OUR SENIOR LEADERSHIP
Climate First Bank is helmed by a coalition of seasoned local executives. We will always be working our hardest to support our customers, our communities, and our planet by operating as a vehicle for lasting positive change.
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.
Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer and Founding Director
With more than 22 years of executive and senior management experience, Michele has a proven track record in overseeing strategic growth and driving profitability. Michele has worked senior-level positions at various Florida community banks throughout her career. This includes working as EVP and CFO at Enterprise Bank of Florida, and as Director of Operations at Harbor Community Bank. During her tenure at Harbor Community Bank, Michele successfully assisted with eight acquisitions and grew the bank from $50 million in assets to $2.2 billion over a seven-year period.
As CFO and COO, Michele will work closely with CEO Ken LaRoe to grow Climate First Bank into the largest and most profitable values-based bank in the southeast.
Executive Vice President, Tampa Bay Region Executive and Government Guaranteed Lending Executive
In her role as EVP, Tampa Bay Region Executive and Government Guaranteed Lending Executive, Valarie will draw on her 32 years of banking experience within the Tampa Bay market and her extensive background in SBA and USDA lending to help local businesses fund their expansion and growth sustainably.
Prior to joining Climate First Bank, Valarie held executive positions at various national and community banks, including Bank of America, Regions Bank, SouthTrust Bank, and Freedom Bank. Adding to her resume, Valarie sat as board member for the City of St. Petersburg’s Environmental Development Commission, Leadership Tampa Bay and Leadership Pinellas.
Executive Vice President and Senior Loan Officer
As founder of EROC Advisors, LLC, Ed has extensive experience in values-based financing and is committed to utilizing his expertise to help lead the Bay Area towards a more sustainable future. Ed has led various leadership initiatives and held senior-level positions at a number of major banks including Florida Bank, Fifth Third Bank, Gulf Shore Bank and Seacoast Bank. As Executive Vice President and Senior Loan Officer at Climate First Bank, Ed leads the commercial lending team to offer standard commercial loans, consumer loans, and specialized green loans.
Vice President, Branch Manager, Business Banker
Brian is a long-time St. Petersburg resident with more than 20 years of experience in the financial sector, including retail and business product sales, branch operations, lending, investments and insurance. Prior to his current position, Brian led branches at IberiaBank and CenterState Bank. Brian works hand in hand with the residents and businesses of St. Pete to reach and exceed their financial goals.
Senior Vice President, General Counsel, Attorney Business Banking
As 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.
An experienced and dedicated team of founding directors are taking steps to realize their collective vision and grow Climate First Bank into the largest and most profitable eco-conscious and values-based financial institution in St. Pete.
Mjartan is the President/CEO of Optus Bank and a certified Community Development Financial Institution and Minority Depository Institution. He and his wife strive to live by their mission “to ensure that all people have a fair chance to live productive lives.”
Castro is the Senior Advisor to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer as the Director of Sustainability & Resilience. He is an eco-entrepreneur with a passion to advance smart, resilient, and sustainable cities and communities. Castro sits on nearly a dozen nonprofit and academic boards including IDEAS for Us and U.S. Green Building Council.
Vice Chairman, Founding Director
Meyer’s founded Florida’s first and only Certified B Corps in the resort hospitality and real estate development industries. He also launched the For Good Movement, helping Florida companies create positive impact through inclusion, regeneration and equity.
Wolf’s passion for philanthropy has led her to serve on a variety of charity, education, and civic boards. Together with her husband, Wolf supports efforts to provide affordable housing to economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.