FIRE recipients, Katharine Schmitt for making waves and creating impact.

14 BANKING NEW ENGLAND | September/October 2019


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Cindy Angelini Registered Apprenticeship Manager The Hartford

Ellen Anselone Principal/Owner Finegold Alexander Architects

Debi Benoit Principal Benoit Mizner Simon & Co.

Cindy’s nominator said: “Cindy Angelini is an exceptional educator, program manager, and coach.”

Ellen’s nominator had this to say about her: “Traversing the ranks of a male-dominated field, Ellen Anselone has made a mark and helped pave the way for the next generation of real estate women.”

Her nominator had this to say: “Debi Benoit consistently lights up the Metro West area with her business acumen, personal achievements, professional guidance and community involvement.”

How did you get into this field? What keeps you motivated to stay? I had recently graduated from college and my brother told me about an insurance job where I would handle automobile claims. (Biology degrees do have some drawbacks; namely finding a job in your field!) I had no intention of staying in the insurance industry. Yet nearly 30 years later, I am still here. Over the past several years I have been working on The Hartford’s apprentice program. Most of us didn’t major in insurance. We landed here and were educated by the company we worked for. Through The Hartford’s partnership with local colleges, we can locate talent outside of a traditional 4-year institution and provide up front training while they are attending classes. Apprentices motivate and challenge me every day. Have you had any great female mentors? What is the importance of mentoring and is this something that you focus on? The common theme of my best mentors is they value feedback. Feedback is a gift. It is one of the best ways to help you develop as a leader. Ask for it. Learn from it. At The Hartford, we emphasize mentoring as it provides the apprentice an opportunity to see other perspectives. What is your favorite book? My favorite book is Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. Even though the story takes places over 180 years ago, the political and social situations can still be seen today. What do you consider your greatest success? I have been married for nearly 30 years and my husband and two sons provide me with such happiness. We muddle through the problems of the American family and get through the ups and downs by taking things one day at a time.

How did you get into this field? What keeps you motivated to stay? Throughout childhood my mother always had us involved in various creative activities such as drawing and building models. During high school a family friend suggested that I look into architecture. My motivation stems from working on unique and challenging projects. Many of the projects have broader impacts than just the building itself. For example, designing libraries has a community impact. Have you had any great female mentors? What is the importance of mentoring and is this something that you focus on? There were very few female mentors in the field when I began my profession. Part of my drive stems from my experience entering the profession. As a principal/owner of a womenowned business, my hope is that emerging professionals can look to myself and other female colleagues that are moving the industry forward. What is your favorite movie? My favorite movie is The Help. I found the time period in which it was set to be a very interesting moment for our country. It was well written and really pulled me into the time and characters of the novel. What do you consider your greatest success? My greatest success is the balance between working and parenting two children. My daughter recently graduated college and is working in New York and my son just started his freshman year at the University of Wisconsin. The only way I could have achieved this balance was with the full support of my husband.

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How did you get into this field? What keeps you motivated to stay? My daughter was at a point where she was becoming more active in after school sports. Real estate allowed me to be present for her and continue to build my career. I thrive on the day-to-day interaction with my clients, which keeps me motivated. Have you had any great female mentors? What is the importance of mentoring and is this something that you focus on? My grandmother was always encouraging as a strong, female role model. She would remind me consistently that I could be whatever I chose to be. Mentoring is extremely important to me. As a working owner of a real estate company, I am in the fortunate position of being able to share my experience with my sales associates to augment and further their growth and education in real estate. Passing along what I have learned gives my agents a deeper understanding of the ins and outs of real estate and helps them navigate transactions with confidence so they can become polished professionals. What is your favorite book? Work Party, by Jacklyn Johnson - a shameless plug for my niece who is CEO of Create and Cultivate and just published her first book, which guides women in their careers and entrepreneurial endeavors. I take pride that I was one of the women who influenced her. What do you consider your greatest success? My greatest success is my beautiful family and darling grandchildren. Secondly, being brave enough to launch Benoit Mizner Simon & Co. during a down market, turning it into the number one real estate office in Wellesley, and raising the bar in terms of professional and confidential business standards.


Mindy Bero Client Advisor Hickok & Boardman Insurance Mindy’s nominator had this to say: “She de-mystifies difficult information in insurance and business strategy for clients … and she’s a very present member of our community.” How did you get into this field? What keeps you motivated to stay? As many before me, I stumbled into the insurance field. An owner of Hickok & Boardman reached out to me to see if I was interested in a “conversation” and one thing lead to another. I liked the idea of interacting with a range of companies, digging into the details and helping them to better protect themselves from risks. No two days in this business are the same and the learning curve continues to be challenging and exciting. Moreover, the role of a producing, client advisor in insurance tends to be a male dominated position so I enjoy bucking this trend. Have you had any great female mentors? One mentor in particular really helped me grow professionally. She mentioned once that some lead through fear and others through respect and positive reinforcement. She was the latter indeed. She also had the experience of being a working mom and understood the challenges of juggling two big jobs: parenting and career. Her insight into this daily juggling act was encouraging and helped me stay the course. What is your favorite TV show? My favorite show right now is Game of Thrones. One of the things I loved most about the show was the abundance of strong female characters that emerged as the story went on. They were all smart, capable leaders. What do you consider your greatest success? My children are my greatest success … and my greatest challenge. Balancing a busy family life and a very demanding career is very difficult but fulfilling. Recently my six-year-old daughter said my job was to be a Mom and I should be home more. I explained to her that moms can do both!

Kati Brigham Vice President McCall & Almy

Elizabeth “Betsy” Collins Vice President of Development Peabody Properties Inc.

What her nominator had to say about her: “Kati always continues to strive for more, inside and outside of the office.”

What her nominator said: “She is a pioneer in affordable housing, and for veteran housing in particular!”

How did you get into this field? What keeps you motivated to stay?

How did you get into this field? What keeps you motivated to stay?

I got into the commercial real estate field by chance. I got an interview for a front desk position through a connection I had with a partner at the firm. When I got the job, I was fresh out of college, and thought of it as a great steppingstone into the corporate world. There are a few things that have motivated me to stay. McCall & Almy fostered my interest in professional growth and offered all the resources I needed to become successful. I’m also motivated by how intellectually challenging the commercial real estate industry is. In a brokerage role, no day, and no deal, is ever the same.

I was referred to a small syndication firm after graduating as an investment analyst to learn about underwriting low-income housing tax credit equity. One of my clients offered me a position to transition to developing affordable housing communities, which continues to be my passion. Developing new affordable housing communities or preserving existing developments offers new and different challenges with each deal

Have you had any great female mentors? What is the importance of mentoring and is this something that you focus on? Throughout my career, I have looked to Mary Lentz and Julie Gray at McCall & Almy as I grow within the company and navigate a dominantly male industry. They both have a different approach to business and are extremely successful. It’s taught me the invaluable lession there’s no one “right” way to be a CRE broker. What is your favorite TV show? My favorite TV show is Modern Family. I like how it uses humor to navigate through different scenarios, even the most difficult. Bill McCall, the president of our company, often says “Take your job seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously.” I love that quote. What do you consider your greatest success? My greatest success is probably how far I’ve come in my career since my first role at McCall & Almy. Starting out, I lacked the confidence to be successful. I took the insecurity I felt in my younger years as drive to further my education and work harder. When I look back, I’m proud of the ambition I had at a young age.

Have you had any great female mentors? My first supervisor’s approach to her career and success in stepping up and adapting to new opportunities provided a fantastic role model for me right out of school. I have always felt that empowering people and helping employees and colleagues is important. What is your favorite TV show? Mary Tyler Moore Show. A bit of sweet nostalgia as my mother and I watched in the ‘70s. My mother was a successful “working mom” and I think she related to Mary as a peer. I occasionally watch an episode for simple entertainment that makes me think of my Mom and the old days. What do you consider your greatest success? Big picture, I am very proud of my family, my husband, my kids and our menagerie of pets are great. Career wise, I am especially proud of the supportive housing Peabody Properties has developed for homeless veterans. They provided a new approach to helping homeless veterans succeed. Being the first of its kind required a lot of patience and persuasion, however, taking the lead for these developments has been the proven to be the most rewarding chapter in my career.

September/October 2019 | BANKING NEW ENGLAND 17

Sandra Dawson Member Pullman & Comley, LLC What her nominator said: “Sandy is one of the recognized experts in the State of Connecticut in the area of governmental and bank financing, both by her clients and her peers in the legal profession. She is also recognized for her commitment to community service and civic well-being.” How did you get into this field? What keeps you motivated to stay? After graduating from law school, I knew I wanted to practice in transactional work. Fortunately, at my first job, there was a need for an attorney in the public finance and banking area. What motivates me to stay is the challenging tax work associated with public finance and the wonderful clients and colleagues in the finance field.

Natasha Espada Founding Principal STUDIO ENÉE architects What her nominator said: “Natasha is an inspired leader within the design profession, where I’ve known her to be a steadfast advocate for women and minorities.” How did you get into this field? What keeps you motivated to stay? When I was in high school, I enjoyed math and the arts, particularly painting. My father encouraged me to try architecture as a way of bringing together my two interests. I love to design and to create beautiful things. I am inspired by research and the exploration of new materials and building typologies. Have you had any great female mentors? I was an architect at Leers Weinzapfel Associates in Boston for over 20 years, where I rose to stockholder and associate principal under the leadership of Jane Weinzapfel and Andrea Leers. They both mentored me and sponsored me by allowing me to lead projects as well as engage in firm operations. Judy Nitsch has also been a wonderful mentor to me. She is an amazing businesswoman, a big supporter of women in leadership in our profession, and she is generous with her time and with her philanthropy. What is your favorite book? I really enjoyed reading “Pachinko” by Min Jin Lee as it reminded me of the years my parents lived in Japan. I also enjoyed H is for Hawk by Helen McDonald, which inspired me to learn falconry on our trip to Ireland this past spring. I read this unexpected book when I met the author at a bookstore and wanted to support her. It ended up being a great read! What do you consider your greatest success? My personal greatest success are my kids and my family. I believe my professional greatest success is in creating a practice where I can do great projects, work with interesting people, and empower others.

