From newcomers to those taking on new assignments, these women's star quality has them front and center. A look at whose influence is gaining ground and growing fastest.

Click on a name below to be taken directly to each profile.

1) Sallie Krawcheck
2) Karen Peetz
3) Colleen Johnston
4) Avid Modjtabai
5) Ranjana Clark
6) Beth Mooney
7) Amy Radin
8) Marti Rodamaker
9) Linda Verba
10) Gloria Chance
11) Diane Reyes
12) Cindy Murray
13) Mary Beth Brooks
14) Diana Starcher
15) Lori Chillingworth
16) Susan Smith
17) Kathy Thompson
18) Susan Steves Keiser
19) Anne Arvia
20) Carmen Jordan
21) Betsy Cohen
22) Merrill Sherman
23) Cynthia Purcell
24) Lynn Pike
25) Ellen Alemany

1) SALLIE KRAWCHECK

Chairman and CEO, Citi Global Wealth Management // Citigroup

Sallie Krawcheck's role as Citi's go-to player continued this year when she was named chairman and CEO of Citi Global Wealth Management, solving twin issues for chairman and CEO Charles Prince. Moving Krawcheck back to lead Smith Barney, Citi's private bank and investment-research division ended what the Street had deemed her premature advancement to the CFO job and put the wealth-management division back in capable hands when Prince sought to oust Todd Thompson from the job.

Prince is complimentary of Krawcheck's accomplishments as CFO, underscoring that she was taking the helm of the wealth-management business-and its $1.4 trillion in client assets-because of her success as CEO of Smith Barney and because "one of our most strategic priorities is to grow" this business. "Sallie has done a terrific job as our chief financial officer, putting a capital-allocation process in place, enhancing balance- sheet management, and helping me direct the company's strategy," Prince said in a March statement.

Punk Ziegel banking analyst Richard Bove says the wealth management post is a perfect fit for Krawcheck. "That's what she's been trained for her whole career," he says. "She came up through the ranks with top quality, was top rated, and was brought in [to Smith Barney] to clean things up. ...She was successful in that. And where she is now she's eminently qualified, and she'll be extraordinarily successful at it."

Krawcheck was greeted at the door by rising defections and low morale in the brokerage business. She soon began a global tour of 40 branch offices around the world and conducted numerous town hall meetings, pledging to remake an unpopular broker-compensation structure and promote from within.

Culture issues aside, the wealth-management business is performing well under Krawcheck's tutelage. In the first quarter, Smith Barney's revenue rose 13 percent to $2.2 billion and profit nearly doubled. The private bank recorded a 30 percent hike in international revenue, though overall net income rose slightly. In the second quarter, Smith Barney hit record revenue and saw net income increase 35 percent, driven by both volume increases and the impact of acquisitions. Citi as whole also reported a strong second quarter, with net income up 18 percent and revenue up 20 percent. -RS

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2) KAREN PEETZ

CEO, The Bank of New York Mellon Corporate Trust // The Bank of New York Mellon

A stone's throw from the New York Stock Exchange is the country's oldest bank, founded by Alexander Hamilton, the storied Bank of New York - which recently officially became The Bank of New York Mellon. It's perhaps best known for its treasury and trust services. And to be a change agent in such place of tradition, to keep ideas circulating and ward off the forces that would make it a museum is no easy task.

That's what BoNY Mellon's Karen Peetz has to contend with. To be able to do it, and do it so well, is what makes Peetz worth watching. It's clear that venerable BoNY Mellon wants to stay current, even as it does so in the businesses in which it has traditionally excelled. Peetz is the point guard of this effort. Last year the firm promoted her to spearhead an integration effort rolling in JPMorgan Chase's corporate-trust business, which left her overseeing a franchise serving 90,000 clients and several trillion dollars in issued debt.

Then came the Mellon deal. Peetz is already way past these potential distractions, however; she's constantly on the road, as she says, getting her people focused on growth and innovation. "It's post-conversion," she says. "The focus needs to be on clients." Peetz measures influence in communication-for this former behavioral-science scholar, the most important thing is clarity.

This is necessary to bring large, far-flung, complex BoNY Mellon businesses in Brazil, Mexico and Japan onto the same page, as Peetz did recently. That means understanding six things: revenue, market share, client satisfaction, employee satisfaction, operational leverage and compliance goals. So, for example, she would visit the team in Tulsa to discuss these quantitative measures and confirm consistency in message and motivation.

BoNY's global trust business ranked atop nearly all U.S. and international-debt sectors, including high-yield, investment-grade, long-term municipal, collateralized-debt and structured-finance instruments. When the subprime woes spawned a host of downgrades, Peetz made a global conference call to send a single message: "Don't panic," she recalls. An integrated, enterprisewide strategy, a push for consistency and a eye to the future. That's a recipe for leadership. -MD

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3) COLLEEN JOHNSTON

CFO and Group Head, Finance // TD Bank Financial Group

When she became CFO of TD Bank in November 2005, Colleen Johnston's first initiative was to reinvent the finance department. If it were a Disney movie, the plot would involve making over the high-school math-club members into the coolest kids in school. "That was one of the biggest challenges: Let's get out of the mindset of being a supporting cast and really stepping up and saying we're part of the team driving value for the bank," she says.

Johnston's reorganization of the finance department included establishing a shared- services model that consolidated accounting and finance and reporting for all segments, standardized financial technology and data, simplified processes and improved controls. A six-quarter rolling forecast was introduced. But that's all about the numbers. The bigger part of her vision involved forcing a focus on the strategy behind the figures. "The bank had a detailed planning process that focused more on the numbers than on the business," she says. "It's important to arrive at some numbers at the end, but what we really want to do is encourage teams to focus on strategy, business risks and goals."

By the numbers, 2006 was a strong year for TD Bank, with adjusted net income of $3.4 billion, an increase of 18 percent over 2005. Earnings per share and the company's dividend both increased 13 percent. The company also hit its target of creating a five- percent gap between the growth rates for revenue and expenses.

