Kenneth Kelly Named 2024 Banker of the Year by Michigan Bankers Association for Leadership and Community Impact

Kenneth Kelly, the Chairman & CEO of First Independence Bank, was honored as the 2024 Banker of the Year by the Michigan Bankers Association (MBA). Kelly, who has spearheaded the bank’s leadership since October 2017, was recognized by the MBA Board of Directors for his exceptional dedication to the association, his impactful contributions to the banking sector, his role in the success of First Independence Bank, and his distinguished record in community service.

Throughout his career, Kelly has garnered a multitude of accolades and held significant positions that underline his expertise and commitment to the banking industry. Notably, he was a finalist for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year® 2023 Award for Michigan and Northwest Ohio. His engagement with influential banking committees and councils, including a three-year term on the FDIC Chairman’s Advisory Committee on Economic Inclusion, the vice-chairmanship of the American Bankers Association, and previous membership on the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s CDIAC, exemplifies his active participation in pivotal banking discussions. Moreover, his expertise was recognized at a national level when he served as an expert witness before the U.S. Congress, testifying on consumer protection and financial institutions.

Expressing his gratitude for the award, Kelly highlighted the collective effort of his team at First Independence Bank and the support from customers and partners, emphasizing the award as a recognition of their joint commitment to the banking sector and community impact. “I am grateful to receive this prestigious honor. To be acknowledged by one’s peers is the ultimate honor from this group who truly made me feel welcomed, valued, respected, and engaged,” stated Kelly. “This award is a testament to the dedication and hard work of our entire team at First Independence Bank, as well as the unwavering support of our valued customers and partners. I am truly thankful for the opportunity to serve this institution and the banking industry to impact communities locally, statewide, and nationally.”

Kelly’s leadership is set to be formally celebrated at the MBA’s 138th Annual Convention in June on Mackinac Island, marking his significant contributions to the banking industry.

Under Kelly’s direction, First Independence Bank has engaged in numerous initiatives aimed at community development and technological advancements. These include the digital transformation of the bank’s core system, collaboration with Operation HOPE for financial education, and the establishment of the Small Business Lending Program in partnership with the states of Michigan and Minnesota to support minority-owned businesses.

Roxanne Daust, MBA Chairman and President & CEO of Range Bank, commended the decision to award Kelly, citing his dynamic leadership and the culture of involvement and teamwork he fosters. This leadership style, according to Daust, has been instrumental in the bank’s growth and its positive impact on communities. “The Michigan Bankers Association has made an exceptional decision in naming Kenneth Kelly as the 2024 Banker of the Year,” said Daust. “As a dynamic and impassioned leader, Kenneth cultivates an atmosphere of involvement and teamwork, acknowledging the significance of each individual’s contributions and their positive impact on communities. The success and expansion experienced by First Independence Bank under Kenneth’s guidance are a true testament to his capabilities.”

Under Kelly’s stewardship, First Independence Bank has not only expanded its national presence, with branches in Detroit and the Twin Cities, but also experienced substantial growth in assets, escalating from approximately $250MM to over $600MM. This growth has positioned First Independence Bank as the 7th largest Black–controlled commercial bank in the U.S., highlighting Kelly’s influential role in the bank’s development and his broader contributions to the banking industry.

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