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Francesca Federico Co-Founder & President Twelve Points What her nominator said: “At 30, Francesca Federico has achieved professional success that most executives don’t reach until much later in life.” How did you get into this field? What keeps you motivated to stay? My mother’s side of the family were nurses and union pressmen. My father’s family are Italian immigrants and entrepreneurs from construction to automotive repair to restaurants. Working for my family’s businesses, I was often exposed to 401k plans and found myself educating and helping a myriad of our employees. I liked it so much I went on to work for our family’s financial advisor and eventually went to college to obtain a Finance degree. When we started our independent firm in 2014, the financial services industry was ranked the “Least Trusted Industry in America” - to me that was embarrassing. We set out to change that. This is what keeps me motivated. Have you had any great female mentors? What is the importance of mentoring and is this something that you focus on? Being in an Industry where there are hardly any women, I make it a part of my routine to help women connect to each other. I serve as vice president to Tomorrow’s Women Today and The Boston Women’s Leadership Council. We put on events where women can meet each other, network, set up formal mentoring relationships and learn from each other. What do you consider your greatest success? When we started our firm, our old branch manager said to my partner and me, “I give that shingle shop 5 months.” Last month, our firm was named to Inc. 5000’s List of America’s Fastest Growing Companies. Not because our investments are the greatest, our returns are the best or our prices are the lowest - it’s because of the way we treat people, the hours we work and the way we conduct business.


Michelle Hatch Partner blumshapiro Michelle’s nominator said: “Her efforts to help women advance in their careers extend beyond the walls of her employer, although she champions the advancement of women there as well.” How did you get into this field? What keeps you motivated to stay? I knew I wanted to be an accountant / auditor since high school. My high school didn’t really offer accounting classes that fit into my other college prep classes, so I ended up talking the teacher into letting me take it as a selfstudy. I went to Bentley and they have a great accounting program and I was fortunate to start my career at a large firm where I learned a lot and made a great network. I am kept motivated by my clients and staff and the variety of the work that I do. I love to help people and working with client’s and seeing them be successful is really satisfying. I also enjoy developing staff and seeing them grow and develop really keeps me motivated. Have you had any great female mentors? Yes, I think mentoring is very important. I have had some great mentors – both male and female over my career. I try to learn something from everyone I work with. I enjoy the different perspectives that people bring. What is your favorite book? I enjoy anything by Mary Higgins Clark. She is one of my mom’s favorite authors, so that is how I started reading her books. I usually can’t put down the book once I start reading – which doesn’t always go over well with my family. What do you consider your greatest success? Being able to continue to work in a profession that I love while also being able to have a family. I think everyone struggles for balance, but I think if you enjoy what you are doing, then you do what is needed to make it all work.

Jane Kaplan Peck Owner, COO Kaplan Construction

Lauren Liss President and CEO MassDevelopment

What her nominator said: “Jane’s industry success demonstrates to women that a career in construction is an achievable – and rewardable – option.”

Her nominator said: “Lauren inspires her staff of nearly 180 employees to continuously think bigger and imagine new opportunities for MassDevelopment.”

How did you get into this field? What keeps you motivated to stay?

How did you get into this field? What keeps you motivated to stay?

As the second generation of the Kaplan Construction family, I have been immersed in this field since a young age. Business was constantly a topic of family discussions and jobsite visits were as common as school field trips. The constant exposure helped made me take an interest in the industry; in particular the organizational aspect of the business.

I’ve been involved in development in one way, shape or form since I started my career as an associate in the real estate & finance department at Nutter, McClennen & Fish. Over the years, I’ve held a number of interesting and challenging positions in both the private and public sectors, with the common theme being development – whether from the regulatory perspective (for example, as commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection) or helping to permit new projects as counsel to developers. I find this ever-changing environment endlessly fascinating and great motivation to continue to be productive and learn.

In 2006 after gaining the prerequisite five years’ industry experience outside Kaplan (a requirement of my parents), I finally came onboard. Eight years later, I took over the company with my husband. I am motivated to maintain the legacy that my parents started creating for Kaplan Construction 43 years ago. Have you had any great female mentors? My most important mentor is Cathy Kaplan, my mother and the co-founder of Kaplan Construction. The company was founded in 1976 just a few years before my birth. She never shied away from “war room” conversation, debate, or dialog over a major decision because she was a woman. Her gender never stopped her. Most importantly, she taught me to treat your employees with dignity. What is your favorite movie? My favorite movie is Girls Just Want to Have Fun - a classic 1980’s film. I would watch it when I stayed home from school sick. It brings me back to my youth and the classic 80s music is pretty great. What do you consider your greatest success? The hallmark of my career thus far has been the successful transition of the company to a new generation. Following a lengthy succession plan, control and ownership of the company was transferred to me and my husband in 2014.

Have you had any great female mentors? What is the importance of mentoring and is this something that you focus on? Both women and men can play meaningful roles in championing the careers of the women they work with. Women leaders experience firsthand the unique challenges that confront women in the workplace, and that can result in a more directly empathetic connection. What is your favorite TV show? I’ll watch just about anything on HGTV and am looking forward to the final season of Mr. Robot. I enjoy getting lost in other perspectives and other worlds – whether it’s rehab projects in Waco, Texas or a dystopian not-too-distant future in Big City USA! What do you consider your greatest success? My greatest success has been the relationships I have built and the ability to bring together people of varied backgrounds and perspectives to solve a problem. One of my favorite Margaret Mead quotes is: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

September/October 2019 | BANKING NEW ENGLAND 19

Congratulations Betsy We are so proud of you. Your friends at NLHA

Betsy Collins, Woman of FIRE

1900 L Street, NW, #300 Washington, DC 20036 202.785.8888 • Fax:202.785.2008 Email:

NLHA represents the interests of 400 member organizations involved in federally assisted rental housing including developers, owners, lenders, housing agencies and nonprofits. NLHA’s members provide affordable housing or over three million families.

Congratulations! 3D Leadership Group is proud of our co-founder Angie O’Donnell, selected as a member of the 2019 Class of Women of FIRE. Thanks to Banking New England for hosting the Women of FIRE (Finance, Insurance and Real Estate) ceremony and recognizing the accomplishments of 31 women throughout New England. We congratulate all of this year’s Women of FIRE Honorees for their accomplishments and all they do to help the business community. We are proud to be part of this prestigious group.


3D Leadership Group Executive Coaching | Team Coaching | Leadership Programs | Prism Program for Women • 781.453.9800 •

20 BANKING NEW ENGLAND | September/October 2019


Angie O’Donnell Executive Coach and Co-Founder 3D Leadership Group What her nominator said: “She would make an excellent selection because of her ongoing work with financial executives and helping them to improve their skills and performance.” How did you get into this field? What keeps you motivated to stay? Earlier in my career I met executive coaches. I was intrigued with this fairly new occupation and decided at mid-career to earn my professional coaching certification. That was 17 years ago and now we have a firm of 12 coaches with clients all over the U.S. There are many motivators - the variety of people that I meet, the uniqueness of every coaching situation, and the opportunity to develop deep and lasting relationships that support people in making positive change. It’s also enjoyable and challenging to be an entrepreneur. Have you had any great female mentors? One of my first managers in my early 20’s was a mentor and I often say that she taught me to really think. College and my MBA programs didn’t really teach a lot of critical thinking skills, but she ensured that I considered options, consequences, trade-offs and what it would take to execute ideas. What is your favorite movie? “The King’s Speech” was a movie that I could identify with professionally. The bumpy development of the relationship between the King of England and his speech coach was a profoundly important process in the king’s ultimate success as a public speaker. In our current world where time is scarce, cultivating relationships is not often a priority and yet we often need support to pull us through challenging times. What do you consider your greatest success? Developing a business with a great reputation has been both personally and professionally gratifying. Our firm allows me the flexibility to work hard/play hard and be the master of my own universe. I’m proud of creating a wellintegrated life.

Barbara Oddo Vice President Lincoln Property Company What her nominator said: “I am truly inspired by her success, leadership and commitment to mentor women in a maledominated business.” How did you get into this field? What keeps you motivated to stay? I had no intention of going into the field but after college agreed to interview at one of the big CRE firms. From my first meeting, I loved the energy of the office and the people in it. The converging worlds of tech, science, education and healthcare make Boston one of the most desirable cities. We build, lease and operate the buildings that house all of those people. Have you had any great female mentors? My greatest female mentor and influencer was my mother. In her mid-40’s, my mother found herself a widow when my father passed away suddenly. Quite literally - her world turned upside down overnight. My mother was now head of the household at a time when most married women didn’t work. Where do you even begin? Others might have succumbed to self-pity, but my mother just put one foot in front of the other and moved forward. Ultimately, she made a career out of something she loved - social work and helping others - and she didn’t retire until her 70’s. If there is anything I learned from my mother, that I hope I pass onto those I mentor, is the idea that there is never really anything we can’t overcome. What do you consider your greatest success? Seeing my three sons grow to become men living happy lives is my greatest success. I can attribute some of that to luck, much of it to the support of my husband, and a lot of it to the continuous evaluation of the age-old conundrum of “work-life balance.”

Katharine Schmitt Executive Director J.P. Morgan Her nominator said: “Katharine is a tireless advocate for other working parents who are aiming to excel at work and at home.” How did you get into this field? After working for the NY Mets for two years, I determined I loved working with a diverse set of clients but wanted to work in an industry that would keep me challenged intellectually. I went back to business school with the goal of transitioning into wealth management where I would have the opportunity to advise clients across all facets of their financial lives. Have you had any great female mentors? What is the importance of mentoring and is this something that you focus on? The first person I worked for at J.P. Morgan is an amazing role model who literally blazed the trail for women on Wall Street. She is incredibly smart and hardworking and has made it her mission to help other women in the business. While I no longer work directly with her, I still consider her my mentor and she is always there to share her wisdom and experience. For me, mentoring generally works best when it is organic, although there are times when formal mentoring programs help kick start a valuable relationship. What is your favorite TV show? “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” on Amazon Prime. It’s hysterical and a great display of female empowerment! What do you consider your greatest success? I am most proud of being a mom to three awesome girls ages 8, 6 and 4, and wife to a supportive husband who doubles as my best friend. I am also proud of having built a significant book of business while delivering and raising my kids. I moved to Boston when I was 8 months pregnant with my first child and had zero clients. I was pregnant or nursing for 6 of the 8.5 years and am still a top performer across the firm.

