Thomas J. Stecher, executive vice president and cashier of Hawkeye Bank in Dubuque, Iowa, has been named acting chairman of the National Automated Clearing House Association following the unexpected departure of Sam S. Cerverizzo.

Mr. Stecher served as vice chairman under Mr. Cerverizzo, formerly a senior vice president with Chemical Banking Corp. A spokesperson at the New York bank said Mr. Cerverizzo had recently resigned from the bank "to pursue other interests," although several sources said Mr. Cerverizzo had fallen victim to Chemical's downsizing efforts. Mr. Cerverizzo could not be reached for comment.

He relinquished his chairmanship because the group requires that its board members be employed by financial institutions.

The association, based in Herndon, Va., represents 40 major banks and regional clearing houses. It has set rules governing transactions over the clearing house network for more than 20 years.

In an interview last year, Mr. Cerverizzo said he was proud of the accomplishments during his term. He had been instrumental in the year-long effort to develop a strategic plan for the future needs of the association's members.

Mr. Stecher said he will pursue the goals of the strategic plan, such as allowing the association to react more quickly to changes in the domestic and international payments arena and helping banks to meet their customer's needs by developing new products and services for the payments system.

He considers the new position "a tremendous honor."

"I'm very enthusiastic about what Nacha is doing," Mr. Stecher said. "There is broad representation on our board and a great spirit of teamwork, regardless of the size of the board members."

Mr. Stecher began his career with Hawkeye Bank, a $300 million-asset institution, 25 years ago and played a major role in developing the community bank's clearing house services in 1982.

He has served with the Iowa Automated Clearing House Association for 11 years. That group is a part of Johnston-based Shazam Inc.

Mr. Stecher, a member of the national group's board the past four years, will serve out Mr. Cerverizzo's two-year term, which ends in June. The next chairman, already elected, will be Andrew L. Higgins, senior vice president with Barnett Banks Inc., Jacksonville, Fla.

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