This year is looking even better. For the first six months of the bank's fiscal year, which ends October 31, adjusted net income was up 24 percent to $2 billion, and earnings per share rose 22 percent from the year-earlier period. TD Bank has a vision of being a leading North American financial institution, and has achieved a number of notable milestones, including becoming the ninth-largest North American bank by market capitalization, the eighth- largest by total assets and the eighth-largest in total deposits.

Johnston also leads the bank's initiative to increase women's leadership opportunities. When she arrived, only 22 percent of managers at the vice-president level and above were women; now 30 percent are. "This isn't just about the numbers, but [about] making sure you have an environment where women can succeed," she says. She imagines her college-age daughter's career in business and "when she's giving a speech about her career, she won't be referring to the 'glass ceiling,' except as a relic of the past." -RS

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4) AVID MODJTABAI

EVP and CIO, Director, Technology Information Group // Wells Fargo

After a two-year stint as director of Wells Fargo's human-resources department, evp Avid Modjtabai has returned to technology, jumping to the post of chief information officer, and director of the technology-information group last March. Her new world includes a $2 billion operating budget and responsibility for enterprise architecture and internal computing infrastructure, application development and enterprise business services, as well as information-management development, corporate-information security and business-continuity planning. Though her job is much bigger than her previous one, Modjtabai is right at home in the role of technology leader; before she headed HR in 2005, she was evp and head of Wells Fargo's Internet Services Group. During her tenure there, Wells Fargo was ranked as the No. 1 Internet bank by GomezPro and the best consumer Internet bank in the industry by Global Finance.

It was these years working diligently to keep online customers happy that inspired Modjtabai to remake the human-resources department as a customer-centric operation. And like many business-line leaders that find themselves heading functional departments, Modjtabai says, "I didn't view it as administrative. I viewed it as a business."

It was a culture shift. "We offered many, many products and services to our team members," she says. "We had to think of them as customers. I set about really changing the mindset of the HR team. Bringing that focus to HR was something I really, really enjoyed."

Being head of HR brought its own flashes of outside validation. During Modjtabai's tenure, Wells Fargo was named to a slew of "best" lists, including Working Mothers' "Best Companies to Work For," Business Week's "Best Places to Launch a Career," and Diversity Inc.'s "Top 50 Companies for Diversity." The last one was particularly noteworthy as Modjtabai had also been Wells' chief diversity officer and chairman of corporate diversity at the time. Many employees saw Modjtabai as the company's chief culture officer as well, an enormous responsibility in an 160,000-employee organization.

As much as she enjoyed the challenges of the HR department, Modjtabai missed the IT world. Leading the complex network of technologies, systems and applications that make up Wells' 43,000 consumer touchpoints-not including home Internet connections-is where the action is. "It's the most exciting thing," she says. "I don't think anything in the company impacts our customers as much as our technology capabilities do." -RS

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5) RANJANA CLARK

Senior EVP and CMO, Operating Committee Member // Wachovia

How does a highly successful line executive who routinely posts double-digit net income increases run a division that at many banks is considered a cost center or merely a support unit?

By turning it into a business line, of course. "Every decision in a business is about first looking at revenues, costs, and the bottom line," says senior evp Ranjana Clark, who was decreed Wachovia's chief marketing officer by CEO Ken Thompson in April. "Marketing is really about revenue generation or customer generation. ...We need to become much better at being able to judge the success of every marketing dollar we spend."

Her first project was to spend 100 days figuring out how to organize the new division; she talked to middle managers, stakeholders and business partners before announcing how she'd combine five existing groups. On a mission to buck the role of the "typical marketing organization" primarily focused on the creation of the next advertising campaign, Clark sees the No. 1 aim of her 750-strong division as understanding. "The vision of our marketing department is to be the market leader in using customer-prospect information and market insight to drive innovation, product development, brand differentiation and product loyalty," she says. "My goals are all aligned in making sure we get there."

The stock market tells us that past performance is no indicator of future success, but surely that's not what Thompson was thinking when he tapped Clark for the job. As head of treasury services from 2001 until April 2007, she posted industry-leading numbers. In 2006, the business tallied a 33 percent growth in net income, with sales exceeding 2005 levels by 29 percent. From 2003 until 2006, the unit produced a net income compound annual growth rate of 18 percent and a compounded annual growth rate in revenue of nine percent.

In the first four months of this year, the unit's net income was flat compared to the prior year, no easy feat given the significant decrease in deposit-related revenue.

Ernst & Young's Cash Management Survey ranks Wachovia's treasury division as No. 3 in the industry. "Ranjana seeks out new challenges and one of her strengths is a management style that allows her to bring out the full potential of employees," Thompson wrote in a letter in support of Clark's nomination.

"I am excited to watch Ranjana take on her newest challenge and develop a marketing organization that helps us acquire new customers and grow organically." -RS

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6) BETH MOONEY

Vice Chair, Community Banking // KeyCorp

Beth Mooney calls her '80s Texas banking days the "dog years" of her career, but it's not what one would think. "I got there just in time for the bust," she says. "It was a period where you could get seven years worth of experience in one, just because the world was so fluid and so adrift." Perhaps that background has a lot to do with Mooney's drive to plunge into the change needed at $94-billion asset KeyCorp. As vice chairman of community banking, she is reinventing the organizational structure and culture of the Cleveland institution. Gone is the McDonald Investments brokerage arm-sold to UBS in February for a reported $280 million- after Mooney convinced KeyCorp it didn't fit with relationship banking. Concerned about a uniform customer experience, Mooney also standardized wall art, light colors and furniture. "You know you are at a Key Bank," says Mooney. "I call it going from Dairy Queen to a Starbucks."

The makeover under Mooney's direction also applies to KeyCorp's entire footprint, which extends beyond its base into New York and Connecticut with the $575 million acquisition of Union State Bank in Orangeburg, NY, which serves Rockland, Orange and Westchester counties in New York, and has offices in Stamford, CT, and New York City. The deal brought in $3 billion in assets, $2 billion in deposits and $1.6 billion in loans, and was permitted after KeyCorp's adoption of new branch- and corporate-level compliance procedures to comply with an Office of the Comptroller of the Currency consent order for a 2005 anti-money laundering sanction.