September/October 2019 | BANKING NEW ENGLAND 21

Tell the World About These Women of FIRE! #WomenofFIRE19 Sheryl C. Starr Managing Partner Bernkopf Goodman LLP Her nominator said: “Sheryl is a trailblazer. She hasn’t just broken through – she has smashed the commercial real estate industry’s glass ceiling.” How did you get into this field? What keeps you motivated to stay? In law school, my interests moved firmly toward business and real estate law. I have always been intensely analytical, which is why I love what I do so much. Working on complex real estate or other business transactions is like working on a puzzle – something I’ve loved since childhood. All of the pieces need to fit together, even when they are often moving and shifting from day to day or hour by hour. Have you had any great female mentors? What is the importance of mentoring and is this something that you focus on? Being the first female attorney to be hired at Bernkopf Goodman, there were no other senior women I could consider a mentor. As a result, I have always tried to be a mentor to others. It is important to me that other women – and not just women lawyers, all professional women feel supported and are heard. What is your favorite book? The books that I read to my children when they were young are among my favorites. “Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel” and “The Story of Ferdinand” were always in heavy rotation at bedtime and both had wonderful messages. What do you consider your greatest success? In my four-decade career, I have set several milestones at Bernkopf Goodman. Along with being the firm’s first female attorney, I was also its first female partner. Then I was the first woman on the executive committee. In 2018, I was named as the first female managing partner in the firm’s 124-year history. It’s an accomplishment I’m very proud of.

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Keri Watkins Realtor William Raveis Her nominator said: “Energy, enthusiasm and passion are Keri’s driving forces!” How did you get into this field? What keeps you motivated to stay? Real estate seemed to have found me. Graduating with a degree in Entrepreneurial business and marketing I always knew I wanted to run my own business. I also happen to love to decorate - so home staging and design mixed with a passion to make people happy found me in Real Estate. Have you had any great female mentors? My mother set the bar high. She paved the path for her daughters to challenge themselves to achieve their dreams. My mother was an overachiever, president of her high school class, valedictorian, prom queen - who became an international attorney and the first female to make partner at her firm. Growing up with a brilliant, successful mother there was never a question to my sister and I that we could do anything we wanted to achieve. By surrounding myself with great female mentors - my mother, sister Shannon, best friend Deidre and business partner Margaret it’s easy to gain clarity, brainstorm and trouble shoot with the best of the best. What is your favorite TV show? Game of Thrones would be my favorite TV show. I don’t watch TV much but somehow I got sucked into that series. It kept me on my toes and always wanting more at the end of each episode. What do you consider your greatest success? I am so proud of how far I’ve come in the real estate industry. Placing as the #1 team in our market for both buyers and sellers was huge - then being ranked #1 team in the entire company for William Raveis was spectacular.



And to our own, Francesca Federico, we are so proud of you, keep setting it on FIRE! With Love, Twelve Points and Mass Motors

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Congratulations to the Women of FIRE Class of 2019!

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September/October 2019 | BANKING NEW ENGLAND 23


Banking New England publishes a weekly digital newsletter that rounds up the latest news and information about, you guessed it, banking in New England. Here are a few stories from recent editions. If you would like to subscribe to, share your news, or advertise in the Banking New England newsletter, contact us at

CITIZENS BANK LAUNCHING TECH LOCATIONS IN RI, BOSTON Details are scarce, but Citizens Bank has announced it intends to open new tech centers in Boston and Rhode Island. It has a goal of hiring hundreds of software engineers. Based on job postings for software engineers on Citizen’s careers website, the technology centers will be located in Johnston, Rhode Island, and Dedham, Massachusetts. The news came as part of a larger announcement of a “hackathon” sponsored by the bank from Oct. 4-6 at District Hall in Boston’s Seaport District. In a statement, the bank said, “The Citizens Challenge hackathon reflects increasing customer demand for seamless digital solutions and the importance of meeting that demand for banks such as Citizens, which is currently hiring hundreds of software engineers and establishing

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technology hubs in Boston, Rhode Island, Charlotte, N.C., and Nashville, Tenn.” AVIDIA BANK TEAMS UP WITH PATRIOTS CORNERBACK STEPHON GILMORE Avidia Bank and New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore are teaming up for the “Be a Champion for a Child” initiative. The initiative will benefit the Boys and Girls Club of MetroWest. “I grew up going to Boys & Girls Clubs and wanted to give back to the organization. I told myself growing up if I ever get the opportunity to make it in football I would give back to the community and Boys & Girls Club. I am blessed to be in this position so that’s one thing I want to do. I like to help as many people as I can,” said Stephon. For every home game during the regular season, Avidia Bank does

the “Match of the Game” partnering a child and a mentor from the Boys and Girls Clubs of MetroWest and sending them to see Stephon Gilmore play. In addition, Avidia Bank will donate $1,000 to the Boys and Girls Club of MetroWest for every defensive interception and defensive recovery all season long, up to $30,000. Bank Consents To Management Oversight The Independence Bank of East Greenwich, Rhode Island, has entered into a consent agreement with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Rhode Island Department of Banking calling for closer oversight of its management practices. In the consent agreement, the bank admits no wrongdoing but does agree to take steps to address charges of unsafe or unsound banking practices or violations of law

relating to a lack of oversight and risk management practices. Providence Business News reports “The agreement directs the bank to have one or more executive officers with ‘proven ability in managing a bank of comparable size and complexity and a track record of managing U.S. Small Business Administration Small Loan Advantage loans.’” The bank must also have one or more executive officers with “an appropriate level of lending, collection, and loan supervision experience for the type and quality of the bank’s loan portfolio.” In addition, the consent decree directs the bank to have a chief financial officer with “demonstrated ability in all financial areas, but not limited to accounting, regulatory reporting, budgeting and planning, management of the investment function, liquidity management, and interest rate risk management.” BANKHOMETOWN EYES WORCESTER GROWTH After merging with Millbury Savings Bank, bankHometown has set its sights on expanding its Worcester presence. The merger gave it one. Now the bank has plans for a second. The Worcester Business Journal says bankHometown will get its first foothold in Worcester with not just Millbury Savings Bank’s location at 1001 Millbury St. in Worcester but also another branch underway today on Grove Street that’s slated to open next spring. Robert Morton, the president and CEO of Millbury Savings Bank and of the combined entity post-merger, says the company is looking to open a few smaller Worcester branches in the years ahead. With roughly $1 billion in assets after its merger with Millbury Savings Bank, bankHometown will still be one of the smaller players in Central Massachusetts, behind not just national banks with a local presence but also those based here, including Fidelity Bank and UniBank. The bankHometown and Millbury Savings Bank merger is expected to close Oct. 18, with 16 branches among the two entities. The banks have said no branch closures or staff

reductions are part of the merger plan. FORMER CEO OF CHANGING SEASONS CREDIT UNION BANNED BY NCUA Ginny A. Hughes, the former CEO and president of Changing Seasons Federal Credit Union in Hampden, Maine, has consented to a ban on future employment with any federally regulated bank or credit union. She admitted to no wrongdoing by signing the consent, according to the National Credit Union Association. The NCUA announced Hughes had been accused of the following misdeeds: • in 2016, improperly influenced her application with CSFCU for a home equity line of credit resulting in obtaining a HELOC in an amount far in excess of that for which she was qualified; • in 2017, improperly applied for and obtained an unsecured loan from CSFCU on which she subsequently defaulted; • in 2018, while representing CSFCU at a charitable event, accepted various charitable donations that Hughes converted to her personal use; and • in 2018, improperly signed the name of her then-husband to multiple unsecured loans taken out at CSFCU in her thenhusband’s name, which loans have subsequently defaulted. The NCUA order does not detail the amount of the loans she took for her and her husband. It also does report how much the charitable donations were worth. BOSTON FED RESERVE HEAD EXPRESSES CONCERNS FOLLOWING RATE CUTS Eric Rosengren, head of the Federal Reserve’s Boston regional bank, was one of two officials who opposed last week’s round of rate cuts. Rosengren said Friday that the additional stimulus was not needed. He said it ran the risk of inflating the price of risky assets and encouraging households and business to take on too much debt.. James Bullard, head of the St. Louis Fed branch, dissented in favor of a

bigger half-point cut. He argued that a larger reduction would have provided needed insurance against a sharper slowdown. Both officials issued explanations of their dissents after the blackout period for public comment surrounding Fed meetings ended. In a CNBC interview, Vice Chairman Richard Clarida, who supported the latest quarter-point rate cut, said healthy debate is a strength of the Fed system. The Fed approved a second quarter-point rate cut on Sept. 18 by a vote of 7-3, the first time there have been as many as three dissents since September 2016 and the first time that there had been dissents going in opposite directions in nearly five years. VERMONT SUPPORTS CANNABIS BUSINESSES ACCESS TO BANKS Vermont has joined a bipartisan coalition that is pushing to let legal cannabis businesses gain access to banking facilities. Attorney General T.J. Donovan’s office made the announcement Monday, urging Congress to pass the “Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act.”

Marijuana is federally scheduled as an illegal drug, which forces legitimate cannabis companies to deal in cash. Marijuana is federally scheduled as an illegal drug, which forces legitimate cannabis companies to deal in cash. Advocates say the STATES Act would bring billions of dollars of existing cash transactions into the regulated banking sector, subject them to oversight and reduce the risk of crime affecting the growing cannabis industry. ■ September/October 2019 | BANKING NEW ENGLAND 25


Event Agenda | October 24 & 25, 2019 THURSDAY, OCTOBER 24 6:00 - 7:00 p.m. Cocktails & Connections Open Bar Networking Reception Come early to the conference, and mix and mingle with your peers before enjoying Newport’s nightlife.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 25 7:30 - 8:30 a.m. Registration & Networking HOTEL VIKING, Viking Ballroom Ballroom Foyer 8:30 - 8:45 a.m. Welcome & Opening Remarks Ballroom MAUREEN DEVINE Conference Chair, DataFacts

​ 0:15 - 11:15 a.m. 1 ​What Holds Banking Women Back: A Workshop Ballroom KAREN KIRCHNER, ELLEN KEITHLINE BYRNE & DENISE D’AGOSTINO, Her New Standard Research shows that women have natural strengths as well as challenges as leaders. This workshop highlights the traps women need to avoid to optimize their leadership potential. Self limiting beliefs and behaviors are examined as participants identify strategies to overcome obstacles such as the disease to please and perfectionism. As a result of this workshop, attendees will: • learn what impedes women’s progress in their banks and credit unions • identify their biggest career blocker • brainstorm steps to overcome obstacles • share struggles and strategies with other women.

