One of the main reasons American River Bank is different from other financial institutions is our extraordinary team of employees. We often receive feedback from clients about the exceptional, friendly and knowledgeable service our team members provide. We love our team too, which is the reason we celebrate all of our employees and recognize those who go above and beyond for our clients as well as our bank at our Annual Employee Recognition Event. Here are this year’s award winners!
You can join the recognition fun!
You can recognize an employee and share your appreciation for outstanding service by submitting a Shout Out to any branch employee. Shout Out notepads are available at each branch location on the Community Board.
Recognition Award Winners
Unsung Hero: Jennifer Heisler (Credit Admin)
Jennifer is a conscientious and dedicated employee who works quietly and effectively behind the scenes. She is an independent self-starter who her teammates can always count on to pay close attention to the tasks at hand. In large part, her function involves managing and collecting on problematic loans to minimize the possibil...ity that the bank will need to foreclose or litigate to recover as much of a loan’s principal and interest as possible. These situations can be difficult and taxing as at this point, borrowers most likely will want their obligation to be relieved as much as possible. Sometimes foreclosure and or litigation cannot be avoided and Jennifer will be focused on seeing these processes through, working with the bank’s legal counsel. At the point where the bank actually becomes an owner of foreclosed real estate, Jennifer’s job becomes that of property owner and sometimes landlord, while the bank looks to sell the property. This requires attention to detail and consistent follow-up with listing brokers and on occasion, property managers. With these key functions of her position as a backdrop, it is quite noteworthy to report, that as a result of her drive and determination, in 2016, Jennifer was responsible for over $1.1 million in net recoveries from loans previously charged off! This had a major impact on the bank’s bottom line and she is to be recognized and commended.
Retail Associate of the Year: Vicki Podesto
Vicki takes our client experience to heart. She is available to them 24/7, she will answer their calls on weekends, evenings and even on her vacation. She has led us and our merchant clients through the complicated and never ending EMV conversion. Vicki negotiated hard with our vendor to receive special pricing on new machines to... take care of our clients and she has gotten them to make other concessions in the best interest of our clients. It’s because of the strong relationships she has built with them that she is able to get things done for our clients. Vicki works with many of our clients on their special events, with one client where she has programed up to 10 machines, delivered & set them up and trained their volunteers each year. This past year she got a frantic call the morning of opening day, they had not used power strips and a power surge caused half their machines to stop working. Vicki had 5 loaner terminals programed and got down to the convention center by their lunch time rush. This past year she took on more of the merchant admin functions in Amador to allow Beth to focus on the growth component of her BCM role. Vicki got us through the Merchant portion of the FDIC audit with flying colors, she knows her business very well. She is a see it, own it individual, this past year she changed her routine with our Branch leaders, having regular touch points to drive growth and train around the risk components. Vicki is always thinking of what’s in the best interest of our bank and our clients. She is truly dedicated to our bank!
Department Manager of the Year: Elaine Robetcky (Accounting)
Under Elaine’s leadership the department is efficient and effective. They are a service first department with an emphasis on Ex-O. 2016 was a unique year in the department. The former Controller left leaving a pretty big hole in the department. Elaine quickly jumped in with EXTRA-O mentality of “what else can I... do to fill those shoes.” This quickly led to her being promoted to Controller. She then broke her leg. Of course this left another hole as we were without an Assistant Controller for four months. Elaine worked with HR and her supervisor to quickly learn the ARB interview process. While searching for her replacement she was doing both, Assistant Controller and Controller jobs. Her patience in holding out on the new hire until she found the right cultural fit was appreciated. She could have easily just gone the “warm body” theory and hired someone to share the workload. But she did not, she diligently interviewed and networked until she found the right person. Elaine was also able to motivate the team to put together the training sessions for the roll out of the new online expense reporting system. The team put together the training program and each of them took turns leading the training sessions. She is a great leader and added asset to the ARB team!
Champion of Change: Dipak Patel (Underwriting)
Dipak has taken on more of the role of an Underwriter and he’s had the opportunity to provide a fresh perspective and asks how we can be more efficient in our process. He’s optimized internal analytical systems, to ensure to further improve accuracy and consistency. He built a new report to improve a complex and time-intensiv...e process that took 2-3 hours each quarter to complete, reducing it down to a 5 to 10 minute process. Not only are we more efficient through these new and improved reporting tools but it also provides an ease of use and a better client experience, as well as the Bank’s reputation in the market. Dipak looks for ways to provide learning opportunities to utilize technology to be more efficient for his teammates, as well as people in other departments. Dipak thinks outside the box and continues to add a wealth of knowledge to our culture!
