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Daily News

BOSTON — Berkshire Bank announced the promotion of Jennifer Carmichael to executive vice president and chief internal audit officer. She previously served as senior vice president and audit manager at the bank.

In her role, Carmichael will continue to lead all aspects of Berkshire’s internal audit and independent SOX testing programs. She is responsible for providing independent and objective assurance to management and the audit committee on the adequacy and effectiveness of governance and internal controls to support the achievement of organizational objectives as well as promote and facilitate continuous improvement as part of the third line of defense. She reports directly to the audit committee of the board of directors and administratively to acting CEO Sean Gray.

“Jennifer is a proven leader whose strategic perspective, commitment to operational excellence, and accountability will accelerate our transformation into a 21st-century community bank,” Gray said. “Her work in this expanded role will ensure the bank adheres to the highest ethical standards, serving our company, our customers, and our shareholders well. I am very pleased to welcome Jennifer to the bank’s executive leadership team.”

Carmichael previously served as senior vice president and audit manager at Berkshire Bank. She joined Berkshire in 2016 from Accume Partners, where she served as senior audit manager to several clients in the New York and New England regions, including Berkshire. She began her career in the community-banking sector in internal audit roles and previously served several years at Ballston Spa National Bank, including as assistant vice president, compliance and BSA officer and assistant auditor. In addition to her professional achievements, she also serves as a member of the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary and the Vermont Veterans Home board of trustees, where she serves on the strategic planning committee.

Daily News

BOSTON — Berkshire Bank announced the promotion of Jason White to executive vice president and chief information officer. He previously served as senior vice president and chief technology officer at the bank.

In his new role, White will lead all aspects of Berkshire’s information-technology program and oversee the teams responsible for ACH payroll, wire room, and electronic banking. He will also continue to direct the bank’s technology investments and assets to ensure it is meeting the changing demands of customers in a digitally focused banking environment. He will report directly to acting President and CEO Sean Gray.

“Jason is a proven technology leader whose strategic perspective, commitment to operational excellence, and collaborative leadership approach will accelerate our transformation into a 21st-century community bank,” Gray said. “His strong record of success in leading technology initiatives to increase efficiency and provide a secure and superior customer experience will be vital to our future growth and profitability. I am very pleased to welcome Jason to the bank’s leadership team.”

In August, BostonCIO announced White as a winner of its 2020 CIO of the Year ORBIE Award in the corporate category. The awards recognize chief information officers who have demonstrated excellence in technology leadership.

White previously served as senior vice president and chief technology officer at Berkshire Bank. He joined Berkshire in 2019 after the bank’s acquisition of Savings Institute Bank & Trust. Before that, he was responsible for streamlining the information-technology and operational workflows at Savings Institute, implementing a fully virtualized infrastructure, enhancing its overall information-security posture, and innovating customer digital channels. At Savings Institute, he served as chief information officer and information security officer. His background includes more than 25 years of experience supporting technology and operational areas within the financial industry.

Daily News

BOSTON — Berkshire Bank announced enhanced protections that will provide its 1,500 employees with paid and protected leave to manage the consequences of intimate-partner violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. Berkshire Bank has partnered with FreeFrom, a nonprofit creating pathways to financial security and long-term safety for survivors of gender-based violence, to increase its existing leave policies to benefit its employees.

The enhanced policy gives employees 15 days of leave a year to seek medical care, attend court proceedings, and relocate — all without missing a paycheck or depleting their accrued sick or vacation days. Since 2014, Berkshire Bank has had a domestic-violence leave policy in compliance with relevant state laws. These new enhancements go beyond the mandated requirements of state laws to offer additional support for survivors and their families impacted by this type of abuse.

Berkshire Bank employees will also now have access to FreeFrom’s Compensation Compass, a tool designed to assist survivors of domestic abuse in understanding whether they are eligible for compensation to cover some of the costs of the harm they experienced. In addition, the bank plans to collaborate with FreeFrom as part of its Survivor Safety Banking Initiative to explore how to design products and policies to better support customers that have experienced or are experiencing violence or abuse. This approach eliminates barriers to access for individuals of all backgrounds and experiences by providing innovative financial solutions, including an online account-opening experience that will help bring survivors into mainstream banking.

“Action matters, and we are proud to partner with FreeFrom to enhance our existing leave policies and provide additional resources for survivors of gender-based violence,” said Sean Gray, acting CEO and President of Berkshire Bank. “As we honor Domestic Violence Awareness Month this October, this enhancement for our employees and collaboration with FreeFrom is an important component to living our ‘Be FIRST’ vision and values while building a successful and meaningful culture where everyone can thrive and reach their full potential.”

