First National Bank Alaska Leaders Advance to New Roles
The retirement of a financial industry veteran from the top management of First National Bank Alaska (FNBA) leaves room for other executives to move up a notch. Doug Longacre served as President since 2018 until his retirement in February.
“It has been my honor to help my fellow Alaskans succeed in the Great Land for the past forty-seven years, and I look forward to continuing to represent them on the bank’s board of directors,” Longacre says. “When I first joined the bank as a management trainee, my ambition at that time was to become a branch manager and represent the bank in a smaller community in Alaska. I certainly didn’t think I would end up serving as bank president. It’s been an adventure of a lifetime.”
To replace Longacre as president, the FNBA board appointed Betsy Lawer, who previously was president in 2013. When Longacre was made president in 2018, Lawer took on the titles of Board Chair and CEO, which she retains. Lawer’s father and grandfather previously led FNBA. She learned the banking business literally at her father’s knee, and after she earned an economics degree from Duke University, Lawer returned in 1974 to work her way up to the leadership position she holds today.
“Doug has been an incredible business partner, trustworthy sounding board, and a wonderful friend for almost fifty years,” says Lawer. “I speak for the entire First National family when I say we wish him the fondest farewell into his retirement, and we know he will continue to help his fellow Alaskans shape tomorrow in the years to come.”
Three other executive leaders were awarded new titles as well:
Chief Commercial Lending Officer Darren Franz was promoted to Chief Credit Officer and appointed Senior Executive Officer. Franz oversees FNBA’s lending division, including the combined branch, corporate lending, central loan processing and corporate services departments and the Specialty Lending Unit. Franz holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and economics and is a graduate of Pacific Coast Banking School. Franz has managed retail and business banking in sixteen different Alaska communities.
Chief Administrative Officer Cheri Gillian was appointed Senior Executive Officer. Gillian oversees the central administration division, including the bank’s corporate communication and customer experience, human resources, and audit departments, and the wealth management section. An Alaskan for more than fifty years, Gillian has spent nearly thirty-five of those years building FNBA’s brand and helping shape the bank’s unique workplace culture. Gillian helped launch and formalize the bank’s relationship management program, facilitates the bank’s strategic planning activities, provides administrative oversight to support bank-wide initiatives, and serves as the board secretary.
Chief Banking Officer Ryan Strong was appointed Senior Executive Officer. Strong oversees the retail banking and treasury management division, including the treasury management and Anchorage branch administration and mortgage lending departments and the loan servicing section. Some of those duties were previously performed by the bank president. Strong brings more than twenty years of hands-on operations experience and detailed knowledge of Alaska’s economy. He is co-chair of the bank’s COVID-19 emergency response team, responsible for creating and implementing FNBA’s response to the pandemic.