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Power List: Banking

A listing of 11 “power players” in the Rochester region’s banking industry.

Laurie Baker

President and CEO, The Summit Federal Credit Union

Laurie Baker

Laurie Baker

Baker took over as president and CEO in February after Mike Vadala retired. She had been vice president and chief operating officer at The Summit since 2001.

“Laurie rose to the top of a very qualified candidate pool and demonstrated a great vision for the future of our credit union,” Tom Quirk, chairman of the Summit’s board of directors, said in a statement announcing Baker’s promotion. “Laurie is already known throughout the credit union industry as being a leader on credit union issues and will continue to be a positive influence in this next chapter of our growth.”

The Summit has nearly $1 billion in assets with 239 local employees and 88,000 members.

Baker has given back to the community in a variety of ways, including through her work with Villa of Hope, Mary Cariola Children’s Center, the National Kidney Foundation of Upstate New York, and the Rochester Women’s Network. She was honored as Villa of Hope’s inaugural “Champion of Hope” in 2017.

She has twice been a finalist for the Athena Award: in 2007 and 2018.

Martin K. Birmingham

President & CEO, Five Star Bank

Martin Birmingham

Martin Birmingham

Birmingham took over as CEO of Five Star in 2013, and the bank’s assets have approximately doubled since then to about $4 billion, with about 60 percent of that local. This year, the bank has had to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic like everyone else.

“We have weathered many challenges in 2020, yet we’ve continuously delivered essential products and services to our customers, helped preserve thousands of jobs through the SBA Payroll Protection Program, provided community support, learned new ways to work together while being apart and executed strategic initiatives, including the launch of a new digital banking platform to improve the customer experience,” Birmingham says.

Birmingham sees more difficult months ahead as the pandemic continues while vaccines are distributed, but he has a positive outlook for 2021 and beyond.

“Prior to, during and after the pandemic, our organization and industry have provided and will continue to provide essential financial services to customers,” he says. “The pandemic has been a catalyst for positive change and innovation within our organization and our customers will continue to see these benefits in 2021.”

Birmingham has served the community in a variety of ways, including through his work on the boards of St. John Fisher College, AAA of Western and Central New York, the Monroe Community College Foundation, University of Rochester Medical Center, and others.

Daniel J. Burns

Rochester regional president, M&T Bank

Daniel Burns

Daniel Burns

In this challenging year, Burns is particularly proud of how his team helped businesses access the SBA Paycheck Protection Program. In Rochester, M&T’s SBA team helped more than 2,000 businesses secure $440 million in funding.

“Our rapidly expanded team worked in multiple shifts around the clock—day and night, weekday and weekend—to help our customers,” says Burns, who has spent 34 years with M&T Bank, 15 as the regional president. “I continue to be inspired by them and grateful for the work they did to help our local businesses during their time of need.”

Community is important to Burns — he serves on numerous local boards — and he understands M&T Bank’s role in the community.

“We are a bank that is intimately connected to our customers and communities, and we understand their individual circumstances and unique needs,” he says.

Amid the pandemic’s challenges, Burns also sees opportunity.

“We can see it in the small, local restaurant that has had to figure out very quickly how to digitize its business and expand its delivery operation, or in the proprietor who has pivoted from her traditional catering business to selling at outdoor farmers markets and teaching online cooking classes,” he says. “As we look to 2021, we expect to continue to help our customers make difficult and pivotal decisions related to the way they operate, invest, partner and manage supply chains.”

Andrew Fornarola

Rochester regional president, Evans Bank

Fornarola

Fornarola

Fornarola became regional president for Evans Bank this year when the Buffalo-based financial institution expanded into the Rochester market.

Evans Bancorp Inc., parent company of Evans Bank, completed its purchase of FSB Bancorp Inc., the holding company of Fairport Savings Bank, in May. The former Fairport Savings Bank branches transitioned to Evans Bank branches in August.

“Our goal is to be a resource for, and an asset to, the community,” Fornarola said in August.

