Stewart Praises Banks’ Work in COVID-19 Response, Racial Justice

Outgoing American Bankers Association Chair Laurie Stewart praised the work bankers have done in the last six months distributing Paycheck Protection Program loans as the coronavirus spread. In a speech today at ABA’s virtual Unconventional Convention, Stewart—who is president and CEO of Sound Community Bank in Seattle—said that she was “so, so proud of what America’s banks have accomplished over the past year. Through the PPP, you collectively supported 48 million jobs, according to the Treasury Department. And even with the pandemic still with us, you are helping to fuel the recovery.”

Stewart also highlighted the work banks have done in responding to this summer’s racial justice protests. “Through its resources, banker groups and new partnership with the National Bankers Association, ABA has continued to play a leadership role,” she said. “Together we are all more committed than ever to addressing inequities in the economy and our industry.”

She acknowledged the toll all the work has taken but encouraged bankers not to give up, “It’s natural after working so hard, after persisting through so much adversity, to be a little tired,” she said. “But I want to encourage you not to give up. We all worked so hard this year, and we can see the reward in the jobs saved, in the communities served, and in the clients who were steadied. And we’re seeing progress in our advocacy goals too.”