2021 VBA Leadership Conference
Attendee Portal

Internal Links Chandler Owdom Monica McDearmon

The VBA Leadership Conference is designed for emerging banking leaders and members of the Virginia Bankers Association Emerging Bank Leaders (EBL) group, giving attendees the opportunity to share ideas and network with peers from across the state. This webpage houses all of the information you need to know leading up to and during the event. 

A special thank you to our 2021 EBL Chair Nicole Martin, Benchmark Community Bank! Learn more about Nicole in her Virginia Banking Monthly Q&A here.

Wi-Fi Information

Network Name: Hotel Madison Guest

All guests will have complimentary access to the Hotel Madison Wi-Fi in both your room and the conference center. Once you’ve selected “Hotel Madison Guest” as the Wi-Fi network choice, you’ll be able to connect by entering your name and e-mail address.

Event Attire

The attire for the entire conference is business casual.


Click here for the event roster.

Agenda, Session Information & Session Materials

Download a Copy of the Agenda Here!

Thursday, October 21st  
9:00 – 9:30 am Registration & Continental Breakfast-Conference Center Foyer
9:30 – 9:45 am Welcome & Announcements-Shenandoah Ballroom
Nicole Martin, Benchmark Community Bank
2021 EBL Chair
9:45 – 10:45 am

How to Reengage with Your Team In a Pandemic-Shenandoah Ballroom
Rachelle Humiston, Executive Consultant, Director, Cultivate™ at Haberfeld
Over the past year plus, teams have been in a state of flux with the weekly, and sometimes daily, challenges from the pandemic. Many branches opened with skeleton crews while their counterparts worked from home. We are crossing over to the other side of the pandemic, with branches returning to full capacity and employees once again work side-by-side with their peers. With this return to the “new” normal, we will examine employees’ new mindsets and learn what steps you can take in order to create a healthier work environment, whether you are on the front line in the branch or managing a robust team. Growth is incumbent upon both the manager and those being managed, and this session will discuss best practices for employee engagement and what those being managing can do to contribute to the success of the team.

Slides from Rachelle's Presentation

10:45 – 11:00 am Networking Break-Conference Center Foyer
11:00 am – 12:15 pm Bank CEO/Executives Panel-Shenandoah Ballroom
Featured Panelists:
  • Michelle Austin, Executive Vice President COO & CFO, Bank of Botetourt
  • Leton Harding, VBA Chairman and President & CEO, Powell Valley National Bank
  • Brian Plum, CEO, Blue Ridge Bank
  • Moderated by 2021 Emerging Bank Leaders Chair Nicole Martin, SVP/Deposit Administration, Benchmark Community Bank

This esteemed group of bankers will share perspectives and insight on leadership and their banks’ role in the community. Additionally this year, the panelists will discuss key themes that we will be addressing throughout the Leadership Conference this year and why they are important.

12:15 – 1:15 pm Lunch-Appalachian Ballroom
1:15 – 2:00 pm Icebreaker/Speed Networking Activity-Shenandoah Ballroom
2:00 – 3:15 pm Cryptocurrency 101-Shenandoah Ballroom
Barbara Hudgins, AAP, APRP, Director, Payments Education

The popularity of cryptocurrency continues to grow and will likely become part of everyone’s future. Barbara will cover common cryptocurrency terms and types of digital currencies, regulations in this space, and what every emerging leader should know about this area.

Slides from Barbara's Presentation

3:15 – 3:30 pm Break-Conference Center Foyer
3:30 – 4:35 pm

All In: The Story of How All In Started with the NY Giants and What is Happening Today-Shenandoah Ballroom
Gian Paul Gonzalez, Public Speaker, Educator & Executive Director
Hope & Future Youth Center

Gian Paul will discuss what it means to be “All In” and how that helped the New York Giants to their most recent Super Bowl victory. He has been featured on ESPN as well as had notable appearances on Fox News and CNN. His inspirational talks have made him an internationally renowned speaker for NBA, NFL, English Premiere League, MLS & Fortune 500 organizations. Since 2016, Gian Paul has been requested to provide over 100 unique and custom Speaking Sessions with the Players and Coaches of the NY Giants in his role with the Team, traveling to all home and away games, working in the Coaches Box during the Games and conducting weekly meetings during the season. Gian Paul Gonzalez was a former NCAA First Team All-American forward from Montclair State University scoring nearly 1,400 points in his 3-year career. He played in the NBA Summer League and was offered professional basketball contracts, yet he turned them down in order to continue his work with at-risk youth.

