A great community bank is a huge community asset: They don’t forget their roots, they treat the small depositors as carefully as the large ones, and they find ways to leverage their capabilities to help make the community a better place. And a truly great community bank keeps good community people front and center. Rondout Savings Bank has done just that in choosing Cheryl Bowers as its first female President and CEO.
Cheryl, a Kingston native, was just 16 when she started her first job as a local bank records clerk in the early 80s, moving into the work full-time after she graduated. “I took any job opportunity that came up at that bank,” she says. “I worked there for about 20 years, and by the time I left, I’d worked in several leadership roles in different departments, and in several counties; it had evolved into a large corporate bank.”
Cheryl was disinclined to evolve into a large corporate banker, and when her colleague Jim Davenport told her he was headed over to Rondout Savings Bank and would like her to come help them organize a commercial lending and deposit department, she jumped at the chance. “It was 2001, and I was expecting my second child,” she remembers. “After listening to Jim for only a few minutes, I knew this would be a great opportunity for me and I said, ‘yes.’
After nearly 20 years at the other bank, it was a tremendous decision; but, knowing that we could bring our experience and knowledge of business banking to Rondout, and develop a department that would serve our business community better... it was a no-brainer. We were able to make decisions right here; we eliminated the “red tape” and helped build relationships that, I am proud to say, are still with us today.”
Over the decades since Cheryl started that first job at 16, the banking industry—like so many—has seen the rise of more women into administrative roles; but, women are still underrepresented in the top ranks. Cheryl’s perspective is nuanced. “In most meetings, there are very few women represented as CEOs,” she says. “I never feel alienated or less valuable than my male counterparts, but I do feel that the industry would benefit greatly from a broader perspective brought to the table by women and men, with more diverse backgrounds, experiences, and thought processes.”
“Business clients can be anything from a person working out of their living room, to someone with hundreds of employees; either way, we celebrate their wins and hang in there when it’s tough.”
– Cheryl Bowers,
CEO and President, Rondout Savings Bank
In her volunteer life, Cheryl’s a busy soul, serving on multiple boards. She’s been honored for her efforts by the YWCA Tribute to Women, named Volunteer of the Decade by Gateway Community Industries, inducted into the SUNY New Paltz Business Hall of Fame, and named Signora of the Year by the Ulster County Italian American Foundation. “It’s the community work that makes life whole,” she says. “I’d do that stuff full-time if I could. But I do love my work and the people. Being appointed President and CEO of this amazing, 150-year-old bank is a soul-shaking honor; I don’t take it lightly.”
At Rondout, Cheryl gets to do banking as she feels it should be done. “My goal is to never have a typical day,” she says. “I thrive on the energy that comes from doing different, challenging, innovative things all the time. Our employees are constantly challenging me with great ideas.
We have wonderful, loyal, long-term, multi-generational families that bank with us, which is a huge honor; mutual respect is the core. It matters to us that our customers do well and be successful; if they don’t, then we don’t either. Business clients can be anything from a person working out of their living room, to someone with hundreds of employees; either way, we celebrate their wins and hang in there when it’s tough.”
Being a small local bank doesn’t mean providing less service. “We offer state-of-the-art loan and deposit products and deliver them in whatever way makes the best sense,” Cheryl says. “We have hands-on, personalized delivery, complemented by any digital service you get at the mega-corporate banks. Most importantly, my door and my executive team’s doors are always open—we enjoy our interactions with our customers and community leaders, and tailoring to their needs.
I‘m so proud of our employees. They’re true community stewards who can be counted on to volunteer, sponsor, and support our local not-for-profits and business development agencies.”
To help those employees keep on growing, the bank offers them plentiful opportunities to expand their horizons. “We’ve recently invested a lot of resources in continued education and learning opportunities for our staff,” says Cheryl. “And this will continue to be a priority focus going forward.”
In helping to build that kind of a community bank, Cheryl and her crew are working behind the scenes on many of the new and revitalized wonders of the Hudson Valley.
“My door and my executive team’s doors are always open—we enjoy our interactions with our customers and community leaders, and tailoring to their needs.”
– Cheryl Bowers,
CEO and President, Rondout Savings Bank
Having grown up and raised two kids here (Christopher, 26, is an insurance producer with Reis Group; Angie, 17, is a Kingston High School senior; and husband Tim is a detective and 32-year veteran with the KPD), she’s loving the blossoming creativity in Kingston. “As a lifelong resident, I’ve seen an amazing amount of change,” she says. “There are so many improvements all across the city, not just at one end of town at the expense of the other.
Trendy, high-quality eateries and breweries, really cool, eclectic boutiques and shops, art galleries…. So many repurposed buildings have been transformed to house a variety of businesses that have attracted new community members.” And Cheryl, who loves to enjoy life among friends and family, is having a blast helping to make dreams come true.
“I had the great privilege of touring the Fuller Building, a factory that’s been repurposed by someone I’ve known for two decades, and I was just astounded by the variety of innovative businesses involved. And I’m proud to say we helped!”
Rondout Savings Bank
Six convenient locations:
300 Broadway, Kingston
1296 Ulster Avenue, Kingston
130 Schwenk Drive, Kingston
295-4 Route 375, West Hurley
4269 Albany Post Road, Hyde Park
Loan Production Office, 185 Green St., Kingston
845-331-0073 | rondoutbank.com