First Citizens Bank appointed James Bennett to the newly created position of executive director of external affairs.
In this new role, Bennett is responsible for enhancing community engagement as well as strengthening relationships with state and federal government officials, members of Congress, trade groups and other public policy stakeholders. He reports to Frank B. Holding Jr., chairman and CEO of First Citizens Bank.
“We are glad to have James’ leadership in this significant, new role at our organization,” Holding said. “As First Citizens continues to grow, it’s important that we remain a valuable partner to policy and regulatory leaders as part of our ongoing work together to ensure the strength and effectiveness of the U.S. banking system. James brings a wealth of relevant experience to this position, as well as a deep knowledge of our company, its values and people.”
From 2015 to 2023, Bennett served as Mid-South area executive at First Citizens, overseeing commercial, business and retail banking efforts and leading market development efforts in the Columbia and Aiken areas of South Carolina and the Augusta area of Georgia.
Prior to his duties as Mid-South area executive, Bennett was executive vice president and director of public affairs for First Citizens Bank – South Carolina from 2002 to 2015 before its merger with North Carolina-headquartered First Citizens Bank.
In 2000, Bennett was named CEO at South Carolina Community Bank (now Optus Bank), South Carolina’s first black-owned financial institution, and spent two years at the Columbia, SC, bank before returning to First Citizens. Prior to South Carolina Community Bank, he joined First Citizens – South Carolina in December 1994 as director of community banking and then moved to the professional banking group before becoming director of economic development.
In addition to working closely with elected officials and the South Carolina Bankers Association, Bennett was appointed by the governor of South Carolina to serve on multiple committees, including the S.C. State Ports Authority, the Education Oversight Committee and the accelerateSC initiative from 2020 to 2021. He served as the first African American chairman of the South Carolina Bankers Association in 2020 and was named United Way of the Midlands Humanitarian of the Year in 2022.
Kevin Lindler, a former regional banking executive for First Citizens in Columbia, SC, assumed Bennett’s prior role as Mid-South area executive.
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