Our Leadership

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Our leadership



As an internationally recognized leader in the field of ethical banking and outspoken advocate for values-based businesses, Ken has always had a unique approach to banking and believes that in addition to making a profit, finance can be a force for good. Ken founded Florida Choice Bank in 1999, grew it to over $400 million in assets by 2006 before selling it to Alabama National Bankcorp. Three years later, Ken was able to put this approach into action with the founding of First GREEN Bank – the very first bank in the eastern United States with an environmental and social mission. Under Ken’s leadership, First GREEN Bank expanded across Florida and his values-based business model demonstrated that financial excellence could occur without ethical compromise. Now, with a continued dedication to reverse the climate crisis, Ken is expanding on First GREEN Bank’s legacy with his newest bank, Climate First Bank the nation’s first climate-focused community bank.

Lex Ford


Ford helms bank operations and, most importantly, builds Climate First Bank’s book of business. Ford has an excellent understanding of the Orlando market, having spent his entire banking career in Central Florida, and is looking to expand the bank’s presence in the market while also growing and expanding connections statewide. Before Climate First Bank, Ford was Senior Vice President and Commercial Banker III at Seacoast Bank and Senior Vice President and Wingman to the Chairman at First GREEN Bank. For his leadership within the local community, Ford was recognized by the Orlando Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Awards in 2017.

Sharon Hill

Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

Sharon Hill is the Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Climate First Bank. With a combined 40 years of financial accounting experience, Hill’s role is to develop, implement and control Climate First Bank’s financial operations and strategies. She previously served as CFO for floridacentral Credit Union, AtlasBanc Holdings Corp. and Anderen Bank. Hill is a certified public accountant and a graduate of University of South Florida where she received a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting. She is based in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Jeff Cowherd

Executive Vice President, Senior Loan Officer

With nearly 40 years of experience within the Central Florida banking industry, Jeff brings his immense wealth of experience to his role. Working in tandem with Lex Ford, Jeff develops and cultivates credit and banking relationships with local businesses and consumers. Beginning his professional career as an accountant, Jeff made the jump to banking with his role as Senior Vice President at United American Bank. Since then, Jeff has held the title of Senior Vice President at First Southern Bank, First GREEN Bank, and Seacoast Bank, where he spearheaded commercial and business development in the Central Florida market.

Marcio de Oliveira

Exec. Vice President, Chief Technology Officer, and Chief Digital Banking Officer

As Chief Technology Officer and Chief Digital Banking Officer, Marcio de Oliveira provides leadership and guidance in proprietary digital product development including mobile banking and digital client onboarding for both consumer and commercial lending platforms. As the former Vice President of Banking Platforms at the Silicon Valley-based Y Combinator company, Prelim, and lead inventor of five patents in banking technology and payments, de Oliveira brings a wealth of expertise in the financial services technologies space.Before Prelim, de Oliveira spearheaded digital transformation as former Chief Technology Officer and Executive Vice President of C1 Bank. While at C1 Bank, de Oliveira was an influential co-founder of a successful fintech startup C1 Labs, and helped execute the bank’s IPO on the NYSE in 2014. When C1 Bank was acquired by Bank OZK, de Oliveira’s role shifted to become a key member of the leadership team as President of Innovation. In that role, de Oliveira led Bank OZK’s market positioning strategy as a leader in technology and innovation within the banking sector.

Felipe Ferreira

Executive vice president, director of residential lending

Felipe Ferreira serves as the Executive Vice President and Director of Residential Lending at Climate First Bank. With nearly two decades of experience in residential lending, Felipe oversees the Bank's mortgage sales and operations teams, ensuring efficiency, quality, and compliance. Located in Orlando, Felipe brings a wealth of expertise to his role. He previously collaborated with Climate First Bank Founder and CEO, Ken LaRoe, during his tenure at First GREEN Bank. Before joining Climate First, Felipe held the position of EVP/Director of Residential Lending at another financial institution.

