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New York Bankers Association taps COO to become group’s first female CEO

By Eric Reinhardt (


Clare Cusack (Photo credit: New York Bankers Association)

The New York Bankers Association (NYBA) on Tuesday announced that COO Clare Cusack will become the first woman to serve as president and CEO of NYBA, effective Dec. 1.

Cusack, a SUNY Geneseo graduate, also serves as the organization’s general counsel, per an NYBA news release.

She’ll succeed Michael Smith, who is retiring after leading the association for more than four decades.

Cusack’s appointment by NYBA’s board of directors follows a planned leadership transition after Smith announced plans last year to retire, NYBA noted.

Cusack has served as general counsel and COO of NYBA since August 2018, overseeing NYBA’s legal matters and supporting each of the association’s divisions and areas. They include government relations, professional development, profit solutions, major industry events, and legal and regulatory strategy.

She joined NYBA in 2013 as senior VP and deputy general counsel.

Prior to her work with the association, Cusack practiced as an attorney with the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania–based law firm of Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP, and earlier worked as an aide to the New York State Assembly majority.

Cusack earned her juris doctorate from Fordham University School of Law and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the SUNY Geneseo.

Michael Smith (Photo credit: New York Bankers Association)

Smith has served as president and CEO of NYBA since 1989, providing leadership “throughout times of industry turbulence and stability,” NYBA said. He joined the association in 1975 as secretary of the federal government relations committee after serving on the staff of U.S. Representative Stewart B. McKinney of Connecticut.

New York City–based NYBA’s members include the smaller community, mid-size regional, and large banks across every region of New York state. NYBA members employ nearly 200,000 New Yorkers, “safeguard” $2 trillion in deposits, and extend nearly $70 billion in home and small-business loans.

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