Bank of America veteran Cathy Bessant to lead North Carolina not-for-profit

Cathy Bessant topped American Banker’s Most Powerful Women in Banking list 3 years in a row, and has actually been noted in the publication’s hall of popularity.

Peter Taylor

After more than 40 years at Bank of America, Cathy Bessant will leave the banks in December and take the helm of a $4-billion-asset not-for-profit in North Carolina.

Bessant, who presently works as vice chair of worldwide technique at the Charlotte-based bank, revealed previously this summer season that she would retire this year. On Thursday, the Foundation for the Carolinas stated it had actually tapped Bessant as its president and CEO, efficient in January. She stated in an interview that although she didn’t anticipate to handle this function when she chose to leave the bank, leading the not-for-profit is a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”

“This is a dream job. This is the job of a lifetime for someone like me,” Bessant stated. “I’ve always believed that banking is a noble profession…This is a logical next step for me, and the time was right.”

FFTC, among the biggest nonprofits in the nation, uses donors around the world choices to support humanitarian efforts in a 13-county area in North Carolina and South Carolina. Bessant is a long time board member of FFTC, and a previous chair of the not-for-profit’s governing board, managing the structure’s relocate to its head office and leading as board chair when it struck $1 billion in charitable possessions. She’s taking the reins from Michael Marsicano, who headed FFTC for almost 25 years. 

Bessant stated leaving Bank of America after 4 years is a psychological experience, however she stated she “just knew” it was time to retire when she decided this year.

“There comes a point in time when you say it’s time for an organization to go forward,” Bessant stated. “You feel complete and satisfied and happy with your contribution to the organization and shareholders, but you know that it’s time to do something else.”

American Banker called Bessant to its yearly Most Powerful Women in Banking list in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2022 and inducted her into the publication’s Hall of Fame in 2020.

Bessant’s “retirement” will not include much decreasing. In reality, she stated this brand-new function will offer a chance to “dig in.” She included that in her time on FFTC’s board, she’s seen its staff members deal with seriousness, dedication, devotion and enthusiasm.

“I think things that one pursues with energy and passion are all-consuming. And that is certainly how I approach this,” Bessant  stated. “[People at the foundation] know every day, and I know going forward every day, that our work is dependent on the impact that we have. And our salaries are not paid for by unseen shareholders, or by revenue generated from making a transaction. Our value comes from impact.”

Bessant stated the structure is currently working to make a favorable modification around problems like economical real estate, education and racial equality. However, she included that she believes the FFTC will likewise be a leader in discovering problems and options of the future.

At the $3.1-trillion-asset Bank of America, Bessant held a number of management positions, consisting of over a years as primary innovation and operations officer. Bessant, who led accountable AI efforts in her time at the bank, stated innovation will be vital to her brand-new function. 

“Technology and artificial intelligence play a major role in identifying, not only how we gather funds for appropriate and great philanthropic use, but how we distribute them,” Bessant stated. “‘How do we make sure that the dollars we distribute actually get to the places we intend? I think technology is a major factor in the future, and I really think this foundation is committed to helping to determine how that can all work.”

Bessant likewise led programs promoting for individuals with impairments and LGBT folks at Bank of America. She stated that she thinks Bank of America provides to investors and neighborhoods, however resolving a structure is a various method of putting in impact. 

While she’s invested the last 2 years in Paris leading the bank’s European existence, Bessant stated she’s delighted to go back to North Carolina, her house state of the previous 20 years. 

“With an impressive and diverse field of candidates to choose from, Cathy Bessant emerged as an extraordinary fit for the foundation and where we are at this pivotal moment,” stated Jada Grandy-Mock, governing board and search committee member, in a ready declaration. “Cathy’s familiarity with the region and the issues affecting society at large uniquely positions her to lead our foundation. Plus, her strategic leadership and experience — overseeing everything from technology to marketing to operations — have prepared her for this role as the Foundation continues to grow and scale.”


A news media journalist always on the go, I've been published in major publications including VICE, The Atlantic, and TIME.

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