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4-Traders Homepage  >  Equities  >  Nyse  >  Bank of America Corp    BAC

Delayed Quote. Delayed  - 09/30 10:00:17 pm
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10/01 Seaford exec brings energy to Mariners' Museum board
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Seaford exec brings energy to Mariners' Museum board

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10/01/2016 | 02:02pm CEST

Oct. 01--When Anne Conner commits to a project or organization, she's all in.

"It's just in me," the Seaford native and resident said. "I am blessed with a lot of energy. It's probably why I keep my plate so full all the time. I don't like to sit still. I am never bored."

That all-in attitude was why past Mariners' Museum board leaders John Lawson and Alan Diamonstein asked the TowneBank executive to join the Mariners' Museum board back in 2008. Conner intended to decline because of other nonprofit commitments, but she found she had a hard time turning the two men down when they sent a letter thanking her for accepting the role.

In January, she became The Mariners' Museum's first board chairwoman in its more than 80-year history. As someone who is passionate about empowering women, Conner thought that a woman finally getting into that position of leadership was pretty awesome for the community.

"People want to follow her, and that makes her very effective," Lawson said, who has worked in various capacities with Conner through board service.

Conner brings an open mind, a great contact list and experience in finance, Lawson said, adding one of the most important committees in any organization is the finance committee. Plus, the current Mariners' Museum board member said Conner dives deep into an organization to get good feedback from the bottom.

Williamsburg was the only greater Peninsula locality to see an improvement in its unemployment rate from July to August, according to the latest Virginia Employment Commission numbers.

The Hampton Roads unemployment rate ticked up from 4.6 percent in July to 4.7 percent in August, according to the...

Williamsburg was the only greater Peninsula locality to see an improvement in its unemployment rate from July to August, according to the latest Virginia Employment Commission numbers.

The Hampton Roads unemployment rate ticked up from 4.6 percent in July to 4.7 percent in August, according to the...

At the museum, she led a strategic planning process for a year and headed the search for a new museum president after Elliott Gruber stepped down at the end of April. Howard H. Hoege III was named the president and CEO in September, Conner said, after serving as a consultant for the strategic planning and then as the interim CEO.

"Her enthusiasm and energy are infectious, and you can really see that reflected in the culture of our museum," Hoege said. "Anne has this excellent blend of a strong vision of excellence for the museum, high expectations that we execute well against that vision and a deep commitment to and real affection for the staff and volunteers -- the people -- that make our team go."

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Before Conner joined the board in late 2008, she hadn't been intimately familiar with the museum, but as a daughter and granddaughter of a waterman, she said her life has been tied to the Chesapeake Bay.

She joined the board right when the Great Recession was taking hold, just as the stock market hit its low point in March 2009, taking the museum's endowment with it. But the banker who'd spent a career serving nonprofit clients with Bank of America wasn't deterred and became one of the museum's biggest advocates. And fortunately, the economy and endowment recovered.

Struggles

Like every museum, The Mariners' Museum is facing new challenges to remain relevant and re-energize itself in the modern era. Conner envisions the museum capitalizing on its comprehensive and unrivaled maritime collections by making it easier for researchers, scholars and students to access the images, documents and objects.

"We must ensure the next 80 years in the museum's life," Conner said.

Raising awareness about the international scope of the museum and finding advocates in folks with a passion for maritime history could help increase donations, including gifts or artifacts to the museum, she added. The museum is strategizing on how best to renovate to put more of its 32,000-object collection on display since only a small percentage is currently out. The Monitor Center holds more than 200 tons of artifacts from the Civil War ironclad, and Conner would like to see what other roles the center might have in conservation and preservation.

Conner also wants to get the word out to folks on how they can access digitized images, documents and maps from the museum's library collection online. The collection totals more than 1.75 million items, including rare books and manuscripts.

"The collection at the museum is second to none in the Western Hemisphere," Conner said. "It's an amazing place."

When J.P. Morgan Chase representatives came for a tour, Conner showed off the museum's videoconferencing studio classrooms that allow staff to teach from the museum and reach classrooms across the country. Collections staff explained how the museum loans out objects, including rare paintings, to other museums all over the world.

"I just want people to understand what an extraordinary treasure we have in The Mariners' Museum, not only in Hampton Roads, but far beyond," Conner said. "Our collection is not Hampton Roads-based waterways. Our collection is international in scope."

So what does Conner bring to the table in helping the museum accomplish all these goals?

"I'm a great cheerleader. I think I'm a great motivator. I think people can feel good when they link arms with me and we accomplish something together," Conner said.

'Insightful executive'

After two years at Virginia Commonwealth University, a 19-year-old Conner fell in love with the service aspect of banking when she took a job as a new accounts representative at Sovran Bank, a predecessor to Bank of America. In fact, she kept working and didn't return to college. But her bank's area manager, Mel Causey, saw potential in her and encouraged her to get her degree to further her career, she said about her "first real mentor."

She continued working part-time while earning her bachelor's degree in finance from what is now Christopher Newport University. She kept advancing at Bank of America, eventually becoming a senior vice president, and found her niche with nonprofit clients, growing that portfolio more than tenfold from 1995 to 2004.

Having been CNU's banker, Conner caught the eye of Paul Trible, who had a vision for a new CNU. The CNU president said he asked then-Gov. Mark Warner to appoint Conner to a four-year term on the CNU Board of Visitors, which he did in 2003. Trible convinced Conner to lead CNU's real estate foundation, heading up a strategic planning process and executing a restructuring of its debt portfolio to enhance its ability to redevelop the area around the campus. She also served on the educational foundation board.