4:35 – 4:45 pm Announcements and Adjourn for the Day-Shenandoah Ballroom
Nicole Martin, Benchmark Community Bank, 2021 EBL Chair
6:00 – 7:00 pm Reception-Conference Center Foyer
7:00 – 8:30 pm Dinner-Appalachian Ballroom
Friday, October 22nd  
7:30 – 8:45 am Breakfast-Appalachian Ballroom
8:45 – 9:20 am

VBA & Industry Update-Shenandoah Ballroom
Bruce Whitehurst, President & CEO, Virginia Bankers Association

Slides from Bruce's Presentation

9:20 – 10:30 am Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Going Beyond the Basics-Shenandoah Ballroom

Jasmine Cooper, Vice President, Diversity Equity and Inclusion, American Bankers Association
This session will cover how to evolve your interest and passion for DEI to advocacy for organizational change. As an emerging leader, learn how to connect with your organization’s stakeholders to impact change.

Slides from Jasmine's Presentation

10:30 – 10:45 am Networking Break-Conference Center Foyer
10:45 am – 12:00 pm Downhills Don’t Come Free-Shenandoah Ballroom
Jerry Holl, Award Winning Author of “Downhills Don’t Come Free,” Jerry Holl, LLC
From this moment forward, what’s the story of the rest of your life? Will it be a story worth telling? How will you ever know your very best if you don’t stretch for growth and change? Through 100% authentic, vivid, and poignant storytelling – from Jerry’s solo and unsupported bicycle journey from Alaska to Mexico as a 57-year-old inexperienced and untrained distance cyclist – Jerry’s keynote will inspire the audience to take mindful risks that will awaken their dormant or hidden talents and achieve extraordinary personal and team performance.
12:00 pm Adjourn

Speaker Bios

Michelle Austin, Executive Vice President COO & CFO 
Bank of Botetourt

Michelle joined Bank of Botetourt in 1993 after graduating Magna Cum Laude and Salutatorian from Roanoke College with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree. During her career, she has served as marketing officer and branch manager before being named CFO of Bank of Botetourt in 2005. Michelle was a member of the CFO Committee of the Virginia Bankers Association from 2008-2016, including one year as committee chairman. Michelle is a graduate of the Virginia Bankers School of Bank Management at the University of Virginia and is also a graduate of the Graduate School of Banking at Louisiana State University. She earned her Master of Business Administration degree from Troy University in 2005.

From 2006-2016 Michelle was an adjunct professor in Roanoke College’s Department of Business Administration & Economics where she has taught Principles of Accounting, Commercial Banking, and an Economics course called The Fed Challenge. She serves on the Department’s Advisory Board comprised of alumni and local business leaders. In 201-, Michelle was recognized in the Blue Ridge Business Journal’s Top 20 Under 40 edition. She was nominated and selected as one of the Roanoke Valley’s top 20 emerging business leaders under the age of 40. She also served on the Botetourt County School Board from 2017-2021.

Jasmine Cooper

Jasmine Cooper, Vice President, Diversity Equity and Inclusion 
American Bankers Association

Jasmine Cooper is the Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Belonging for the American Bankers Association. She is responsible for developing an internal diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy in partnership with senior leadership and other stakeholders. This includes building supportive and inclusive teams, building employee DEI competency, increasing retention among employees, increasing recruitment and hiring of candidates from underrepresented groups, and promoting leadership development and promotion/succession transparency within the organization.

Prior to joining ABA, Jasmine established robust and multifaceted, diversity, inclusion and equity programs at an AmLaw 100 law firm and a top public national university. She achieved this by providing organizations’ leadership with the foundation to understand diversity and inclusion through focused conversations addressing values, culture, strategies, policies and procedures. Through establishing these programs and initiatives, she elevated the impact of an organization’s efforts to key clients and decision-makers in domestic and international locations.

Gian Paul Gonzalez, Public Speaker, Educator & Executive Director
Hope & Future Youth Center

Gian Paul is widely recognized for inspiring the New York Giants to their most recent Super Bowl victory with the phrase “All In”. He has been featured on ESPN as well as had notable appearances on Fox News and CNN. His inspirational talks have made him an internationally renowned speaker for NBA, NFL, English Premiere League, MLS and Fortune 500 organizations. Since 2016, Gian Paul has been requested to provide over 100 unique and custom speaking sessions with the players and coaches of the NY Giants in his role with the team, traveling to all home and away games, working in the coaches box during the games and conducting weekly meetings during the season.

