Connecticut Banker wins ABA Foundation’s highest individual honor.
Kathy Luria, senior vice president for community affairs and philanthropy at Webster Bank in Waterbury, Conn., has been named the ABA Foundation’s 2019 George Bailey Distinguished Service Award winner for her tireless and innovative efforts to expand and enhance Webster Bank’s community and philanthropic engagement. Luria will be presented with the award, the ABA’s Foundation’s highest individual honor, at ABA’s Annual Convention in Seattle on Oct. 29.
Since 2014, the George Bailey Distinguished Service Award has been given to a non-CEO bank employee who demonstrates outstanding initiative, commitment to their customers and community, and the ability to inspire others. The ABA Foundation selects the winner after a review of nominations submitted by banks of all sizes across the country.
“Kathy Luria’s work at Webster serves as an example to the entire industry for how bankers can and should engage with their communities,” said Rob Nichols, ABA president and CEO. “Thanks to her efforts it’s clear that Webster is making a tangible difference in the communities it serves. We’re proud to recognize her as the 2019 George Bailey Award winner.”
Since joining Webster in 2006, Luria has expanded the bank’s community partnerships, enhanced Webster’s philanthropic work and created an innovative food security program among other accomplishments. Under Luria’s leadership, Webster’s contributions to the United Way have grown every year, resulting in a record $1.55 million in 2018 thanks to banker pledges, fundraising initiatives and a corporate match program that she helped increase. Since 2006, Webster’s United Way campaigns have raised nearly $17 million, generating funds for more than 70 chapters and thousands of nonprofit organizations across the country, and Webster’s work with United Way has been recognized as a regional model for others to follow.
As part of the bank’s commitment to financial literacy, Luria also established a relationship with Junior Achievement (JA), the world’s largest organization dedicated to educating students in grades K-12 about entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy. Luria has worked with JA chapters across Webster’s communities; providing funding, senior leadership and banker volunteers for financial literacy lessons. In 2018, Webster’s investment in JA partners more than doubled and expanded to new chapters. Under Luria’s leadership, nearly 1,000 bankers have taught more than 15,000 JA students, and Webster senior officers serve on all JA boards throughout their market.
Addressing a specific community need, Luria also leveraged the bank’s accelerated annual community investment to develop Webster’s Food Security Initiative: Feeding our Regional Food Banks. The initiative provides grants for a food-based job training program and a summer food backpack program for school children.
During her time at Webster, Luria has helped instill a commitment to community in all of the bank’s employees.
“Since our founding in 1935, Webster has been a values-guided, community-minded bank. Our bankers demonstrate this throughout our everyday interactions in the communities we serve,” said John R. Ciulla, president and CEO. “We are honored to receive this prestigious award on behalf of our 3,400 bankers and congratulate Kathy on this well-deserved recognition.”
Her work in the community goes well beyond her daily duties at Webster. For the last 12 years, she has served as an adjunct professor in the School of Business at the University of Connecticut – Waterbury Campus. Luria is also the board chair of the Connecticut Council of Philanthropy (CCP) and has served as a board member since 2014. She sits on the advisory committee for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Working Cities Challenge, and Luria is the director and assistant vice president of the Harold Webster Smith Foundation which supports economic development, community health and more in Waterbury and surrounding areas.
The ABA Foundation honors seven banks annually for their commitment to their communities. The George Bailey Award is the only award given to an individual.
For a full list of the bank winners, as well as honorable mentions, visit aba.com/awards.