Second Annual Bank Director Board Performance Awards

Demonstrating leadership. Having strength of conviction. Going beyond the call of duty. These are the superlative traits Bank Director seeks when it determines the honorees chosen for its annual Board Performance Awards. In each case, the banks presented with the Governance, Trailblazer, and L. William Seidman Courage awards embody the essence of exceptional corporate character.

When we at Bank Director inaugurated the award program last year, our aim was to highlight boards that reach or exceed this standard. While only three banks are awarded, we acknowledge there are many others in communities across the nation. Yet, the unique stories behind our winners are notable-in each case, the directors recognized a critical challenge and met it head on. Sometimes, overcoming these challenges took a leap of faith.

Take our Trailblazer award winner, for instance. When the late J. Alton Wingate, then CEO of Community Bankshares Inc. in Cornelia, Georgia, took his vision for supermarket banking to the board in 1983, he later confessed it took a lot of guts to present an idea that, at the time, seemed pretty farfetched for traditional banking. Today, Wingate is known as the “father of supermarket banking,” and his legacy is Financial Supermarkets Inc., one of the leading in-store branch vendors in the country. Talk about blazing a trail-the board of Community Bankshares helped open a highway for thousands of in-store branches today.

The Bank Director 2005 award for Governance is presented to an institution that put a whole new spin on board evaluation. Five years ago, First Commonwealth Financial Corp. in Indiana, Pennsylvania began using the “balanced scorecard” performance system to manage its businesses, then took it a step further by adopting it to analyze the performance of its 13-member board of directors and senior management team. The result, its directors say, has been a successful means of measuring how the board’s mission keeps in lockstep with the bank’s strategy. Bank Director applauds First Commonwealth’s efforts to improve its corporate governance practices and to undergo honest self-assessment on an continual basis.

Finally, our L. William Seidman Courage Award goes to Mississippi River Bank of Belle Chasse, Louisiana, whose poignant story of hope, survival, and rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina is a beacon for others and a proud reminder of what it means to be a community bank. President Mike Bush relates how-in the midst of destruction, fear, and raw emotion-it was critical for the bank to maintain a strong position of leadership and humanity in its community.

Here, then, are our 2005 winners. We hope you enjoy reading about these institutions, and encourage you to contact us anytime to submit worthy nominations for next year’s roster of candidates.

Editor’s Note: Bank Director would like to thank BNK Advisory Inc. and Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, among others, for offering case studies on several of this year’s nominees.

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