Donald R. Mengedoth, president-elect of the American Bankers Association, has stepped down as president and chief executive officer of Community First Bankshares Inc. of Fargo, N.D., clearing the way for his protege to take the helm. Mr. Mengedoth, 55, said he will continue as chairman of the $6.3 billion-asset company but has decided to vacate the executive office to devote more time to his role with the ABA.

Community First said Friday that Mr. Mengedoth's successor will be 42-year-old Mark A. Anderson, who has been chief financial officer since the company's founding 13 years ago.

"Mark Anderson and I began the company together in 1987," Mr. Mengedoth said, "and this change represents a natural succession." Mr. Mengedoth is to succeed Hjalma Johnson, chairman and CEO of East Coast Bank Corp. in Dade City, Fla., as president of the ABA in the fall.

Mr. Mengedoth is widely credited with leading the fast growth of Community First, which was created through the purchase of 21 rural branches from First Bank System Inc. of Minneapolis. (First Bank System took the name of U.S. Bancorp after it bought the Portland, Ore., company in 1997.)

Accompanying Mr. Anderson's promotion were a number of others. In the most notable one, Ron Strand went from vice chairman of financial services to chief operating officer.

Christopher R. Raffo, senior vice president of Podesta & Co., a banking research firm in Chicago, praised Mr. Mengedoth's work but said Mr. Anderson will be "a breath of fresh air."

"He's very competent," Mr. Raffo said. "As one looks at the growth of that shop, he's been heavily involved."

- Craig Woker

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