A bank industry veteran, Fornarola has worked at Flagstar Bank in Michigan, the former First Niagara Bank, M&T Bank and HSBC Bank USA. He was most recently managing partner of A.D. Group., a financial services consultancy.

Fornarola believes Evans’ commercial banking experience is a welcome addition to Rochester. That experience ranges from commercial loans and equipment financing for businesses to government banking options including collateralized depository services and cash management services for municipalities.

Frank Hamlin III

President and CEO, Canandaigua National Bank & Trust

Frank H. Hamlin III, Esq.

Frank H. Hamlin III, Esq.

Hamlin, who took over as president in 2011 and CEO in 2013, is the fifth member of his family to helm the 133-year-old bank.

A defense attorney for more than a decade before joining Canandaigua National Bank, Hamlin has overseen the bank’s growth from $1.5 billion in deposits in 2013 to nearly $3 billion this year. The region’s largest locally owned bank, it has 25 branches and about 570 employees, all local.

The COVID-19 pandemic is far from the first crisis Canandaigua National Bank has weathered. With its long history, it has withstood two world wars, the Great Depression and the Great Recession. Amid this challenge, Hamlin committed to keeping employees connected and updated with current, reliable information.

One employee said that “the daily communications we receive and the weekly virtual town hall meetings with our CEO make me feel safe and more connected to CNB, now, more than ever.”

To help keep employees and the community safe, Canandaigua National Bank increased remote access for employees from 34% to 75% in just three weeks this spring, and reported no loss in productivity or decrease in employee engagement.

Pamela P. Heald

President & CEO, Reliant Community Credit Union

Pamela Heald

Pamela Heald

Heald began at Reliant, then WCTA Federal Credit Union, in 1992 and worked her way up the ladder before becoming CEO in 2007. Since Heald became CEO, Reliant has added four branches for a total of nine.

Reliant’s assets have nearly tripled since 2007 and it has grown to more than 41,000 members, an increase of more than 30 percent under Heald’s leadership.

Heald makes sure that Reliant employees have an impact in their communities, as some 60 organizations are the beneficiaries of help across Monroe, Ontario and Wayne counties. She backs up her word as well, volunteering for about half a dozen organizations on her own time.

Heald was a member of the RBJ’s inaugural class of Women of Excellence honorees in 2018 and has twice been an Athena Award finalist, in 2010 and 2011.

Faheem Masood

President & CEO, ESL Federal Credit Union

Faheem Masood

Faheem Masood

Masood began his career at ESL in 1991 and has served as president and CEO since 2016. As ESL celebrated its 100th anniversary this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Masood and his team remained committed to the organization’s purpose of helping the community.

“Our philanthropy, approaching $20 million this year, is focused on supporting actions that help build a healthy, resilient, and equitable community in support of our purpose,” he says.

ESL’s core values have guided Masood’s leadership in response to this year’s challenges.

“Two of our core values at ESL are Caring About People and Teamwork, and our employees have exuded those values since the pandemic began back in March,” he says. “Whatever change came their way, they faced it with determination and a can-do attitude, all while looking out for each other and upholding the superior customer experience our customers know us for.”

Masood is also committed to the community personally, serving on the boards of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Greater Rochester, Geva Theatre Center, Lifetime Health Care Companies and its Rochester Regional Advisory Board, as well as the New York and National Community Depository Institutions Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Bank.

Colleen Matteson

Rochester market president, Bank of America

Colleen Matteson

Colleen Matteson

Matteson took over as Bank of America’s Rochester market president in February 2019, becoming the first woman to hold the position. This year, she has worked to help Bank of America respond to the COVID-19 and racial inequity crises.

“This pandemic and humanitarian crisis has brought us together as a company and community, with intensified passion and resilience, and an unwavering focus on advancing racial equality and economic opportunity,” she says. “As a company, our priority during this pandemic continues to be the health and safety of our employees, clients and the communities we serve.”

