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ICBA Independent Banker Highlights “ICBA Rising Stars”

Six Community Bankers Named for Commitment, Ingenuity and Excellence

Washington, D.C. (February 1, 2012)—The Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) recognized six 2012 “ICBA Rising Stars” who are among the best and brightest in the community banking industry. The six community bankers are featured in the February issue of ICBA Independent Banker, the award-winning monthly magazine that is the nation’s number-one source for community banking news.

“As in years past, these 2012 ICBA Rising Stars certainly qualify as heroes of the community banking industry. To their customers and communities, they are nothing short of super,” said Chris Lorence, ICBA executive vice president/chief marketing officer. “ICBA congratulates these ICBA Rising Stars for their great professionalism and for demonstrating every day what makes community banks so special.”

The community bankers named as ICBA Rising Stars were nominated by their peers on the basis of their commitment to quality, ingenuity and integrity in business practices and service to their local communities. The 2012 ICBA Rising Stars are:

  • Marcia Clements, branch operations manager, Bank of American Fork, Utah — Clements began working in the Bank of American Fork as a high school senior sorting checks and printing day-end reports several evenings a week. Seventeen years later, she became the youngest branch operations manager in the history of the bank. “It had to be her,” recalls Shannon Johnson, branch administration vice president, citing the amazing way Clements’ mind works and her uncanny ability to find and solve problems. Currently, Clements is involved in many bank-wide activities, including those with the product development committee along with running a branch with 30 employees. When asked about her success, she states the importance of “making every employee feel like they are a valued member of the team.”

  • James C. Elliott, senior vice president, commercial lending, First Virginia Community Bank, Fairfax, Va. — Banking was not Elliott’s original career path. In high school, he expected to become a math teacher or a chef who owned a restaurant. However, one day while waiting in line to cash a paycheck in a local Chicago community bank, Elliott unexpectedly applied for a job. He eventually went from a drive-through teller to commercial loan officer. At First Virginia Community Bank, Elliott and a fellow commercial loan officer have turned around enough loans to reach $60 million for their branch office in Manassas, Va. The branch even won a contract over a larger bank to provide banking services to the Prince William Circuit Court.

  • Lindsay Lawrence, chief banking officer, Opus Bank, Irvine, Calif. — “Lindsay is unique in that she didn’t grow up in the banking system in the traditional way—she didn’t get pigeon-holed in any one area,” says Stephen Gordon, a founder of Opus Bank. “Instead, all she knows is the concept of clients utilizing all the different parts of the bank, so she’s become a very well-rounded banker.” Lawrence works as the glue between all the divisions, making sure they are all communicating and referring business to each other. She loves fostering camaraderie between the bankers.

  • Loren Pence, IT coordinator and compliance officer, First Iowa State Bank, Albia, Iowa — Pence faced a steep learning curve after joining First Iowa State Bank three years ago. After working 16 years as a funeral director, he joined the community bank as an IT coordinator fulfilling his need for a more family-friendly schedule. His strategy for his career transition has been simple—dig in and learn everything he can. Pence created a tracking system to manage his duties, which eventually translated into creating an even more detailed tracking system for the compliance team. An eagerness to learn coupled with a methodical approach helped Pence continually absorb new information and excel in the current position he’s in as well as help the bank soar to new heights.

  • Jamie Piccola, vice president, loan operations, HomeStar Bank & Financial Services, Manteno, Ill. — One of the keys to career success, according to Piccola, is: “don’t stop changing. Don’t just sit behind a desk, put on your roller skates and go.” She demonstrates this in her own career by being a true jack of all trades. “If I could find more people like this, I would hire every one I could,” said Chris Friis, chief credit officer for HomeState Bank. Piccola began her career in 1992 and has since assumed many roles, learning on the job. She was a receptionist, bookkeeper and a proof operator. She also helped open four branches over a 10-year period. Currently, she serves in a technical loan-support position and is a master at handling the lending systems and being able to develop workarounds when they are needed.

  • Tammy Sawvel, chief compliance officer, First Bank Financial Centre, Oconomowoc, Wis. — When Sawvel became First Bank Financial Centre’s chief compliance officer, her goal was to be the business partner that a compliance officer should be. This meant making a long-term commitment to personally training bank employees on compliance and procedures, spending meetings helping department managers prepare for audits and exams, and generally keeping her door open so that she could be the go-to person for regulatory information. “People trust her and don’t perceive her as an obstacle to doing their jobs,” said Stacy Grafenauer, a First Bank Financial Centre vice president. “No one is worried or afraid when it’s exam time” because of Sawvel’s efforts.

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