Company: West Valley National Bank, Avondale, AZ
Company Description: West Valley National Bank, located in Metro Phoenix, is the region’s first locally owned and operated community bank. For too long, the West Valley was served only by large institutions led by out of state ownership and management. President and CEO Candace Hunter Wiest promotes local businesses control and services delivered by local residents.
Nomination Category: Individual Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Best Executive – Service Businesses – up to 100 Employees
Nomination Title: Candace Hunter Wiest, CEO and President
Describe for the judges the activities and accomplishments of the nominated executive during the eligibility period (up to 500 words):
In a time of great economic change, leaders emerge. Fear creates an economic
climate of its own, complete with new storms of anxiety. The western United
States have found themselves in the center of this recent turmoil and Arizona has
been particularly hard hit. But for Candace Hunter Wiest, this moment in our
history has become a time of opportunity.
As CEO and President of the only locally owned bank in the West Valley of
Phoenix, Wiest is at the epicenter of change. Predominantly agricultural, this
region of the southwest has been traditionally dominated by generations of hard-
working ranchers and farmers. Women in positions of leadership, including
financial leadership, have been non-existent. Perhaps it was the pioneer spirit
that led shareholders and directors of West Valley National Bank to select Wiest as
their fearless leader.
Instead of retreating into the trenches of passivity, Wiest has taken her bank
into a forward thinking, investment strategy that has energized the region. She has led
her team into building more relationships with small businesses, healthcare
organizations and even nonprofits to secure investments that make sense for the
economic prosperity of her bank and the community at large. This has meant
learning about the nature of the community’s needs with a perspective towards the
future. Wiest characterizes this action by saying, “When a lot of banks were
rushing out of Arizona, we were running in to invest and secure stability.”
With this approach to overcoming an economic crisis, Wiest has spent time
establishing banking relationships where there were none, while engaging new
business development to the area. Working towards enhancing sustainable
economic infrastructures in the West Valley has become a key mission. From
serving on the boards of Cancer Treatment Centers, Franklin Pierce University,
Catholic Community Foundation and Greater Phoenix Economic Council, Wiest
continuously promotes healthy connections. Stronger business translates into
opportunity across the community which results in greater sustainability,
especially during economic duress.
This is not to say that Candace Hunter Wiest is a sideline cheerleader. She
invests time, wisdom and leadership throughout the community. Speaking with
frank and unflinching honesty, Wiest has been outspoken about the roles of
government and business. When the federal government began its banking
bailout, Wiest refused to allow her bank to participate. Instead, she focused on
strengthening lending opportunities within the West Valley and engaging citizens
in the debate.
Wiest even used one of her West Valley National Bank branches for a town hall
style meeting bringing together the Mayor and Chamber Director with business
leaders to discuss how the region could move through tough times. Given
contentious outcomes of public meetings, Wiest did not shy away from potential
confrontation. In fact, the discussion proved so fruitful that participants urged
Wiest to schedule additional meetings so more constituents could become
As the economic storm clouds appear to be receding, Candace Hunter Wiest
continues to stay on message, calming fears and promoting the success of a
region that is vital to the health of the southwestern region.
List the URLs (web addresses) of any online news stories, press releases, or other documents that you would like the judges to see that support your entry. IMPORTANT: List each URL on a separate line, begin each URL with http://, and enclose each URL in square brackets. For example, [http://www.yourcompany.com/pressrelease.html]:
Provide a brief biography of the nominated executive (up to 100 words):
Candace Hunter Wiest is Founding CEO and President of West Valley National
Bank in Arizona. The only locally owned bank in the western region of Metro
Phoenix, Wiest is one of a few women bankers in Arizona.
Wiest holds the honor of being the first woman banker elected Director of the
Federal Reserve Bank / San Francisco. This historic participation is impressive as
the Federal Reserve 12th District is the largest bank in the Federal Reserve,
serving 20% of the U.S. population.
Wiest has won awards including the YWCA Athena, BSA Silver Beaver, and
Arrowhead CEO of the year.