When Felicia La Forgia’s parents arrived in the U.S. from Italy in the 1930s, they shared the dream of so many other immigrants: to find a better life in their new country. More than 80 years later, their only child – a first-generation American and the first in her family to attend college – leads a multi-billion-dollar business unit at U.S. Bank.
“We manage huge relationships in all types of industries,” said La Forgia, head of Corporate Banking. “What separates us from similar teams at other banks is our people. We have a great combination of specialized experience and wide geographic coverage. That allows us to support clients anywhere in the country, even in places where there aren’t U.S. Bank branches.”
La Forgia was promoted to her position in June 2020, heading a team of specialized lending groups that focus on Fortune 500 companies. She leads U.S. Bank initiatives in the greater New York City area and client activity across all industry, geographic, and government sectors, as well as community engagement. Since she took on her new role, loans, deposits, and capital markets revenue have grown significantly. And it’s happened at a time when employees, customers and every sector of the economy have felt the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic.
La Forgia’s career began just across the Hudson River, where she grew up in northern New Jersey. Her father worked at the ports as a longshoreman, and her mother was a homemaker. They instilled in their daughter a strong work ethic and overcame financial obstacles to ensure she had opportunities to get an education.
It was a dream come true for them when La Forgia graduated from college, earning a bachelor’s degree in finance from Lehigh University. She went on to pursue a postgraduate degree, taking on a full course load while working full time. She received her MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business.
In 2008, La Forgia was working for another financial institution when the then-head of U.S. Bank Corporate Banking asked her to consider joining the bank’s New York office. The group was growing, creating teams of relationship managers dedicated to clients in specific industries, such as retail and insurance. La Forgia would have the chance to build her own utilities business.
“I couldn’t say no,” she said. “I saw the potential. The office was just getting started, and it was small – about 35 people, all on one floor. Today, we have 275. It’s been incredible to see the growth in our size and reputation over the last 13 years. People want to work for U.S. Bank here in New York.”
After years of leading specialized teams, La Forgia was named head of Corporate Banking in 2020 – just as the bank and its clients were adapting to the financial and public-health challenges stemming from the pandemic. La Forgia was a steadying presence for her team, keeping them together and focused.
“We were the first call from a lot of our clients,” she said. “We were present for them, and we stayed connected. They know they’re important to us, and they appreciate that we’re always there – especially in difficult times.”
Between February and April 2020, La Forgia’s team booked $19 billion in new funded loans for borrowers – funds that helped businesses move forward, even in the midst of COVID. By the end of 2020, loans had grown by 14 percent; deposits by 22 percent; and capital markets revenue by more than 70 percent.
The industry has taken note. American Banker recognized La Forgia as part of the U.S. Bank Most Powerful Women in Banking team in 2020, and she was named to the Crain’s New York Business Notable Women on Wall Street list in March 2021.
La Forgia is also a leader in her community – she is a Trustee and the Treasurer of the New York City chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) and was a volunteer marathon and triathlon coach for LLS’s Team-in-Training program for more than 13 years. She also serves as a mentor with the Make-A-Wish Foundation (Metro New York and Western New York chapter).
La Forgia recently announced strategic changes to Corporate Banking’s specialized divisions. Along with several expansions and realignments, she created two new groups: Aerospace & Defense and Hospitality & Leisure. These moves mean the group will be well positioned to support even more companies as the nation reopens.
“This is a people business,” La Forgia said. “The sense of community that was so important to my parents – the thing that gave them strength – is a key part of our success. We want to be the go-to bank; the one clients know they can rely on to solve problems they didn’t even know they had – and help them reach goals they couldn’t have imagined possible.”
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