After the Fixer-Upper

In his last job, Brandon Lorey was responsible for rebuilding a profitable portfolio from loans that had fallen into severe delinquency. In his new job, he'll be responsible for growing a new loan portfolio-although he's got a bit of a head start.

Lorey, the former chief credit and lending officer for H&R Block Bank (where he turned a troubled legacy portfolio into an income-producing segment for the bank), has joined Rockville Bank in South Windsor, Conn., as senior vice president and head of consumer lending.

He'll be devising and implementing a strategy for Rockville's burgeoning mortgage business. The bank, which has 22 branches, hired 12 mortgage loan officers last year and originated $294 million in residential home loans. It hopes to grow both in originations and in purchase mortgage volume.

 

George Kaiser in the Media's Glare

It was a rare weekend in the spotlight this spring for the normally media-shy George Kaiser, and not all of it was flattering.

In May, the billionaire chairman of Bank of Oklahoma parent BOK Corp. and longtime Oklahoma energy industrialist sat for an interview with the CBS Evening News about his family foundation's pre-K education initiative. Called "Educare," the high-cost developmental program (at $24,000 per child annually) serves nearly 700 children from low-income families in Tulsa and Oklahoma City as part of what Kaiser calls a "moral obligation" to help level the playing field for disadvantaged kids. "I realized that I got where I got, as most of us did, based on dumb luck," Kaiser told CBS.

The CBS report aired just days after Bloomberg News published an examination of some of the controversial aspects of the George Kaiser Family Foundation and its role as a public charity with large investments in Kaiser's for-profit enterprises. Although IRS rules permit such crossover activity because Kaiser does not have direct control of the organization (that belongs to an independent board of directors), the story paints a portrait of a philanthropy that is quite generous to Kaiser's businesses. One tie-in involved a Kaiser-owned gas delivery business that was allowed the use of a $110 million supertanker owned by the charity to ferry the first shipment of gas in 2008 from a new natural-gas terminal also owned by Kaiser-backed interests. According to Bloomberg, the Kaiser foundation has $1.25 billion of its $3.4 billion in assets invested in Kaiser's for-profit endeavors. Kaiser made no comment for Bloomberg's piece.

 

She'll Take Manhattan

When John Kanas came back to New York, he called on a longtime loyalist to rejoin him and run the new Park Avenue branch opened by BankUnited, the Florida-based company where Kanas is now CEO.

Patricia Kelly brings more than 20 years of banking experience, including the years she worked as a branch and district manager for Kanas' North Fork Bancorp prior to its 2006 sale to Capital One Bank. After the merger, she remained with Capital One and was managing 16 branches on Long Island before starting at BankUnited in March.

Kelly is active in local affairs. She is a founding board member of the Manorville Chamber of Commerce and has served on the boards of the Westhampton and Southampton chambers of commerce as well as the Westhampton and Southampton Rotary clubs.

The $11.7-billion asset BankUnited has three midtown Manhattan branches, which are the first to open since Kanas' noncompete agreement with Capital One in the New York market was contested last year in a bitter legal battle that ended with a $20 million settlement paid by Kanas and his former North Fork vice chairman John Bohlsen.

 

An Anniversary That's Easy to Remember

The cruise to Bermuda was not quite the highlight of Ben and Gerome Stefanski's honeymoon in 1937. Applying for a bank charter was.

The Polish couple from Cleveland, Ohio, who opened Third Federal Savings and Loan Association in their Slavic Village neighborhood 75 years ago this spring, stopped in Washington, D.C., to apply for the charter on their way to New York City to board the ocean liner.

"Third Federal was their first baby," says their son, Marc A. Stefanski, who is chairman and CEO today. Since taking the helm in 1987, he has grown Third Federal from a $2 billion-asset local thrift into an $11.1 billion regional with 47 branches in Ohio and Florida and a mortgage lending business in 14 states.

Though the youngest of five children, Stefanski, 59, is the only family member who still works at the thrift. His father didn't retire until he was nearly 90.

A memoir Gerome wrote for the family suggests the honeymoon banking detour came as a surprise. But Stefanski says the idea of starting a bank didn't.

His father had run a neighborhood thrift that folded in 1929, like so many did during the Depression. He spent the next five years managing the foreclosed real estate and paying back all the people who had lost their savings. "He was able to get enough money back to pay every depositor 100 cents on the dollar," Stefanski says.

By the time of the marriage, Ben was already on his way to forming a mutual, which at the time was the only type of institution eligible for that newfangled safety net called deposit insurance. He had gotten people in the neighborhood to pledge $50,000 in deposits, the seed money he needed.

So he turned to his new wife on that honeymoon drive and asked her if she wouldn't mind stopping to see the chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank in Washington.

Third Federal opened on May 7, 1938. More than 20 percent of its current employees have been with the company at least 20 years. It's never had a single layoff and boasts a turnover rate under 3.5 percent.

Events are scheduled all summer long to mark the 75th anniversary.

 

A Gates Connection

The $4.2 billion-asset Banner Bank in Walla Walla, Wash., has recruited Connie Collingsworth, the top lawyer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to serve on its board of directors. Collingsworth also is on the board of Women's World Banking, a global microfinance network.

 

Texas Bankers' New Chairman

Ignacio Urrabazo is only a month into his tenure as chairman of the Texas Bankers Association. But this isn't his first rodeo as head of an industry trade group. Urrabazo, the president and CEO of International Bancshares Corp.'s Commerce Bank subsidiary, is a former chairman of the National Bankers Association, the Washington-based group representing minority- and women-owned banks. He also formerly chaired the Minbanc Foundation, which funds training opportunities for employees of minority-owned banks, and he recently rotated off the FDIC's Community Banking Advisory Committee.

Commerce Bank's Laredo, Texas-based parent, which also is the holding company for IBC Bank, describes itself as the largest minority-owned financial institution in the country. It has $11.9 billion in assets and 215 locations in Texas and Oklahoma. Urrabazo has been with Commerce since 1983 and has been involved with the TBA for more than a decade.

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