Community banking accounts for 52 percent, or $2.6 billion, of KeyCorp's revenues, and is on its way to topping that this year; it hit $1.4 billion on June 30. No doubt one of the big factors was Mooney's launch of a free iPod Nano promotion, which drew 120,000 new deposit accounts; 40,000 online banking and investment accounts; and $4 billion in new credit-card fees since 2005. Mooney also streamlined operations by realigning community banking into four client segments-consumer, business, large commercial and wealth management-and recruiting leaders for core areas: Bob DeAngelis, formerly of Wachovia, over consumer banking and Mike Filarski, from rival Fifth Third, to head community banking's mortgage unit. "It's rare for an individual to come in and have the kind of influence and impact that Beth has had for KeyCorp," says KeyCorp board member Carol Cartwright. -GF

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7) AMY RADIN

EVP of Global Direct Banking // Citi

Being a catalyst for a global strategic movement is a challenging job at almost any company, but for an institution the size of Citigroup, it's even harder than most.

The bank's Global Consumer Group boasts 200,000 employees. "Mobilizing the troops around a shared vision isn't a small task, but we've been able to do it quickly," says Amy Radin, evp of global direct banking.

Radin was named to her current post after stints at Citi as chief innovation officer and evp of customer engagement for Citi Cards. Upon winning her promotion, her marching orders were to use her background in online banking and cards to leverage Citi's global brand into a worldwide force in direct banking. Projects such as contactless payments in transit systems as varied as New York and Singapore followed. In New York, the project resulted in a ten-fold increase in usage of Citi Card products in the targeted user groups. "We have begun to make progress around starting to visualize the next generation of banking experience," she says.

The bank's performance is following that vision. The unit's U.S. direct-bank launch drove a 20 percent increase in total bank deposits in less than a year. At mid-year, the U.S. cards business acquired more than 50 percent of bank-card relationships online, up from less than five percent in 2003. Additionally, 13 percent of Citi's total U.S. bank-card sales are online. Radin's unit reported that 40 percent of U.S. card customers use Internet-related service and electronic statements, rising 50 percent year-over-year. "Amy has helped successfully move innovation at Citi from aspiration to execution, and it is starting to show benefits at the bottom line," said Steve Freiberg, chairman and CEO of Citi's global consumer group in North America, in a written statement. -JA

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8) MARTI RODAMAKER

President and CEO // First Citizens National Bank

As president and CEO of First Citizens National Bank in Mason City, IA, Marti Rodamaker is focused on business development and customer retention.

Colleagues attest to her interest in business development even outside the bank walls. Robin Anderson, executive director at the Mason City Chamber of Commerce, says that Rodamaker's presence on the group's annual trip to Washington D.C. has been a boon because she lends her contacts and expertise in advocacy. And she genuinely has the community's interest in mind, not just her bank's. "When she was in Washington, she was all about the greater business community," Anderson says.

The $863 million bank is in the middle ground between the much smaller community banks in the area and branch offices of national banks of Wells Fargo and Bank of America, Rodamaker says. It also competes with brokerage offices like Edward Jones for investment services.

But her business-development attitude goes a long way in keeping those competitors at bay. Like other community bankers, she makes a point to call often on her most profitable customers. But her challenge lies in comparing the profitability of small business customers, who usually have loans, with farmer customers, who often just have deposits. "It's difficult," she says. "How do you define 'profitable' customers?" Solution: Don't limit the face-time with the largest 20, 50 or 100 customers. Rather, call on as many as possible monthly, and be sure to include the farmers. At first it was mostly a feel-good marketing measure, she acknowledges, but soon the bank learned that those farmers were good sources of referrals for still more potential deposit customers.

In the first half of this year, the bank's net income was $12 million, 38.2 percent higher than the same period last year. Return on equity was 14.28 percent, up from 11.22 percent. She also initiated an early retirement plan, which will save the bank $500,000 annually. Rodamaker's long-term numbers are equally impressive. Since she became president in 1994, the bank's market share increased to 21 percent from 14.6 percent in the seven-county market area.

One of her recent initiatives entailed converting the bank to subchapter S-status and merging the bank's holding company with another local holding company. The change will allow First Citizens to use its capital in paying dividends. She hopes to tap some of that capital soon for acquisitions. She declined to elaborate, but said the bank expects to announce some in 2008. -LC

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9) LINDA VERBA

EVP of Retail Operations // Commerce Bank (NJ)

From interactive coin-counting machines to neighborhood-inspired murals, door greeters and extended branch hours, New Jersey-based Commerce Bank has always traded on its image as a retail experience master to separate itself from huge I-95-corridor rivals like Chase and Citi.

Many of the service innovations that have become bank trademarks, including the famous "Penny Arcades," are the creation of Linda Verba, the bank's evp of retail operations. In 2006 alone, the arcades counted more than $425 million in change, but that's just part of the story. The $48.2 billion-asset institution has ridden its service culture to big-time numbers, even in a tough economy that spawned the flat-yield curve.

As of June 30, return on equity was 10.57 percent, while core deposits increased $6.2 billion, up 17 percent for the prior year. Net loans grew $2.1 billion, or 15 percent, to $16.2 billion; revenue grew 12 percent and shareholder equity rose $366.4 million, or 15 percent, to $2.9 billion.

"Her ability to interact with people at all levels of the bank, from the most senior executives to tellers, in much the same way and without resort to corporate speak, is outstanding," says David Flaherty,svp at Commerce whose responsibility is to reinforce the bank's sales and service culture. -JA

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10) GLORIA CHANCE

In her days in healthcare IT operations, Gloria Chance handled a project to dispense wireless PDAs so physicians could access medical records electronically at the bedside. Now as Wachovia's chief e-commerce officer, Chance wants to bring that kind of portability to her banking customers. Chance directed the pioneering launch of Wachovia Mobile in December, giving the $719.9 billion-asset institution a first-mover advantage among large institutions to deliver mobile-banking services. Firethorn Technologies CEO Tripp Rackley, whose firm built the Wachovia platform, says Chance "was pretty amazing in how she marshaled the whole process," noting that it took only three months to get the project live. The bank enrolled 10,000 shortly after its quiet December launch, and now has 50,000 user sessions weekly.

