Get to Know the 2023 Washington Summit EBL Scholarship Recipients

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What first inspired you to get involved in advocacy efforts on behalf of the banking industry?

JD: My first inspiration came early in my career as I had mentors who encouraged me to attend Banker Day in Richmond. As a recent college graduate with no banking experience, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but quickly learned the importance of communicating with legislators and advocators for community banking. As community bankers, we have a responsibility to advocate for legislation directly impacting our industry, customers, and communities. 

DF: I had heard great things from those who have previously attended as well as my involvement in various VBA programs including the VBA Management Development Program and Bank School.  

SF: At my bank, I often hear how much our voice can make a difference in the industry. I have had the privilege of attending Bank School, the Management Development Program, and several other VBA events. It is evident at each of these programs that bankers should communicate with their legislators. Community bankers work closely with their customers and hear first-hand how regulatory actions affect how they do business. 

You were all first-time Washington Summit attendees. What was your favorite moment from the experience? 

JD: I enjoyed listening to the CEO panel. These leaders guide institutions of varying asset sizes across the United States and discussed how recent events and the economics of our country are affecting their institutions and the communities they serve. It was remarkable to hear the similar, yet sometimes different, perspectives each had. 

DF: My favorite part of the was hearing from our legislators and ABA leaders on the events that recently transpired with SVB and hearing the different stances on how these events may affect other banks and their clients going forward.  

SF: The opportunity to sit down face to face with our legislators and walk the halls of the federal building was fascinating. With the recent failure of SVB, there wasn’t a shortage of topics to discuss.  It was interesting to speak with bankers from across the country. While we’re in different places geographically, we all have similar views on banking issues.  

As a part of the event, you also attended the Emerging Leaders Forum. What were one or two of your top takeaways from the sessions, which included topics such as, “The Passion Effect: Peak Performance, Deep Connections & Transformation”? 

JD: My greatest takeaway from the Emerging Leaders Forum, which I’m trying to apply, is using better body language techniques. During the speaker’s session, I reflected on how this is applicable and effective, both personally and professionally. 

DF: The Emerging Leaders Forum had a great group of inspiring presenters. Key takeaways included tips on body language and how people in general have subconscious biases based on one’s body language as well as living life to the fullest and inspiring others to do the same. 

SF: During the Emerging Leaders forum, we heard from many great speakers on topics including emotional intelligence, dealing with change, and even how to effectively communicate with our hands during a presentation. 

My favorite quote was: “There is no replacement for ‘the hustle’.” I think this is so important for emerging leaders as we grow in our careers. We cannot simply sit on the sidelines and expect good things to happen. We need to prove we’re capable of taking that next step. 

You are all members of the Emerging Bank Leaders, a VBA group in which members are encouraged to participate in advocacy events and initiatives. What are the benefits of being a part of that group, or generally, of your involvement with the VBA?  

JD: I find that being part of the VBA’s Emerging Bank Leaders pushes me to grow as a leader. I learn by example, and I have enjoyed the opportunity to observe and network with fellow leaders through the EBL. 

DF: I have enjoyed being a member of EBL for quite some time. This is a great way to connect with bankers from across the state and share experiences. It is a great benefit to be able to reach out to others when needed to get a fresh perspective.  

SF: By getting involved with the VBA, particularly the EBL, I have learned so much more about the banking industry. Sometimes we only see the industry based on the jobs we do. The VBA stresses the importance of advocacy, as well as, networking with your peers to broaden your perspective on banking. 

What would you say to someone who is considering attending an advocacy event, such as the Summit, in the future? 

JD: I encourage all community bankers to make time for advocacy for our industry. Without events such as the Washington Summit and Banker Day, the everyday issues affecting our industry and the communities our institutions serve wouldn’t be heard. 

DF: I believe everyone should attend at least once. This event gave me a broader view of banking as a whole and a deeper appreciation for those lobbying for us bankers and our clients.  

SF: I would highly recommend attending VBA Banker Day and the Washington Summit to get to know your legislators and communicate what you’re seeing in your community. This was especially true during Banker Day. We visited our delegates’ offices, talking about industry hot topics and local community challenges. Advocacy helps ensure our representatives understand the challenges bankers and our customers are facing. 

Lightning Round: 

I always start my day with:

JD: My golden retriever, Lucy. She is my wake-up call each morning.

DF: Hitting the snooze button before an early morning workout.

SF: A hot shower and iced coffee

Favorite weekend activity:

JD: Being on the water or in the woods, depending on the season.

DF: Whatever the family wants to do- beach or amusement parks. 

SF: Spending time with my wife and our 8-month-old daughter. 

What do you consider your biggest accomplishment – career or otherwise?

JD: Helping business owners and farmers meet their financial goals. 

DF: Helping raise two great children and helping coworkers reach their potential.

SF: My biggest accomplishment is growing from a part-time teller to a commercial lender. 

What would someone be surprised to learn about you?

JD: I met my wife through community banking. 

DF: I started my first job at 12 years old

SF: I love home improvement projects including drywall, electrical, woodworking, and tile.