Good Morning, First Niagara

A popular Buffalo, N.Y., anchorwoman is giving up her early-morning television gig for a role that should mean she can sleep past 3 a.m. now. Jodi Johnston, co-host of the top-ranked "Daybreak" morning show on local NBC affiliate WBRZ, is leaving the station this month to take over as director of corporate media relations and first vice president for Buffalo-based First Niagara Financial Group. Johnston also anchored the 5 p.m. newscast for her old station, which moved to the top spot in the local news ratings in the Buffalo market during her years there.


High Tech Exit

In mid-2010, State Street's Madge Meyer took the lead on a three-year project to map out the Boston firm's approach to new security technology, cloud computing and office workstations. The "innovation pipeline," as it was called, was apparently progressing nicely enough this year to allow Meyer, the company's chief innovation officer, to announce her retirement this summer. No replacement will be named for Meyer, who was named to Bank Technology News' 2011 Innovators list. In her absence, the company is relying on its chief scientist, David Saul, to help "focus our creative efforts," a State Street spokesperson said. Meyer will continue to represent State Street at the MIT Collaborative Initiatives organization through the end of 2012.



Rob Hirt, owner and CEO of RPM Mortgage in California, was part of the $10 million investment in Darien Rowayton Bank that helped launch the Connecticut-based lender's mortgage division. Three years later, Hirt has been named vice chairman of the board at Darien Rowayton and will help set strategy for the $230 million-asset bank's residential mortgage business. It's a booming area for the bank, with growth averaging 58 percent a year.


HOPE Still Lives Here

Bill Rogers, chairman and CEO of SunTrust Banks, will be picking up a baton for predecessor Jim Wells when he takes the podium at the HOPE Global Financial Dignity Summit this month in Atlanta. The event, which American Banker will be attending as a media partner, features dozens of scheduled speakers-Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and outoing Financial Services Roundtable CEO Steve Bartlett among them. But summit co-chair John Hope Bryant, head of the nonprofit Operation HOPE, has singled out Rogers for continuing SunTrust's efforts to bring financial empowerment to communities in need. Under Wells, SunTrust donated $1 million for the construction of a HOPE Financial Diginity office in Atlanta providing financial resources and counseling to underserved populations. Bryant says Rogers has introduced him to Atlanta business leaders to build more support for Operation HOPE's mission, and has even sat in on meetings between Bryant and other CEOs to underscore SunTrust's involvement. "A successor could have simply said 'We have done our part, thank you very much.' Bill Rogers did just the opposite," Bryant recently blogged. "Bill surprisingly pressed on the accelerator."


Dimon's Departures

The exit at JPMorgan Chase's executive suite has been a swinging door this year for many notable loyalists to CEO Jamie Dimon. Besides the retirement of international chief Heidi Miller and the departure of Ina Drew (whose resignation over deep trading losses has inspired more intrigue than the London Whale himself), the Wall Street Journal reported in October that Barry Zubrow, the firm's head of regulatory affairs, is leaving his post before year's end and may not even stay in an advisory capacity. The Journal also noted that the exodus almost included Jes Staley, head of corporate and investment banking. He was approached about taking over at Barclays, which in the end put an internal candidate in the CEO post.


Southern Comfort

Lynn Harton, the former head of The South Financial Group, emerged as the new COO for United Community Bank and its $6.7 billion-asset holding company in Blairsville, Ga. Harton was the head of TSFG in Greenville, S.C., when it entered into a distressed sale to TD Financial Group in 2010. (The company reportedly needed at least $700 million in new capital.) Harton held a senior position at TD Bank; previous stops in his 27-year career include roles with Regions, Union Planters and BB&T.

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