News and Press Releases

Feb 17, 2022

First National leaders advance to new roles

Bank president Doug Longacre retires after more than 47 years of service

ANCHORAGE – After nearly five decades of dedicated service in the financial industry, First National Bank Alaska President Doug Longacre retired from the largest Alaskan-owned and -operated community bank effective February 6.

Longacre served as President since 2018, overseeing the overall management of lending and loan-related functions and branch operations. Longacre will continue to serve as a First National Board Member. 

It has been my honor to help my fellow Alaskans succeed in the Great Land for the past 47 years, and I look forward to continuing to represent them on the bank’s Board of Directors,” Longacre said. “When I first joined the bank as a Management Trainee, my ambition at that time was to become a Branch Manager and represent the bank in a smaller community in Alaska. I certainly didn’t think I would end up serving as bank President. It’s been an adventure of a lifetime.”

With Longacre’s departure, First National’s Board of Directors confirmed Betsy Lawer as Board Chair and CEO and appointed her President. As a third-generation Alaskan banker, Lawer grew up with many of Alaska’s business and community leaders. She learned the banking business literally at her father’s knee, earned her economics degree from Duke University, and returned in 1974 to work her way up to the leadership position she holds today.

Doug has been an incredible business partner, trustworthy sounding board, and a wonderful friend for almost fifty years,” said Lawer. “I speak for the entire First National family when I say we wish him the fondest farewell into his retirement, and we know he will continue to help his fellow Alaskans shape tomorrow in the years to come.” 

In addition to Lawer, three executive leaders were promoted and awarded new officer titles by the bank’s Board of Directors. Each of these three officers assume a portion of the duties formerly performed by Longacre:

Chief Commercial Lending Officer Darren Franz was promoted to Chief Credit Officer and appointed Senior Executive Officer. Franz will oversee First National’s Lending Division, including the Combined Branch, Corporate Lending, Central Loan Processing and Corporate Services departments and the Specialty Lending Unit. During his career, Franz has successfully overseen the management of retail and business banking in 16 different Alaska communities with broad geographic, economic and cultural diversity. He holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and economics and is a graduate of the renowned Pacific Coast Banking School.

Chief Administrative Officer Cheri Gillian was appointed Senior Executive Officer. Gillian will oversee the Central Administration Division, including the bank’s Corporate Communication & Customer Experience, Human Resources and Audit departments, and the Wealth Management Section. An Alaskan for 50-plus years, Gillian has spent nearly 35 of those years building First National’s brand and helping shape the bank’s unique workplace culture; one recognized for six years in a row as the “Best Place to Work in Alaska.” Gillian helped formalize the bank’s relationship management program, facilitates the bank’s strategic planning activities, provides administrative oversight for bankwide initiatives, and serves as Board Secretary.

Chief Banking Officer Ryan Strong was appointed Senior Executive Officer. Strong will oversee the bank’s Retail Banking and Treasury Management Division, including the Treasury Management & Anchorage Branch Administration and Mortgage Lending departments, Escrow Unit and the Loan Servicing Section. Strong assumes increased administrative responsibilities, including some formerly performed by the President. Strong leverages more than 20 years of hands-on banking experience and detailed knowledge of Alaska’s economy in his role. He is Co-Chair of the bank’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Team, responsible for creating and implementing First National’s response to the pandemic crisis. He holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Notre Dame and an M.B.A. from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. 

These changes come as First National celebrates 100 years of shaping a brighter tomorrow for all Alaskans. First National opened Jan. 30, 1922, and continues to thrive a century later.

Alaskan-owned and -operated since 1922, First National proudly marks its 100th year of meeting the financial needs of Alaskans. In 2021, Alaska Business readers voted the bank the “Best of Alaska Business” in the Best Place to Work category for the sixth year in a row, Best Corporate Citizen for a third year, and Best Bank/Credit Union. The same year, American Banker recognized First National as a “Best Bank to Work For” for the fourth year in a row, and Anchorage Daily News readers voted the bank one of the state’s top three financial institutions for the third year in a row in the ADN “Best of Alaska” Awards.

Visit FNBAlaska.com for more information about Alaska’s largest locally owned bank and access to efficient and secure online banking services. First National Bank Alaska is a Member FDIC and Equal Housing Lender. 



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