Diane Casey-Landry: Serious Advocate with a Playful Streak: ABA's Chief Operating Officer Recently Completed Her First Year since ABA Merged with America's Community Bankers. the Year Put Her Skills and Experience to the Test

By Streeter, William W. | ABA Banking Journal, February 2009 | Go to article overview

Diane Casey-Landry: Serious Advocate with a Playful Streak: ABA's Chief Operating Officer Recently Completed Her First Year since ABA Merged with America's Community Bankers. the Year Put Her Skills and Experience to the Test


Streeter, William W., ABA Banking Journal


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Washington is a pretty serious place. You have the Capitol dome looming over everything; all those monuments; momentous matters being weighed every day; political intrigue. The place and its inhabitants tend to take themselves pretty seriously. So it's refreshing to see a person in a high-level, high-visibility position in Washington who's willing to have a little fun in between dealing with all the serious stuff. Fun, like riding an elephant into a convention hall in full show-girl regalia to open a conference in Orlando. Or doing the same on a Harley-Davidson at an earlier conference, except wearing biker leathers that time.

That was a few years ago, when she was head of America's Community Bankers, but Diane Casey-Landry hasn't lost her sense of humor since joining the American Bankers Association in December 2007 when the merger of ABA and ACB became official.

ABA's number two staff officer is, of course, pretty serious most times. By her own description, she is "very hands on and very detail oriented." Part of the credit for that probably goes to the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, where Casey-Landry spent six years as an examiner. It was her first job, and she became the youngest person ever to become a senior examiner at the Cleveland Fed.

Two positions and 15 years later, when she was CEO of ACB, she earned high marks for turning that organization around.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

"She took an organization that was stale and revitalized it," says Mark Macomber, CEO of Litchfield Bancorp, Litchfield, Conn., and ACB's 2006-7 chairman. "She got people cranking."

Trained by the Fed

The future association leader had planned to go to law school after graduating from Ohio's Miami University in 1979, with majors in political science and economics, but, as she says, candidly, "I was tired of school and didn't know what I wanted to do." She figured it made sense to get a job, and interviewed with insurance companies, for a hotel management position, and for a job as a flight attendant. Nothing clicked. Her sister, however, met someone who said the Cleveland Fed was hiring, so Casey-Landry interviewed there, and was hired.

"That job was great training," she says. Most of the banks she examined were community banks, and, back then, "you could still have a dialogue with bankers." Two assignments for the Federal Reserve Board in Washington kindled an interest in the Cleveland native to move to Washington, D.C.

Serendipity struck again when a friend spotted an ad in the Washington Post for the position of Senate lobbyist for the Independent Bankers Association of America (now the Independent Community Bankers Association).

After sending in her resume, Casey-Landry received a call from Ken Guenther, who was executive vice-president of IBAA at the time. He said, "You're not qualified to be a Senate lobbyist, but how about being a regulatory counsel?" She told him she wasn't a lawyer, but Guenther, who had worked for the Fed, said, "but you're an examiner, even better. Come to Washington for an interview." They hit it off and Casey-Landry worked there for ten years.

She relates how a few months after joining IBAA, Guenther brought his new regulatory counsel to meet Paul Volcker. She was near speechless in the presence of the imposing Fed chairman, whom she had not met before. "Next thing I know," she recalls, "Volcker asks Guenther a question and Ken turns to me and says, 'Well, what's the answer?'" After an awkward pause, she managed to stammer out something, and recalls that Volcker was very nice about it.

Casey-Landry quickly got used to dealing with the Washington elite and today is far from speechless in the presence of a Henry Paulson or a Ben Bernanke, or at a congressional hearing. She is also at ease in front of a television camera. In December she participated in a PBS "NewsHour" program on the TARP Capital Purchase Program, along with economic heavyweights Alice Rivlin and Alan Blinder. …

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