Daily News

BOSTON — Berkshire Bank has chosen Boston-based Nexamp as its community solar provider to reduce costs and improve sustainability. Founded more than 170 years ago, Berkshire Bank operates 130 branches across seven northeastern states. By enrolling in the Nexamp community solar program, the bank is taking an active role in the advancement of clean energy.

Corporations and large organizations looking to embrace clean energy have a number of compelling options today, but a community solar subscription provides a unique opportunity in scale and savings potential, while helping to green the grid in the areas they work. Nexamp operates hundreds of community solar farms that generate clean electricity fed directly to the local utility grid and allocates the value of that energy to subscribers to help reduce their monthly electric bills. Through solar net metering agreements available in the program, Berkshire Bank is subscribing to a significant portion of the community solar farm in Hadley.

“Renewable energy plays a major role in our overall sustainability strategy, which include policies and programs designed to enhance our environmental performance and increase our efficiency,” said Gary Levante, senior vice president of Corporate Responsibility at Berkshire Bank. “We are committed to transitioning our energy use to lower carbon alternatives, and, by subscribing to community solar, we are able to do that while also reducing our overall costs, an added benefit. We chose Nexamp for the simplicity and proven performance of its community solar program.”

Community solar continues to expand, providing options for those who want to go solar but do not have the resources or infrastructure to install panels on their property. More businesses are embracing the advantages of distributed solar, such as enhanced sustainability and reduced operational expenses.

“Corporations are increasingly prioritizing sustainability and looking for innovative ways to reduce their environmental footprint within the communities they serve,” said Joe Fiori, director of Business Development at Nexamp. “By integrating a mix of renewable energy, efficiency measures, and other intentional programs, these organizations are able to make a real difference. And with community solar, the benefits are available to individuals as well as corporations and other organizations.”

Daily News

BOSTON — Berkshire Bank, together with Reevx Labs, will host a third part to its “Reimagining America” town-hall series today, June 25, in which it will address how white allies can help build an equitable and inclusive economy that ensures all communities can thrive.

Berkshire Bank’s goal in hosting this town-hall series is to start a dialogue about how everyone — from economic experts and policy makers to philanthropists and entrepreneurs — can work together to rebuild a stronger, more inclusive economy, and how supporting this initiative on a community level can motivate change on a national level.

Malia Lazu, executive vice president and chief culture and experience officer at Berkshire Bank, noted that, “on the heels of two impactful panels on the future of black and Latinx economies earlier this month, and in the midst of a national upswelling against racial injustice, we believe it is equally pertinent to discuss what it truly means to be an effective ally and help facilitate change in our communities. Reevx Labs was established as a place for community leaders to realize their shared vision of building opportunity and prosperity. With this panel, we intend to continue this dialogue with white allies who are seeking solutions to achieve equity in our economy.”

Participants in today’s event, to be held at 4 p.m., include Pete Dominick, comedian, radio and TV personality, and host of the “Stand Up with Pete” podcast; Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s; Barbara Clark, lead investor in Portfolia’s Rising Tide, Enterprise, and First Step Funds; Jonathan Metzl, director of Medicine, Health, and Society at Vanderbilt University; and Malia Lazu, executive vice president and chief culture and experience officer at Berkshire Bank.

To register, click here. The livestream is available here.

COVID-19

BOSTON — Berkshire Bank announced programs to provide additional financial flexibility to customers who may face financial hardship due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 virus.

Effective Wednesday, March 18 for an initial 30-day period, Berkshire Bank is offering the following enhancements to all of its customers:

• For retail banking, consumer loan, and mortgage customers, the bank is increasing daily debit-card spending limits, waiving penalties for early CD withdrawals up to $20,000, and offering an option to forbear consumer and mortgage loan payments for one to three months.

• For small-business customers, the bank is increasing daily debit-card spending limits, waiving penalties for early CD withdrawals up to $20,000, and offering the ability to leverage specific options for consideration to forebear the loan.

“We understand that COVID-19 and the necessary precautions we are all taking to prevent its spread have begun to impact members of our community in meaningful ways,” said Richard Marotta, CEO of Berkshire Bank. “In addition to these initial steps to provide our customers financial flexibility, we will continue to explore additional ways to support our customers and neighbors during this difficult time. As a committed member of our community, we understand how essential it is that we all work together at this time.”

Berkshire Bank is actively engaging with partners like the Massachusetts LGBTQ Chamber and the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts, among others, to provide funding assistance to small businesses that are most impacted by the financial implications of the pandemic. “We are exploring ways to provide a unique selection of low-interest rate solutions underwritten by our community partners. We intend to set aside $3 million in available capital to support this effort,” Marotta said.

In addition, the Berkshire Bank Foundation has earmarked an incremental $500,000 for small-business grants to help businesses that do not have the ability to pay.