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Speakers| Emerging Leaders Forum

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Keynote Speakers

James Ballentine

James Ballentine is the Executive Vice President of Congressional Relations and Political Affairs for the American Bankers Association (ABA).

James has been involved in banking and public policy for over 30 years. A 20 year veteran of ABA, he leads the association’s Congressional Affairs and lobbying team and is responsible for managing and directing ABA’s legislative and political operations.

Prior to his current duties, James served as ABA’s Senior Vice President for Grassroots and as Director of ABA’s Center for Community Development. Prior to ABA, James served as the Associate Deputy Administrator at the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and as the Senior Advisor to SBA’s Deputy Administrator. Before SBA, James worked nine years on Capitol Hill as Chief of Staff and Legislative Director (1993–1998) to former House Banking Committee member Maryland Congressman Albert Wynn (D-MD) and as Legislative Director (1989-1992) to former New York Congressman Frank Horton (R-NY).

Professor Jonah Berger

Jonah Berger is a marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and teaches Wharton’s highest rated online course. He is an internationally bestselling author, and a world-renowned expert on change, influence, natural language processing, consumer behavior and more. Jonah has published over 50 articles in top-tier academic journals, and has been cited in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Harvard Business Review. Jonah has consulted for Apple, Google, Nike, Amazon, GE, 3M and The Gates Foundation.

Kelley Earnhardt Miller

Considered one of the most prominent businesswomen in NASCAR today, Kelley Earnhardt Miller oversees the JR Motorsports race team, management team and business ventures. Previously, she served as vice president of sales and vice president of procurement at Action Performance, the benchmark souvenir sales company for NASCAR. Kelley was the 2007 recipient of the Top 25 Women in Business Achievement Award by Charlotte Business Journal, and was referred to as “one of the most powerful people in the sport of NASCAR” by the Associated Press. She was named one of Sports Business Journal’s Game Changers/Women in Sports Business in 2015. Kelley also serves as chairwoman of the board of directors of Blueharbor Bank.

Peter K. Gwaltney

Peter Gwaltney has served as President & Chief Executive Officer of the North Carolina Bankers Association since January 2015. He is a former banker, and previously served as CEO of the Louisiana Bankers Association. Peter currently serves on the ABA Board of Directors and is Chairman of the ABA Alliance of State Bankers Associations. He is a Past Chairman of the Graduate School of Banking at LSU, currently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees at Mary Baldwin University in Staunton, Va., and the Dean’s Advisory Council at the School of Business at LSU. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in General Studies with an emphasis in Economics and Finance from LSU.

Dr. Sahar Yousef and Lucas Miller

Combined Biography

Dr. Sahar Yousef and Professor Lucas Miller are both cognitive neuroscientists, as well as the youngest faculty at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. They teach one of the most popular MBA classes, called "Becoming Superhuman: The Science of Productivity and Performance" and have been featured in Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Wired and Business Insider.

Outside of the academic world, Sahar and Lucas co-run “Becoming Superhuman”, a training and consulting firm which teaches busy professionals who think for a living how to get their most important work done, in less time, with less stress.

Using rigorously tested scientific tools, they empower each person in a team to work in a way that is aligned with their biology, instead of against it. Everything they offer companies was discovered and incubated in their home laboratory, tested and refined among their MBA students and thoroughly vetted inside high-performing teams in high-pressure industries.

Alex Smith

Pro quarterback Alex Smith’s stunning return to professional sports made him the run-away favorite for the NFL 2020 Comeback Player of the Year Award. In his first year as starting quarterback for Washington, Smith suffered a severe leg injury that nearly resulted in the amputation of his right leg. After countless surgeries and two years of rehab, this 2x Pro Bowler returned to where he had left off and went on to lead his team to the NFC East Division championship.

Smith has a reputation for great plays on and off the field. He is the founder of the Alex Smith Foundation, which provides foster teens with the tools and resources needed to transition to successful adulthood by developing and promoting Mentoring, Education, Housing, Internship, Job, and Advocacy programs. The organization has been praised for its financial planning, ultimately donating 91% of its proceeds to the cause. Since its inception, the foundation has donated almost $1,000,000.

Featured Speakers

Jim Edwards

Jim Edwards is CEO of United Bank, a $1.7 billion community bank operating 18 locations in 11 contiguous central Georgia counties. The bank traces its roots back to the founding of The Bank of Zebulon over 110 years ago, and Jim is proud to be part of the third generation of his family to run the company. In addition to traditional banking services, United Bank also operates mortgage and wealth management lines of business.

Jim has been actively involved in the banking industry at both the state and national level over the past 25 years. In addition to serving as chairman of ABA, he currently is vice-chairman of The American Bankers Mutual Insurance Company and is a member of the FDIC Community Bank Advisory Committee. Jim previously chaired ABA’s Community Bankers Council in 2016. He was chairman of the Georgia Bankers Association in 2013 and chaired its Leadership Section in 2000.

