Rochester Regional President, M&T Bank
Years in current role: 16 years as the Regional President; 35 years with M&T Bank
What was your biggest success in 2021?
I am deeply proud of our team of “economic first responders.” They went above and beyond to help our customers and communities. They acted with care and empathy, many remotely, to help our region through this health crisis. This is what M&T is all about. This is what makes it possible for us to fulfill our purpose — to make a difference in peoples’ lives. Many are still struggling, so our efforts will be to continue, alongside our community partners, to give strength and support wherever we can.
What are your expectations for 2022?
Looking forward as we emerge from the pandemic, I expect to see businesses continue to bring back employees, many in a hybrid environment, and the streets in downtown Rochester will once again be bustling with people. We’ve been seeing positive signs of a recovery, with many business owners deciding to move forward with projects, and I expect business owner confidence to continue to grow. I am also hopeful that our hospital systems and nursing homes will be able to operate without the pressure these variant surges have created, and our labor shortages and supply chain issues improve. As bankers, it’s our role to support sustainable and equitable engines for economic growth — especially during times when our customers and communities need us most. That’s why we are here.
What is your biggest takeaway from dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic?
Two years in — after what feels like a lifetime — my biggest takeaway is that we’re all still learning as we go. At the onset of the pandemic, our team took immediate action to help our customers, including launching business hardship relief programs, mortgage assistance programs, credit repayment plans, among countless others. Then entered a year-long effort to help businesses access the SBA Paycheck Protection Program — a much-needed resource to help businesses remain open and keep people working. Today, we’re helping those same businesses apply for loan forgiveness and advancing efforts to expand financial access and remove language barriers — an important element in inclusive growth. Wherever this brave new world takes us, we will continue to apply what we learn and put our customers first.
What is your favorite thing about the Rochester community?
Where do I begin? We’re mid-sized city that acts small. We’re just one phone call (okay, zoom meeting) away from all the key influencers in our community, and it’s easy to get them working together to make an impact. We’re blessed to have world-class healthcare and education systems, and there aren’t enough kind words to describe our amazing food scene. We’re also within arm’s reach of some of the best golf courses in America. Yes, you read that correctly. I’ve tried to play as many of the top 100 courses as possible and can honestly say Rochester has some of the best! Anyone who spends time here will soon start to see why this is a great place to live and work.
If time were no issue, what would you do to help the community that you aren’t already doing?
If time (and money) were no issue, I’d work to improve educational outcomes and opportunities for students and families in our most challenged zip codes. I’d partner with RCSD and open a K-12 neighborhood school, as well as a free daycare center. I’d place all eligible students in internships, build workforce opportunities for residents and link the jobs to new, quality affordable housing. I’m fortunate to work for a company that invests heavily back into the community, both in terms of time and treasure. I am proud of the difference we’ve been able to make, especially when it comes to education for our youngest residents and affordable housing. However, there’s always more work to be done, and the effects of the pandemic are widespread.