Front & Center

By Pike, Kelly | Independent Banker, May 2006 | Go to article overview
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Front & Center

Pike, Kelly, Independent Banker

Terry Jorde takes her message to the masses as ICBA's newest chairman

If life can be measured in statistics, numbers say a lot about Terry Jorde.

There is 32, the age at which she became president of CountryBank USA in Cando, N.D., and $39 million, the asset size of her bank. Seven represents the number of times she has testified before Congress and three, the number of years she served on the Federal Reserve System Consumer Advisory Council. One is the number of women, including Jorde, to have served as chairman of ICBA.

Yet as precise as numbers can be, words describe her best. Adjectives like energetic, determined and tireless, offered by people who live and work with the banker, paint a picture of a woman who is just as comfortable in the grain fields of North Dakota as she is on Capitol Hill. A community leader, a national advocate and a mother of three, Jorde exudes a sincerity and intelligence that brings credibility to whatever causes she takes up, according to those who know her well.

"Terry has just outstanding leadership and communication skills," says James R. Lauffer, a Pennsylvania community banker and mentor to Jorde. "She's the type of person who can work out disagreements in a way that everyone walks away happy."

"She is extremely knowledgeable in whatever subject she is working on. She does her homework," offers Eugene Nicholas, a longtime Country- Bank USA board member and state legislator.

"Terry is a very genuine person. She tells you what she is thinking," says Kirk Baeth, a financial consultant with CountryInvest, the Investment Centers of America office located in CountryBank USA's Devil's Lake Branch. "If she agrees with you, she'll back you up 100 percent, and if she doesn't agree with it she'll explain why she has a different opinion."

Jorde, a multi-tasking dynamo, is quick to admit she doesn't have a lot of time for hobbies. Between banking, community work, volunteering for ICBA and raising a family, her plate is really quite full-and she likes it that way. "I am honestly doing what I love to do. I am passionate about community banking," she says.

Jorde's passion for all aspects of community banking, from meeting with customers to nurturing staff to defending the industry from onerous regulation, is apparent.

She's even been known to reinvigorate a lethargic crowd with her wit and enthusiasm.

"We all know people that sparkle, that have something extra," says Mike Jorde, Terry's husband of 26 years. "Terry has it. When she talks, you can tell she means it."

James Lauffer saw the spark when he first met Jorde in 1990. At the time, she was a member of ICBA's Bank Operations Committee, which has since divided into three other committees covering lending, accounting and payment systems issues. She was eight months pregnant and the only woman in the room. Lauffer, who served as ICBA chairman from 1993 to 1994, immediately noticed a bright and capable woman with natural leadership abilities.

"I saw her as the first female chairman of ICBA. I felt strongly that she should be and she would be," says Lauffer, who tried to convince Jorde to run for the position several times over the years. "I didn't think there would be any doubt about it."

Rising through the Ranks

Jorde began her banking career as a teller and bookkeeper at 21. As an undergraduate studying finance at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, her early dream was to live in a condominium on Chicago's ritzy Lake Shore Drive and work with a major corporation. But fate intervened when she visited a friend at St. Olaf College outside of Minneapolis and met Mike Jorde. When the pair graduated in 1979, they married and moved to Mike's hometown, Cando, where he assured her she could find a challenging life and career.

Cando is a far cry from Chicago. The town of 1,300 is two hours of straight, flat roads to Grand Forks International Airport and barely 40 miles to the Canadian border.

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