For Rachel Gerlach, the path to her role as chief credit officer of Alpine Bank began with a part-time college job.

While pursuing undergraduate studies in Business Administration, International Business and Management at the University of Denver, Gerlach began working a few days a week as an Alpine Bank teller.

After progressing through several positions at the bank during college—then graduating magna cum laude— the bank recruited her to a full-time role, and she joined the company’s officer training program. Concurrently she completed graduate studies in banking at Louisiana State University and Southern Methodist University.

Since 1997 Gerlach has held advancing leadership roles at Alpine, a $5.1 billion community bank headquartered in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, with operations in the state’s Western Slope and Front Range.

After serving as Alpine’s chief operations officer the last few years, Gerlach became chief credit officer in 2021 and now oversees all loan and credit operations.

“My job is to make sure I set strong credit policies so the bank has a robust loan portfolio,” Gerlach said. Her areas of responsibility include monitoring and managing credit risk, collections, loan procedures and the development and implementation of the bank’s strategic plan, in collaboration with other members of the senior executive team.

Rachel Gerlach of the Kansas City Fed's Denver Branch Board of Directors standing outside in a suit.

Alpine Bank was founded in 1973 and became employee-owned in the 1980s. Gerlach said that structure is somewhat rare and is an important differentiating characteristic.

“For employees, ownership in the company gives them a sense of responsibility and caring,” she said. “They’re owners, and they know that what they do every day matters. They want to serve their communities to the best of their abilities.”

Gerlach said that becoming a member of the Denver Branch Board of Directors presents an opportunity to be a voice for those communities.

“My excitement for joining the board stems from my personal desire to continue to give back to my community and ultimately to my country,” she says. “Being a director for the Denver Branch not only allows me to bring the perspective of a community banker, but it also helps bring issues to light that our small businesses and local communities are facing. For me, it’s truly an opportunity to make sure Main Street is heard in Washington, and to encourage and help shape economic policy for the advancement of all Americans.”

Serving on a Reserve Bank board, Gerlach said, means acquiring knowledge as well as contributing.

“This is going to be a great learning opportunity for me,” she said. “My interactions so far with the other board members have been amazing, just listening to the challenges they’re facing in their industries and the leadership they’re providing in their communities. It’s also an opportunity for me to achieve a greater understanding of the Federal Reserve Bank and the vital role it plays in our economy.”

Learn more about Ms. Gerlach here.