Breaking the glass ceiling as market president of Herring Bank in Colorado Springs, Kristie Bender said the bank seeks to under-promise and over-deliver.
“Exceeding expectations and building relationships for a lifetime is what we’re all about,” she said.
Her personal mission statement is, “Learn one. Do one. Teach one.”
Co-worker Tina Landis explained what the mantra means.
“If there’s something you don’t know, you need to learn how to do it, [then] do it and teach someone else as well,” Landis said.
Bender is “very much” a leader in the bank and volunteers for several organizations, among them — Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Home Front Cares, Goodwill, Junior Achievement, Colorado Business Women and “she really believes in helping our veterans,” Landis said.
Bender said that becoming the market president for the bank is her most significant professional accomplishment.
“My current position … is what I’ve always wanted. I am living the dream,” said Bender, who has lived in the Pikes Peak region 21 years.
Bender has an impressive background paving the way for today’s women in business.
Born and raised in Iowa, Bender started her career as a stockbroker after learning the business and being mentored while still in high school. Bender worked at the Securities and Exchange Commission and also became one of the first women stockbrokers. She then “drifted into the wholesale mortgage business,” where she worked buying mortgages and managing portfolios for large corporations.
“I decided I could do this on my own, so I did,” she said of her company, American Finance, which she started in 1995, after she and her family moved to the Pikes Peak Region in 1994. Her business grew to 28 employees before she sold it.
She then began working in banking, eventually reaching the level of vice president at ANB Bank in Colorado Springs when she was tapped by Herring to lead its branch here.
“We’re rocking and rolling here at the bank,” she said. “We’re growing the bank, which is exceedingly important. We’re looking at [opening] three to four more locations in Colorado.”
Outside of work, she lists her most significant personal accomplishment: “Raising four very successful children.”
Her daughter is the chief district attorney in El Paso County. She has three sons: One owns a business in Denver; her middle son lives in Crested Butte and owns the “largest landscaping company on the Western Slope;” and her youngest son lives in Calhan and raises cattle for a living.
She credits her employees at the bank for her success.
“I’m fortunate to be in the position I’m in. I have an outstanding, amazing team around me,” Bender said. “Without them, I couldn’t do the things I do.”
— Marija B. Vader