President and Chief Executive Officer, Chairman of the Board, and Founder. 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. Three years after the sale of his first bank, Florida Choice Bank, 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 can 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.
In his new role, 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 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.
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.
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 has joined Climate First Bank as Executive Vice President and Director of Residential Lending (pending regulatory approval). In his role, Felipe will manage the bank’s mortgage sales and operations team, to ensure efficiency, quality of processing and compliance. Based in Orlando, Felipe has nearly 20 years of residential lending experience in Central Florida. Felipe previously worked with Climate First Bank Founder and CEO Ken LaRoe at First GREEN Bank. Prior to joining Climate First Felipe was the EVP/ Director of Residential Lending at Cogent Bank. Felipe resides in Windermere, FL with his wife and two children.
As a licensed Florida Bar attorney, Leitner has a diverse background in law and business. Having worked with First GREEN Bank and Seacoast Bank, Leitner has extensive knowledge in driving environmentally-focused banking initiatives.
With over 17 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 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 has spent all of his nearly 20 year banking career in the Central Florida market. A native of New Jersey, Cucci moved to Orlando in 1997 to attend the University of Central Florida where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree. Chris also holds the CCIM designation which is earned through advanced coursework in financial and market analysis and demonstrated extensive experience in the commercial real estate industry. Active in the community, Cucci serves on the board of directors for CCIM Central District, Treasurer/Finance Chair for Osceola Community Health Services, and the Valencia College Business Advisory Council. He is also honored to be a founding member of CEO Leadership Forums, an organization that provides educational workshops and develops internship programs for middle-market companies in Central Florida. Before joining Climate First Bank, Chris held various positions in commercial lending and leadership at South State Bank, Wells Fargo, and JPMorgan Chase.
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.
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