Bob Glover

Bob Glover is Executive Vice President and Chief Investment Officer at The Peoples Bank in Ripley, Miss., where he is a third generation banker and Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors. He recently completed his term as President of Mississippi Young Bankers, and is currently serving as the Chairman of ABA’s Emerging Leaders Council. Bob received a Bachelor of Business Administration with honors from Mississippi State University, where he recently completed his service on the Young Alumni Advisory Board for the College of Business. He is also a graduate of the Graduate School of Banking at LSU, and a former Trustee of the Mississippi School of Banking. Bob serves as a Trustee of Blue Mountain College, Chair of the Tippah County Development Foundation along with the TARGET Endowment Board, and is a charter member and Past President of the Ripley Arts Council. He serves the Northeast Mississippi region as a board member of the Yocona Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, where he is the Vice President for Finance. Additionally, he serves on the Board of Directors and Finance Committee of the Sanctuary Hospice House in Tupelo, Miss.

Kevin Gould

Kevin Gould joined the California Bankers Association (CBA) in 2004, bringing with him more than seven years of experience as staff in the California Legislature. In his role as senior vice president and director of government relations, he oversees the management and operation of CBA’s government relations department and also serves as one of CBA’s three registered lobbyists.

Gould oversees CBA’s Federal Government Relations Committee, State Government Relations Committee and internal policy committees, who provide expertise and directives that guide the priorities of the association’s government advocacy program.

He has represented the industry in negotiating landmark California laws including, but not limited to: the mandatory reporting of financial abuse of elder and dependent adults; the Homeowner’s Bill of Rights; the California Consumer Privacy Act; and, the establishment of the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation.

Gould routinely appears before legislative committees offering subject matter testimony on pending California legislation, frequently authors position papers and articles, and regularly offers legislative updates at banking conferences.

He is a member of the 2009 graduating class of the Pacific Coast Banking School and is the 2016 recipient of the Almon McCallum Award for distinguished and meritorious service to the California banking industry.

Rep. Young Kim (CA-39)

Congresswoman Young Kim is proud to represent California’s 39th District, which includes parts of Los Angeles, Orange, and San Bernardino counties, in the U.S. House of Representatives.An immigrant, small business owner, community leader, and mother, Young is proud to be one of the first Korean-American women ever to serve in Congress and help all Americans have the chance to achieve their dream just like she did.

As an immigrant to the United States, Young has dedicated her life to giving back to her community. She started her public service as Director of Community Relations and Asian Affairs for former Congressman Ed Royce (CA-39), where she was a key liaison to 39th District and advisor on issues pertaining to the Asian-American community and foreign policy.

Prior to serving in Congress, Young was the first ever Korean-American Republican woman to serve in the California State Assembly. As an Assemblywoman, Young fought to grow jobs, support small businesses, ensure public safety, promote educational opportunities, support veterans, and protect victims of domestic violence.

Young is a small business owner, a long-time community leader, and has been actively involved in numerous organizations throughout the 39th District. She and her husband Charles reside in La Habra and are the proud parents of four grown children – Christine, Kelly, Alvin, and Hannah.

Naomi Mercer

Naomi Mercer is Senior Vice President, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for the American Bankers Association within the Office of Member Engagement. She is responsible for providing guidance and thought leadership, developing resources and tools, and helping our member banks with their diversity, equity and inclusion programs.

Naomi came to ABA after she transitioned from a military career where she served as an Assistant Professor in the Department of English and Philosophy at the United States Military Academy and in the Pentagon running the Army’s gender integration and religious accommodation programs. Her educational background includes a doctorate in Literary Studies with a minor in Gender and Women’s Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an Executive Certificate in Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Management from Georgetown University’s Institute for Transformational Leadership. She is the author of the academic monograph, Toward Utopia (2015).

Rob Nichols

Rob Nichols is the president and CEO of the American Bankers Association, which represents banks of all sizes and charters and is the voice for the nation’s $20 trillion banking industry.

Rob joined ABA in August 2015 following ten years at the helm of the Financial Services Forum, a non-partisan financial and economic policy organization. Before joining the Forum, Rob served in the George W. Bush administration as the assistant secretary for public affairs at the Treasury Department, a position requiring confirmation by the United States Senate. In this role, he acted as chief spokesperson and head of the office of public liaison, serving as Treasury’s lead representative with the media, business, professional trade organizations, consumer groups and the public.

Tony Oum

Tony Oum is Executive Vice President at FirstBank’s Multicultural Banking Center. He began his banking career in 2008 after graduating from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He has a passion to help our diverse communities start a banking relationship, purchase their first home, and help them become financially independent. He is committed to growing and maintaining a diverse team at FirstBank as he believes this creates a high performing team as we embrace different culture, thoughts and perspectives.

Tony was born and raised in Longmont, Colorado. His parents were refugees from Cambodia who survived the horrors of the Killing Fields. They came to the United States with nothing but the clothes on their back. They taught him the importance of hard work and giving back to the community. Tony serves on the boards of Asian Chamber of Commerce Foundation, American Bankers Association DEI Advisory Committee, Jeffco Housing Corporation, and SouthWest Improvement Council. He is also an active member of the Cambodian Buddhist of Colorado. When he is not busy volunteering, he enjoys spending time with his family, cooking, running, traveling and checking out new and classic cars.