Gian Paul was a former NCAA First Team All-American forward from Montclair State University scoring nearly 1,400 points in his 3-year career. He played in the NBA Summer League and was offered professional basketball contracts, yet he turned them down in order to continue his work with at-risk youth. He is the Founder & Executive Director of Hope & Future Community Center, an organization dedicated to using athletics and physical fitness to share a message of hope and striving for excellence in inner-city public schools and juvenile jails. 

Leton Harding, President & CEO
Powell Valley National Bank
2021-2022 VBA Chairman

Leton has served as president and CEO of Powell Valley National Bank (PVNB) since March 2012. PVNB is the sixth oldest bank in the Commonwealth, established in 1888. Prior to joining PVNB, Leton served as executive vice president of First Bank & Trust Company from 1993-2012; vice president and executive director of the Virginia Bankers Association from 1986-1993; and trust and compliance officer of The Wise County National Bank/Bank of America from 1977-1986.

Leton has received numerous awards and honors and is very active in his community, serving on boards of various organizations. Leton is the current VBA chairman, serves on the board of the VBA Education Foundation, is a member of the board of directors of UVa-Wise, serves on the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond Community Depository Advisory Council, and is a co-founder and past president of the Birthplace of County Music Alliance. Leton is a graduate of J.J. Kelly and University of Virginia College at Wise.

Jerry Holl

Jerry Holl, Award-Winning Author of “Downhills Don’t Come Free”
Jerry Holl, LLC

Jerry Holl is a dynamic speaker and a relentless optimist who is also the author of the three-time international award-winning book, Downhills Don’t Come Free – One Man’s Bike Ride From Alaska to Mexico. Jerry holds an engineering degree, an MBA and has over three decades of sales and leadership experience. He translates the lessons learned from his extraordinary bicycle journey to meaningful business principles. His messages are inspiring, pragmatic, and easy to implement – all derived from his real-life experiences and outcomes.

He resides in Minnesota with his wife and has three grown children. Jerry is a graduate of the University of Minnesota.  Jerry is a semi-annual guest lecturer in the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Business and mentors STEM students in the UoM’s College of Science and Engineering.

Barbara Hudgins, AAP, APRP, Director of Payments Education 

Barbara Hudgins is a director of payments education with ePayResources.  As a member of the education team, she develops and presents a variety of payments education and professional development training.  Barbara knows firsthand the challenges facing industry stakeholders and welcomes the opportunity to help members navigate those challenges! She has over 15 years of community bank experience in retail services and deposit operations, including managing ACH and debit card programs.  She also has 10 years of experience in secondary education. 

Barbara currently sits on Nacha’s LMS Editorial Board. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Master of Education in School Counseling from Virginia Commonwealth University. In addition, she has earned the Accredited ACH Professional (AAP) and Accredited Payments Risk Professional (APRP) certifications.  

Rachelle Humiston

Rachelle Humiston, Executive Consultant, Director, Cultivate™

Rachelle  Humiston,  Executive   Consultant and   Director of Cultivate™, has more than 14 years of experience in developing and implementing customer service cultures, brand projects, marketing campaigns, events, and public relations initiatives for both large and small companies.

Over the past nine years, she has worked with some of Haberfeld’s top-performing clients, visiting nearly 500 branches across the country and coaching more than 5,500 financial industry professionals.   Rachelle is responsible for coaching, client management, sales, and client communication. Rachelle is a graduate of the University of Kansas.

Nicole Martin, Senior Vice President/Deposit Administration 
Benchmark Community Bank

Nicole Martin has been a member of the VBA Emerging Bank Leaders (EBL) for ten years and has served on the EBL steering committee for the past four years. She has worked for Benchmark Community Bank for more than 20 years. During her time at the bank, she has held a variety of positions including loan assistant, loan officer, training officer, deposit/customer relations officer and is currently senior vice president/deposit administration. In her current role, she oversees the deposit function of the bank, including deposit operations, the teller and CSR platforms and customer experience. 

Nicole is a graduate of Virginia Tech, the Virginia Bankers School of Bank Management, the VBA Executive Leadership Institute and is a current member of the Graduate School of Banking at LSU class of 2023. 

