Ten Texas bankers recognized as Emerging Leaders

Ten Texas bankers have been selected by the Texas Bankers Foundation as emerging leaders in the banking industry. Launched in 2019 by the Texas Bankers Foundation, the award honors bankers who have had a positive impact on the banking industry and who represent the best values of Texas community banking.

To be honored, bankers must have between five and 20 years of banking experience, be employees of a TBA member banking institution and be nominated by the bank president, CEO or chairman of the board.

Kenya BuieKenya Buie, VP, banking center manager
North Dallas Bank & Trust Co. (NDBT), Dallas

Buie began her banking career in 2013 as a teller for Arvest Bank in Lowell, Arkansas and joined NDBT in 2018. She is responsible for overseeing and directing the operational and retail functions of the banking center.

In his nomination of Buie, NDBT President & CEO Larry Miller shared, “Kenya is kind, thoughtful, patient, selfless and creative in all that she does. She is a servant leader who prefers to do so by example and without dampening the participation, squelching the creativity or diminishing the contributions of her team. Through her high execution of task and consistent performance to standard, Kenya effectively leads our largest banking center team with excellence. But the essence of Kenya’s strength as a leader is not solely defined by the obvious things she does. Rather, I believe, it is the unseen things she does for our bank and her bankers that truly sets her apart.”

Tim CoatsTim Coats, director of community outreach
Prosperity Bank, Arlington

Coats began his career as a personal banker with Wachovia Bank. He continued his career with several DFW area banks in a number of roles, eventually joining Prosperity Bank as a CRA small business development officer in 2021. In his current role, Coats has been instrumental in spearheading the growth of the bank’s MasterClass program targeting CRA qualifying businesses.

In his nomination of Coats, DFW Area President Aaron Shelby noted, “Tim has not only grown the bank’s community outreach interactions, he has also built a team around him to allow for future growth. Tim previously had little direct management experience, however he has embraced the leadership role and has a team that respects him. He has shown the ability to delegate activities to local leadership in order to increase the success of the bank’s outreach programs. Tim makes sure to collaborate with various departments across the bank to ensure success of this team and their activities.”

LaVarris GardnerLaVarris Gardner, SVP, BSA client risk review director
Veritex Community Bank, Dallas

Gardner began his career as a bank teller. He worked at other financial institutions and in 2017, joined Veritex Community Bank as a BSA specialist. Gardner was instrumental in the implementation of the bank’s online account opening system, which gives customers the freedom to bank on their terms.

Veritex Community Bank CEO and Chairman Malcolm Hollard shares, “It is with great pride that I speak about LaVarris, whose trajectory at Veritex Community Bank has been nothing short of exemplary. There are individuals who shine in their roles due to their skills and knowledge, but LaVarris stands out for embodying the core values that we hold dear at Veritex — confidence, integrity and professionalism. Integrity is the cornerstone of trust, and LaVarris upholds this principle with unwavering commitment.”

Amanda McAlisterAmanda McAlister, VP, treasury management manager
Texas Security Bank, Dallas

McAlister says, “I think banking chose me.” Her grandfather and mother were bankers so she spent a lot of time at the bank after school. Her first job was as a receptionist at Brazos Bank in her hometown of Alvarado. She spent a couple of years with BBVA and joined Texas Security Bank in 2020. McAlister led the process of vetting, approving and implementing GLIA®, a state-of-the-art digital customer service platform, allowing the bank’s clients to communicate with the service team via chat, voice and video.

In his nomination of McAlister, Texas Security Bank Chairman/CEO Craig Scheef shares, “Amanda exemplifies our bank’s core values, especially in the areas of innovation, team players, diligence and exemplary customer service. Her community support and outreach are greatly admired.”

David A. RodarteDavid A. Rodarte, VP, assistant credit analyst manager
Austin Bank, N.A., Longview

Rodarte began his banking career as a teller with Austin Bank and also served as a central loan documentation specialist before his current position. He created and implemented a formal training program for the Credit Analyst department. Rodarte has taken a leadership role in training new employees in the department with an eventual goal of those individuals promoting to different departments, especially in the lending area.

In his nomination of Rodarte, Austin Bank President/CEO, Russ Gideon shares, “David embodies everything we want our organization to represent — service, integrity, leadership and loyalty. He has committed to servicing our credit analyst department where he demonstrates his service to educating staff and making the department a success.”

