2020 New England Women in Banking

Honoring the Leading Women in Banking

At Banking New England, we honor the growing impact that women are having on the banking industry. This special feature shines a light on the many trailblazers who are leading the way for others in this once male-dominated area.

The women being honored were selected thanks to readers’ nominations. They let us know who makes significant contributions in the credit unions and community banks across New England.

Women in banking logo

Katelin Cwieka

AVP – Communications Manager
Avidia Bank

What do you consider your greatest success?

While it’s difficult to pinpoint one moment because I often find that success is found in consistent moments of satisfaction, one of my biggest moments was getting on stage at the ABA Bank Marketing Conference in Nashville to speak.

Read Katelin Cwieka's Full Profile

Pamela Feingold

Senior Vice President and Group Director of Community Development Lending
Eastern Bank

What is your favorite book?

My favorite book is The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan. It’s about the author’s experience with balancing the responsibilities and pressures of being a parent and a caretaker of elder parents, while also having breast cancer. As a cancer survivor, her story resonated with my experience. I loved that she had a humorous outlook.

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Maria Heskes-Allard

Senior Vice President, Senior Lender
Bay State Savings Bank

What do you consider your greatest success?

Worcester has been going through a renaissance, including the immediate downtown real estate market, significant renovation projects, and construction of Polar Park. Bay State Savings Bank is excited to be located in the middle of this activity.

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Courtney Jinjika

East Territory Retail Executive

How did you get into banking, and what keeps you motivated to stay?

My brother encouraged me to go into banking as that was his career as well. Our focus at KeyBank is financial wellness and that mirrors what keeps me personally motivated. My strong desire to help others comes into focus daily in my professional life. KeyBank provides me resources to best support my community and ensure that each day we make an impact on a client that can change lives.

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Wendy E. Kagan

Executive Vice President, Director of Employee and Community Engagement

How did you get into this field? What keeps you motivated to stay?

I came into the banking profession through the human resources world. Now that I have been in banking for over 20 years I can say with confidence I consider myself a “banker.” I am motivated to stay in banking because I have continued to stretch the “status quo” … to continuously try new things, and reach new challenges.

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Teresa Knox

Senior Vice President, Chief Operating Officer
American Eagle Financial Credit Union

At American Eagle Financial Credit Union, Teresa Knox demonstrates untiring commitment to her community and unwavering passion in educating future generations about the importance of financial responsibility. As Chief Operating Officer and highest-ranking woman at Connecticut’s largest community-focused credit union, Teresa has led many initiatives both internally and externally that now define American Eagle in 2020.

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Patty Ostrout

Senior Vice President, Retail Banking
North Brookfield Savings Bank

How did you get into this field? What keeps you motivated to stay?

I entered initially as a teller when I crossed paths with my high school acquaintance’s mother, [who] mentioned a position was available at Spencer Savings Bank … and that was the beginning of my 34-year journey in banking. The relationships I have built with those that I have helped, served, worked with, learned from, mentored, and cared for, [have kept me] motivated over my career.

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Jennifer Pensa

EVP, Director of Operations and Technology
Chelsea Groton Bank

How did you get into this field? What keeps you motivated to stay?

I found my way to Banking through a role as the Executive Director of a Chamber of Commerce. In that role I worked closely with the leadership of the local community Bank and when I needed to work more than part time I joined their team and found a fantastic fit with my skill set. 

The past several months have been the most challenging of my career, but I think overcoming these challenges as a team has motivated me to work harder and smarter each day.

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Janet D. Raymond

Executive Vice President, Chief Lending Officer
St. Mary's Bank

What is the importance of mentoring and is this something that you focus on?

Early in my career, I found myself choosing to be the mentor of young women in banking, although few were entering the male dominated industry in the 1980’s and I still find that to be the case today. We think we have come so far, however, there still are few women executives in commercial banking and banking / credit unions in general. Young women need to see someone like themselves succeed, allowing them to imagine their future as an executive.

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Marianne Stowell

First Vice President and Commercial Relationship Manager
Berkshire Bank

In addition to her role at Berkshire for the past 7 years, she has also been involved with the Berkshire Bank Foundation in terms of identifying and maintaining levels of support in the local community. The bank is working to improve and expand their ability to help and provide services to the under-served communities. She has worked with internal partners and some not-for-profit clients to identify needs and try to work towards solutions to make banking services available to more people.

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Carmen Sylvester

President and CEO
Southern Mass Credit Union

Carmen joined Southern Mass Credit Union as president and CEO in August 2017. Carmen quickly realized the credit union was a diamond in the rough in an area that had great growth potential. When she joined there was not a formal organizational chart and she knew the credit union would need a strong management team to take SMCU to the next level. Over several months, she hired a team of six knowledgeable, experienced banking professionals to lead in lending, accounting, human resources, marketing, operations, and information technology.

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Amy Walsh

Senior Vice President, Senior Relationship Manager
Bank of America

Have you had any great female mentors? What is the importance of mentoring and is this something that you focus on?

The first and most important role model was my mother. She raised three girls as a single mom (while working at a bank!). Qualities that I look for are: someone who is trustworthy, with some kind of expertise, significant experience and lots of patience! I also agree to mentor when asked.

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Aileen Zec

Senior Vice President and COO
North Easton Savings Bank

What do you consider your greatest success?

I consider my most rewarding success to be when I get to see someone at the Bank grow, expand their role, and flourish. I am very passionate about what I do and when I see someone else with that same passion, getting the same satisfaction out of their work here at the Bank, that is a success story. I am also satisfied when I see the positive impact the Bank has in the community. Making a difference for a customer or a local organization is truly what it is all about.

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