The former chairman and chief executive at Citizens Republic Bancorp in Flint, Mich., has been elected lead independent director at a Pennsylvania community bank.

Royal Bancshares of Pennsylvania (RBPAA) in Narberth announced Thursday that, as lead director, William R. Hartman will serve as the liaison between the company's chairman, management and independent directors and will work with the chairman to set the agenda for board meetings.

A 37-year banking veteran, Hartman was the chairman and CEO at Citizens Republic (CRBC) from 2002 to 2009. On his watch, the company more than doubled its assets, to more than $12 billion at one point, through two sizable acquisitions, and became the largest commercial banking company based in Michigan. Hartman resigned as CEO in early 2009, a day after the company reported a $393 million loss for 2008. He stepped down as chairman a few months later.

Prior to joining Citizens Republic, Hartman was the president and CEO of two subsidiaries at the former Banc One.

Royal Bancshares, with $840 million in assets, is in turnaround mode after suffering steep losses on real estate loans. Its bank unit was recently released from a formal enforcement order with state and federal regulators and its quarterly losses have narrowed as credit quality has improved.

Hartman joined Royal's board a year ago. In a news release, Chairman Robert R. Tabas, said Hartman has been a "valuable asset to the entire Royal board of directors" and that his appointment as a lead director was a "natural step" in its effort to strengthen its corporate governance.

"His breadth and depth of banking industry and public company leadership experience brings a unique perspective to our meetings," Tabas said. "With his input we have been able to strengthen our ability to capture new business, enhance risk management protocols and procedures, and set the stage for the continuous improvement and evolution of our company."

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