Chance is at the forefront of nearly all of Wachovia's electronic initiatives. Her direction in promoting online-banking enrollment, which now includes 78 percent of the bank's employed-customer households, and in converging the Web banking/billpay platforms, provides annual volumes of 96 million payments; $86 billion in online fund transfers; 65 million in online check-image views; and more than 60 million electronic alerts. "We've seen anywhere from a 25 percent to 40 percent increase in customer usage in all of our online channels," Chance says. Her division emphasizes e-statement options to customers, an example of the cost-saving resourcefulness Chance has brought to a division that has stamped out $10 million in expenses the last 18 months. -GF

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11) DIANE REYES

Global Head of Cash and Trade Product Sales

Global Transaction Services // Citi

Like many top leaders, Diane Reyes, Citi's global head of cash and trade sales products at Citi's Global Transaction Services, talks of the need for open and honest communication. But for Reyes, that doesn't mean just telling a customer what he wants to hear. Instead, sometimes it means telling him the bank can't deliver what he wants.

Indeed, managing customer expectations is one of the biggest parts of her job, Reyes says. And over the past year, she has implemented a formal program to do just that.

An issue she dubs "scope creep," she sees a natural tendency on clients' part to expect their banks to expand service to accommodate growing needs. And while she emphasizes the importance of putting the customer first, she also combats scope creep by establishing a "statement of work" with the customer that clarifies exactly what the bank will do within specific timelines, with enough latitude to incorporate new needs along the way. "It's in our best interest to decide which piece we can do best," she says. "Sometimes a customer asks us something that doesn't fit our strategic mission."

Sometimes that means trying to snag just part of a customer's banking needs while foregoing other parts. That's precisely what happened with a recent corporate bid for cash-management services. Citi bid on the non-U.S. portion of the contract where she believed the bank's branches provided an advantage. While competitors focused on the U.S. portion, she walked away with the larger and more profitable share-nearly $7 million-of the mandate.

That's not to say, though, that she'll back off just because other banks are involved. In June, the federal government inked a deal to use the Citi brand for a commercial card for 350 federal agencies, the world's largest commercial-card contract.

Her efforts are paying off. Global Transaction Services' net income in the first half of the year was $961 million, 45 percent higher than the year-ago period. New business came in with contracts worth 34 percent higher than last year.

Reyes is an active advocate and mentor for women. Davia Temin is president and CEO of marketing company Temin and Co. and an advisor to Citi's Women's Council, which Reyes co-chairs. In her role, Reyes helps other women in the company develop leadership skills through a series of training sessions, speakers and exposure to senior managers that they would not otherwise be exposed to, Temin says. "People can easily just get caught in their jobs. She gives the women exposure to other areas of the bank." Temin says. "She's made [the Women's Council] much more important-and a more potent force at the bank." -LC

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12) CINDY MURRAY

EVP and Head of Transaction Banking, North America // LaSalle Bank

As the head of the two-year-old transaction-banking group at LaSalle, Cindy Murray is responsible for product management, electronic banking, commercial-card services and banking operations in LaSalle's treasury management services division.

In that time, she has delivered a strong message that she truly wants to help her corporate customers. Message delivered.

Chuck Walls, assistant treasurer and director of corporate cash management at Exelon, the country's largest nuclear power operator, says Murray focuses on delivering what a customer needs, rather than trying to cross-sell him other services. In what might be considered heresy, Walls says bluntly that cross-selling can be a "real turn-off" on the receiving end.

A case in point was his desire to have one field added to an online cash-forecasting tool. It was an unusual request, and a big job, he conceded, but Murray made the modification. The product now has that extra field on offer for other clients, even though many simply ignore it. But the extra effort on her part made a lasting impression, Walls said.

Cross selling is actually a big piece of her strategy with corporate customers, but she has a formalized process of listening to them for product feedback. Through the use of advisory boards, she seeks opinions from customers, which often manifest themselves in future products or, sometimes, in spiking a product in development. No matter how useful a product seems to the bank, if customers are unwilling to pay for it, it won't go to market, she says.

The transaction-banking group was formed in June 2005 to combine all transaction business, including commercial credit cards, in a single desk, she says. The group now accounts for 20 percent of LaSalle's commercial banking revenue in North America, driven by commercial cash-management fee growth of 5.3 percent in 2007, from January through May, compared to the same period in 2006,

She is pushing the bank into health savings accounts. The initial adoption projections for HSAs were too optimistic, she says, but she believes that by 2010, they will have an impact on the bank's bottom line. Planning for that, she forged a relationship with Revolution Health to handle the transactions for the bank.

The group's revenue is up 5.3 percent through the end of May, compared to the same time period in 2006, with its forecast calling for net profit nine percent higher than 2006. -LC

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13) MARY BETH BROOKS

President and CEO // The Bank of Fayetteville

Mary Elizabeth Brooks, president and CEO of The Bank of Fayetteville in northwestern Arkansas, has pushed the bank to new heights in the past year with a combination of customer segmentation, technology savvy and asset control. Demographics played a part, too. It may come as a surprise to an outsider, but a flood of people want to live in northwestern Arkansas, she says.

The $427 million-asset bank saw net income surge in the first six months of this year to $2.9 million, 35 percent over projections. Full-year 2007 projections call for a 31 percent hike over 2006's $4.4 million.

Brooks says she's made a list of the top 50 customers to ensure they get the attention they deserve, which includes a face-to-face meeting with a senior team member at least once a quarter. "I always have the list with me," she says. It's an idea that has caught on with many community bankers, but too often deposit customers are ignored. Focusing on just borrowers is a mistake, she says.

