Magazine article American Banker

Thrift Issues and D.C. Are Familiar Territory to Group's New Chief

Magazine article American Banker

Thrift Issues and D.C. Are Familiar Territory to Group's New Chief

Article excerpt

By KLINE, ALAN

E. Lee Beard is no stranger to the issues she will face as chairman of America's Community Bankers.

The Pennsylvania banker, whose one-year term will start Wednesday at the thrift group's convention in Chicago, helped steer the group as a member of its strategic planning committee.

She has testified before Congress on regulatory relief and presided over the Federal Reserve's Thrift Advisory Board.

And she knows stock as well as mutual thrifts. Not only did she lead a trade group committee on mutuals, she also presided over the conversion of her own First Federal Bank of Hazleton to stock form.

Ms. Beard, chief executive officer of $500 million-asset First Federal, is "very representative of a community banking industry that's in transition," said Paul A. Schosberg, the 2,000-member group's full-time president. "A lot of people can identify with her, and that's what you look for in a leader."

Ms. Beard, 47, will be the first woman to lead the six-year-old, group, and only the third to lead a national thrift trade association.

Her goals for her term are largely legislative: preserving the thrift charter; eliminating the Savings Association InsuranceFund special reserve; and repealing a law that bars banks and thrifts from paying interest on business checking accounts.

But she also plans to spend much of her tenure encouraging thrifts to become more "progressive."

For example, they should be on the lookout for small-business customers who may not meet the profitability criteria of larger banks, she said. "We should not be looking to do things the way we've always done them."

Mapping the group's course is another goal. Ms. Beard revealed that for the first time America's Community Bankers has hired a consultant to help determine "what is our future and how we will meet it. …

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