Carissa Rodeheaver

Carissa Rodeheaver is Chairman of the Board, President and CEO for First United Bank & Trust and First United Corporation. Carissa is involved in the Maryland Bankers Association’s Council for Professional Women in Banking and Finance serves as Director for ABA, ABA BankPac Chair, and is a member of the ABA Government Relations and Membership Committee. She has been recognized by the Maryland Association of Public Accountants as a Woman to Watch, was inducted into the Garrett County Women’s Hall of Fame and was recognized as one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women by the Daily Record in 2020.

Scott Wayne

Scott Wayne is a negotiator, facilitator and mediator.

He is the Managing Partner of Envoy, a firm that help clients investigate and influence human decision-making.

Scott advises leaders of business, government agencies, and international NGOs on negotiating agreements, aligning leadership teams, and influencing the behaviour of employees and customers.

Jenny Wofford

Jenny Wofford began her banking career as a teller at a large regional bank in 1997. She discovered a love of the details of banking, and helping customers create lasting relationships. For the last 18 years, Jenny has held a manager position for a community bank. In her current role at Pinnacle Bank, she oversees the sales and service delivery of 22 branches, customer call center and “Pinny”, the Interactive Teller Machine. Jenny is a graduate of the Georgia Banking School, actively serves on the Leadership GBA Committee, and is the current Chair Elect of Leadership GBA.

Lizzy Williamson

Dubbed by the media as ‘the excuse-buster from Down-Under’, Lizzy is on a mission to help people integrate little moments of movement in their day to transform the way they work and feel. She brings her energy-boosting, bite-size wellness breaks to companies and conferences around the world and is the regular “fitness guru” on Australian morning television. Lizzy is the founder and author of Two Minute Moves, where she shares her journey of overcoming postnatal depression, two minutes at a time. She is a certified Personal Trainer, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and her Two Minute Moves have been featured on Good Morning America, Today Show, Studio 10, Best Self, Women’s Health, Prevention and many more.

On-Demand Speakers

Matthew Brown

Matthew Brown serves as the relationship manager for the 51 state bankers association partners, and staff liaison to the ABA State Association Alliance and ABA State Association Alliance Executive Committee. Matt has more than 15 years of experience in this unique space, and is charged with growing Alliance relationships in the areas of political engagement, policy advocacy, training and industry solutions, member engagement and member communications. Matt also manages the Washington Visit Program and ABA’s Emerging Leaders Initiative.

Casey Catlin

Casey Catlin is a Manager of Member Outreach at the American Bankers Association. In this role, Casey connects ABA members with resources and staff expertise. Casey hosts bimonthly webinars focused on member benefits and often speaks on these topics at various ABA events. Casey also manages the ABA ambassador program, an initiative aimed at making members more aware of available resources. Prior to joining ABA, Casey worked in outreach roles across different industries including a brief stint in college admissions at a major university and later managing partnerships for a DC based think tank.

Casey earned his BA in political science from the University of Central Florida and completed his graduate studies at George Mason University.

Elizabeth Coit

Elizabeth Coit manages ABA’s voter education program, and ABA BankPac—programs that collectively raise and invest multi-millions each election cycle, and expand ABA’s political footprint. She also serves as staff liaison to both the National BankPac Committee and the Voter Education Advisory Council. Elizabeth has more than 15 years of campaign finance and association experience, formerly holding positions at the American Council of Engineering Companies and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Rob Engstrom

Rob Engstrom is ABA’s chief political strategist—leading the association’s political action committee, grassroots advocacy and voter education initiatives. Rob is the founder of Wolfe Street Partners, a full service strategic advocacy firm. Previously, Rob served as senior advisor, senior vice president and national political director at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as well as senior vice president of political and state affairs for the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. Earlier in his career, Rob was director of political education at the Republican National Committee, and was recognized by Campaigns & Elections magazine as one of the top 50 influencers in the 2014 election.

Laura Lilly

Laura Lilly is directly responsible for the day-to-day strategic operations of ABA’s grassroots programs and initiatives including ABA’s unique advocacy platform—Secure American Opportunity. Laura has led ABA’s efforts to restructure and modernize its grassroots infrastructure, managing audience engagement and advocate recruitment, increasing state co-branding partnerships and cultivating grasstops. She also serves as staff liaison to ABA’s Grassroots Representatives. Laura formerly held positions at both the National Retail Federation and the DCI Group.

Tyler Mondres

Tyler Mondres is the Director of Research for the Office of the Chief Economist with the American Bankers Association. In this role, he directs research priorities in support of ABA’s policy objectives. Previously, Tyler was a research specialist that assisted the emerging technologies team with educating banks and policy makers about trends and issues associated with innovation in banking. Before joining ABA in 2015, Tyler was an intern for Middleburg Bank. Tyler received a B.S. in Business Economics from Virginia Polytechnic and State University.