8:45 - 9:30 a.m. The Next Turn of the Economy DR. LINDSEY PIEGZA Chief Economist, Managing Director, Stifel Financial Corp. Highlight the day with an insightful look at what’s developing across the business landscape. Dr. Lindsey Piegza is Chief Economist for Stifel Fixed Income. A frequent commentator on television and in print, She specializes in the research and analysis of economic trends and activity, world economies, financial markets, and monetary and fiscal policies.

This hands-on session is led by a team of organizational leaders, PhDs, and leadership consultants with rich, reallife experience. The workshop will be led by Karen Kirchner, whose years of HR at Citigroup and Reader’s Digest provide a business-savvy perspective grounded in the reality of organizational life; Ellen Keithline Byrne, PhD, who holds a doctorate in Organizational Development and Change and has over 18 years of experience working both on a global learning and development team, and as a consultant servicing Fortune 500 companies like Xerox, JP Morgan Chase, MasterCard, Marsh & McLennan, and Nationwide; and Denise D’Agostino, CEC, with 25 years of real-world experience as the Head of HR for both Bayer HealthCare and Ciba Specialty Chemicals.

9:30 - 10:15 a.m. A Fighter, Not Broken: How to Achieve Your Dreams DARLA DAY, Aerialist, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist For Darla Day, it really all began when she “ran away” to join the circus,from Mexico, where she discovered a passion for aerial acrobatics and dance. From there, she developed a career in entertainment, including working with the famed company, Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas and later for Ke$ha, MTV and Cindy Lauper. But she didn’t rest there. She created her own company – Aeris Aerial Arts – and became an entrepreneur providing events and entertainment to some of the world’s largest corporations, including Toyota and Adobe.

11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Morning Keynote Presentation Lessons Learned From The Silver Screen Ballroom JANE POWELL, Movie Star, Broadway Legend, Singer Join one of the Silver Screen’s legendary actresses in a one-on-one discussion of what it was like working on the big MGM Musicals that defined an era. Jane Powell starred in blockbusters like Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, “Royal Wedding” and many more. She worked with and shared top billing with the likes of Fred Astaire, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra and dozens more Hollywood icons.


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SPONSORED BY 12:30 - 1:30 p.m. Networking Luncheon Ballroom ​ 1:00 - 1:30 p.m. Sandra J. Pattie Distinguished Leadership Awards Ballroom Join us for an elegant luncheon, and an opportunity to honor women who’ve helped change the face of banking in New England. Each year, we are proud to present this honor to women who have made outstanding contributions to the banking landscape in New England. GILDA M. NOGUEIRA Since starting her banking career as a teller, Gilda Nogueira has risen to become president and CEO of East Cambridge Savings Bank. She is a strong industry advocate and demonstrates her passion and belief in the responsibility of business leaders giving back to the communities they are a part of through personal example. ​ CYNTHIA C. MERKLE Cynthia C. Merkle has been president and CEO of Union Savings Bank in Danbury, Conn. since 2014. Prior to joining Union Savings Bank as COO in 2013, She served as Executive Vice President at Eastern Bank – the largest independent and mutually owned bank in New England. The 2019-2020 Chair of the Connecticut Bankers Association, she is the first woman to lead the CBA. 1:30 - 2:15 p.m. General Session Keynote Take Advantage Of Your Unfair Advantage Ballroom MARY KAY SCULLY, Trainer, Consultant Genworth Mortgage Insurance Co. ​ Do you know what your Unfair Advantage is? In an industry where products and programs can be the same across the board, it is YOU that has to stand out and make the customer the hero of their story. To stand out you have to have an Unfair Advantage. • What is an Unfair Advantage? • How do you identify and implement? • What are tools to help you begin creating your Unfair Advantage today? • What is the secret of maintaining your Unfair Advantage?

This presentation will show you how to create and/or enhance your brand through stories of what individuals and companies have done in crowded fields to identify, develop and deploy a brand that truly sets them apart and ahead of their competition. 2:15 - 3:15 p.m. Closing Keynote Presentation The Election Outlook: We’ve Never Seen This Before Ballroom DONNA BRAZILE, Political Strategist, Former Chair of the Democratic National Committee ​ The 2020 Presidential Election is shaping up to be a show unlike anything the nation has ever experienced. What will it look like? Will the results serve to help bring the country closer, or drive it further apart? Can politics in this nation be saved? Tough questions, and difficult answers. But there may be few people more qualified to talk about them than Donna Brazile. She was the first woman to lead a national presidential election campaign (for Al Gore), and she has also served as chair of the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 presidential elections. ​ uthor of the best-selling memoir Cooking with Grease: A Stirring the Pots in American Politics, Ms. Brazile is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, a syndicated newspaper columnist, a columnist for Ms. Magazine, and O, the Oprah Magazine, an on-air contributor to FOX News, and ABC, where she regularly appears on ABC’s This Week. Her secret passion is acting; she has recently made two cameo appearances on CBS’s The Good Wife. Ask her and she’ll tell you that acting, after all, is the key to success in politics. 3:15 - 3:20 p.m. Conference Wrap-Up Thank you to all of our attendees, speakers and sponsors!

September/October 2019 | BANKING NEW ENGLAND 27

Sandra J. Pattie Distinguished Leadership Honoree

Cynthia Merkle, President & CEO of Union Savings Bank based in Danbury, CT. Her involvement with the community, employees and customers over her six-year tenure has increased the bank’s financial standing and reputation as a committed part of Western Connecticut.


Cynthia Merkle’s Take On Banking A Win-Win For Union Savings Bank


By TRACEY WEISS, Special to Banking In New England

ynthia Merkle’s success at Union Savings Bank is based on implementing newfangled approaches to engage the community by using old-fashioned tactics to maintain it. Now in her sixth year as president and CEO of the Danbury, CT-based mutual holding company, her work at USB has earned her the Sandra J. Pattie Distinguished Leadership Award from Banking in New England. She’ll be honored at the New England Women in Banking conference this month.


“When I first got here,” Merkle said, “I looked at improving engagement with our team members.” There are currently 380 employees in 25 branches throughout Western Connecticut. In 2018, USB went from being a mutual savings bank to mutual holding company. “The results were very strong,” she said. “We identified what areas we needed to work on and introduced a series of town hall-style forums. I did 13 of them myself, talked about how we were doing, shared new products and services, did a business plan update, talked about medical benefits. They could ask me anything.” The forums continued, as did open communication between Merkle, management and team members. 28 BANKING NEW ENGLAND | September/October 2019

“We started to do social events after work, and any team member could come,” Merkle said. “We played miniature golf, we went bowling—100 people came— and a wine and painting night was so popular we had to add another night. People who had only talked to each other on the phone got to see and talk to each other.” “She is a great inspiration to the staff,” said Jeff Levine, chairman of the Board of Trustees for Union Savings Bank. “She’s able to juggle many balls in the air at once and makes it look simple. She has the respect of the staff and the board which is unusual for a CEO.” “I’m a firm believer that if you treat people well, go above and beyond with them and establish a relationship, they will do their best,” Merkle said. New employees, according to Jeff McDonough, the human resources director of Union Savings Bank, meet at a table with Merkle and everyone “gets to tell their story, including Cindy.”


Merkle credits her early experience in banking with getting her career off to a good start. She graduated from Bryant College in Smithfield, R.I., with a bachelor’s degree in management, and holds an Associate of Science degree from Endicott College in Beverly, MA.


Merkle, who was executive vice president at Eastern Bank - the largest independent and mutually owned bank in New England - before she joined USB, is the new chair of the Connecticut Bankers Association. She is the first female to lead the professional group. She is also the chair of the Board of Directors for the United Way of Western Connecticut; chair of the Board of Trustees of Endicott College; and, a board member of the Danbury Chamber of Commerce.

Union Savings Bank plays a role in Leadership Danbury, a program of the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce designed to help develop potential leaders in the local business community. President and CEO Cynthia Merkle is a board member and is shown here (center) at the first alumni event.

Despite a desire to make a living making and selling pottery, she knew she wouldn’t in ceramics, so she went into banking. “I started in branches and I had customer facing experience which is invaluable to anyone in the industry of service,” Merkle said. “When I moved to lending, I still had relationships with people. “Part of my job was working with the service call center,” and she realized early on that customers needed more than just generalists on the phone to answer customer questions. “We migrated call service employees from generalist to specialty service employees, which provided a higher level of service. It also created new career paths for the call center people.” At USB, Merkle has hired someone to oversee customer satisfaction and the bank now uses a metric for measuring customer satisfaction called the Net Promoter Score (NPS). It’s a management tool that can be used to gauge the loyalty of a firm’s customer relationships. “Our score is 67.7, which, if you know the NPS, is very high,” she said. “The customer satisfaction program here is very robust, she said. “We focus on the areas we need to improve on and we do it. It could be anything from a dead bush in the parking lot area that needs to be removed to looking at a product or service that someone doesn’t want.” The proof of the bank’s current success is also in the numbers. The 2018 growth numbers include a record net income of $21.8 million, an increase of 91 percent from 2017; origination of $175 million in commercial loans; and increasing community development lending 80 percent from 2017. “While we would love to take credit for the entire $21.8 million net income,” Merkle said, “it was the federal tax rate law that went into effect that assisted us and other banks with increased growth; however, even without the new tax rate, Union Savings Bank still had a record year.”

Cynthia Merkle engages children as part of the USB Teachers’ Closet initiative, a school supply drive that the bank started three years ago. USB associates provide thousands of supplies to teachers and students in three schools in the area.

With USB, she and her team members continue to build on the success of the USB Teachers’ Closet program which was introduced in 2016, providing school supplies to teachers and children in the community; collecting books for their “Share the Love of Reading” book drive; and helping people in Danbury through the United Way. Merkle enjoys the work she does outside of the bank, because “I get to meet new people,” she said. “In six years, she knows more people in Danbury than some people who have lived here their whole life,” Levine, USB’s board chair, said. “People gravitate to her.”


