Mary Lynn Lenz
President and CEO, The Foothills Bank

After leading turnarounds at two underperforming banks and selling them at nice premiums, Mary Lynn Lenz questioned whether she wanted to continue working in the industry. But in the year she took off following the sale of Professional Business Bank in Pasadena, Calif., Lenz did "lots of soul searching" and realized she missed running a community bank. So in June 2013, she got back to work as the CEO of the Foothills Bank in Yuma, Ariz. The $295 million-asset bank had been modestly profitable, but the owner felt it needed new leadership. Lenz says her mission is to transform Foothills into "the premier community bank in the state of Arizona." It's not there yet — Foothills' returns on assets and equity remain below industry norms — but Lenz is off to a strong start. In her first nine months on the job, she recruited an entirely new management team, launched a branding campaign, developed a three-year strategic plan, redesigned its Bank Secrecy Act program, and built the largest pipeline of loans in the bank's 17-year history.

Though growing assets is her top priority, Lenz says what she enjoys most is coaching younger colleagues. Most of Foothills' senior managers are still in their 30s, so Lenz makes it a point to carve out time to prepare them for bigger challenges.

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