On the technology side, Brooks started a branch-capture system in late 2006 that allows deposits and checks to be sent electronically from the eight branches to the main bank. She also initiated a new Web site that allows customers to submit online banking applications. Since the launch in June, the bank has received 205 applications for online banking, Visa check cards or a deposit account.

Asset-control efforts have just become an issue. The residential-mortgage market has not harmed the bank, but credit concerns have begun to seep into the commercial space. So now loans to local developers warrant extra scrutiny, which she sometimes handles personally.

The bank's location, northwestern Arkansas, is home to corporate stalwarts Wal-Mart and Tyson. Those companies create a vendor network that offers a ready-made business-customer base. It also helps draw 1,400 new residents every month, she says.

That doesn't surprise Gary Head, chairman and CEO of Signature Bank of Arkansas. He worked with her when she ran the in-store division of Arvest Bank from 1998 to 2000. Head says he was impressed when she later successfully ran a $40 million commercial-credit portfolio for the bank.

There are two common mistakes in any sales position, he says, and she made neither. "A lot of people will either over-promise what they can deliver, or they won't commit to what the customer needs," he says. Instead, he says, she was able to strike a delicate balance between the two. -LC

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14) DIANA STARCHER

Group EVP and Director, Customer Service, Sales and Operations // Wells Fargo & Co.

In her 25 years of banking, Diana Starcher has overseen a lot of operations-and a lot of operational changes. Since joining Wells Fargo in 1996, she has participated in three large acquisitions and at least 50 smaller ones. If experience is the best teacher, her stellar performance managing operations at the bank should come as no surprise.

In her first position at Wells Fargo, she was assigned to implement the conversion and consolidation of operations with First Interstate Bank. Her star has risen ever since. Two years ago, she was named group evp and director of customer service, sales and operations, where she manages a $1.1 billion budget. Last year, she met her budget within a 0.2 percent margin.

Starcher attributes her success to her financial acumen, attention to detail, understanding of the need for effective controls, and ability to manage change. "I have a very keen view of the details of just about everything," she says. "I see through the noise of business and can see down into the details pretty quickly." She's also great with people, according to her mentor Chip Carlisle, president of Wells Fargo's Texas region. "Diana develops just an incredibly strong team around her," he says.

Starcher's success at envisioning and managing change stood out in her previous position overseeing Wells Fargo's phone banking. Last year, it contributed some $174 million in profit equivalents to the bank; this year, it is expected to contribute a profit- equivalent sales growth of 13 percent over 2006. She is credited with transforming the bank's 10 call centers from service-oriented ones to integrated sales and service operations. Under her tutelage from 2000 to 2006, the phone bank's sales grew at a compound annual growth rate of 36 percent.

Other key change initiatives under Starcher's sharp eye include Wells Fargo's transition from paper-based to electronic processing, the implementation of metrics to improve resolution of customer inquiries on the first call, and the expansion of cash-vault services nationally with outsourcing agreements that produced revenue growth of 12 percent to 13 percent this year and last. -MB

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15) LORI CHILLINGWORTH

SVP, Zions Bank Women's Financial Group // Zions First National Bank

Lori Chillingworth mentors women, whether they are employees at Zions First National Bank, first-time investors, or struggling students at Salt Lake Community College. All that guidance has paid off. The growth of shareholder value for the Women's Financial Group, which she leads, grew 185.6 percent from June 2006 to June 2007. WFG has a total loan portfolio of $123.6 million, while the four officers' portfolios in her private-banking region total $60.5 million.

The figures reflecting loans and deposits for the Salt Lake area of WFG have been strong. Revenue through June 2007 rose 5.9 percent to $1.8 million from the same period in 2006. Net income jumped 80.8 percent through June 2007. Total loans increased 21.4 percent to $63.7 million; total deposits stood at $12.3 million, up 10.6 percent from June 2006.

Under Chillingworth's direction, the bank set the pace for SBA 7(a) loans in Utah in 2006-its 13th year as market leader-approving 525 loans worth more than $43 million. Zions Bank is the top SBA lender to women and minorities in the state as well.

Helping entrepreneurs is "my greatest achievement," Chillingworth notes. "My goal is to do as much as I can do for small businesses without much access to credit. In return, these owners keep coming back to us. Their loyalty and gratitude is our greatest reward."

Emboldening women investors remains Chillingworth's other focus. "Lori, I love," says Diana E. Kirk, senior evp of Zions' private-services division. She credits Chillingworth with leadership of the bank's annual conference "solely devoted to women investors." The event has separate tracks for novice, intermediate and seasoned investors. "We have a 12-year-old who's getting a grant as part of this year's conference," Kirk says, noting that Chillingworth runs a scholarship program at Salt Lake Community College. "She shares her passion for mentoring." -JR

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16) SUSAN SMITH

Senior EVP and COO // Metropolitan National Bank

Northwestern Arkansas is one of the most competitive banking markets in the nation-as the headquarters of Wal-Mart, it's home to lots of corporate executives whose wealth is attracting the attention of myriad banks.

To tap that big market, Little Rock-based Metropolitan National Bank's Susan Smith focused first on finding savvy bankers with the right mix of banking skills and local savvy to make quick inroads into the Bentonville area. "We went with people before the facilities, and they've helped execute the expansion program very well," says Smith, senior evp and COO for the $1.8 billion-asset Metropolitan. The expansion has seen the bank's branch count grow from 38 in early 2006 to 55 today.

Net income has grown from $5.2 million in June 2006 to $5.7 million a year later, a 10 percent hike. Assets grew almost $300 million, or 19 percent, during the same period; deposits increased $177 million, or 16 percent, to $1.3 billion. The bank also sported a return on equity of 9.55 percent as of the second quarter, and saw its loan volume grow 25 percent to $1.2 billion.

Rolled out was an online financial-management tool, Bankers Dashboard. Up next is an online service offering the opening and funding of accounts, Web chats, direct Quicken and QuickBooks connections, payroll-service access, external account transfers and a fraud-shutdown service.