While banking is not perceived as glamorous, Merkle said, retaining employees and attracting new ones is a whole new world. “What we need to do now,” she said, “is to start talking about the career paths embedded in banking: data management, cyber security, community outreach. That’s more attractive and what we’re trying to challenge. We have to market it that way and reach the younger population. That’s what the industry can be for them, careerwise. And as for the new crop of young people entering the workforce, she has this advice: “Patience is important. Master a skill and then don’t be afraid to take a risk to learn a new skill. It affords opportunities, and at the end of the day you will be a well-rounded worker and will be tapped to do more.” ■

September/October 2019 | BANKING NEW ENGLAND 29

Sandra J. Pattie Distinguished Leadership Honoree

Gilda Nogueira accepts Cambridge Family & Children’s Service 2019 Avon Children’s Friend Award


At East Cambridge Bank, CEO Gilda Nogueira Uses A Bottom Up Approach


By ROGER DESMOND, Special to Banking New England

ilda Nogueira, president and CEO of East Cambridge Savings Bank is a leader who believes in the value of community. This October, in her forty-second year at the bank, she will receive the Sandra J. Pattie Award for Distinguished Leadership at the New England Women in Banking Conference in Newport presented by Banking New England and Center Point magazines. She began her career in the a community she knew very well. “This was my grandfather’s bank,” she said. She was offered a teller position at the East Cambridge Savings as a junior in high school when most teens are preoccupied with proms or summer vacations. “I was a teenager looking for money,” she said. “I didn’t even drive, but I liked working with people. As a teller, my favorite windows were check cashing and the drive-up because they allowed me to talk to and help people.” An early mentor needed someone in bank administration and recruited Nogueira for a position beyond the teller windows. As she recalls, “he knew I had clerical skills and as someone always looking for something new, I got to schedule, train new employees and I could work more hours. The more

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involved I got the more I wanted to get involved.” Now as CEO, Nogueira still remembers the advice that mentor offered which she passes on to emerging young talent. “You aren’t going to learn if you are afraid to make mistakes.” She relishes the role of mentor and despite her busy schedule, makes a point to talk with every employee about their hopes for a successful career. Her bank is in a diverse community: East Cambridge is home to a number of Portuguese, Irish, Italian, Vietnamese and other minorities. “Our bank is 165 years old, and it is a mutual bank; we don’t work with large investors,” she said. “We rely on our individual customers and we need to deal with a changing environment in our community.” The bank is in a good position to grow. There are currently 10 full-service banking centers in Middlesex and Suffolk counties. Technology companies are increasingly represented in the Kendall Square neighborhood and include Microsoft, Google and Biotech organizations as well as proximity to MIT. “Our biggest challenge is staying true to the past while looking to the future,” Nogueira said. “Customers have so many choices now. We need to think about how we can work to make Cambridge their choice.” A steady growth in

the bank’s main business—residential and commercial loans—is reflected in an overall growth of four 4 percent since last year, with total assets of nearly 1.2 billion dollars.


Nogueira’s career highlights demonstrate the depth of her qualifications for the Pattie award, which is for women who have made major contributions to New England banking. During her tenure the number of women and minority members who are now in the ranks of management has increased dramatically. The eight-person senior management Gilda Nogueira and members of Bank’s senior management team at The Commonwealth Institute’s Top 100 Women-Led Businesses Breakfast team, for example, boasts five female members. According to Nogueira, “We believe in diversity. We also believe that it takes all kinds.” The work force of the bank, like many others, includes many female employees, but at East Cambridge, 25 percent of current directors are female. Recruiting, training and promoting employees are constant concerns for Nogueira. Her belief in community is reflected in her efforts to create and maintain an educational training program at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, a public high school with a student population that mirrors the city’s diversity. Students who elect the program take a course in bank operations as seniors and are then placed in paid positions in a full-service branch at the school under the supervision of a bank employee. Students study banking basics, retail operations and customer service. Each May, students attend a lunch with bank senior management and are invited to apply for a scholarship for higher education. Students also might be recruited for summer part-time jobs at the bank. According to Nogueira, “That branch never makes money. It’s always in the red. We don’t show a profit; we want to give back to the community around us.” But there is no question about the power of Gilda Nogueira and bank employees volunteering at annual Belmont, such a program to be an aid to recruiting; currently four bank Mass. Veterans breakfast. employees are graduates of the experience. Michael Ananis, the Rindge School’s technical arts executive director, reflected on the unique nature of the bank’s ADVICE FROM THE CEO program. “The Rindge School of Technical Arts provides Nogueira’s advice for career success can be summed up Cambridge students with a strong academic and technical as: get involved. “You have a voice,” she said. “Don’t be background to help them succeed in today’s rapidly changing intimidated. If I don’t see something that you do, put it in workplace. East Cambridge Savings Bank’s educational my face!” One of her employees asked her, “How can I get training program is a mutually beneficial partnership that involved in compliance?” Nogueira characterized this type of enables students to gain hands on experience and lays the assertive move as a positive one. “I have certain preferences groundwork for a career in banking.” as a manager. We all do, yet we could be the problem. We Nogueira views recruiting young people into banking as want to hear from young people.” She insists that young challenging. “Banking is not viewed by young people as a employees not be intimidated by veterans. “Let people know sexy industry,” she said. “Many of them want to be on Wall what you can contribute.” ■ Street.” She often counters with, “Community banks are the heart of many communities.”

September/October 2019 | BANKING NEW ENGLAND 31


Burnout – Is Your Workplace In Crisis? 5 Prevention Strategies



urnout is becoming an epidemic. The banking crisis of 2008 was a catalyst for enormous change in the financial world. New technologies, regulations and organizational structures altered working conditions and the pace of banking life became even faster and more complex. Most businesses are attempting to do more with less and the resulting work stress can push your good people into burnout. A total of 85% of financial professionals have reported being impacted by burnout which one recent study found to be a significant contributor to high turnover. The good news is that if you understand the problem and put processes in place, burn-out is avoidable. Here’s what you can do to keep it at bay. First, what is burnout? The World Health Organization defines it as “resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions: • feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; • increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and • reduced professional efficacy.” What’s challenging about burnout is that it’s insidious and can slowly creep up on your most diligent employees. Often, those who fall prey are the highly motivated, empathetic, perfectionists who identify with their work. For these employees, often your superstars, things can easily get out of balance and it’s critical for senior leaders to understand what is at the root of this potentially costly problem. Burn-out is more than the result of exhaustion after a year-end deadline or a crisis with a key client. It becomes a chronic condition. And it’s a phenomenon that cannot be easily remedied with a weeklong beach vacation or a yoga class. As executive coaches and leadership consultants, we have coached many highly respected and capable leaders, and we often see signs of burn out before management notices there’s an issue. If these leaders can’t change their environment or their reaction to it, they are in danger of leaving, or worse, developing significant mental health issues. In one case, a client we will call Mary is a VP who is truly passionate about her work, and loves her staff and her leadership team. But after years of tirelessly committing her time to her organization and recent 32 BANKING NEW ENGLAND | September/October 2019

resource cuts, she began sharing that she can’t even listen to the CEO when he walks into her office. In the past, she looked forward to their conversations but no longer. She explained that she was exhausted most of the time. She was contemplating leaving the company to find something else, (or better yet, going to the beach and never coming back), until we started to identify how she could take control of her situation. Through coaching, Mary learned to establish clear boundaries, delegate what she could, and say “no” to projects that did not have strategic implications. In short, she started taking better care of herself. She began with taking a 3-month sabbatical and reinvigorating her health regime. With her boss’ help, she re-engineered her position so she would have more resources, less fire drills and feel a sense of greater impact. It took a few months but now the company has their superstar VP back doing great work. Fortunately, Mary had the help of a coach and a concerned boss who helped her get on a healthy course and back to her high functioning, happy self.


Burnout researcher Christina Maslach identifies three components to watch out for: Physical and emotional exhaustion • Chronic fatigue and insomnia – Are certain employees always tired? Do they express having difficulties sleeping? • Physical symptoms – Are they going to the doctor more often and seem to get sick more often? Do they look less well? • Anxiety, depression and irritability – Are they more worried or edgy these days? Do they seem uncharacteristically sad? Cynicism and detachment, depersonalization • Loss of enjoyment – Are they not as upbeat and fun as they once were? • Isolation and detachment – Are they no longer interested in socializing? • Negativity – Do they seem more negative than usual? Sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment • Are they no longer proud of their work and constantly overwhelmed? • Are their results suffering?


Avoiding this negative spiral is the responsibility of both the individual as well as the organization. The individual: People have a choice in how they handle the mismatch between the resources they have to do the work and the demands of the position. The company: It’s also the company’s responsibility to set up employees for success by putting the right people in the right positions with the appropriate resources. And showing appreciation for the value that employees bring to the company is also critical.


1. Encourage and model self-care. It’s starts with you. What is your own mindset around work life balance? Most senior leaders connect their success to their drive and dedication, which often means long hours and 24/7 attention to work. What kind of example are you setting? 2. Be realistic when you cut resources and reallocate work. Burnout is more likely when demands are high and resources are scarce. Check in with staff members to find out if their workload is achievable, and if not, be willing to make changes. 3. Job mismatch – Maslach also emphasizes the importance of people doing work they are well-suited for. Do you have the right people in the right seats?




4. HR resources – Fight the stigma around getting help. Make support services available to help employees build coping skills to better handle demanding work environments. 5. Be proactive and identify employees at the highest risk. Educate them on the warning signs of burnout and the importance of selfcare. Burnout may be an epidemic but it’s not inevitable. Build awareness and intervene early to protect your organization’s greatest asset. In the process, you’ll be showing your team how much they matter. ■

Her New Standard, LLC was founded by Denise D’Agostino, Karen Kirchner and Ellen Keithline Byrne, a team of organizational leaders, executive coaches and a PhD, who create programs specifically for women leaders –– to help them rise up in today’s competitive world and make their mark. For additional information visit or follow us on LinkedIn and Instagram.

September/October 2019 | BANKING NEW ENGLAND 33



What Your Customers Think — And Your Staff Does Not Know — Can Sink or Lift You By BRUCE PAUL, Special to Banking New England

ow many of the community banks here believe their customer service is average or below average?” I often ask that when presenting to large community bank conferences. Typically, a small group of attendees - maybe 5-10 percent - are brave enough to raise their hands. By inference, this means that the vast majority of community banks think the customer service they provide is better than their competitors. In fact, in New England, 86 percent of community bank leaders believe their customer service is very good. However, their customers may not agree. In the latest Banking Benchmarks across New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut, only 22.7 percent of community banks were rated that high by their own customers. This is based upon 546,693 objective reviews by households and businesses across those four states.

How can it be that customers see community banks so differently than they see themselves?

