Betsy Cadwallader focuses on ‘resilience and recovery’ in new leadership role

April 16, 2021

The regional Commercial Banking leader’s expanded portfolio at U.S. Bank spans from Pacific Northwest to the Rockies.

On a clear day, Betsy Cadwallader’s ferry boat commute features ocean air and sweeping panoramic views of the Seattle skyline and snow-capped Mount Rainier. As she embarks on a new leadership role with U.S. Bank, Cadwallader’s vantage point will now extend far beyond the Pacific Northwest.

Cadwallader is the metro market president and regional head of Commercial Banking in Puget Sound, Portland, San Francisco and Sacramento. She recently added metro markets in Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Colorado to her growing portfolio of responsibilities – making her one of the top leaders in Commercial Banking at U.S. Bank, the fifth-largest commercial bank in the U.S. 

Cadwallader’s promotion follows a string of accolades that she’s received for her leadership and performance. She was recently named to the U.S. Bank team honored through American Banker’s Most Powerful Women in Banking and Finance program for the second consecutive year. 

Since moving to Seattle four years ago, Cadwallader leads a sizable team who have responsibility for a robust client portfolio, serving middle market businesses ranging from $25 million to $1 billion in annual sales and revenues. These companies represent an economic sector in the U.S. that accounts for trillions of dollars annually in terms of domestic private sector gross receipts, plus millions of jobs.

Pragmatic and down-to-earth by nature, Cadwallader has a clear vision of where she wants to take her U.S. Bank Commercial Banking teams, with plans in 2021 that are focused on what she calls, “resilience and recovery.”

“It’s our responsibility as bankers to help these mid-size American companies remain strong, capable and healthy,” she said. 

To accomplish this, Cadwallader and her team are helping companies gain access to capital, including critical Paycheck Protection Program loans, in order to grow and recover. They’re also providing support in key areas needed for business success, such as payments optimization and mobile technology, which help streamline banking services and make transactions more secure. 

“We are beginning to see deal flow again, after an uncertain period early in the pandemic,” she said. “Companies with the strength to do so are considering acquisitions and investments to expand capacity. We’re engaged in helping these middle market businesses identify new opportunities for expansion, growth and capital investments.”

Ascending the leadership ranks

Cadwallader’s ties to Seattle are fitting given her long love affair with the ocean. The Ohio native considered becoming a marine biologist before turning her interest in business into a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from Miami University and an MBA in Finance from the University of Cincinnati. 

Since joining the banking profession in 1980, Cadwallader’s career has included client relationship management, credit risk management, capital markets origination and product execution, and subordinated debt and equity principal investing. She’s also lived and worked in seven U.S. cities. In 2017, she relocated to Seattle from Chicago – where she was the U.S. Bank chief credit officer for Commercial Banking – to take on her first Commercial Banking regional leadership role for U.S. Bank. 

In addition to her regional Commercial Banking work, Cadwallader is an advisor to the Seattle Women’s Business Resource Group (BRG), which launched virtually in 2020 and now has more than 200 members. Like other BRGs in U.S. Bank, this BRG is committed to advancing women and people of color.

“2020 has been an extraordinary year for everyone, but it’s been particularly hard on women,” she said. “We’ve focused on that challenge across our company in the past year. One of my roles has been keeping the people around me positively focused while we are all working from home in an unparalleled way.

“To do that, you have to be empathetic and recognize we all have to adjust. U.S. Bank has been very supportive that way,” she said.

Community engagement in Seattle

As a Puget Sound business leader, Cadwallader advocates for numerous regional recovery and rebuilding efforts at the community level. 

She is a member of the Washington Round Table (WRT), a nonprofit organization of senior business leaders who advocate on public policy issues important to Washington state’s economic viability and livability. Next year, Cadwallader will chair WRT. Today, she’s deeply involved in a WRT/Washington Bankers Association initiative that is working to address disproportionate access to homeownership among people and communities of color in Seattle.  

Cadwallader also serves on the board of the Pacific Coast Banking School, in partnership with the University of Washington Graduate School of Business. And, she’s a board member for the Independent Colleges of Washington and Pioneer Human Services, a nonprofit organization that seeks to give individuals with criminal histories the support and services they need to successfully reenter society and lead healthy, productive lives.

“My interest in Pioneer was driven by its unique social enterprise structure, its mission to provide opportunity and dignity for those impacted by the criminal justice system and its leadership,” she said. 

As a board member, Cadwallader has advocated for Pioneer’s new low-income housing complex, Aspen Terrace, an 89-unit residential housing project that replaced functionally obsolete housing in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. U.S. Bank Community Development Corporation provided critical project equity in the form of low-income housing credits, and with Cadwallader’s support, the facility opened in December 2020.  

“I’m involved in my community in many ways, but if I were to choose, I’d say that my real passion is helping people access education opportunities and take pride in their lives and neighborhoods,” she said.

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