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ICBA Independent Banker Highlights ‘Rising Stars’

Five Community Bankers Named for Commitment, Ingenuity and Community Service

Washington, D.C. (February 1, 2010)—The Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) recognized five 2010 “ICBA Rising Stars” who are among the best and brightest in the community banking industry. The five community bankers are featured in the February issue of ICBA Independent Banker magazine, the award-winning monthly publication that is the nation’s number-one source for community banking news.

“These five community bankers exemplify the core values of our nation’s community banks,” said Karen Tyson, ICBA senior vice president of communications. “ICBA congratulates these Rising Stars for their great work and for demonstrating every day why community banks are truly the foundation of their local communities.”

The community bankers named as ICBA Rising Stars were nominated by their peers on the basis of their commitment to quality, ingenuity, integrity in business practices and service to the community. The 2010 ICBA Rising Stars are:

  • Craig Buse, senior vice president, senior vice president, IT manager/information security officer, Springs Valley Bank & Trust, Jasper, Ind. Buse has spearheaded many vital security and quality-management projects, including creating a comprehensive quality-management manual. Buse also participates in charity fundraisers and business development efforts sponsored by Springs Valley Bank & Trust. “It’s nice to have community efforts built into what you’re doing,” he told ICBA Independent Banker, “and it’s nice to know the people you serve and give back when you can.”
  • Valarie Green, vice president/trust officer, First National Bank of Lawrence County, Walnut Ridge, Ark. Green started at First National Bank of Lawrence County as a teller and became a trust officer in 2005. Today she also handles employee-benefit plans and payroll. Recently, she began helping customers with their individual retirement accounts. “People’s retirement is very important to them,” she said. “Dealing with people they know on an everyday basis makes it easier.”
  • Russell Laffitte, vice president, Palmetto State Bank, Hampton, S.C. Laffitte places emphasis on his community bank’s motto, “Neighbors Helping Neighbors,” in his daily professional life. “This is where our families grow up, go to school, play sports—where we all live,” Laffitte said. A third-generation banker and a former farmer, he particularly understands the needs firsthand of his agricultural customers. Among other accomplishments, Laffitte started Palmetto State Bank’s debit-card program and is active in the Independent Bankers of South Carolina, where he spearheaded a state young-bankers group.
  • Kimberly Rosa, director of cash management, Westchester Bank, Yonkers, N.Y. Rosa was a member of the original team that opened Westchester Bank in 2008. She played a key role in establishing the community bank’s deposit and branch operations, creating a training program for branch employees and implementing online banking and cash-management products. She also helped open the bank’s second branch last year. Currently, much of Rosa’s time is spent on the road demonstrating the bank’s remote-deposit check service for local businesses. “For our customers, we provide our cell-phone numbers, our e-mail addresses,” she said. “We’re available 24 hours a day.”
  • Noah Smith, senior vice president, commercial loans, Crossroads Bank, Wabash, Ind. Smith oversees Crossroads Bank’s collection and prime-asset management, handles its mortgage and consumer loans, and is very involved in its IT projects. As a community leader, Smith has worked with Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana for 12 years and serves as the Greater Wabash Junior Achievement president. In April, Smith is launching a financial literacy pilot project in classrooms across the state to coincide with Financial Literacy Month activities nationwide. “Financial literacy is near and dear to many of us in the Future Leadership Division,” he said.

ICBA Independent Banker has recognized ICBA Rising Stars since 2002. Read this year’s feature on the recognitions at www.icba.org/independentbanker.