Episode 2: Christine Benoit of Farmers State Bank gives advice to her 25 year-old self

PWR Peer Group Meeting Notes

The PWR Peer Group holds conference call meetings two or three times a year to discuss professional development topics. Click on the link below to download a copy of the notes from past meetings.

March 12, 2019 Meeting Notes

 October 9, 2018 Meeting Notes

March 13, 2018 Meeting Notes

What You're Saying About PWR – Professional Women Revitalized!

  • "This is wonderful. I appreciate so much that LBA recognizes the need to motivate and encourage women in this industry...Thank you for the motivation and inspiration!"  
  • I would LOVE to join the PWR Peer Group!!
  • “This is such a great opportunity for women in the banking industry, and I sincerely appreciate LBA for offering it!”

Helpful Documents

Click on the links below to download the document.

ICBA Independent Banker article by Julie Kendrick, "4 banking histories that read like fiction " (posted 8/24/19)

ABA Banking Journal article "Women Rising" by Kerry O’Leary (posted 8/27/18)

JMFA article, "How to Prepare for & Ace an Interview, Part 1" (posted 5/21/18)

JMFA article, "How to Prepare for & Ace an Interview, Part 2" (posted 5/21/18)

SB Wellness Group Newsletter (May 2018) (posted 5/1/18)

Mentoring Program Document (posted 3/19/18)

Mentor/Mentee Agreement (posted 3/19/18)

Mentoring Action Plan (posted 3/19/18)

"You Can't Talk Enough About Your Company Values" by Joe Scarlett 

Helpful Resources

Educational Tools for Emerging Leaders

ABA has partnered with the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business to offer three new leadership certificate programs in an accessible and cost-effective online format. Click here for more information.

Podcast: How Emerging Community Bank Leaders Are Building Their Careers

A lawyer and a professional baseball player walk into a bank.... No, it’s not a joke--it’s the latest episode of the ABA Banking Journal Podcast. Emily Gray graduated from law school, and Blake Taylor began his working life as a minor-league baseball player, but both of them ended up building successful careers in community banking. Gray is now senior credit officer at Hardin County Bank, Savannah, Tenn., and Taylor is an SVP and commercial real estate lender at Southern First Bank in Columbia, S.C. They are chair and vice chair, respectively, of ABA’s Emerging Leaders Advisory Board, and on the podcast they discuss how rising leaders in banking can develop their careers and position themselves to succeed. Click here to go to the ABA Banking Journal article. Click here to listen to this episode. (posted 6/21/18)  

Simon Sinek's Resources
Simon Sinek is an author, motivational speaker and marketing consultant who has some pretty cool things to say. Click here to check out one of his videos. He also has a new book out called Together is Better which he says will inspire readers to ask for help, help others and discover their own courage.  

November 2018

Washington State Bank & Its CEO Featured in Independent Banker Article

Editor’s Note: The following was excerpted from an article that ran in the September 2018 edition of the Independent Banker magazine titled, "How 125-year-old community banks stay up to date" by Katie Kuehner-Hebert. To read the full article, click here


Washington State Bank was founded in 1893 to stay ahead of the dramatic changes in technology that were occurring at the end of the 19th century, says Sue Soileau Durand, president, CEO and chairman of the $191 million-asset community bank.

At the time, Washington was the largest port city between New Orleans and St. Louis, but the steamboat era was coming to an end, and railroads arrived in 1891. The founders recognized the economy would expand at a much faster pace than it had been, increasing demand for banking services locally.

“The bank was founded in 1893 due to the creativity of townspeople who did not want to rely on New Orleans banks any longer,” Durand says.

On April 21, 1893, the Opelousas Courier wrote: “We are pleased to see our neighbors of Washington showing such evidence of enterprise and progressiveness as the establishment of a bank with a $50,000 capital. … [It] presages a bright future in store for our sister town.”

Durand recalls a former bank director telling her the bank was able to stay open during the Depression because it was so remotely located that it enjoyed a longer “bank holiday” before regulators could visit.

“The regulators began with large banks in the urban areas and only much later got to smaller banks in smaller communities,” she says. “But then their stagecoach could not get to the bank during the Depression to alert the bank to close. It was wintertime—lots of mud.”

While that’s a true story, Durand says the bank was also able to survive because of “the conservative community service banking philosophy it has always maintained.”

Where will your bank be in another 125 years?
“Exactly where we started: abreast of technological changes and still serving the needs of the local communities. That is always the goal of a great community bank.” —Sue Soileau Durand, Washington State Bank

Perhaps the bank’s greatest challenge came in the 1980s, when Louisiana’s laws changed to allow banks to operate branches in multiple parishes. After that, many larger banks moved into Washington State Bank’s St. Landry Parish area, says Durand. After the economy in its home market declined, the bank decided to expand into adjacent parishes itself.

Today, the bank has branches in six communities in and around “the virtual crossroads” of I-10 and I-49, expanding its products and services to both individuals and businesses, Durand says. “The bank started with $50,000 in capital, and now we have close to $20 million,” she says. It uses part of its capital to launch new technologies as they emerge. These include mobile apps, remote deposit capture and online banking, as well as new offerings, such as white-labeled free checking and savings products through Kasasa.

“We’ve always been technologically savvy for a community bank,” Durand says. “We have all the bells and whistles of the large banks.”

The bank board and management’s future plans? “To remain the best community bank” and also expand farther into southern Louisiana’s Acadiana region, Durand says. “I also want to encourage more women to join my board.”

Lessons learned from a bank that’s lasted so long? “Along the line, somebody made the right decision every day,” she says. Also, “we still have the philosophy that a smile and a handshake still have value.”