Community banks can be forgiven for usually concluding that their customer service is above average, because so much of the anecdotal feedback they get is positive. And this makes sense, because the very happy customers often want to let you know how happy they are, especially to praise a

34 BANKING NEW ENGLAND | September/October 2019

specific staff member and the service they provided. And it is relatively rare indeed that a community bank receives a complaint about a specific staff member’s customer service. And even more rare is to have a customer take the time to let you know that your customer service is neither good nor bad, but just mediocre. To be fair, there are some banks whose customers do truly rate their customer service as exceptional, and who therefore have an actual competitive advantage when it comes to servicing customers. Some of the best performers in specific areas are listed below. But for the rest of the banks that are not standing out, what are they to do? First, identify any servicing areas that where the bank is subpar or declining. According to the most recent Benchmarks, the most common servicing elements where banks fall down are: • Not proactively recommending solutions • Giving customers the runaround (especially among business customers) • Staff not being able to answer banking questions (a training issue) • Treating customers like a number • Not listening and understanding customer needs Avoiding these pitfalls are all crucially important in

retaining customers and earning their loyalty. Across the region, 19.3 percent of customers say their bank can’t even answer basic banking questions and 26.1 percent say their bank never recommends appropriate banking products. But do you know how many of your customers think that about you? If you do not already track these, you need to start. To get you started, we can tell you your current baseline since we have been asking your customers (and everyone else’s customers) through the MA, CT, RI, and NH Banking Benchmarks for years. Just contact our staff and we will share your ratings and rankings (vs your local competitors). Second, identify areas where you are relatively strong compared to key competitors and use them to your competitive advantage. It is often hard to stand out in a crowded marketplace, but most banks have at least one area of relative advantage. It might be that your staff are better listeners, or more responsive, or better and training customers on mobile banking, etc. Third, put together a plan of action to tackle the areas where you are weakest, and exploit the areas you are strongest. Not weakest or strongest overall, but where you excel or fall behind compared to key local competitors. One of our new subscribers was dismayed to learn that 19 percent of their own business customers say they sometimes get the runaround. But when they learned that the average was 32 percent among their key local competitors, they realized they actually had a competitive advantage. And they began to leverage that to gain market share. Another bank learned that their customers rated their technology low compared to competitors. This was not a surprise, but they also learned that the tools themselves (online, mobile) were actually rated slightly higher than average. According to their own customers, it was the training they received that was well below average. They realized they needed to spend more resources on training their own staff to understand the tools and to answer questions, rather than spending on newer and better bells and whistles. A community bank subscriber thought they were doing a good job recommending solutions to their customers. In fact, 64 percent of their customers agreed. But when they learned that the average in their trade area was 72 percent, they realized they needed to step up training for front line staff. They went so far as to share the Benchmark results with each branch manager to show that it was their own customers that wanted more “leaning in” and this energized them to work harder. Fourth, track your progress to make sure you are making the improvements you need to in the eyes of your customers. You can do that through internal metrics, such as the percent of staff that have completed new training modules, but you should also supplement with directly asking your customers to weigh in. After all, it does not matter if all of your staff receive cross-sell training if customers do not see the effect. Understanding what your customers actually think about your customer service, your technology, and every other aspect of your bank will tell you where to focus effort. This

will allow you to fix what is not working (in the customers’ eyes) and highlight what they really love. As the old saying goes: Your Customers’ Perception is Your Reality. Do you need a Reality Check? ■ Bruce Paul is president and CEO of Customer Experience Solutions, which produces the semiannual New England Banking Benchmarks.

Best Customer Service

According to their own customers and compared to local competitors RHODE ISLAND BankNewport Washington Trust Coastway Centreville BankRI NEW HAMPSHIRE Mascoma Savings Bank of Walpole Woodsville Enterprise Kennebunk WESTERN CONNECTICUT (Fairfield & Litchfield Counties) Thomaston Torrington Bankwell Newtown Union Savings

WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS Florence Country PeoplesBank Greenfield Savings Lee Bank CENTRAL MASSACHUSETTS Cornerstone Hometown Unibank Savers Fidelity Bank GREATER BOSTON Village Boston Private Needham Watertown Middlesex Savings

GREATER HARTFORD CONNECTICUT Berkshire Liberty Farmington (People’s United) Essex Simsbury (Liberty)

NORTH SHORE MASSACHUSETTS Inst for Savings Haverhill North Shore Bank Newburyport Salem Five

GREATER NEW HAVEN CONNECTICUT Thomaston Ion Bank Guilford Liberty TD

SOUTH SHORE MASSACHUSETTS Cape Cod Five Martha’s Vineyand Savings Coop Bank of Cape Cod Mutual Bank Coastal Heritage

EASTERN CONNECTICUT Hometown United Dime Chelsea Groton Savings Institute (Berkshire)

September/October 2019 | BANKING NEW ENGLAND 35



Mhatre To Head Consumer Bankers Association Board

The Consumer Bankers Association (CBA) has elected Nitin Mhatre, executive vice president, head of community banking at Webster Bank, as chairman of the Board of Directors. Terms for CBA’s Board of Directors run from September to September. Mhatre said, “I’m honored to be selected as CBA’s chairman. It is more important than ever to ensure consumers have well-regulated banking options, and we will use our collective voice in efforts to help our nation’s economy grow. I look forward to working with the board as we engage with key stakeholders and advocate on behalf of CBA’s membership.” CBA’s board consists of senior retail banking executives at the nation’s leading financial institutions. Taken as a whole, CBA’s membership accounts for 1.7 million jobs in America and annually extend roughly $4 trillion in consumer loans, provide $275 billion in small business loans and originate the majority of private student loans. Mhatre succeeds Todd Barnhart, executive vice president and retail distribution executive at PNC Bank. Barnhart will remain on the board as immediate past chair. Mhatre, Devine and Barnhart will comprise CBA’s administrative committee, which is charged with oversight of CBA’s operations.

Matteson Named CEO Of Liberty Bay

Liberty Bay Credit Union has promoted Lyndon Matteson to president/ CEO. Matteson joined Liberty Bay Credit Union in December 2018 in the role of President. At the time, the plan was for Matteson to succeed current CEO Edward Lopes when he retired. With Lopes’ pending retirement, Liberty Bay Credit Union is executing its plan for Matteson to assume CEO duties in addition to day to day operational responsibility for the credit union. “Lyn has done an outstanding job building on his track record of delivering growth and earning in the short time he has been at Liberty Bay,” said Edward Foley, chairman of the Board, Liberty Bay Credit Union. “His deep expertise in business development will be on display with several new programs scheduled to launch this fall.” Prior to joining Liberty Bay Credit Union, Matteson has held executive positions at Upstate National Bank, Cobblestone Financial Group, Inc., Citizens Bank/Charter One Bank, and Key Bank. Matteson received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication with a Minor in Business Management from the State University of New York, Plattsburgh. 36 BANKING NEW ENGLAND | September/October 2019

Changing Seasons Names Picard As New President/CEO

The Board of Directors of Changing Seasons Federal Credit Union in Hampden, Maine, has announced the hiring of Rob Picard as their new President/CEO, placed by O’Rourke and Associates. Picard will replace long-term CEO Sue Cross who will be retiring after 33 years of service. Prior to joining Changing Seasons FCU, Rob has spent over 12 years in banking and finance. His previous experience includes roles such as heading member services/lending development for FranklinSomerset FCU. He has also held several leadership and managerial roles with Bank of America, Ameriprise Financial and TD Bank. Picard lives in Vassalboro, Maine, with his wife and three daughters. He also is a former professional golfer and enjoys playing with his family and friends.

Tuttle Named Investment Executive Officer at Cooperative Bank

The Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod announced the appointment of Brian Tuttle as Investment Executive Officer. Tuttle will provide financial advisory support to clients in his role with Cape Cod Financial Services at The Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod, through the bank’s broker-dealer, Infinex Investments, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Tuttle brings more than 25 years of investment and wealth management experience to the role. Prior to joining The Coop, he served the investment needs of clients at Santander Bank and Deutsche Bank. “Brian is skilled and experienced helping people establish, evaluate and implement income and retirement strategies,” said Lisa Oliver, president and CEO of The Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod. “He’ll be a tremendous resource to our clients as they navigate the constantly evolving investment landscape.” Tuttle received his BA in Economics from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is Series 7, 63 and 66 registered and holds the Massachusetts Life, Accident and Health Insurance licenses. A resident of Centerville, Tuttle is long-time Cape Codder and a graduate of Barnstable High school.

Laros Joins Franklin Savings Bank As VP, Business Relationship Manager

Franklin Savings Bank announced that Barbara Laros recently joined the bank as VP, business relationship manager. She will be based in the Gilford, New Hampshire, office and will be responsible for cultivating and maintaining business

relationships in the Lakes Region. “Barbara has an extensive background in retail and business banking, having served in similar roles at other banks in the Lakes Region,” said Joe Thornton, SVP, Retail Banking Officer. “She brings expertise in assessing client needs to develop and recommend sound solutions to help them meet their business needs. We are excited to have her on our team.” Laros brings over 24 years of experience in the banking industry to her role, having spent the majority of her career at Bank of New Hampshire and Citizens Bank. In addition, she has an Associate of Arts degree in business from Somerset County College located in Somerset, NJ. Locally, Laros is a 2019 graduate of Leadership Lakes Region and is a member of Altrusa International’s Laconia club. She served as co-chair of the membership committee for the Lakes Region Board of Realtors Affiliate Group (2013-2015), and is a former director of the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce (2006-2007) and trustee of the Belknap Mill Society (20052007). Laros resides in Laconia with her husband, Charlie, and rescue dog, Loki.

McGowan has joined the bank as vice president of commercial lending. McGowan has over twenty years of experience in commercial banking within the South Shore and Greater Boston area. Previously, McGowan was vice president of commercial lending at MountainOne Bank, Rockland Trust Company, and Coastal Heritage Bank. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in business and military history from Norwich University. “We are very excited to welcome Kevin to our team. His experience and strong ties to the Greater Boston area will be such a positive factor in growing Abington Bank’s commercial lending presence throughout the South Shore (MA) market area,” Raczka said. McGowan is a member of the Rockland Kiwanis Club and Hingham 4th of July Committee. He currently resides in Hingham, Massachusetts, and will be working with the lending group based in the Holbrook office, located at 95 North Franklin Street. Abington Bank is headquartered in Abington, Massachusetts, and has five additional branch offices in Avon, Holbrook, Marion, and Cohasset. Abington Bank is a member of the Hometown Financial Group.

