At the 2022 Regions Annual Shareholders Meeting held on April 20, Board Chair Charles McCrary acknowledged the extensive contributions of two retiring board members, Carolyn Byrd and Don DeFosset, and expressed appreciation for their leadership and service.
“We will certainly miss the strategic insight, guidance and wise counsel that you have provided; the personal and professional integrity that you have exemplified; and the unwavering commitment that you have demonstrated as directors,” McCrary said.
“We express our most sincere gratitude for your lasting contributions to Regions and wish you all the best.”
With a combined 29 years of service on the Regions board, Byrd and DeFosset have helped lead the organization through many important milestones in the bank’s history, as well as that of the entire financial services industry.
Regions is a leader in our industry – not just among peer banks or in our footprint. And we wouldn’t be where we are as a company without the guidance and strong leadership from Carolyn and Don over the years.
John Turner, Regions President and CEO
DeFosset joined the then-AmSouth Bank board of directors in 2005 and served during the 2006 merger of equals – which resulted in the institution that thrives today. He helped lead the bank through the financial crisis of 2008, which was a challenging time for Regions, the industry, the economy and the entire country. Laws and regulations enacted in the aftermath resulted in many sweeping changes in the way U.S. banks operate.
“Several dramatic changes occurred in the banking industry during my tenure,” DeFosset said. “The challenges of liquidity and credit-worthiness during the financial crisis led to many transformations, particularly in the area of risk management.”
The Risk Committee of the Board of Directors increased its scope and oversight, and the risk function inside the bank “turned the art of risk management into a science that has served the bank well over the years,” DeFosset added.
Carolyn Byrd joined the Regions board in 2010 and agrees with DeFosset on the significant changes since that turbulent time.
“We had a lot of issues to address,” she said. “But since that time, Regions has made a tremendous turnaround.”
Through the years, both Byrd and DeFosset have served in many capacities on the board, holding leadership positions in several committees.
DeFosset, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University and a Master of Business Administration from Harvard University, is the former Chairman, President and CEO of Walter Industries Inc.
During his service, Walter Industries was a diversified public company with businesses in water infrastructure products, metallurgical coal and natural gas, home building, and mortgage financing. DeFosset’s extensive management, business and mortgage experience and understanding of issues concerning public companies, provided a strong background for his leadership role on the Regions board.
During his 17-year tenure on the Regions board, DeFosset served on all four standing committees: Audit, Nominating and Corporate Governance, Risk, and Compensation and Human Resources – serving as committee chair of the latter from 2014 to 2021.
Byrd, too, served on multiple committees, including both Risk and Audit, which she chaired from 2016 to 2021.
Her corporate background in audit and finance, specifically her role as vice president, chief of Internal Audits and director of the Auditing Department at the Coca-Cola Company, provided the experience required to lead Regions in these critical areas.
Prior to her 23-year career at Coca-Cola, Byrd served as senior account officer at Citibank after earning a Bachelor of Economics and Business Administration from Fisk University and a Master of Finance and Business Administration from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.
After her retirement from the Coca-Cola Company, Byrd formed a business process and financial consulting company called GlobalTech Financial, headquartered in Atlanta.
Byrd served on the Board of Trustees of Fisk University for several years and was recipient of the Fisk Alumna of the Year Award in 2004. She has a long history of community service and has received numerous awards and honors, including the Atlanta Woman Magazine’s Atlanta’s Top Entrepreneurs, the Board of Directors Network’s Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans Award for exemplary corporate board service and guidance for aspiring women, and Women, Inc.’s Most Influential Corporate Directors.
Looking back on her board tenure, Byrd expressed pride and enthusiasm about the many areas of growth and progress the bank has experienced.
“Both the board of directors and the management team are stronger and more diverse,” she said. “The balance sheet is also stronger, and profits and dividends are up.”
DeFosset, too, reflected on his time on the board. He recalled that along with the AmSouth merger of equals and successful recovery from the Great Recession, other significant milestones he’s particularly proud of include the advancement of strategic planning processes. He also noted he’s pleased with the increased emphasis on “areas around human capital, particularly around ESG and DEI initiatives, along with the continued development of a strong corporate culture and the intense focus on serving the customer.”
President and CEO John Turner struck a similar note when describing Byrd’s and DeFosset’s contributions to the company’s success.
“Regions is a leader in our industry – not just among peer banks or in our footprint. And we wouldn’t be where we are as a company without the guidance and strong leadership from Carolyn and Don over the years,” Turner said. “Their contributions are too numerous to name, and I can’t thank them enough for their service to Regions, our associates, customers, our leadership team – and their mentorship to me, personally.”
Byrd’s and DeFosset’s upbeat tone about their service at Regions continued as they contemplated the future of the organization.
“Certainly, I will miss my colleagues, associates and friends,” Byrd said. “It has been an amazing experience for me to be a part of Regions’ success. The company has a lot to be proud of and I’m looking forward to watching progress continue in the future.”
DeFosset echoed that spirit, saying “Regions’ future path is much more clearly defined now, more than ever before.”
When asked for parting counsel to fellow board members, leadership and associates, Byrd responded with some tactical advice. “Continue to diversify the revenue stream and forge ahead on technological improvements,” she said.
DeFosset encouraged all Regions associates to use their influence in a positive fashion and to “stay engaged – excellent career paths are available if you wish them.”