Smith's background includes experience as a certified public accountant, a skill set that has come in handy as the bank fights off competition, says Metropolitan president and CEO Lunsford Bridges. "She is able to leverage her acumen with numbers and concepts on the accounting end of the branch and the management of the balance sheet," Bridges says. "She is very detail-oriented, and while she's hands-on, she also delegates very well. She is able to put a square peg into a square peg in terms of personnel. That's very important, as we have grown so rapidly." -JA

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17) KATHY THOMPSON

SVP and Director of Trust Co.

Director of Sales, Services and Marketing // Stock Yards Bank & Trust

It's been a long time now that Kathy Thompson made her bones as a turnaround artist, reviving Stock Yards Bank's investment-management and trust department after pulling it ashore from a sea of red ink in 1992. The marketing coups are documented-the client shopping trips, the fishing, the arrangements for dove hunting.

But barbecued hams? Thompson is nothing if not dedicated. And inventive.

As part of Thompson's job as the marketing whiz at Stock Yards, she arranges for special items at special times, setting a tone for retail service that makes the $1.4 billion Louisville local stand out from larger competitors. And yes, that means barbecued hams, purchased from a local source, for especially profitable clients at holiday times. "You know, you want to stand out," she says. "You want to have people talking about it at the next cocktail party or at church: 'You know what my bank did for me?' But it's got to come from the heart. It can't be something you order out of a catalogue. We support local."

Naturally enough, Thompson unconsciously echoes pol Tip O'Neill's maxim about all politics being local, only she applies it to finance. Reputation is important to her, she takes it personally, and, in Louisville at least, it still matters.

"In our line of business, it's word of mouth," she says. "Really. People do not want a 1-800 number."

And it would be for naught if numbers didn't back the former accountant and farm girl from Morganfield, KY, who once married her high-school sweetheart and set out for law school in Louisville. As of 2003, her wealth-management group's trust fee income was $8.03 million, up 11 percent on the year before; as of 2005, 2006 and this year, her unit's percentage of the entire bank's net income rang in at 16 percent and 17 percent, respectively. Overall net income at the bank was $22.9 million for 2006, up six percent from $21.6 million for 2005. Meanwhile assets under management in the wealth-management group are at $1.7 billion, up 55 percent from $1.1 billion in 2004, with an operating margin of about 50 percent.

"I've witnessed a wonderful maturation of a young and aggressive lawyer turned business developer into a caring and results-oriented manager," says David Heintzmann, Stock Yards chief executive and Thompson's boss. One other thing: Thompson is the second-highest paid person at the bank. -MD

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18) SUSAN STEVES KEISER

EVP and Head of Global Securities and Trust Services // LaSalle Bank

A former schoolteacher from the piney woods of east Texas would be one of the more unlikely players around a trade run by the larger-than-life mortgage-backed securities pioneer Lew Ranieri, but Susan Steves Keiser's understated moxie and wit proved more than up to the task. After all, this is a woman who got into finance, without second thought or regret, by looking in the phone book. "I was living in Houston at the time, and if you were in the phone book, you listed all the extensions. I looked for all the companies that had five pages or more in the book," she says. "Then I pulled out my old Smith-Corona typewriter and sent out about 30 letters."

Having decided that teaching English and journalism wasn't for her-she grew up in a two-stoplight town where her parents were both teachers, and fell into the profession-she was looking for a company that wanted someone who could write well. Texas Commerce, which later became part of JPMorgan Chase, was looking for a good writer but didn't know exactly what to do with one. Keiser's job turned out to be updating trust procedures and organizational charts and creating abstracts of company agreements. One came along that was completely new, and the firm wasn't sure what to make of it. It turned out to be the first collateralized mortgage obligation.

Developing new business became a calling for Keiser, who eventually was recruited by LaSalle in Chicago to start a securitization-trustee business; she now heads the bank's global securities and trust services. She also become the first female member of LaSalle's executive committee. "I was impressed the first time I met her," says LaSalle chairman and former chief executive Norman Bobins, who recruited Steves Keiser 14 years ago. "She's a terrific manager and has great credibility, and she gets that credibility because of her record of success." Revenue for the Keiser's organization should top $275 million by year's end, up 28 percent from 2006, when it was $215 million. It was $167 million in 2005. Her cool demeanor is again coming in handy as the debt capital markets are locked in a credit vise. "Transactions are stressed in ways we've never seen before," she says. And they're holding. "It's times like these you have to do a little reassuring, especially of the younger staff. The sky is not falling." -MD

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19) Anne Arvia

President // Nationwide Bank

Sometimes power and influence are expressed in broad strokes, vision and direction; sometimes it's a very small, very personal action. More often than not, that personal action is very hard, as Anne Arvia found out when her longtime mentor and immediate boss, ShoreBank chief executive and president Margaret Cheap died of cancer.

At the time, Arvia was the designated successor, even though the bank had decided to launch a formal search. The bank was rattled from top to bottom. "That senior management meeting, I remember deciding to take Margaret's seat," Arvia recalls with some difficulty. "It was the one best thing I could've done. Not for me. But they needed to see confidence. There was a lack of confidence in the air. They were scared, and I was CFO. They thought it would all be about slashing expenses."

Arvia guided ShoreBank through its dark hours in a down market, and kept it on track as Chicago's premier community bank lending to the firemen and janitors and carpenters.

The challenges are all different now that she's moved to Nationwide Bank to become president. A startup Internet bank branded by the massive Columbus, OH, insurer, Nationwide Bank is just getting started under her direction. Internet-only banks don't have such a bright history-most notably in Columbus, where it's still possible to run into WingspanBankers. Still, Arvia's used to unusual challenges: she has never visited Europe, but has been to UlaanBaator, Mongolia, as a board member guiding a startup bank in the former Communist hinterland.

Nationwide has just rolled its credit union under the Nationwide Bank banner, so those assets are now part of the $1.1 billion with which the bank is venturing forth. The bank is already profitable. "It's such a different management style you have to draw upon," Arvia says of a startup. "You need to put your stake in the ground earlier, set the culture early. You need to find energizers."

