Most Powerful Women in Banking | Top Teams: Howard Bancorp

As part of American Banker's Most Powerful Women in Banking and Finance program, we have selected five “Top Teams” for 2020. Howard Bancorp is one of the team honorees.

In the Top Teams category, each bank is evaluated based on:

  • The presence and influence of women in the senior ranks
  • The performance of women-led business units
  • Demonstrated commitment to and progress toward fostering diversity (and specifically female participation) in senior leadership and key roles with P&L responsibility
  • Improvements shown in the representation of women in the pipeline
  • Programs, policies and practices that are effective in fostering success in the areas above

Howard Bancorp
Headquarters: Baltimore, Md.
Assets: $2.46 billion
Female representation among corporate officers: 13%
Female representation on operating committee: 10%

Diversity Initiative

The Women in Leadership program at Howard Bancorp aims to help female employees develop the skills and confidence needed to advance. Howard credits the program with helping the company make progress each year on improving diversity in management roles. Of its 250 employees, 82 of them are women in leadership positions, meaning they hold some level of management responsibility, either over functional areas or individuals, and have a title of assistant vice president or above, said Erica Starr, Howard's director of marketing.

Selected executive highlights:

Mary Ann Scully
Chairman and CEO

Following Howard's 2018 merger with 1st Mariner, Scully spent last year focused on repositioning her company for the future. That included a rebranding effort, with a new mission statement and an advertising campaign using the tagline, "We care about here."

A review of Howard's operations also prompted Scully to pare down its business lines, by exiting residential mortgages, and trim the number of branches to 15, from 20. (Howard had previously cut eight branches in 2018 as well.)

Scully was also listed as one of our Most Powerful Women honorees in 2017 and 2016, as well as one of our Community Bankers of the Year in 2017.
Katie Sank
Director of Project Management

Prior to 2019, Howard lacked visibility in a holistic way into the projects going on across the institution. Business lines rolled out new processes and applications in silos, pulling in resources from other areas as needed, and without considering existing workloads and competing priorities.

Sank established a Project Management Office to change that, improving the prioritization of work for project teams and better defining criteria for success. Last year the portfolio of active projects exceeded 40, ranging from software implementations to the revamping of operational processes.

One of those projects was the implementation of an online account opening platform to allow both retail and business customers to open accounts without having to visit a branch — which proved to be a crucial capability amid the pandemic.
Erica Starr
Director of Marketing

Starr spearheaded the new brand identity effort internally and externally, and her work contributed to Howard achieving a compelling jump in brand awareness among business owners in the Baltimore area, from 40% in 2019 to 53% in 2020.

To inform the rebranding campaign, Starr and her team interviewed employees across all levels to find out what the company meant to them.

Through this work Howard determined that its employees are agile, insightful, invested, and passionate — which are the "four pillars" that it will use to define itself going forward.
Chandra Klein
Director of Branch Distribution

Chandra Klein is in charge of the largest division within Howard, overseeing a total of 81 employees, including 16 direct reports.

One of Klein's main tasks last year was to oversee the process of cutting five of Howard's then-20 branches, mainly to improve efficiency with customers increasingly moving away from using branches to doing their banking online. Howard trimmed $3.6 million from its branch occupancy expenses alone and not a single job was lost. Deposits per branch increased to an average of $100 million.

Working with other departments, including the technology team, Klein also refined the account opening process to enhance it from a fraud and compliance standpoint while also making the customer experience better.
The team
Laura Lynn Benson, Carrie Bivens, Patricia Brown, Sara Bundy, Melissa Camalier, LeNora Clampitt, Michelle Coates, Allison Cwiek, Catherine Epps Davis, Kathy Davis, Melanie Dews, Denise Gerber, Kelly Gray, Diane Griffitts, Lindsay Guckert, Chris Hopkins, Patricia Howard, Myrna Kennedy, Chandra Klein, Katherine Koustenis, Deborah Langgood Matz, Stephanie Morris, Danielle Mullin, Kathleen Passman, Theresa Phillips, Kelly Rawleigh, Katherine Sank, Jennifer Scully, Mary Ann Scully, Tanisha Ann Skinner, Renee Smith, Verna Lee Squirrel, Erica Starr, Teresa Stout, Michele Sylvia

See the other 2020 Top Teams:
Bank of America
U.S. Bancorp
Bank of the West
Zions Bancorp.