Tell Your Story


By Rebeca Romero Rainey, Chairman of ICBA

Wow, what a journey! For me as ICBA’s new chairman, it’s so exciting to think that it’s only just begun!

As a third-generation community banker, I’m deeply honored to be your new ICBA chairman. I look forward to a year filled with meeting so many of you on my travels—having the chance to hear your stories and what you are doing to make your communities great. I also am so thrilled to think about all the amazing and powerful work we will accomplish—both at our community banks, in our communities and as an industry.

I loved seeing so many familiar faces, and meeting so many of you at ICBA’s national convention in New Orleans last month. What a gathering it was! I was so energized by the educational workshops, networking events, Expo exhibits and, most importantly, my conversations with you—my fellow community bankers. Your stories and passion for what you do never cease to amaze me.

That’s why during my convention speech I was so adamant about asking you to tell your community bank’s story in the year ahead. We are all involved now in writing our industry’s next chapter—how exciting is that!

At the convention I recounted when I first took over my family’s community bank from my dad, Martin, there moments when I would tell him “You are not going to believe what happened today!”

He told me, “Rebeca, you need to start writing some of these stories down, because over the years you won’t want to forget what happens, what changes, what stays the same and more importantly what the outcomes or lessons are.” In many ways, he was telling me that I had the content for a great book. But that isn’t just me—it’s “we.” We as community bankers have the content for many great stories, and we need to tell them.

Our stories are incredible, really an anthology of impact, change, resilience, growth and evolution. The collective story of community banking includes who you are, who we are, what we do, where we are today, our challenges and our opportunities. It also includes the history that came before us, and of the future we are developing together.

We need to tell our stories to everyone—our potential customers, our communities and our policymakers. We are community bankers, and that is something different, something authentic, something to be proud of, something that matters! Our economic weight is powerful, our impact is powerful and our story is powerful. We can’t afford to let the Wall Street, the megabanks, credit unions or the regulators tell our story—or incompletely or inaccurately tell our story—for us.

Now more than ever, we need your voice as part of our industry’s story, because together there’s no telling what we can accomplish. We have every opportunity to make the most of our story and pave the way for a bright future for our industry and our communities.

I look forward to working with all of you over the next year as we tell our story. I know that good things will come of it.

Rebeca Romero Rainey is chairman and CEO of Centinel Bank of Taos, in Taos, N.M.