Derek Williams: Community Banking Light Continues To Burn Bright

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Honolulu (March 15, 2023)—Incoming Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) Chairman Derek Williams urged community banks attending ICBA LIVE to fuel a legacy of compassion, courage and commitment that attracts and inspires others and illuminates the path forward.

“Very simply, light dispels darkness. And it doesn’t work the other way,” said Williams, who serves as president and CEO of Century Bank & Trust in Milledgeville, Ga.

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“I find it very comforting and affirming that all the darkness in the world cannot dispel the light of a single candle. … I believe that we as community bankers light up our communities and dispel darkness through compassion, and courage, and commitment. That’s our legacy.”

The Unmatched Role Of Community Banks

During his keynote address, Williams recounted how community banks served as a source of strength and resilience for their customers and communities during the dark days of the Great Recession, showcasing the unmatched role of community banks and helping secure ICBA’s hard-fought legislative and regulatory victories.

“Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proven pure,” said Williams, who noted that “despite heavy winds, our light as community bankers was never extinguished.”’

While outlining his priorities as ICBA chairman in 2023-2024, Williams urged community bankers to use compassion as their compass in trying circumstances, to be heard by policymakers on key issues, and to leverage ICBA’s National Campaign to shine a light on the community bank difference.

“We understand our customers and communities in ways few do, so when rules and regulations harm those we serve —we must speak up and make our individual community banker voices heard,” he said.


Community banks will always stand shoulder to shoulder with customers to stimulate the economy, support local communities, and honor the industry’s trailblazers, Williams said.

“And we will do it with compassion, courage, and commitment; so that when our successors look back on the time that we were charged to protect and promote this great industry, they will find we did it faithfully and effectively,” he said.

“This is our time to shine,” said Williams. “The future of our industry is in our hands.”

To view William’s speech, visit ICBA’s You Tube channel. For more information about Williams, including his biography, visit

About ICBA

The Independent Community Bankers of America creates and promotes an environment where community banks flourish. ICBA is dedicated exclusively to representing the interests of the community banking industry and its membership through effective advocacy, best-in-class education, and high-quality products and services.