Deborah Hinton Kovacevich '74, president and CEO of the State Bank of Jewett and graduate of the College of Business Administration, is the newly-elected chairman of the board of the prestigious Texas Bankers Association. She is the first female in history to serve as chair for the TBA, a group that includes some of the most prominent names within Texas banking circles.
A fourth-generation banker, Debbie literally grew up in the business. Her great-grandfather was the director of an early Texas bank and her grandfather, also a banker, was instrumental in the merger of Flynn State Bank and Jewett State Bank in the early 1930s. Debbie spent many childhood days in what is now the State Bank of Jewett, where both her parents and her grandfather worked.
After graduating from the College with a degree in finance in 1974, Debbie started her career as a bank examiner with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. In 1978 she returned to the rural central Texas bank her grandfather helped create and today, in her capacity as president and CEO, oversees an asset base of $40 million from an office near the lobby where she took her first steps.
Debbie began her involvement with the Texas Bankers Association in 1989, when she traveled the state to inform the public about TBA-proposed home equity legislation. In 1991 she was appointed to the TBA's board of directors and in 1993 became the association's first female treasurer. In 1998 then-Governor George W. Bush appointed her to the Texas Finance Commission, where her broad experience as banker, examiner and regulator proved invaluable. "As a banker," she says, "I know what it's like when the examiner walks into your bank."
The Texas Bankers Association was founded in 1885 to help the fledgling industry fight crime, apprehend robbers, and keep members along the frontier informed of new banking practices and requirements. Today the mission of the organization is to meet the growing needs for banking education, information and advocacy. During her term as chair, Debbie plans to foster financial literacy by supporting programs that teach young people about savings and credit, implement a new mentoring program that will develop more women and minority bank managers, and deter counterfeiters by advocating changes to regulations that stipulate how banks must honor cashier's checks.
Debbie and husband Nick, a retired law enforcement officer she affectionately calls her "hippie with a Harley," currently live in College Station. Although she faces a long daily commute to Jewett, she enjoys the drive and has become an avid fan of books-on-tape. The couple have one grown daughter, Saysha, who teaches sixth grade science at Katy Junior High School.
For more information about this article, please contact the author: Margaret Quarles at (936) 294-4997.