SunTrust Banks has named railroad executive Ellen Fitzsimmons its new top lawyer.

The $203 billion-asset Atlanta company said Fitzsimmons will become its general counsel on Jan. 8. Fitzsimmons will succeed Raymond Fortin, who is retiring after more than two decades in the post.

Fitzsimmons joined CSX in Jacksonville, Fla., in 1991 and has been its general counsel since 2003. She previously worked for the Richmond, Va., law firm Hunton & Williams. Fitzsimmons is a director of Ameren Corp., an electric utility in Missouri and Illinois.

Ellen Fitzsimmons
Ellen Fitzsimmons will join a small group of women serving as lead attorneys at large and regional banks,

“Ellen Fitzsimmons has a strong business and legal background in addition to experience working with regulatory agencies and ensuring high standards for compliance and client service,” SunTrust Chairman and CEO Bill Rogers said in a news release.

Fitzsimmons will join a small group of women serving as lead attorneys at large and regional banks, including Ellen Patterson at TD Bank, Stacey Friedman at JPMorgan Chase and Kathleen Henry at the $11 billion-asset Eastern Bank in Boston.

Fitzsimmons is departing a company that is dealing with a change in the top of its leadership ranks. The chief executive of CSX, Hunter Harrison, died last month of complications from an illness, only two days after announcing that he would take medical leave.

Fortin has been SunTrust’s general counsel since 1995, after joining the company in 1989. He previously worked for Citizens Financial Group and Southern Georgia Corp.

“His counsel to our Board and leadership team has contributed to consecutive years of performance improvement and strengthened relationships with many of our constituents,” Rogers said in the release.

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