Nationwide president and COO Mark Thresher, and Arvia's new boss, is so far impressed with her clarity and diligence in getting brass to sign off on the strategic plan for Nationwide Bank; selling the plan was down to the strategy, of course, but Thresher also applauds her "approachable and unassuming style, and her business savvy." Thus, Nationwide Bank has its No. 1 energizer. -MD

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20) CARMEN JORDAN

SVP and Manager, Corporate Energy Service Division // Amegy Bank

One thing on her Life List: Study theology

It was a big transaction, a merger deal worth $135 million, that Amegy Bank would have typically shared with other financial institutions. But not this time.

The participants, both clients of the $10 billion Houston-based institution, insisted on having Amegy as the underwriter, in large part due to their relationship with Carmen Jordan, the bank's svp and corporate energy- service division manager. The result was not only a $1.8 million fee-the largest in the bank's history-but a relationship with the newly merged firm that has resulted in $100 million in deposits. "Our bank has [been] transformed from a small regional bank to what is now a $10 billion-assets company," she says. "Our customers are now looking to us as leaders rather than just a participant in another bank's deal. She is responsible for managing the bank's energy-lending group.

The group has been on a roll. For the first seven months of 2007, new loan generation stands at $250 million and deposits are at $457 million. That's compared to $288 million in new loan generation and $357 million in deposits for all of 2006. That means Jordan's group is on pace to book 49 percent more loans and 76 percent more deposits than in 2006.

Achieving that kind of growth and respect within the energy industry is vital to any bank that does business in Houston, where the energy business is still a huge component of the local economy. "Almost all CFOs in Houston's energy business know and respect Carmen...no small feat in a male-dominated good ol' boys' club industry," says Joe Argue, Amegy's chief lending officer, in a written statement.

But Jordan's reach goes beyond brokering big deals and impressing oil players-it goes all the way to the bank's recruitment efforts. "We recently hired a person who has about 10 or 12 years of banking experience," recalls Steve Kennedy, svp and energy-group manager for Amegy, who adds that the candidate's career included stops at JPMorgan Chase and Comerica. "One of the reasons that person came here was to work with Carmen, based on her reputation. She thought it would benefit her career." -JA

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21) BETSY COHEN

CEO // The Bancorp Bank

Betsy Cohen's been leading by doing for quite some time now. At a tumultuous point in recent American history, Cohen cracked her way into two corporate old-boys' clubs in the '60s and '70s-law and finance. She did it the quickest and best way possible at that time: by starting her own companies.

In quick succession, Cohen co-founded a commercial-law firm, became the second female law professor on the East Coast at Rutgers at 28, and then, at 32, became the state of Pennsylvania's only woman bank chief executive by, naturally, starting a bank. "I'm a problem solver. I like to build things," Cohen. She moved away from law and into finance, she says, because she wasn't motivated enough by law. "I'm a person who likes the action," she says. "It must be in the genes."

Cohen's been a consistent, take-charge innovator, and in the past few years "Betsy, Inc." has profited by moving in new directions. She is head of a branchless Internet bank that makes loans and accepts deposits; this has been the platform since the summer of 2000, when Cohen moved to create The Bancorp Bank after selling off the former JeffBanks, Inc.

This year, total assets have increased by $133.6 million to $1.46 billion. As of June 30, return on equity was 9.4 percent, up from 2006 ROE of 8.9 percent. Return on assets for 2Q of 2007 was 1.09, and the profit margin was 27.46 percent. Net income for 2006 was $12.5 million, up from $7.4 million a year earlier. The bank is now the fifth-largest health-savings account aggregator and among the nation's top 50 ACH originators.

Her company offers private-label banking, taking other banks' liabilities and assets onto its balance sheets and creating a suite of private-label branded products. The firm most recently bought South Dakota-based BankFirst's Stored Value Solutions business, which comes with $122 million prepaid-card portfolio. "They mirrored our view of the world," Cohen says of SVS, whose cards are branded with network or association logos such as Visa, MasterCard or Discover, and services program managers such as WageWorks, Evolution Benefits and Western Union.

A telling trait is that along with Cohen's do-it-yourself spirit comes an appreciation for talent. It's something that comes up again and again with her. "I look for the best people," she says. "I cultivate people, am always evaluating, and trying to get people to think of their job as a new job." There's something to what she's doing, since the top third of her bank's management ranks average 15 years on the job. It means her companies are about speed. "If the team really understands one another, if you understand the team, you know its strengths and weaknesses," she says. "Then you move the project quickly. And with certainty." -MD

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22) Merrill Sherman

President and CEO // Bancorp Rhode Island

For Bancorp Rhode Island, the heat from corporate raiders was on full blast, and Merrill Sherman was more than up to the task.

A pair of dissident shareholders from PL Capital, a Chicago hedge fund known for declaring war on management teams at banks to force a run up on stock prices, were trying to win a proxy vote to gain seats on the bank's board of directors, ostensibly to force a sale of the bank.

But Sherman was an indelible part of an effort to fight back. At a heated shareholders' meeting in May, she cited the bank's dependable record of growth-the bank has outperformed practically every bank index-and also its ties to the community as a Rhode Island-managed bank. "We have a good story, and it was rewarding to take that story to the shareholder base and get a vote of confidence," says Sherman, who has been part of Bancorp Rhode Island's story since its founding in 1996. In the end, the hedge fund lost the vote, and Sherman says the bank itself didn't lose a single executive during that period of uncertainty.

The dissident's campaign was thwarted in part due to the bank's superb financial performance in a tough market. As of June 30, net income for 2007 is up 24 percent over the prior year; total deposits are up three percent, with most of the growth coming from demand-deposit and savings, up seven percent and five percent, respectively. Return on investment and return on assets improved, from 7.21 percent ROE and .53 percent ROA for the full year 2006 to year-to-date's 7.72 percent ROE and 0.60 percent ROA.

