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The ABA Emerging Leader Awards identify and recognize the next generation of bank leaders who are committed to the highest standards of achievement and service to the industry and their communities. Developing and guiding future leaders is critical to our industry’s success, as today’s emerging leaders are tomorrow’s decision-makers.

Introducing the 2022 ABA Emerging Leader Awards Winners

2022 Emerging Leader Awards
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Congratulations to the winners of the 2022 ABA Emerging Leader Awards! 

Get to know this year’s class, including what being an emerging leader means to them and why they’re passionate about the banking industry.

(From left to right, by row)

Abby Nguyen-Burke

Senior Vice President, Team Leader
Eastern Bank, Boston, MA

“An emerging leader is someone with mindfulness and intentionality to lift those around them. They understand change is a constant, and to be ready for that change. These are the individuals who will lead your financial institution to success.”

Adam Johnston

SVP, North Louisiana Regional Manager
First Guaranty Bank, Bossier City, LA

“I have found that being the youngest person in the room can be a good thing as long as you work harder than everyone before you get into the room, while you are in the room and after you leave.”

Billie Jo Parker

Senior Vice President
Pinnacle Financial Partners, Memphis, TN

“I’m proud to be a banker. For me, it’s been such a rewarding and challenging career path. To know that banks can help serve the communities that we’re in by helping small businesses flourish, helping families buy their first home or send their kids to college, it’s a unique and powerful opportunity that we get to be a part of.”

Hazel Davis

VP/Compliance & Community Development Officer
Jefferson Bank, San Antonio, TX

“My passion for banking is rooted in the support we provide to the individuals and businesses in our communities. Banks do more than offer products and services, we listen to customer aspirations and support their goals with sincere service. We build communities with our time, talent and capital.”

Kirsten Agard

VP, AMP, Closing/Post Closing Manager
Umpqua Bank Home Lending, Portland, OR

“To me, an emerging leader is someone who’s open to learning, growing and failing. Someone who crushes their goals individually and as a team, and someone who thinks outside of the box and is willing to share their unique ideas and perspectives.”

Kristina M. Schaefer

EVP, Chief Risk Officer & Chief Administrative Officer
First Bank & Trust, Sioux Falls, SD

“Every single thing a banker does ultimately is to benefit the customer and the community you serve. If you keep that bigger picture in mind, it’s a pretty extraordinary privilege to be a banker.”

Lydia Levin

SVP, Channel Strategy Manager
Zions Bank, Salt Lake City, UT

“I am passionate about how the banking industry connects people to their goals and dreams —entrepreneurs and families alike. To work in an industry that helps create value for its local economies takes a certain kind of person, and they’re the bankers I respect so much and love working to train and develop into greater roles.”

Nicholas E. Vrba

Executive Vice President and Secretary of the Board of Directors
First State Bank and Trust Company, Fremont, NE

“With patience and a strong work ethic, the results of one’s labors show. I wear my youth as a badge of honor and look forward to the next opportunities that presents.”

Ryan Coaxum

Vice President
Guaranty Bank & Trust, Austin, TX

“We all have a duty to speak up and to make sure we're pushing our industry forward. We need to make sure we go to the people when hosting job fairs, and make sure we go to colleges of all kinds to recruit the future generation. We also need to make sure that our banking boards of directors looks like the people in which they serve.”

Sandra Starnes

SVP, Director of Marketing
Citizens Bank, Batesville, AR

“It is an amazing time to be in the banking industry. Bankers have been a trusted partner in success and [managing] challenges for decades. Through unique partnerships and thoughtful innovation, financial institutions are equipped to take that community building legacy exponentially farther. Advocating for the future of banking can be as simple as education. In short, spread the work and light the fire.”

Shanna Fuller Cahalane

Vice President, Director of Marketing & Community Development
Reading Cooperative Bank, Reading, MA

“Banking touches everyone and should be FOR everyone. I’ve seen firsthand that when community banks reach out to the unbanked, they can help them climb the financial ladder and improve the quality of life for themselves and their families. It is a privilege to be both an anchor and a lifeline in the communities we serve.”