Brocks, Vallicorp's Builder, Leaves to Help Minorities

John W. Brocks Jr. did not follow the typical route of early banker retirees, many of whom use the opportunity to fulfill dreams of running their own financial institutions or businesses.

For Mr. Brocks, 49, the lure was to serve as an advocate for minority causes, including education.

He stepped aside this month as president and chief executive officer of ValliCorp Holdings Inc. in Fresno, Calif. He is considered the principal architect of ValliCorp's growth into the leading independent banking company in the central San Joaquin Valley.

Fast Growth During His Tenure

Mr. Brocks said ValliCorp has increased its assets from $30 million to $421 million in the 12 years he has been there.

"I feel very fortunate to have been part of this growth," he said. "However, I also believe that in these dynamic times, 12 years of being president and CEO is a long time."

His career in banking and finance spanned more than 27 years.

Mr. Brocks started in New York with Citicorp as a management trainee. He was a vice president in 1975 when he left to join ITT Corp. in Denver. He stayed there four-and-a-half years before moving to ValliCorp.

In recent years at ValliCorp, he became closely involved not only with lending and providing services to minority communities, but with minority education and employment issues in the Central Valley.

"If you are familiar with our state's demographic trends, you are probably aware that those people currently classified as minorities, most notably the Hispanic and Southeast Asian populations, will become a majority in many parts of California as we enter the next century," Mr. Brocks said.

He would like to devote considerably more time on building bridges among the people, the education system, and businesses to bring the minorities into the American mainstream.

"We need to get involved with the education of our youth on a nonpolitical basis," Mr. Brocks said, "and the business community can work with the educators in high schools and colleges to establish some type of mentoring program."

Taking to the Stump

The ex-banker will be making speeches to business groups and the Fresno Unified School District about the importance of providing and getting the right kind of education and going on to college.

Mr. Brocks is already active in Fresno State College's mentoring program, called Project Most. He has also been meeting with students at a local high school and with the bank's local advisory boards to discuss educational issues.

"We all can help educate people much better. It's good for the economy, and it's a winning deal and not a gift," Mr. Brocks said.

Mr. Brocks will be replaced as ValliCorp president and CEO by J. Mike McGowan, president of the holding company's lead bank, Bank of Fresno, while the board searches for a new chief executive. Mr. Brocks will continue to serve the holding company as a consultant over the next two years.

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