Conner, along with her beloved mentor the late Walter Segaloff -- the visionary behind An Achievable Dream schools, helped the foundation assemble 42 properties along the Warwick Boulevard campus over a number of years. Conner was instrumental in packaging the initial financing for the acquisition and construction of those properties that give us the CNU we see today, Trible said.

"She is an insightful executive who can see beyond the numbers to arrive at creative solutions in a very complex situation," Trible said.

And while she's determined and disciplined, she's also just a lot of fun, Trible said, adding, "She's full of life and energy and spirit. She loves life and makes the most of every day."

Soon enough, a growing TowneBank decided it needed Conner to expand into Williamsburg. In 2005, she became the first female regional president for TowneBank. TowneBank's Williamsburg headquarters opened in 2006, and under Conner's leadership, moved from No. 7 to No. 2 in deposit market share.

"She attacks projects with such vigor and enthusiasm," said J. Morgan Davis, TowneBank's president and chief banking officer and Conner's boss.

In 2013, TowneBank wanted to make use of Conner's experience with nonprofit lending and tapped her to lead a new public finance and community investment division, covering TowneBank's footprint from Richmond to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Conner deals with a complicated lending program that includes tax-exempt bond financing and making equity investments in commercial real estate projects that produce federal tax credits.

The redevelopment of Whittaker Memorial Hospital in downtown Newport News is an example of the type of project that could benefit from the program. It's in this type of community impact -- providing financing for affordable homes, municipal buildings such as schools or the new Princess Anne YMCA -- that Conner loves, she says, because it improves the quality of life in the community.

Because of Conner's work, Davis said, that portfolio accounts for a quarter of a billion dollars in loans at the bank.

"She's taken something and built it into an empire," Davis said. "Anne is formidable, she really is. She radiates positive energy."

In her 11 1/2 years at TowneBank, Davis said Conner has not only made the bank stronger on the Peninsula, but has polished the company's brand. Her involvement on boards, her commitment to nonprofits and the generosity of her time and energy all represent TowneBank in a positive way, Davis said.

"She's a dynamo," Davis said.

As vice chairwoman of the WHRO board, Conner works late nights and will go on air to help raise money during the capital campaign, said WHRO President and CEO Bert Schmidt, who considers Conner a friend.

"Anne is one of my favorite people," Schmidt said, calling her a "big advocate."

Small businesses

Conner still makes time to devote to the startup scene in Hampton Roads. She's chairwoman of the board of ivWatch in Hampton, and has helped raise more than $20 million in equity for the new medical device firm since 2010.

She's a founding board member of 757 Angels, which was established in late 2014 as a mechanism to match investors with high-potential startups in Hampton Roads to help diversify the local economy. The group has invested nearly $10 million in local small businesses so far.

Conner has brought a number of companies to the attention of the angel investors and is always willing to step up and help, said Paul Hirschbiel, 757 Angels board chairman.

"Clearly, her business acumen is stellar," Hirschbiel said. "As we vet companies, she is just remarkably able to weed through all the material we get and really focus in on the important ingredients."

For folks looking to get involved, she said what's led to her success is doing her best to do what she says she's going to do, demonstrating integrity and being as caring as she can be.

"I believe in good karma, I absolutely do," Conner said. "And if you put that out as much as you can, then it's going to come back to you."

Bozick can be reached by phone at 757-247-4741. Sign up for a free weekday business news email at TidewaterBiz.com.

What does Anne Conner thinks it takes to be a leader?

"A heart of gold," she said, adding she's been blessed to be mentored by genuinely authentic deeply caring people. Combine that loving nature with savvy and intellect and that is the very definition of leadership, she added.

"It means you have the trust and respect of your peers and really the greater community," Conner said.

How others think Anne Conner is a leader:

Paul Hirschbiel,

board chairman of 757 Angels: "Anne listens well. She's not one to strike out when a question may arise. She's going to listen to the arguments people bring forward, and No. 2, her ego doesn't get in the way of her decision-making, which I think is really important for a leader."

Bert Schmidt,

president and CEO of WHRO: "She's just really one of those good people in our community who puts the community first."

Paul Trible,

president of Christopher Newport University: "She really possesses a passion for making the world a better place. Christopher Newport University is all about leadership, honor and service and those are virtues that really define Anne Conner's life."

Buddy David,

longtime Mariners' Museum attorney and community leader: "No one has ever turned to Anne because she was a woman. Her involvement was sought because of her passion, reliability, knowledge, and most of all, because she delivers."

John Lawson II,

developer and Mariners' Museum trustee: "She's smart and she gets things done and her attitude is always so positive, it's infectious. It causes people to also be enthusiastic."

J. Morgan Davis,

TowneBank's president and chief banking officer and Conner's boss: "I think she's a good leader because she's humble. She's thinking about other people contributing not what she's contributing. It's called servant leadership. You don't have the power. The people around you give you the power to lead."

G. Robert Aston Jr.,

TowneBank chairman and CEO: "I think that Anne has a real passion for serving the community and I think that sets a standard for what she does each day."

___

(c)2016 the Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)

Visit the Daily Press (Newport News, Va.) at www.dailypress.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

© Tribune Content Agency, source Regional News

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