Walsh Hired As CFO At Machias Savings

David Silverman, President and CEO of Union Bank welcome Heather S. Campbell to the position of Vice President, Commercial Lending Officer at the bank’s new Williston, Vermont office. “Heather’s financial expertise and

Campbell Joins Union Bank’s Commercial Lending Team

Machias Savings Bank has announced the hiring of Matt Walsh as the company’s new chief financial officer. Walsh spent the last 22 years working at University Credit Union, including serving as the credit union’s president and CEO for the past 13 years. “It is an absolute pleasure to welcome Matt to the Machias Savings Bank team,” said Larry Barker, president and CEO of Machias Savings Bank. “He is incredibly smart about banking, he’s well respected in the industry, he’s very family oriented, and he gets involved in the community.” Walsh is a certified public accountant who worked as a staff auditor at Berry, Dunn, McNeil & Parker in Bangor before starting at the University Credit Union. Walsh graduated with an associate’s degree in Business Management from the University of Maine, and a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Husson University. He has served as a director on a number of boards including the Husson Alumni Board and the Penobscot Cerebral Palsy Foundation Board. He was also a den leader for the Katahdin Area Council of Scouts and is currently active with the Knights of Columbus Pine Cone Council. Drive Revenue Walsh will be replacing Donald Reynolds, who is retiring at the end Control Costs of this year. Reynolds has been with Machias Savings Bank for 33 years. Improve Performance

Business Intelligence

Remain Relevant


McGowan Joins Abington Bank

Andrew J. Raczka, president and CEO of Abington Bank, announced that Kevin

September/October 2019 | BANKING NEW ENGLAND 37

exceptional ability to build relationships is an asset for both the commercial lending team and organization as a whole,” commented Silverman. Campbell brings a diverse professional background in accounting, business development and administration, along with combined residential and commercial lending experience for more than 22 years. Prior to joining Union Bank, Campbell was vice president, commercial loan officer for Community National Bank in Morrisville. Her earlier banking experience includes commercial and mortgage lending positions with Wells Fargo and TD Bank. Earning her B.A. In Business Administration from Johnson State College, Campbell specialized in accounting and received a departmental award in Business Economics. She went on to pass the CPA exam offered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Active in community service, Campbell has donated her time serving on several non-profit Boards of Directors to include Central VT Economic Development Corp., Lamoille Home Health & Hospice and Lamoille Community Food Share. She is also a former Morrisville Rotarian. Residing in Williston, Campbell enjoys spending time outdoors with friends, family and her horses.

Morrison Honored As NH Banker Of The Year

NH Bankers announced Daniel R. Morrison, CEO, Cambridge Trust New Hampshire, as the recipient of the “2019 Community Banker of the Year” award. The announcement was made by Jerry Little, commissioner of the NH Banking Department at the NH and Vermont Bankers Annual Conference. This year’s winner will have lunch with Governor Chris Sununu at his bank.

Morrison, formerly founder, president and CEO of Optima Bank & Trust, now Cambridge Trust, was selected for this honor by a panel of public officials from the State of New Hampshire, including NH Senate President Donna Soucy, Speaker of the NH House Steve Shurtleff, and Will Arvelo, director of economic development at the Department of Business and Economic Affairs. Upon receiving the award, Morrison cited his many years of involvement with the NH Bankers and said, “Receiving New Hampshire’s Community Baker of the Year Award is among the most meaningful awards that I have received.” Morrison has been involved with New Hampshire Bankers Association, serving on the board for 7 years, including Chairman of the board from 2017-2018. He has also been involved with the American Bankers Association, serving on their Government Relations Council Administrative Committee, and was past member of Community Bankers Council, with a focus on building personal relationships between the industry and government agencies, advocating on behalf of community banks and the communities they serve. During his tenure at Optima Bank, Morrison has been awarded with a Business Excellence Award from the New Hampshire Business Review, a Master Community Builder Award, New Hampshire Statewide Business of the Year from Business NH Magazine, Business of the Year from Exeter Area Chamber of Commerce, and Business of the Year from the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce, and recognized in American Banker Magazine along with his wife, Pam, as one of “Banking’s Power Couples.” ■


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Regional Banks Should Embrace Libor Alternatives By RICHARD L. SANDOR, Special to Banking New England

inancial regulators across the globe recognize that Libor has outlived its usefulness as the dominant benchmark in the financial markets. Capital market participants are busy developing alternative benchmarks that will better serve the needs of various participants. The deadline for the sunsetting of Libor in 2021 is causing concern among some market participants, but it need not. It’s been my experience with change and innovation that choice will always benefit markets. While Libor has undergone technical improvements aimed at correcting its past shortcomings, I believe Libor’s apparent loss of pre-eminence presents opportunities. We have multiple rates emerging to better serve specific segments of the market. The replacements are based on actual market activity and are better suited to different sectors of the marketplace. For large financial institutions, there is the Federal Reserve’s SOFR (the Secured Overnight Financing Rate), which is a broad measure of the cost of borrowing cash overnight collateralized by US Treasury securities. The ICE Benchmark Administration, which took over the administration of Libor at the request of the United Kingdom government in 2014, has introduced another benchmark for large institutions that revamps Libor to mitigate credit risk. While these benchmark products work well for large global banks and financial institutions that are active in the repo market, the American Financial Exchange’s AMERIBOR benchmark is designed to fit the specific needs of the smallersized banks by providing a straightforward benchmark that reflects a rate for unsecured overnight lending. The smaller-sized banks play an integral role in the economy. The liquidity they provide in the regional economies help to create jobs, thereby fueling the engine of growth. Therefore, the choice of a rate is important to ensure these organizations continue to maintain the important social and economic role that they perform. Since its launch in 2015 the AMERIBOR benchmark has gained considerable traction. AFX membership and volumes have grown exponentially. Membership now stands at 150

40 BANKING NEW ENGLAND | September/October 2019

institutions, represented by 124 banks plus more than 1,000 downstream banks that participate through its correspondent program – or 20% of the U.S. banking sector. Volumes are averaging close to $2 billion per day. With growing volumes and membership, the rate that is generated from the daily transactions on the Exchange — AMERIBOR — is truly a reflection of the borrowing costs of America’s regional, mid-sized and community banks. For example, banks have started to use AMERIBOR in their commercial loans to build greater/increased acceptance of the rate among its customers. What else can regional bankers and their affiliates do to prepare for the transition? To mitigate the risks of transition, institutions must understand their current risk profiles. How much is tied to Libor and how much expires before and beyond 2021? What alternatives can be considered? From an asset-liability point of view what can be done to prevent imbalances? Regulators will be watching for more disclosure and preparedness on these issues. There are also educational issues – the use of new benchmarks will require educating loan officers, staff and customers. Many people don’t know that their mortgage and credit cards are tied to Libor. Along with recordkeeping, education and transitioning to a new rate or rates, a bank needs to select the right rate. Does it accurately represent the cost of borrowing for an institution? If the chosen rate creates assetliability mismatches, it obviously increases operational and financial risks for the bank. Boards and risk (Alco) committees must be aware and prepared to address these issues. Support for change and choice is coming from regulators. The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) is raising awareness and helping to educate financial institutions and examiners about planning and transitioning from Libor as a reference rate. The International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) is also active in educational efforts related to the transition away from Libor. The transition to new benchmarks, and the creation of new markets that comes with it, will require building institutional infrastructure. That

means that bankers and regulators need to be joined by accountants, lawyers and academics who can help provide the research and the training required to help a new generation of professionals understand the changes and new options. We have every reason to believe that the U.S. financial sector, the most developed, flexible and innovative in the world, will maintain an orderly and smooth transition to new interest rate benchmarks. Industry groups are organizing to educate stakeholders. There are contracts currently being traded on organized exchanges, which will provide greater transparency and price discovery. That will speed up adoption. When it comes to alternative rates, choice is critical. It enables participants to pick the appropriate rate for their circumstances and helps lower systemic risk. In times of crisis, it is better to have a choice of rates than a single benchmark. A rate like SOFR caters to bigger players, while AMERIBOR, an unsecured rate derived from transactions on the AFX, is better suited for regional,

mid-sized and community banks and other financial institutions. I urge regional banks to take the long view and embrace Libor alternatives. I started working on interest rate futures in 1969 and we launched the first futures six years later. It took a decade, and the Volcker tightening in late 1979, for them to take off. Likewise in this scenario, there’s time for banks and everyone involved to prepare and benefit from better choices ahead. â– Dr. Richard Sandor is chairman and CEO of the American Financial Exchange (AFX),, an electronic exchange for direct interbank/financial institution lending and borrowing.

September/October 2019 | BANKING NEW ENGLAND 41


CRA Could Bridge The Digital Divide In Poor Communities Franklin Savings Embraces First-in-the-Nation Plan For Financial Literacy By NORMAN BELL Special to Banking New England


Dr. Robert McLaughlin, executive director of the National Collaborative for Digital Equity, makes his case at a recent conference. (Courtesy Dr. McLaughlin)

42 BANKING NEW ENGLAND | September/October 2019

lrike Smith is always looking for ways her bank can make a difference in its community. It’s a key part of her job as the Community Reinvestment Act officer at Franklin Savings Bank, a small, 150-year-old institution with a handful of branches in and around Franklin, N.H. In her rounds of attending banking conferences and seminars, she was intrigued by the idea that federal regulators were clearing the way for making financial literacy programs a part of a bank’s CRA portfolio. Financial literacy education and by extension economic opportunity are issues in Franklin, the smallest of New Hampshire’s 13 cities. Its location amid three rivers once provided water power for its mills. But those days are long gone and prosperity has been elusive. Smith convinced her bank to run a low-risk pilot program around financial literacy education and, in quick order, has found herself hailed as a “trailblazer” in reimaging the Community Reinvestment Act and launching a billion-dollar assault on the digital divide that studies Ulrike Smith, CRA officer Franklin Savings Bank. show is retarding economic growth in communities like Franklin across the nation. The journey began with a modest plan to have two well-used bank computers refurbished and fitted with

educational software, then donated to Franklin High School students. Smith was able to build partnerships all the way down the line. National IT firm Sage Sustainable Electronics agreed to clean and refurbish the desktop computers, which had grown from two to four units. Sage installed Windows 10, Microsoft Office, antivirus software, a collection of financial literacy programs from Rosen Digital in New York City and EBSCO’s LearningExpress program. EBSCO, based in Ipswich, Mass., hailed the effort as a breakthrough. “The launch of this bank-supported use of our LearningExpress collection represents a watershed moment for us and our banking partners,” said Greg DiDonato, the firm’s vice president of sales. “The collection is a perfect fit for banks using CRA funds for ‘economic inclusion,’ which is all about helping low income learners of all ages transition into living-wage careers.”

