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Laurie Finney Beard, '81

Laurie Finney Beard, '81

Laurie Finney Beard grew up in central Illinois and earned her undergraduate degree in Economics and Finance at Millikin University. After working as a bank examiner for the Federal Government in Chicago, she later moved to Michigan, where she earned her Master of Business Administration from Grand Valley State University in 1981. After a few years as an investment broker, she joined forces with other local businessmen who had the vision to create a new local bank.  Beard became instrumental in the formation and successful capitalization of Founders Bank & Trust, a privately held community bank in Grand Rapids MI. As a founder of the bank in 1991, her first role as Senior Vice President was to create the Wealth Management Department. Beard was promoted to President & CEO of the bank in 2001.

Under her leadership, the organization has become one of the best performing banks in Michigan.  Founders Bank & Trust is the only bank headquartered in West Michigan with a Five Star (Superior) rating from Bauer Financial, an independent bank rating agency.  During her tenure, the bank’s total assets have tripled, to $450 million, with four branches and 100 employees. As to national recognition, Beard serves on the Community Bankers Council of the American Bankers Association, which is comprised of two bankers selected from each state.

Deeply committed to her community, Beard serves as trustee of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation. She is also a member of Grand Valley’s Foundation board and the GVSU Women’s Advisory Board.  In addition, she is a member of the GVSU Seidman School of Business Dean’s Advisory Board as well as the Advisory Board for the Vice Provost for Health.  She volunteers for Gift of Life, and along with the Secretary of State, Beard promoted April 2010 as “Donate Life” month, in memory of her son, Paul. Beard was recently appointed as a board member for the Transplant Games of America, a national multi-sport festival event to help promote the need for Organ & Tissue donation.

Her focus on the community has earned her recognition as one of Grand Rapids Business Journal’s 50 Most Influential Women, as Seidman School of Business Alumnus of the Year, and as one of the Top Women in Finance in West Michigan.

Beard is a baseball enthusiast, and a lifelong, eternally optimistic Chicago Cubs fan. She resides in Cascade Township.  Her son, Jeremy, daughter-in-law Beth, and her granddaughter Stella live in Chicago.

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