Matteson aims to continue addressing those racial equality and economic opportunity issues in the coming year.

“The underlying economic and social disparities that exist have only accelerated and intensified this year across our nation, particularly the racial injustices we have seen right here in Rochester,” she says. “As we drive our focus as a company on racial equality, economic opportunities and addressing the racial wealth gap, we will continue our focus to be a great place to work for our employees by cultivating a diverse and inclusive culture, our support of courageous conversations with all of our stakeholders, and our focus on partnerships that drive change and address these critical challenges facing our communities.”

Matteson was honored with a Women of Excellence award by the RBJ in 2019 and was a finalist for the Athena Award in 2020.

John McKenna

President & CEO, Tompkins Bank of Castile

John McKenna

John McKenna

McKenna has been at the helm of Tompkins Bank of Castile for six years, following a 17-year run with JP Morgan Chase. During this year of uncertainty, he has been proud of his bank’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We were able to offer guidance and support during this critical, uncertain time for (clients’) business,” he says. “Internally, I couldn’t be prouder of our employees and our company who worked diligently and tirelessly to meet the needs of our clients, while adjusting to a new normal themselves.”

That support for local businesses is of critical importance to McKenna.

“Supporting businesses, not-for-profit groups, individuals and families so they remain vibrant contributors to the community, both economically and socially,” he says. “Being a community bank, we value the partnership we have with our clients and we are invested in their wellbeing. Their success is our success, and we want to help our communities grow and thrive.”

McKenna sees more change ahead as we continue to battle COVID-19 and then find a new normal after the pandemic.

“Innovation within the industry will continue to evolve in response to 2020 and its challenges, and we will be there to help lead the way,” he says.

Phil Muscato

Rochester market president, KeyBank

Phil Muscato

Phil Muscato

Muscato took over as KeyBank’s Rochester market president in August 2019 and feels a leadership responsibility to listen and give back.

“Of course, growth of our brand is why I was placed in this role, but at the very core, what I want everyone to understand is we’re only as successful as how we treat our clients,” he says. “Whether it’s someone looking for their first mortgage, or a small business wanting to expand or even a student opening their very first account. I want the market to feel in choosing Key, they’re choosing a sound partner.”

He is proud of how KeyBank has been a partner throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“First and foremost, KeyBank took immediate action to ensure the safety of all its colleagues,” he says “Second, we took the time to communicate to our clients across all lines of business our willingness to support wherever we were able to at the start of this pandemic.”

Although the pandemic will continue to impact the economy in 2021, Muscato sees a bright future for our region.

“I honestly see a trend for continued growth and development throughout the Rochester market,” he says. “Companies are looking to move their businesses here and for obvious reasons. With two remarkable/dependable health systems, tremendous universities and a very diverse setting, there’s no reason to think otherwise.”

Matt Tipple

Executive director, Upstate New York market leader, J.P. Morgan Private Bank

Matt Tipple

Matt Tipple

Tipple has led the upstate New York market for 1.5 years and is proud of his bank’s response to both the pandemic and this year’s social unrest.

“We have opened the communication lines and increased education at the local level around racial and social injustice, and we are taking action,” he says. “Employees have been brave to share experiences and perspectives, and we now have a special group of employees working on diversity and inclusion initiatives, and how those initiatives can improve our business.”

As part of that focus, he feels a responsibility to help make sure the region’s economic recovery is inclusive.

“We are building on our existing relationships with local organizations like the Venture Jobs Foundation, Connected Communities and the Rochester Economic Development Corporation to advance their missions to create a brighter future for everyone in the region,” he says.

While Tipple expects challenges to continue in 2021, he is optimistic going forward.

“We don’t expect an easy economic rebound, but we do expect a faster recovery than the one that followed the global financial crisis,” he says. “We believe three resilient mega-trends will drive growth through the recovery: digital evolution, healthcare innovation, and sustainability. They will also impact banking; remote working, virtual meetings, and increased use of technology are likely here to say.”

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