Lack Of Internet

Then Smith’s plan hit a wall. What if the students receiving the computers couldn’t access the internet at home? The statistics on internet access are daunting. While 73 percent of high school students report they need internet access to complete their homework assignments, 15 percent of households with schoolaged children do not have broadband access. That number rises to 35 percent in households with annual income below $30,000. The number is 38 percent for Hispanic families and 41 percent for African American families. The local internet provider didn’t want to take part in Smith’s program. The bank wasn’t up for making what could be an open-ended cash donation to paying for service. And making internet access a prerequisite to awarding the refurbished computers seemed counterintuitive. So Smith began researching alternatives. And that brought her

into the wheelhouse of the National Collaborative for Digital Equity and its founder, Dr. Robert McLaughlin. The non-profit collaborative is based in New Hampshire. Smith is quick to credit McLaughlin’s presentation at a 2018 conference for starting her thinking about attacking financial literacy through refurbished computers. She worked with him to take that effort to fruition. Now she’s partnering with the collaborative to find the fix for internet access, a larger task that could require a statewide broadband initiative.

A Three-Decade Goal

Closing the digital divide – broadly defined as the economic, educational and social inequalities between those who have computers and online access and those who do not – has been McLaughlin’s goal for more than 30 years. Using the CRA as a tool has been on his radar almost as long. He came close in San Antonio in

Smith is partnering with the National Collaborative for Digital Equity to find the fix for internet access, a larger task that could require a statewide broadband initiative.

September/October 2019 | BANKING NEW ENGLAND 43

2013 when he got the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank to support using CRA funds for economic inclusion efforts. But the pilot plan collapsed amid local political issues. Now, teaming with Smith whom he calls a “trailblazer,” McLaughlin thinks the Franklin National Savings bank computer program will become the first approved CRA project attacking financial literacy. Federal examiners will be conducting a CRA review in the fourth quarter. But McLaughlin thinks the time is right to reach higher. He sets the national CRA pool at about $100 billion and says he doesn’t want to undermine worthy programs like affordable housing. But if regulators open the door, just one percent of that pool – $1 billion – would make a significant difference in bridging the digital divide. Any broadband access solution needs to be on a grander scale than the footprint of Franklin Savings Bank. And since that footprint is the basis for the bank’s CRA responsibility, that seemingly takes the bank out as a player. But the winds of change are blowing, led by the federal Office of the Controller of the Currency, one of three main players in monitoring CRA compliance across the industry. OCC Deputy Comptroller Barry Wides has been touring the country speaking on behalf of a proposed overhaul of CRA rules and making the case that bridging the digital divide is an appropriate use. The 1977 act was last updated in 44 BANKING NEW ENGLAND | September/October 2019

The final rules aren’t expected until next year but every indication is financial literacy and broadband inclusion will be permitted activities as well as some allowance for smaller banks joining consortiums to craft larger solutions – from anywhere -- that benefit the bank’s footprint.

1995 and has only fuzzy guidelines on what kind of activities meet the standard for supporting low-income communities.

Specificity Needed

The American Bankers Association is on board with adding some specificity allowing efforts to strengthen economic inclusion. Krista Shonk, the ABA’s vice president for regulatory compliance, introduced Wides at a summit in Washington, D.C., on digital equity and economic inclusion in May. The final rules aren’t expected until next year but every indication is financial literacy and broadband inclusion will be permitted activities as well as some allowance for

smaller banks joining consortiums to craft larger solutions – from anywhere -- that benefit the bank’s footprint. In presentations, both Wides and McLaughlin point to the success of a Capital One program that is providing training in tech support skills in Virginia and Maryland. Some solutions like that require scale, they said. And small banks shouldn’t be precluded from thinking big, even if it means straying from their bank’s footprint. Back in Franklin, Smith and McLaughlin feel the wind at their backs as they prepare for a statewide summit (Oct. 28-29) on economic inclusion and digital equity. McLaughlin will frame the discussion with his opening remarks as a lead-in to a panel featuring Smith. The two will lead a breakout session on digital equity later in the program. Wides also is on the program, delivering a keynote entitled “Improving Digital Inclusion with the Community Reinvestment Act.” They see the broadband issues clearly and have researched a range of solutions, from embracing inexpensive ‘hot spot’ systems to a full-on alternative to commercial providers. Whatever concepts emerge from the summit likely will shape the outlook for Franklin and the rest of New Hampshire. It likely also will serve as a model for financial institutions and communities across the nation. ■


Citizens Bank Joins With Questlove For New Brand Platform

itizens Bank has launched its new brand platform, “Made Ready,” which recognizes that while lifestyles and work alike become increasingly more complex and dynamic, the company remains well positioned to continue its commitment to helping customers, colleagues, communities, and shareholders be prepared for their own unique journeys. “The way our customers live their lives and define success has changed, and the relatively straight path they used to travel has become more like climbing a jungle gym,” said Beth Johnson, chief marketing officer at Citizens Bank, headquartered in Providence, R.I. “Our Made Ready platform highlights how we celebrate and support the steps that make every journey unique.” “Made Ready” underscores how Citizens is linking action and purpose by helping customers and clients reach their potential through convenient, simple and personalized offerings that enable their own distinctive experiences. The platform launched across a range of mass media including television, online, social media, radio, podcasts and streaming providers such as Spotify, as well as distinct regional advertising and sponsored local events. Outdoor advertising will appear at major transit hubs within Citizen’s local footprint, such as Boston’s South and Back Bay Stations, and Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station. Added Johnson: “This platform is all about taking the best of Citizens – the trust we’ve established, the relationships we’ve built, and the community roots we’ve grown – and

marrying it with personalized insights powered by our advanced data and analytics that help put us in a position to help people in every step of their journey.” “Made Ready” for Music launch brings the platform to life One individual who embodies the spirit of “Made Ready” is Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, an eclectic artist who has built a multidimensional career around his unique interests and non-linear journey. He’s partnering with Citizens to create an original song by The Roots to bring the spirit of the “Made Ready” brand platform to life. Questlove debuted it at Made Ready for Music presented by Citizens Bank, an exclusive live event at his alma mater, the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts on Sept. 27. “Made Ready speaks to me because I think I’m the living embodiment of it. I’m a person who has walked a path of preparation, education and knowledge,” said Questlove. “I utilized these talents, these gifts and this education to bring me to the place where I am now in my life.” The performance was recorded by audience members with smart glasses styled to match Questlove’s signature eyewear. The footage, along with crowdsourced video that will be solicited in a social media campaign asking how consumers are Made Ready for their life’s journey, will be compiled into a music video. The video will be released this fall and promoted through a new media partnership with Vulture on a custom digital hub which will highlight Questlove’s own non-linear journey and how he’s made ready for whatever comes next, as depicted in Citizens’ new Made Ready platform. ■

September/October 2019 | BANKING NEW ENGLAND 45


Joe Gianni Market President – CT Bank of America Hartford, Connecticut

A political science and humanities major from Providence College, Joe Gianni has been Bank of America’s Market President – Connecticut since January 2018. His career in local banking goes back to the CBT days and the numerous iterations since then.

“Don’t ever underestimate the power of a smile.”

FAVORITE SPORT: Ice hockey. I grew up a Bruins fan (Esposito, Orr, Cheevers) but transitioned loyalty to the Whalers (Quenneville, Francis, Dineen) when they moved to Hartford. In fact, my first job out of college was with the Whalers managing the ticket office. MUSIC: Can there really be anything better than a James Taylor concert at Tanglewood in early July? I think I’ve seen him six times. BEST BROADWAY PERFORMANCES YOU’VE EVER SEEN: Ben Kingsley in Kean (1983), Lin-Manuel Miranda in Hamilton (2015), and Ben Platt in Dear Evan Hansen (2016) Kean was back in the ‘80s when I had no money. I saw it twice. The second time I stood in the back of the theater. TELEVISION: Laughter is the best medicine so my prescription would be re-runs of “I Love Lucy”, “The Dick Van Dyke Show”, followed by early seasons of both “Seinfeld” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” BOOKS: Currently three books I’m rereading: “Stoner,” John Williams; “It Can’t Happen Here,” Sinclair Lewis; “Candyfreak,” Steve Almond. The first two are heavy. Candyfreak is my go-to for a laugh. It talks about the regional candies that existed in the ‘70s and his road trip to find them. EVER BINGE WATCHED A SHOW? Binge watched … No. Binged while watching a show … Yes.

46 BANKING NEW ENGLAND | September/October 2019

WHAT TOPS YOUR BUCKET LIST? Beginning in 2013, I’ve completed six marathons in the U.S. I’d like to finish a marathon in London or Rome before I ultimately hang up the long-distance running shoes. HOBBIES: While I love vegetable gardening, I persistently shun weeding. So, I’d say volunteering in the community, which is personally gratifying, makes a tangible impact serving local non-for-profits, and encourages engaging and connecting with others from a variety of backgrounds. FAVORITE PLACE TO VISIT / CUISINE: Food is not only about taste but one’s memory of the surroundings while enjoying the fare. Three that are top of mind: Market Square - Portsmouth, NH for popovers and coffee; Menemsha, Martha’s Vineyard - MA for oysters and cherrystones; and Point Judith, RI for clam cakes and Del’s lemonade. QUOTE: “We must love them both, those whose opinions we share and those whose opinions we reject, for both have labored in the search for truth, and both have helped us in finding it.” ― St. Thomas Aquinas ADVICE: Don’t ever underestimate the power of a smile. SOMETHING YOUR CO-WORKERS DON’T KNOW ABOUT ME: I spent a season as a skating instructor at Rockefeller Center in NYC. I still skate. I was a hockey goalie at Kingswood Oxford. ■

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September/October 2019 | BANKING NEW ENGLAND 47

Experience the diff eren ce ®

Savings Bank of Walpole in Keene, NH


Members Plus Credit Union in Plymouth, MA

GFA Federal Credit Union in Peterborough, NH

Hanscom Federal Credit Union in Dorchester, MA

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