2020 ABA/VBA DEI Summit Recap
November 6, 2020

Post Chandler Owdom

VBA and the American Bankers Association partnered to launch their first-ever virtual Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Summit for bankers in November 2020. More than 275 people attended nationwide. This event was an important part of continuing a meaningful dialogue on fostering positive change in the industry. Sponsored by ABA associate member Ncontracts®, the value-packed program helped bankers cultivate a network of peers to share DEI leading practices and explore new opportunities and initiatives for their own institutions. The goal of the event was to equip bankers from all over the country with tools to mitigate systemic biases and foster greater inclusion for those disadvantaged by age, race, disability, sexual orientation, gender or other identity factors.

“This is a perfect program for anyone who is on the DEI journey–from those who are just starting to those who have established programs and those who are looking to enhance what they are already doing.” – 2020 Summit Attendee

General Sessions-2020

Setting the Stage on Equality and Managing Structural Shifts

Naomi Mercer, Senior Vice President, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, American Bankers Association

What are you doing within your system to make sure it’s equitable? How do you look for the systemic changes that have to be made to your organization?

Explore. Engage. Elevate: DEI Program Best Practices Panel

Moderated By: Marnie Keller, SVP Partnerships and Industry Outreach, Ncontracts


  • Explore: Teresa L. Gregory, President, Traditions Mortgage, York Traditions Bank
  • Engage: Maria Tedesco, President, Atlantic Union Bank
  • Elevate: Calandra Jarrell, SVP, Diversity & Inclusion Executive, Bank of America

Understand where your bank’s program is on the DEI maturity spectrum, and further your program no matter what stage you are currently in.

Closing Keynote Session - Follow the ARC: Creating a Path to Success through Inclusion

Bernadette Smith, Founder and CEO, Equality Institute

Diversity and culture are now the number one workplace priorities for Millennials and Generation Z, the largest growing sectors in today’s workforce. To meet this demand, organizations are experiencing a significant shift in how leaders need to approach hiring, training and managing employee behavior. When leaders bring diversity and inclusion into their leadership practices, they strengthen the culture and become much better equipped for the future.

With candor and humor, Bernadette will share the critical must-know practices for leaders to minimize hidden bias, empower under-represented team members, and create a profitable culture of inclusion. Leaders walk away with a greater understanding of diversity and inclusion, as well as simple, practical tools to strengthen their leadership skills.

This talk is best suited for leaders who already believe in the power of diversity, but need some guidance on how to lead inclusively.

Explore. Engage. Elevate.-2020

This event was designed to have three tracks, Explore, Engage, and Elevate, to reach an audience of bankers whose organizations were in very different places in their DEI journeys. The Explore track was geared towards banks that were just getting started. The Engage track was aimed at banks that have some programs in place, but needed some ideas about what’s next for them. The Elevate track was for banks with robust DEI programs that are ready to level up. Many banks fit well within one of these tracks, while some had areas that fit within all three. With that in mind, attendees were able to bounce around from track to track via Zoom. We had two sets of the three tracks, for six total breakout sessions. Many of the sessions were led by bankers discussing their own programs and providing advice and insights for how other banks could replicate their own versions of the initiatives they shared.

Explore sessions-2020

You’ve formed a task force…now what?

Moderated By: Naomi Mercer, Senior Vice President, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, American Bankers Association


  • John Holdsclaw IV, EVP, Strategic Initiatives, National Cooperative Bank
  • Teresa L. Gregory, President, Traditions Mortgage, York Traditions Bank

How do you build your bank’s DEI strategy and what specific tactics do you need to get started? 

Crafting Your DEI Strategy

Naomi Mercer, President, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, American Bankers Association​

Learn the elements of an effective DEI strategy and specific areas to incorporate when crafting a DEI strategy for your bank.​

Engage sessions-2020

You have launched a program…now what?
  • Stephanie Watson, VP, Professional Development, Ohio Bankers League
  • Keith Borders, VP Community Development, Union & Guardian Savings Bank
  • Featuring Morning Panelist Maria Tedesco, President, Atlantic Union Bank

How do you measure your program’s effectiveness and where do you go from here? 

How to Use Data and Information to Help Diversify from the Board Level and Down

Moderated By: Bruce Whitehurst, President & CEO, Virginia Bankers Association


  • Jennifer A. Docherty, Managing Director & Associate General Counsel, Piper Sandler & Co.
  • Debra Langford, Head of Business Development, Advancing Black Pathways, JPMorgan Chase
  • Terrie G. Spiro, President and CEO, Cecil Bank

Get real-world examples of what banks can do to continue to diversify your board and, more broadly, your organization. Top leaders from the Bank on Women, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to uplifting women in banking, will discuss strategies to educate the community banking industry on the importance of adding qualified women to the board C-suite. Then hear more about JPMorgan Chase’s DEI programs, including—Advancing Black Leaders, focused on attracting, hiring, retaining, and advancing black talent at the bank and Advancing Black Pathways, an external initiative directed towards community success in areas of education, career and wealth. JP Morgan executives will breakdown how the two programs build off of one another and strive to form a qualified talent pool for banks to draw upon and diversify their boards.​

Elevate sessions-2020

You want to take your long-standing DEI program to the next level…now what?
  • Clara Green, Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Regions Bank
  • Kimberly Robichaud, Diversity & Inclusion Program Manager, Regions Bank​

How should you adapt your program based on the events of 2020 and dive deeper into your program’s efforts?

Leading Practices with Employee Resource Groups

Deborah Munster, Vice President, Diversity Best Practices

ERGs have been essential players in creating inclusive workplaces.  In today’s complex marketplace, they are increasingly being leveraged for their insights and influence.  In response to both the COVID pandemic and social injustices across the globe, ERGs are engaging in thoughtful and impactful ways to bridge divides.  In this session, participants will hear how ERGs and companies are responding to the disparate impact these pandemics and events are having on diverse communities.

Photos from the 2020 DEI Summit