Scott Leitner

Senior Vice President, General Counsel, Attorney Business Banking

As a licensed Florida Bar attorney, Scott has a diverse background in both law and business. A graduate of Lake Mary High School, he attended the University of Florida, and graduated with a degree in Business Administration in 2002. Following undergrad, he worked in the construction products industry for a number of years before attending law school at Florida A&M College of Law. Upon his graduation in 2011, Scott worked at a mid-size consumer law firm in both the loss mitigation and litigation departments, helping clients with their real estate, foreclosure and consumer debt related matters. In 2016, Scott joined Ken LaRoe at First Green Bank and helped launch its Attorney Banking Services department, specializing in providing banking services and products to attorneys and law firms all across Florida. Scott has extensive knowledge in driving environmentally focused banking initiatives and uses his wide array of experience to provide his clients with the banking solutions needed to make their business successful. Scott and his wife Leia are both involved with many of the voluntary bar associations in Central Florida. They also enjoy outdoor activities, sporting events, concerts and rooting for the Gators!

Blaine Worak

Senior Vice President, Senior Credit Administrator/Loan Operations Manager

With over 20 years of experience in finance and banking, Blaine brings a diverse array of experience to the credit risk and operations departments at the bank.   Before joining Climate First Bank, Blaine served multiple positions at South State Bank via CenterState Bank and was integrally involved in numerous acquisitions over the years.  Blaine holds an MBA from the University of Central Florida and resides in Belle Isle, FL with her husband, Roger, and two young boys, Indy and River.  Blaine leads both the credit underwriting and loan operations teams with a focus on a seamless backroom experience for our customers.

Amy Sowerby

Senior Vice President, Deposit & Treasury Operations Manager

Amy has twenty-two years of experience as a VP Treasury Operations Management Officer and Deposit Operations Management Officer at Center State Bank, Harbor Community Bank, and various other community banks in Florida. She has been in banking for thirty-four years, with various other roles specializing in retail branch management, lending, acquisitions, and mergers. Amy has also led team initiatives to implement electronic banking services in efforts to improve efficiency and client experience.  Her teams will be striving to operate with minimal impact on our environment.  Amy received her MBA from Florida Atlantic University in 1996 and graduated from the Florida School of Banking in 2007.  Amy also is an Accredited ACH Professional and an Accredited Payments Risk Professional.

Chris Cucci

Executive Vice President, Chief of Staff

Chris Cucci has spent his banking career, spanning over two decades, in the Central Florida market where he’s had the opportunity to finance transactions across the nation. He serves as EVP, Chief of Staff at Climate First Bank where he leads strategic initiatives and oversees the bank’s lending in mission-aligned sectors including commercial solar, ESOP finance, and more. Cucci also serves as Senior Advisor at OneEthos, fintech affiliate to Climate First Bank, where he supports efforts to provide mission-based technology solutions to community finance partners nationwide. Active in the community, he serves on the board of directors for CCIM Central District and the Orange Blossom Trail Development Board, and as board Chair for Osceola Community Health Services. His prior experience includes commercial banking and leadership roles at South State Bank, Wells Fargo, and JPMorgan Chase.

Chris Van Buskirk

Senior Vice President, Senior Corporate Advisor

Chris specializes in growing and maximizing the financial performance of startup banks and brings nearly 25 years of experience within the industry. He worked closely with Climate First Bank founder and CEO Ken LaRoe in the past, having held the position of vice president at LaRoe’s two previous de novo banks, Florida Choice Bank and First GREEN Bank. He now joins LaRoe for the third time as the senior vice president and senior corporate advisor of Climate First Bank where he will be responsible for driving traditional commercial lending, commercial deposits, and specialized commercial green loans.  Chris graduated from the University of Central Florida in 1999 with a degree in Finance.  In his free time, Chris enjoys playing golf, going to concerts, camping, and fishing.

Ron Strand-sorrell

Executive Vice President Chief Compliance BSA & Risk officer

Ron Strand-Sorrell has more than 40 years in banking experience and 25 years in Compliance, BSA and Risk Management, including leadership positions at Axiom Bank, MVB Bank and more. Ron joined the team at Climate First Bank to ensure that all bank policies, procedures, and practices adhere to regulations.

Based in Central Florida, Ron lives with his husband, Timothy and their French bulldog, Bella. Ron is a diehard Green Bay Packers fan, and enjoys reading and spending time with family and friends.


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