VBA Leadership Conference
Premier educational event for emerging bank leaders in Virginia

Conference/Seminar/School Michele Dunn

This conference is designed for emerging banking leaders and members of the Virginia Bankers Association Emerging Bank Leaders (EBL) group. This conference will give Emerging Bank Leaders the opportunity to share ideas and network with peers from across the state. You do not have to be an EBL member to attend. 

If you are a bank professional looking to gain new skills and interested in growing and progressing within your banking career, this is the event for you. Every year, attendees hear from leadership speakers and learn ways to engage with the banking industry as they network with individuals from all over the Commonwealth.

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Conference Agenda

Thursday, November 14

9:00 – 9:30 am                       Registration & Continental Breakfast

9:30 – 9:40 am                       Welcome & Announcements
                                                    2024 Emerging Bank Leaders Chair
     Darren Tully, Capital Bank

9:40 – 10:30 am                     Economic Outlook
Ryan Price, Virginia Realtors

10:30 – 10:45 am                   Networking Break

10:45 - 11:45 am                    Bank CEOs/Bank Executives Panel
David Boyle, Burke & Herbert Bank
                                                   LeAnne Emert, Benchmark Community Bank
                                                   *Additional Panelists to Be Announced!

11:45 am  – 12:45 pm            Lunch

12:45 – 1:30 pm                      Hot Topics Roundtable

1:30 – 2:20 pm                        Pursuing Your Dreams
Mike Wilkerson, F&M Bank

2:20 – 3:20 pm                       Leading for Tomorrow, Today!
Nick Arrigo, CultivateTM, Haberfeld

Irrespective of the economic environment, true leadership for tomorrow must happen today. Regardless of your position, leadership is about operating with integrity, adapting to the needs of others and modeling what’s expected. In this interactive session, we will craft a vision for ourselves as leaders, understand how core values guide us, explore leadership principles and review results of strategic execution in community banking.


  • Discuss strategic leadership principles
  • Craft a vision for ourselves as leaders
  • Understand the importance of value-driven decision-making

3:20 – 3:30 pm                       Networking Break

3:30 – 4:30 pm                       Brave, Bold & Barefoot: A Champion’s Blueprint to Success
                                                   Karen Barefoot, Industrial Reliability & Repair

Join us for an inspiring journey into the world of courage, resilience, and unparalleled success, where Karen Barefoot will delve into her extraordinary life—from her beginnings as an NCAA record-setting athlete to becoming a championship-winning coach and respected business leader. 

Discover how Karen’s story of overcoming adversity and achieving greatness against all odds can empower you to turn your aspirations into achievements. Learn the secrets to building resilience, embracing change, and leaving a lasting legacy through Karen’s unique “footprint of firsts” philosophy. 

Whether you’re navigating personal challenges or seeking professional growth, this keynote will equip you with actionable insights and a renewed sense of purpose. Join us as we explore how to transform passion into meaningful action and embark on a journey towards personal and professional fulfillment.

4:30 – 4:40 pm                      Announcements & Adjourn for the Day

5:15 – 6:15 pm                        Reception

6:15 pm                                    Dinner on Your Own

8:30 – 10:30 pm                    Evening Reception with Cash Bar
                                                   Featuring the Something Shiny Band

friday, november 15

7:45 – 9:00 am                       Breakfast

9:00 – 9:30 am                       VBA & Industry Update
Bruce Whitehurst, Virginia Bankers Association

9:30 – 10:30 am                     Transforming Transactions: The Rise of Realtime Payments
                                                    and Fintech’s Latest Wave
      DJ Seeterlin, Chesapeake Bank

Join a community banking leader in payments and innovation as he breaks down the latest changes that are affecting banks with fintech partnerships, the rise of real-time payments with FedNow and RTP, and other industry events and opportunities.

10:30 – 10:45 am                   Networking Break

10:45 – 11:45 am                   Refresh, Refuel, Recharge
Dr. Melissa Furman, Career Potential

As the workplace continues to change at an accelerated rate and employees continue to experience prolonged exposure to psychological stress, skills such as adaptability, grit, and resiliency will be critical for future success. This refreshing, interactive session utilizes engaging exercises to identify signs of burnout and provide practical tools for enhancing adaptability, grit, and resiliency.

11:45 am                                  Closing Remarks & Adjourn

Hotel Information

Omni Charlottesville Hotel
212 Ridge McIntire Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903

The VBA has negotiated a room rate of $199/night, plus applicable taxes and fees. To take advantage of the negotiated rate, reservations must be made by Wednesday, October 23, 2024. Click here to make your reservation.

About Our Speakers

Nick Arrigo
Executive Consultant & Director | CultivateTM, Haberfeld

Nick has more than ten years of experience working in the banking industry.  He works with Financial institutions across the country executing engagements in customer acquisition, cross-selling strategies, and organizational development. Nick holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Karen Barefoot
Director of Business Development | Industrial Reliability & Repair
Karen commonly referred to as “Coach” is a distinguished figure in both sports and as the Director of Business Development for Industrial Reliability & Repair. With her unmatched achievements in college basketball and her role as the director, she champions IRR’s five-year strategic plan. Karen seamlessly blends her passion for sports with her expertise in leadership and motivation. Karen is the author of “BRAVE, BOLD & BAREFOOT.”

