Dana Wichmann-Chaves of First Federal Bank wins “Banking Leader of the Year North America 2020”

GDS Group has today announced the winners of its annual Banking Leader of the Year awards.

Dana Wichmann Chaves - Banking Leader of the Year 2020

  • Banking Leader of the Year is awarded in recognition of executives that have worked responsively to political and social issues throughout 2020, as well as effectively covering the more conventional macro and micro-economic circumstances.
  • Banking Leader of the Year Awards took place during virtual ceremony at the Banking Innovation Digital Summit, hosted by GDS
  • Silver was awarded to Alyce Reopelle, SVP North America PMO Leader and Chief of Staff for Citi whilst the Bronze award was received by Diego Blanco, Director of Digital Services for BBVA USA

GDS Group, the global events, research, and technology services company, has today announced the winners of its annual Banking Leader of the Year awards. Dana Wichmann-Chaves, Senior Vice President and Director of Speciality Banking Services for First Federal Bank was awarded Gold Winner, at the Banking Leader of the Year Awards which were hosted during a live virtual ceremony at the North American Banking Innovation Digital Summit 2020.

Based in Lake City, Florida, First Federal Bank has been serving customers since 1962 and now provides mutual banking services to over 60,000 customers from 26 retail branches and several lending centres in Florida, Georgia, and Wisconsin. FFBF offers customers diversified financial services including personal and commercial banking, lending, mortgages, investments and more.

A results driven business development professional with a blend of both operational and strategic management experience, Dana is currently focused on the development of First Federal Bank’s Speciality Banking Services Division which aims to fulfil First Federal’s mission of serving the financial needs of its communities. The division is well known for serving customers in the Cannabis, CBD and Hemp trades.

In awarding Dana, here is what our judges had to say, “definitely lots of ‘firsts’ here in this previously unchartered territory. Dana has taken a set of issues others in the industry have viewed as intractable and has manage to find ways to create a whole new business line for FFB. This has transformed both FFB but also importantly is helping to transform the underlying clients they serve.

“Dana has put together and led a complete program and has championed this business within not only FFB but also the broader sector. By working closely with risk and compliance, regulators, other industry bodies and clients a new ecosystem has been built to support this new business line. The increase in new accounts, balances and related revenues has had a materially positive impact on FFB. This has been done within the context of Covid-19 which makes the achievements even more laudable.”

“I was particularly impressed with how you became a champion for the industry, the transformation you led that was needed to accelerate the business and the many examples of the high integrity you demonstrated to help build confidence and integrity in this sector and channel.”

“Dana has, in the face of significant challenge, achieved a great deal in the last twelve months in supporting small businesses in this previously neglected sector. It takes a great leader to succeed against all the odds, break the mould and do something different.”

In addition to the Gold “Banking Leader of the Year” award, two further awards were announced. The Silver Award was given to Alyce Reopelle, SVP North America PMO Leader and Chief of Staff for Citi, whilst the Bronze Award was awarded to Diego Blanco, Director of Digital Services for BBVA USA.

About the Leadership Excellence Awards

The Leadership Excellence Awards recognize excellence in senior leadership within large enterprises, whether that be through innovation, inspiring colleagues, making excellent decisions, bravery, or achieving outstanding business growth.

About the Banking Innovation Digital Summit

A three-day virtual event for Banking Leaders which took place 16-18th November 2020. Through a series of multi-dimensional keynotes, live Q&As and interactive sessions, the Banking Innovation Digital Summit provided a platform for Banking leaders to tackle pressing industry challenges & opportunities with likeminded experts.

About GDS Group

GDS Group is a global events, research and technology services company dedicated to helping clients meet the challenges posed by a fast-moving, disruptive business environment. Our B2B summits and events bring purchaser and provider communities together to find solutions to real-world business challenges. To learn more about the events we produce and the challenges we help overcome, check out our website here.


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