Community Superhero: Cecilia Miles (Loan Operations)
Cecilia gives not only her talents to the bank but also to her community. Cecilia participated in the FDIC Money Smart Program to Save, CSUS Scholarship Committee, our very own ARB Foundation, and co-led Rebuild Together Sacramento. Thank you Cecilia for what you do for the community and the people around you. This past year, Cecilia has contributed 66 hours to 9 organizations!
All-Star Client Service Manager: Sherry Butler (Jackson Office)
Sherry and her team achieved tremendous success in all areas growth: service and operations. Over the past few years, we have been focusing on realizing the value for what we provide. Sherry led the charge and has been working through this process, helping the team see the benefits and coaching them on how to ...have those more difficult conversations. She got her team to a place where they actively began looking for ways to improve on the collection of fees, from wires to notary they have been steadily improving and exceeded their 2016 goals. Last year Sherry brought in significant business deposits and merchant accounts. She is a resource for her peers, not only in Amador, but bank wide. She is an active participant on our weekly leader calls, sharing not just her success but her challenges, which we all learn from. Sherry faced many challenges in 2016, she lost two teammates right in the middle of summer vacations, and she then brought on two great additions to the team just in time to help support Buckhorn during a leave of absence. Sherry went and helped cover that office when we needed leadership to support the team. Sherry is a solid, balanced leader and she has led her team to their best year ever, so proud of her!
Commercial Banking All-Star: Becca Hood (Commercial Banking - Santa Rosa Office)
Becca is an amazing asset to our team. She has helped mentor new teammates and continually shares tips with the team to help us all be more successful. Becca currently manages our client portfolios for the entire Sonoma region. Becca is always ready to share feedback on overall processes to help us all be more efficient and more effective. She continually maintains a positive attitude in all situations and is encouraging to the rest of the Commercial Banking team.
Support All-Star: Brenda Marek (eBanking)
Brenda is widely known in our team to have a cheerful personality and positive, helpful nature. She is known as someone who excels at providing an extraordinary client experience for both internal and external clients – always willing to take a call and spend as much time as needed. She goes the extra mile and always does it with a... smile. But what you might not be aware of, is the dedication and leadership that Brenda exhibited during her supervisor's absence at the end of 2016. Brenda, as the department lead, needed to step into the department manager's very large shoes during that time, and take on all of the respective responsibilities. One of the system improvement projects came along with many incoming phone calls from the system management provider, over multiple weeks. Brenda was a real trooper in fielding those calls any time of day or night, and getting the system back online whenever needed. As always, she did so with a smile and never a complaint, maintained a positive attitude, and showed up for work with a cheerful smile at 8:00 AM, even if she’d been called twice, or three times, the night before. She set a great example for her team during those 6 weeks and this is just one example of the type of service, support and dedication exhibited by Brenda throughout 2016.
“CEO” Award: Kymla Birchette (Point West Office)
Kymla’s team earned 100% on their Client Satisfaction Survey’s in 2016, which isn’t surprising based on the priority Kymla places on our clients experience. She is a great role model on delivering true EXTRA-O on a daily basis. She puts our clients’ needs first and when what they need isn’t possible, she finds a different solution. ...It is easier to delight our clients when everything is going great, the hard task is when something has gone awry. In her first month, Kymla was met with a challenge, but went above and beyond expectations due to her commitment to client satisfaction. A client recently expressed how appreciative they were of Kymla and the great care provided by their Banker, after she had gone above and beyond to accommodate a special and timely request. Way to go Kymla!
The Oz Award: Nicole McNicol (Accounting)
In 2016, Nicole exemplified the ‘See It, Own It, Solve It, Do It’ principle in multiple capacities within her role as Accounting Specialist. Besides consistently being available and eager to help branches with wire or cash issues, she rose to become the leader for the department in becoming involved in ongoing training on the Operations cal...ls on a quarterly basis, or as needed. When challenged to create a job aid for the many facets of the wire process for the branches, she asked and saw what was needed and went above and beyond drafting an aid complete with sample accounts, templates, screen shots, and quick resource items. On other occasions, she was commended by the CFO and other departments for not stopping at the simple solution of “no, we don’t do that” but thinking outside of the box for helpful work-arounds that benefited our clients and created a stronger bond with them. Every year for the past few years, one of our valued clients, has held a fundraiser that includes collecting a very large amount of coins. Nicole has taken on the role of liaison between the branch managers, the multiple departments involved, and our cash correspondent bank, which has significant restrictions in how the coins can be accepted. She not only took on the responsibility of responding to issues and communicating to resolve things quickly despite many complications, she was proactive in initiating correspondence and obtaining guidance, training our team, before being asked. She even helped count coin bags and has offered to do hands-on training, as needed, in the future, to help prevent issues and get our client their hard earned cash timely! She presents issues as they arise with well thought-out resolutions considering both risk and client service. Her work and attitude truly exhibit the “Oz” principle.