LeAnne Emert

LeAnne Emert
Chief Banking Officer | Benchmark Community Bank

LeAnne is a 35 year banker who began her career as a Management Trainee with Central Fidelity Bank following her graduation from Longwood College (now University). Her banking career began in retail banking with roles ranging from branch manager to regional manager. In 2003 she found her calling as a community banker when she joined the team at Benchmark Community Bank. In her 20+ years at Benchmark she has had the opportunity to expand her banking knowledge further as she moved into regional management roles and in 2017 became a part of the executive team as the Chief Banking Officer. Her role incorporates leadership of Retail, Marketing, Wealth Management and Facilities. LeAnne is a 2016 graduate of the Southwest Graduate School of Banking at SMU. For over 10 years she served on the Retail Executives Committee at the VBA and is a member of the board of directors for the Virginia Association of Community Banks. Her passion for banking is centered in relationship development that begins first with our team then flows to our customers and communities. She is the wife of a lifelong farmer, mother to two grown sons and one very spoiled Llewellin Setter.

Melissa Furman

Dr. Melissa Furman
Owner | Career Potential

Melissa is on a mission to equip individuals and organizations with the skills and strategies needed to succeed, Dr. Furman has put her formal training into practice throughout her 20-year career in the professional development space by starting her own business, Career Potential.

Her strong understanding that the prosperity of any organization is deeply entwined with the success of its people, allows her to fearlessly tackle the most pressing topics through her speaking, training, coaching and consulting services with a dynamic perspective. Dr. Furman’s unique approach intertwines her academic prowess with practical insights, all with the goal of fostering individual and organizational success.

Ryan Price
Virginia Realtors
(bio coming soon!)

DJ Seeterlin
Chief Innovation Officer | Chesapeake Bank

DJ has over 20 years’ experience managing technology, operations, and security for community banks. He attended the College of William & Mary, the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin Madison, and the Virginia Bankers Association Executive Leadership Institute.

DJ is a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s Payment Advisory Committee and the American Bankers Association’s Payments Systems Administrative Committee and Core Platforms Committee. He volunteers with the Pamunkey Memorial Association in New Kent.

Darren Tully
Senior Vice President, Commercial Banking Team Lead | Capital Bank
Darren brings a wealth of experience to his role, having served as a commercial Relationship Manager and Fairfax Market President with Freedom Bank. A native of northern Virginia, he studied international economics and philosophy at the University of Virginia before beginning his career as a financial insurance underwriter just before the 2008 Financial Crisis. Transitioning into community banking, Darren has excelled in helping small businesses achieve their financial goals, specializing in government contracting, technology, and cybersecurity.

Darren’s dedication extends beyond banking, he has served on several local boards and was honored as a 2016 40 Under 40 honoree by the Leadership Center for Excellence. A 2017 graduate of The Virginia Bankers Association School of Bank Management, Darren is committed to community service and professional excellence.

In his free time, Darren enjoys traveling, scuba diving, golfing, attending Washington Nationals games, and spending time with his wife Emily and their two children, Fiona and Owen. He aims to see a baseball game in all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums, having already visited 25. As 2024 VBA Emerging Bank Leaders Chairman, Darren will emcee the event and moderate the Bank CEOs/Bank Executives Panel.

Aubrey Michael (Mike) Wilkerson
Chief Executive Officer | F&M Bank 

Mike has served as the chief executive officer of F&M Bank since April 2023. Previously, he served as executive vice president/chief lending officer from January 2022 to April 2023, and executive vice president/chief strategy officer and Northern Shenandoah Valley market executive from January 2021 to January 2022.

A graduate of Elon University, Mike began his banking career at Wachovia Bank on January 4, 1982. Mike has experience in dealer financial services, retail banking, private banking, commercial banking, and senior strategic leadership positions. From 2012 to 2018, Mike was the business banking division executive for Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. at Wells Fargo (legacy Wachovia Bank). More recently, Mike served as the commercial banking market executive from 2018 through 2020 for the Western Mid-Atlantic region at Wells Fargo. Mike and his wife, Denise, reside in Winchester, VA. They have two daughters and one son.

Bruce Whitehurst
President & CEO | Virginia Bankers Association

Following a 10-year career in retail and commercial banking, Bruce joined the Virginia Bankers Association in 1993, its 100th anniversary year. He has served as president and chief executive officer of the association since 2007 and was previously executive vice president.

While at the VBA, Bruce has worked with member banks in a variety of areas, to include government relations, education and training, financial literacy, and partnering with banks in a number of innovative ways to help them enter new lines of business. He also speaks about and on behalf of the industry on a regular basis.

As a banking industry advocate, Bruce is active at the national level.
He served on the American Bankers Association’s Regulatory Reform Task Force during the 2008-2009 financial crisis and served as an ABA Board member and chairman of the Alliance of State Bankers Associations in 2012-2013. He has also served on several other committees and councils at the national level.

Committed to serving his community, Bruce is a director of and has chaired United Methodist Family Services in Richmond, VA and the Virginia Council on Economic Education.

Bruce received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of William & Mary, his MBA from the University of Richmond and is a graduate of the Virginia Bankers School of Bank Management.

Registration Information

Registration Options Member Non-Member
Through October 14, 2024 $575 $1,075
October 15 – November 12, 2024 $595 $1,095
License (up to 10 people) $5,000 $5,500

Register Now!


By registering for this event, you are agreeing to the VBA Event Policies.

VBA Event Cancellation Policy

All cancellations will be charged a $25.00 administrative fee. Cancellations received less than 72 business hours before the program will be charged a $75.00 administrative fee plus any additional fees associated with the training. Substitutions are allowed prior to the beginning of the course.

Special Needs

Please share any specific needs that should be considered as we plan for the conference (i.e. hearing impaired, sight impaired, etc). Please contact Michele Dunn with any details.

Sponsorship Opportunities

Interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at this event? Click here to view those opportunities. Questions? Contact Amy Binns.