July 3 — Chris Furlow officially took the helm as the new president and CEO of the Texas Bankers Association, succeeding Eric Sandberg, who retired after holding the position for nine years. Furlow was named to the post in January 2018 following a nationwide search that included more than 200 candidates.
In advance of the leadership transition, Furlow joined TBA on April 1. Since that time, he has logged more than 8,000 miles on the road and in the air traveling Texas to hear directly from TBA members about their challenges and needs.
“I’ve really enjoyed getting around and meeting both leaders and employees of Texas banks,” Furlow said. “In addition to drilling down on the issues our members are facing, I’ve had the opportunity to see up-close and personal what wonderful people Texas bankers are. It’s certainly an honor to be leading the oldest and largest state banking association in the nation.”
Furlow says his No. 1 priority is “to work with urgency to address the competitive, regulatory and cyber risk that challenges banks of all sizes — but particularly our community banks that have fewer resources and personnel to combat them.”
Furlow understands these risks well. Most recently he served as president of Ridge Global, an international risk management and cybersecurity firm, where clients included banks and energy companies. He served in the George W. Bush White House following the 9/11 attacks and was a senior member of the founding staff at the Department of Homeland Security. He previously served as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce and as communications director for a member of the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee.
“As Gov. Abbott will tell you, the Texas economy is among the top 10 on the planet. But with a world-class opportunity comes world-class threats. TBA will help our member banks reduce these risks so they can do what they do best — help Texas businesses grow and families succeed,” he said.
Furlow also brings deep statewide and national political experience to TBA’s advocacy efforts for community banks. A Louisiana native, he served as executive director of the Louisiana GOP in the early 1990s. He was later appointed National Field Director at the Republican National Committee where he managed the RNC’s political staff during the 2000 presidential election. More recently, he has held leadership roles with the U.S. Chamber Commerce Cyber Leadership Council.
“Whether we are advocating on behalf of our members in Austin or Washington, TBA will communicate that most Texas banks are themselves small and family-owned businesses that enable the growth of other small businesses,” Furlow said. “The well-being of Texas banks is directly tied to the success of the communities they serve.”