Bank president and CEOs

Do you have an individual in your institution who you believe has the potential to be a future leader, not only in your bank but in the Texas banking industry?

Now is the time to consider who you would nominate for the 2025 Emerging Leader Award. Applications will be available in the late fall.

This is your opportunity to recognize an individual who is making a positive professional and community impact.

For more information, please contact Jocelyn Carby at [email protected] or 512-472-8388.

Brandi CabralezBrandi Cabralez, VP, trust operations manager
First State Bank of Uvalde

Cabralez began her career as a loan clerk and teller. She worked at three other banks before starting with First State Bank in the Trust department. She led the department’s upgrading systems and new technology. She also helped coordinate the bank’s first virtual shareholder’s meeting.

In his nomination of Cabralez, First State Bank of Uvalde’s President and CEO, Chad Stary shared, “Brandi is a valued employee and leader at First State Bank. She takes initiative and self-manages the Trust department operations along with her staff. Brandi’s commitment to compliance is evident as the department is fully compliant with all regulations and standards. She is known for taking initiative, being proactive, always seeking ways to improve operations and enhance customer satisfaction.”

Stewart DodsonStewart Dodson, senior vice president
Amarillo National Bank

Dodson has been with ANB since 2008, starting in an entry-level position in the Electronic Banking department. He has been instrumental in a number of bank conversions, including Lubbock National Bank and directing the bank’s online banking, staying true to ANB’s excellent customer service roots while managing digital age demands and expectations.

Amarillo National Bank President William Ware shares, “Stewart is our in-house ‘fireman.’ He’s a strong leader and an empathetic manager. He’s been putting out fires since he was hired more than 15 years ago — there’s not a problem he won’t tackle. He puts customer service first in every decision and is constantly finding better products and solutions for our bank. Stewart has a strong vision for the future and can attract others to follow his leadership. He’s worked on bringing all departments together under a common mission and has improved communication with senior management.”

Kelsey GoatesKelsey Goates, VP, marketing & human resources
Wellington State Bank, Stephenville

Goates began her banking career as a teller at First Financial Bank in Glen Rose. She was hired by Wellington State Bank in 2020 as their marketing director and in 2022 took on the role of HR Director. Goates also spearheads the bank’s financial literacy campaign, reaching students from elementary- to college-aged, teaching the importance of finances and encouraging careers in banking.

Wellington State Bank’s President & CEO Richard Sims says, “Kelsey is a prime example of what a community banker should be. She takes pride in her work efforts while making a difference in her community and encourages our entire staff to do the same. Our customers would describe Kelsey as personable, and someone who truly cares about them on a personal level. She celebrates their successes like they were her own.”

Carissa ParkerCarissa Parker, SVP, consumer lending manager
First Financial Bank, N.A., Magnolia

Parker began her banking career as a teller. After graduating, she worked for two other banks before joining First Financial in Abilene in 2017, relocating to Conroe in 2019. She has been mentoring a student in Conroe ISD since 2019 and will continue to meet her mentee each week until she graduates. This young woman is thriving in school.

In his nomination of Parker, First Financial Bank’s Conroe Area President/CEO Chris Baughman shares, “Under Carissa’s leadership, the consumer loan portfolio has continued to grow. She also assisted in marketing our new ITIN and Affordable Housing products, meeting with organizations and realtors. Carissa serves as a mentor to her lenders and leads by example. She is a pleasure to work with, always maintaining a positive attitude and cheerful demeanor.”

Deanna SandyDeanna Sandy, VP, director of treasury management & commercial products
West Texas National Bank, Midland

Sandy began her banking career as lead teller at a New Mexico bank. She has been with West Texas National Bank since 2013, serving in several positions. The bank’s Treasury department had three employees when Sandy transferred to it in 2016. Since taking over the department, she has grown it to seven full-time employees.

In his nomination of Sandy, West Texas National Bank President & CEO, Chris Whigham shares, “I’ve had the opportunity to work with Deanna in several capacities. She’s a valuable asset to our team. She is known as someone with unwavering commitment to doing the right thing and embodying the values of the bank. She has developed long-lasting relationships with our customers and is well-respected in the Midland community.”

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