Highlands Bankshares in Abingdon, Va., has hired a former United Community Banks officer as its new chief executive.

The $610 million-asset company named Tim Schools president and CEO of both the holding company and Highlands Union Bank, pending regulatory approval.

Schools, 45, succeeds Samuel Neese, who announced his retirement this week. Neese joined Highlands in 1988 and has been CEO since 1991. Neese will remain with Highlands as its business development and community relations liaison.

Schools was previously chief strategy officer at United Community in Blairsville, Ga., a Highlands spokeswoman said in an email. Schools joined the $9.4 billion-asset United Community in November 2011, as regional president for North Carolina and Tennessee. He was named chief strategy officer in January 2013.

Prior to joining United Community, Schools was president and chief operating officer at American Savings Bank in Honolulu. His background also includes a stint as chief financial officer at South Financial Group in Greenville, S.C., which was later acquired by TD Bank.

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