First Niagara Promotes Two to General Counsel, HR Chief

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First Niagara Financial Group (FNFG) in Buffalo, N.Y., has filled its openings for general counsel and human resources manager from within.

The $36 billion-asset bank company said Tuesday that it has named Kristy Berner its senior vice president and general counsel. She had been assistant general counsel since 2010. She worked for the law firm Hodgson Russ before joining First Niagara, and she received her law degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Berner replaced John Mineo, who left to take another position in Buffalo, a First Niagara spokeswoman said.

Kate White has been promoted to senior vice president and managing director of human resources, overseeing a team of approximately 48 employees. White joined First Niagara in 2008 as human resources partner for the bank's partnership services group. Before joining First Niagara, she spent ten years with HSBC in various HR positions.

First Niagara's former human resources manager, Valerie DeBerry, left last year, the spokeswoman said. Both White and Berner assumed their new roles in October.

First Niagara has made several management moves in recent months. It hired its new chief credit officer from Citizens Financial Group, promoted a veteran executive to be its chief banking officer and named a Huntington Bancshares (HBAN) executive as its chief information officer.

White, a Buffalo native who went to college at Cornell University, is proud to be leading the HR staff at her hometown bank.

"First Niagara is a very passionate group of employees, who are really subject-matter experts," White said. "We're passionate about our work, passionate about our communities and passionate about making First Niagara the best it can be."

First Niagara operates 430 branches throughout upstate New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts. It plans to cut to cut annual costs by roughly $40 million this year as it continues to digest its acquisition of 100 branches from HSBC Bank and other deals.

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