The hedge fund also "suffered" from the bank's ties to Providence and Rhode Island, where Sherman is a local business leader and member of the board at a number of philanthropic and educational institutions. "I admire greatly her initiative and vision, which has created a locally owned and run financial institution," said U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, the Rhode Island Democrat, in a letter to U.S. Banker. -JA

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23) CYNTHIA PURCELL

EVP and COO // Banner Bank

Cynthia D. Purcell knows how to thrive in changing circumstances. The daughter of an Air Force master sergeant and decorated Korean War veteran, she and her family had moved 13 times by the time she reached seventh grade. She originally thought of a career in the military and the space program, but today pilots the course of $4.2 billion Banner Bank with 60 branches in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

Banner Bank opened eight new branches since January and Purcell, who joined the bank as COO and evp in 2000, expects to open five more before the year is out. In 2002, the bank was opening only one branch per year, she notes.

The bank now excels at opening branches, she says, and is focused on giving customers "fairly priced, quickly evolving products." Speed to market and delivering on customers' expectations is key. "We really have to be ahead of the curve," she says. "You have to be there and you have to be there pretty quick. Product life cycles are very short."

Her talent for increasing the bank's market adaptability is paying off. Return on equity increased by 13.5 percent in 2006 over 2005. Total loans for the first two quarters of 2006 increased by 22 percent over the same period the previous year. In 2007, return on equity jumped 9.69 percent at the end of June over the same period in 2006, and loans soared 28 percent during the same period.

Growing up on military bases taught her how to adapt to change, meet new people and thrive in new environments. "I have an innate positive ability to work with any challenge that comes forward and find a positive way that I can influence the outcome," she says. At Banner, Purcell has increased fee income from international banking by 39 percent in 2006 compared to 2005.

Jesse G. Foster, vice chairman of the Banner's board, and Purcell's mentor, attributes her success to her can-do attitude, well-rounded thinking, and ability to change directions. "She can be inundated with projects and she seems to be able to manage those and keep everything in perspective," he says. Notes Purcell: "I love a challenging environment, and when I first came into banking, it was like I had found my home." -MB

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24) LYNN PIKE

President, Capital One Banking Business Member, Executive Committee // Capital One Financial Corp.

Lynn Pike's resume may be the longest in banking. She has held executive positions at Bank of America, Wells Fargo, FleetBoston, GMAC, FirstNationwide and Bank of Boston. Her latest move landed her at the top of Capital One's rapidly expanding banking division, with perhaps one of the strangest footprints in U.S. banking today.

Capital One got into the banking business in earnest when it acquired Texas-based Hibernia National Bank in November 2005, and added to its scale with the acquisition of New York-based North Fork Bank in November. It was the complexity and challenge of the integration that led Capital One CEO Richard Fairbank to acquire Pike from her job as president of Bank of America California in March.

Pike's initial mission is to create a united Capital One. Though she's been all over banking in the U.S., she says this integration is one of her biggest challenges. "In my 33 years in banking, it's probably one of the most complicated environments I've worked in," she says. "They have three very different cultures. How they operate is very, very different. How they approach the market, the marketplaces, are very different. There are very different customer dynamics, different growth profiles and the market positions the institutions have vary greatly."

But it was the enormity of the challenge, and the opportunity it presented, that led Pike to say "yes" last spring when Fairbank asked her to take the new role of COO and lead Capital One's $74.5 billion, 725-branch franchise. She officially replaced John Kanas as president in August. "I knew that the blend of Capital One's approach, and the raw material of North Fork and Hibernia, would be a wonderful opportunity for me to build a powerhouse bank for the company," Pike says.

Pike's recent arrival and recent major transactions render year-over-year revenue, deposit and income comparisons superfluous, though current market conditions ensure her a tough time realizing the promised return on the North Fork investment. When the integration is complete, Pike faces another challenge rooted in history and culture: the rebranding of North Fork's 350-plus branches in early 2008, and an effort to develop the Capital One banking brand. "Taking these organizations that have different cultures and were led in different ways and building this one bank-everything you touch is a change for somebody," she says.

Pike believes the many institutions and leaders she's worked for have qualified her well to handle the integration and growth of a new powerhouse bank. "It's taught me a lot of things about choices, how you engage your team to be part of the solution," she says. -RS

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25) ELLEN ALEMANY

CEO // RBS America

Ellen Alemany went from working for a Prince to working for a knight, in the process becoming one of Citigroup's highest ranking defections this year-and the only woman to lead a top-10 commercial bank holding company in the U.S.

Sir Fred Goodwin, group chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland-who was knighted on the Queen's birthday in 2004 in honor of his business success-reportedly won Alemany over after intense lobbying. She joined RBS Americas in June as CEO of the holding company that includes Citizens Bank, Charter One Bank, CCO Mortgage, CCO Investment Services, Citizens Capital, RBS Asset Finance, RBS Lynk, RBS National Bank, RBS U.S. Global Banking and Markets and RBS Greenwich Capital. There is a total of 27,000 employees. "Ellen's credentials and experience make her an ideal candidate for this new role and for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead as we step into a new phase in the development of our activities in the US," said Goodwin when the appointment was announced in March.

That new phase of development will focus on increasing RBS America's commercial and corporate-banking businesses, something Alemany did with great success while CEO of Global Transaction Services at Citi. In the quarter before she left Citi, GTS's net income grew 38 percent to $447 million. This was while posting record revenue of $1.6 billion in the quarter, a 19 percent increase over the year-earlier quarter. From 2005 to 2006, GTS net income grew 26 percent with revenue growth of 22 percent.

The business she's now overseeing is quite a bit larger. Total 2006 income for RBS's U.S. businesses was $8.8 billion, compared with $8.3 billion in 2005. In the first half of 2007, total income was $4.47 billion, up from $4.5 billion in the year-earlier period.

Sir Fred will be excused if he wasn't in New York to show Alemany to her new office; RBS and two other members of its consortium were engaged all summer in a battle with Barclays over Dutch banking giant ABN Amro. If RBS wins, Alemany, who declined to be interviewed, is likely to collect some of the spoils, namely LaSalle bank and its 405 branches in Michigan, Illinois and Indiana. -RS (c) 2007 U.S. Banker and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved. http://www.us-banker.com http://www.sourcemedia.com

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