Center for Banking & Finance Leadership Awards

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Marion A. Cowell Jr.

Marion Cowell joined Cameron-Brown Company, a mortgage banking subsidiary of First Union, in 1972. In 1978, he became general counsel of First Union and served in that capacity until his retirement from the bank in 1999. First Union merged with Wachovia following Cowell's retirement and is currently the fifth largest financial holding company in the U.S. Cowell is now Counsel to Kilpatrick Stockton LLP in Charlotte. He is a member of the Board of Legal Services of North Carolina, Inc., a member of the IOLTA Board and former chair of the North Carolina Bar Association's Professionalism Committee.

Jerone C. Herring

Jerone Herring was hired as BB&T's first lawyer in 1971. When Herring retired after 32 years at BB&T, the bank had grown from $250 million in assets when he started to over $90 billion in assets, making it then the 11th largest financial holding company in the country and the eighth largest retail insurance broker in the United States. BB&T now operates over 1400 bank branches in 11 states and the District of Columbia. It was a pioneer in the acquisition of thrift institutions and the use of merger-conversions.

Paul J. Polking

Paul Polking joined NCNB Corporation (one of Bank of America's predecessors) in 1970. Mr. Polking was the bank's second lawyer. He was named general counsel in 1988 and now presides over a legal department that numbered over 230 attorneys prior to the consummation of the Fleet Financial merger. NCNB, then NationsBank and now Bank of America, is widely credited with helping to dismantle geographic restrictions on banking. Bank of America will hold the most deposits in the United States after its merger with Fleet, and it will truly be a bank with a nationwide branch system.

Paul H. Stock

Paul Stock is Executive Vice President and Counsel of the North Carolina Bankers Association. He has served the NCBA for over thirty years. Over the course of his distinguished career he has worked tirelessly to protect the interests of the members of the bankers association. Especially notable, was the unlikely coalition of bankers and consumer advocates that Paul helped build to facilitate the passage of the nation's first anti-predatory lending law in 1999.

Tony Gaeta, Jr.

Tony practices with Wyrick Robbins Yates & Ponton with a focus on financial institutions. He has served on the Board of Advisors for the Banking Institute since its inception almost twenty years ago and has been a guiding force in ensuring its success and financial support.

Tony taught Mergers & Acquisitions at the UNC School of Law for a number of years. Prior to joining Wyrick Robbins, Tony was the founder of Gaeta & Eveson, PA. His career began at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett after graduating from Wesleyan University and receiving his J.D. from William and Mary. He has worked at Ward and Smith, Moore & Van Allen, and as General Counsel to United Carolina Bancshares Corporation (now part of BB&T Corporation).

Eugene "Gene" M. Katz

Gene is Senior Company Counsel (Regulatory and Compliance) for Wells Fargo & Company in Charlotte.  He has served on the Board of Advisors for the Banking Institute 2000 and has provided incredible support throughout the years, including serving as a Banking Institute panelist and coordinator, Practitioner in Residence and the UNC School of Law, host of multiple Career Treks, and founding faculty member of the ABCs of Banking Law.

Gene’s distinguished career began with government service.  He worked with the Department of Justice, the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, the Office of Thrift Supervision, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency where he was Director of the Litigation Division.  He then practiced law with firms in D.C. and Charlotte before beginning his in-house career with Wachovia.  Prior to Wachovia’s merger into Wells Fargo, Gene was the Senior Vice President and Assistant General Counsel of Wachovia.  Gene received his undergraduate and law school degrees from Tulane University.  He is an active member of the ABA Business Law Section’s Banking Law Committee.

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