Brian Plum, President & CEO 
Blue Ridge Bank

Brian Plum has served as a director of Blue Ridge Bankshares, Inc. since 2014 and as President and Chief Executive Officer of Blue Ridge Bankshares, Inc. and Blue Ridge Bank since December 2014. Brian previously held the positions with Blue Ridge Bankshares, Inc. and Blue Ridge Bank of Executive Vice President from 2010 to 2014, Chief Financial Officer from 2007 to 2014 and Chief Administrative Officer in 2014. Before joining Blue Ridge in 2007, he served in several positions with the accounting firm PBMares, LLP in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Brian is a graduate of Eastern Mennonite University with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Economics, of James Madison University with Master of Science in Accounting, and of the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia with a Master of Business Administration. Brian is a Certified Public Accountant licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

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, including 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 the ABA Community Bankers Council and the ABA Government Relations Council.

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. He also serves on the Board of Trustees at Ferrum College.

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. 

Hotel & Parking Information

Hotel Madison
710 S Main St, Harrisonburg, VA 22801
(540) 564-0200

Parking (for guests staying at the Hotel Madison): Attendees receive parking at the discounted rate of $3/day. Any guests staying at the hotel will have the parking charge added to their rooming charges. The entrance to the garage is off of MLK Way.

Parking (for guests not staying at the Hotel Madison):  Day guests will receive a validation sticker to place on the parking ticket you received when you entered the garage. When you place the ticket back in the reader to leave, it will show the discounted price of $3. The entrance to the garage is off of MLK Way.

Thank You to Our Sponsors!

College Ave Logo

College Ave Student Loans
Reid Moehn, Business Development
Email | (619) 865-3395
The College Ave Student Loans Referral Program allows Virginia Bankers Association’s member banks to refer customers with private student loan needs to College Ave for origination and servicing. In return, the bank will receive an attractive referral fee. College Ave provides a better student loan experience by offering products that are simple, clear, and personalized for each borrower. 

Equifax Logo

Equifax Sales Agent – RA Business Solutions
Matt Boyer, Executive Vice President
Email | (757) 455-9326
Retail Alliance was founded in 1903 as the sole credit bureau in Hampton Roads, Virginia. It has been RA’s mission to serve businesses in the Mid-Atlantic region as trusted advisors. The RA team provides lift by leveraging unparalleled Equifax data to power targeted solutions to mitigate risk, grow loans/deposits, and assist with ever-changing compliance needs (CECL, etc.).

Harland Clarke Logo

Harland Clarke is a VBA Endorsed Provider

Harland Clarke
Billy Hicks, Account Executive/Key Markets Division
Email | (540) 315-0087
Harland Clarke is a leading provider of customer engagement solutions that help connect businesses and people how, when, and where it matters. The company offers payment tools such as checks and cards; and marketing services such as deposit and loan acquisition programs, digital marketing, performance analytics, and promotional products for businesses. It deploys these solutions holistically, across print, phone, and digital channels, ensuring that the customers of its world-class client base enjoy a consistently superior experience. Harland Clarke is a Vericast business (www.vericast.com). For more information, visit www.harlandclarke.com or follow Harland Clarke on LinkedIn and on Twitter @HarlandClarke. Click here for more information about Harland Clarke’s solution portfolio.  https://www.harlandclarke.com/about/customer-engagement.

Q2 Logo

Q2 is a VBA Endorsed Provider

Q2 Software
Cheyenne VanEtta, Regional Sales Manager
Email | (512) 366-0158
Q2 is a financial experience company dedicated to providing digital banking and lending solutions to banks, alternative finance, and fintech companies in the U.S. and internationally. With comprehensive end-to-end solution sets, Q2 enables its partners to provide cohesive, secure, data-driven experiences to every account holder – from consumer to small business and corporate. 

Safety Protocols

First and foremost, our #1 priority is ensuring the safety of all: attendees, sponsors, speakers, staff and hotel personnel.  Since the pandemic began, the VBA has followed the recommendations and directives from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Governor Northam and we will continue to do so for this event. 

At this time, and based on CDC guidelines, the VBA recommends the following:

  • Unvaccinated persons wear a face covering and socially distance at all times during the VBA Leadership Conference, except that the face covering can be removed when eating or drinking;
  • Fully vaccinated persons wear a face covering indoors during VBA Leadership Conference events, except that the face covering can be removed when eating or drinking. 

While we strongly encourage all attendees to follow CDC guidance, we cannot guarantee that all will do so. Please also note that, during presentations, you will be seated in crescent rounds of four people per table. Please contact Courtney Fleming with any questions or concerns or if you need additional space during the presentations.

We will continue to track the latest guidance and requirements from government officials regarding mask-wearing, space capacity, and social distancing and will provide you with updates as necessary.

Dietary Restrictions, Special Needs & Americans with Disabilities Notice

Please send any dietary restrictions or special needs that may affect your participation in this event to Chandler Owdom to discuss accommodations.