Stearns Bank Announces Two New Board of Directors Members
Posted on: Jun 20, 2022
St. Cloud, Minn. (June 20, 2022) – Stearns Bank N.A., an employee-owned financial institution based in Minnesota, announces that Sharena Ali and Isaura Gaeta will join the Stearns Bank N.A. Board of Directors.
Sharena Ali is President at CONNECT, powered by American Family Insurance, based in De Pere, Wis. In her current role, she is responsible for leading her company to serve hundreds of thousands of customers nationwide with forward-thinking strategies, fueled by digital transformation.
Previously, Ali has served in leadership roles with Homesite Insurance, American International Group (AIG), Travelers Insurance, Progressive Insurance, and Royal Bank of Canada. Known for her growth mindset and ability to transform culture and business practices to improve results, Ali sees Stearns Bank as a suitable choice for her first Board of Directors role.
“Stearns Bank’s Mission, Vision, and Values resonate with me,” Ali noted. “‘Helping others achieve their greatest ambitions,’ as the mission states, absolutely reaches me.”
Ali’s extensive work in insurance is guided heavily by her personal drive to positively impact the lives of others – as she puts it: doing something that is beyond herself.
“I find [insurance] to be noble work. To help people protect what they work so hard for and bring them peace-of-mind is particularly satisfying for me and I see the connection between that, and the stance taken by Stearns Bank,” Ali said.
In addition to strong financials and a culture that aligns with her own set of standards, Ali finds Stearns Bank’s active engagement in reaching underserved communities through programs such as the OCC’s Project REACh to be captivating.
Isaura Gaeta is the Vice President and General Manager of Security Research with Intel Product Assurance and Security Group, in Santa Clara, Calif. In her current role, she leads enterprise-wide security research across all Intel product lines and drives research to anticipate fast-moving global cybersecurity threats. Gaeta holds three decades of technology experience at Intel Corporation, bringing technology expertise in cybersecurity, product development and systems engineering.
Gaeta is a Latina executive, recognized as a global thought leader on gender and underrepresented people in technology. She is a member of Latino Corporate Directors Association (LCDA) and is involved in the Hispanic Foundation is Silicon Valley. Recent awards include Top 100 most influential and notable Hispanic Professionals in Information Technology (2021 HITEC 100 list); feature in Hispanic Executive Magazine Leading Latinas issue (April 2021); Top Latino Leaders award issued by National Diversity Council (2018).
Gaeta notes that along with furthering technology opportunities in a safe, secure way, banks have the prospect of serving underbanked demographics, which she is excited to be a part of.
“Coming from the Latino community, the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs, I see that the availability of banking solutions is still lagging,” Gaeta explained, asking, “How do banks reach demographics that have historically been underbanked and provide solutions for their unique situations? I think it’s a tremendous opportunity.”
Gaeta adds that Boards are guiding companies to be more socially aware on issues like climate change and representing diversity of their customer base, stating, “There is now an environment where customers and other stakeholders are asking, ‘What does my Board look like?’ and ‘How are they guiding decisions about what the world looks like today?’”
Gaeta, like Ali, found the Mission, Vision, and Values of Stearns Bank to be in strong alignment with her own leadership style and values, noting the bank’s employee ownership and its consistent Top 10 ranking within its peer group.
“We are thrilled to have Isaura and Sharena join our Board of Directors," said Stearns Bank President & CEO Kelly Skalicky. "Their leadership and expertise in driving positive, impactful change through innovation will greatly benefit Stearns Bank and our customers, while expanding our capabilities to provide more access to capital to underserved communities throughout the U.S.”
About Stearns Bank N.A.
Minnesota-based Stearns Bank National Association is a $2.3 billion, independently-owned financial institution with locations in Minnesota, Florida and Arizona, and over 35,000 small business customers nationwide, in every state across the U.S. Recognized as having a bullet-proof balance sheet with more than 20% capital and earning top rankings as one of the nation’s highest-performing banks by American Banker, and most recently ranked ninth in the U.S. among banks having more than $1 billion in assets by Independent Banker’s May 2022 Best of the Best ranking of banks with the highest 3-year average Return on Assets, Stearns Bank specializes in nationwide commercial construction lending, USDA and SBA lending, and small business and equipment financing. Driven by a passion to help others achieve their greatest ambitions, Stearns Bank mission is to Get the Job Done! For more information, visit StearnsBank.com.