Kristina “Kris” Williams was named president and chief executive officer of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines effective Jan. 20. Since 2011, she had been the chief operating officer at the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh. Williams succeeded Mike Wilson, who retired as FHLB Des Moines president on Feb. 7. Before joining FHLB Pittsburgh in 2004, Williams was chief financial officer of wholesale banking for PNC Financial Services Group, where she also spent time in SEC and regulatory reporting and was director of accounting policy. She is a certified public accountant. As a member-owned cooperative, FHLB Des Moines provides funding services and liquidity to nearly 1,350 member institutions, including commercial banks, savings institutions, credit unions, insurance companies and community development financial institutions, and receives no taxpayer funding. It’s one of 11 regional banks of the Federal Home Loan Bank system, and serves 13 states including Iowa, as well as the U.S. Pacific territories of American Samoa, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

What were some key financial roles that prepared you for this position? 

Prior to FHLB Des Moines, I spent 15 years at FHLB Pittsburgh, most recently as the chief operating officer with responsibility for all member-facing departments, including community investment, communications, member services, all bank operations and information technology. Prior to becoming COO in 2011, I held a number of executive-level positions including chief risk officer and chief financial officer. Before joining the FHLBank System, I spent 12 years with PNC Financial Services Group, where I served as the chief financial officer of wholesale banking. I started my career in public accounting.

How settled in are you to Des Moines since your move from Pittsburgh? 

We are not settled in. We are in temporary housing until June when we hope to get into our new home. It doesn’t help that we are in the middle of a pandemic.

How would you compare the culture at FHLB Des Moines to that of Pittsburgh FHLB? 

I can’t really, since we have been shut down since mid-March. Ask me in a year.

What has the overall trend been for advance activity by FHLBs in the past few years, and what would you say the outlook is for 2020? 

Throughout 2018 and for the majority of 2019, we had strong advance demand as our members experienced strong loan growth. Our business is cyclical in nature, so we are purposefully designed to expand and contract with the needs of our members. During the month of March, as many financial institutions across the country bolstered their balance sheets with additional funding due to the uncertainty, we provided a rapid increase in funding to our members. While I can’t predict what our advance levels will look like in 2020, we are prepared to continue meeting our members’ affordable housing, lending and economic development needs. 

How has FHLB responded, and what are some of the biggest challenges that FHLB has faced during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The bank is doing well, despite all of the uncertainty that’s been brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. We are crisis proven, as there have been several crises in the last 88 years, the most recent being the 2008 financial crisis and our unexpected flooding in 2017. Because of events like those, we had already made necessary business continuity preparations and tested them extensively. Early on, we had nearly 90% of our workforce working from home, with another 5% at our headquarters and 5% at our business recovery center. Our pandemic response team meets twice weekly and continues to monitor the situation and remains agile. As can be expected in situations like this, there are always a few ups and downs. Overall, we are pleased with how everything has gone, and very thankful to our staff for their commitment to our members and the bank.

We also understand the significance of this pandemic on the Des Moines community. We contributed $25,000 to the Small Business Recovery Grant program — organized by the Greater Des Moines Partnership — to help small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. We also teamed up with the Iowa Bankers Association and Shazam to donate a total of $40,000 to the Food Bank of Iowa, which will provide nearly 160,000 meals to help feed the increasing number of Iowa children, families and seniors who are struggling with food security as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Our donation was $10,000 of the $40,000. 

What’s the latest on programs that FHLB has developed for member organizations specific to COVID-19 lending support? 

The most important thing that the bank can do for our members at this time is to continue to be a stable and reliable source of funding. A few updates that we have made to support our members include adjustments to our collateral eligibility guidelines to align with our members who are implementing loan forbearance or loan modification agreements for their borrowers. Two, accepting Payroll Protection Program loans as collateral as our members are on the front line of working directly with businesses in their communities. Three, offering Special Relief Funding on three-month or six-month advances to help our members fund PPP loans. And four, for longer-term funding needs, members have access to $10 million in low-cost funds through Community Investment Advances, which are discounted advances to support small business lending, economic development and housing needs. 

How would you say you’re approaching your first CEO role? 

I ask “why” a lot, as it helps me learn. That’s how I was brought up, constantly learning something new [and having] intellectual curiosity. The thing I am doing the most is listening. I appreciate diversity in the way people think and believe that the more differing opinions and counter perspectives, the better. I am very passionate about the work of the bank and its impact on our members and their communities. I spend a lot of time ensuring we are meeting our members’ needs. FHLB Des Moines has an extensive footprint, serving the most members across the largest geographical area of any Federal Home Loan Bank.

What’s your perspective on progress that women leaders have made in the banking industry during your career? 

There has been tremendous movement during the last 30-plus years. But there is still a long way to go; why not 50% in executive positions? Women make up half the population — it seems logical that they would make up half of the executive positions.

Tell me about your family 

I am married to my husband, Jim Taibi, with two kids – Gabriel and Brianna – who are in their early 20s in L.A. right now. We have a golden retriever, Sandy, who is ready to be in our new home. 

Hobbies you enjoy? 

I had season tickets to the Pittsburgh Penguins. I’m looking forward to the hockey teams here. The ideal time for me is sun and water — swimming pools and boating. I love to travel with family and enjoy a John Grisham novel.ν