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Banking on Community

October 12, 2005 By:
Sally Friedman, JE Feature
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stephen steinour

There were five kids in a blue-collar, Gettysburg household, and Stephen Steinour was the second-oldest. His parents didn't have much, but there was plenty of joy in one another and a rock-solid value taught to each child: You give back.

That lesson clearly took for Steinour, now chairman and CEO of Citizens Bank's Mid-Atlantic Region. This thoughtful, articulate man has made giving back one of the anthems of his company, and his emphasis on philanthropy and hands-on service is shared with the bank's 5,000 regional employees.

"This is a core belief for us, and it translates into being a responsive and responsible corporate citizen and neighbor," said Steinour, who lives in Haverford with his wife Patti and his two children.

The corporate leader is also the current chairman of the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.

A graduate of Gettysburg College and of the executive program of Stanford University's graduate School of Business, Steinour has often been honored by the business and civic community. Last June, he received the Anti-Defamation League's coveted Torch of Liberty Award. Former recipients have included U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, Herman Mattelman, Jeffrey Lurie and Kenneth Jarin.

"I was tremendously honored to be given the Torch of Liberty Award, and to be in the company of the giants who have received the award before me," said Steinour.

The award was created to recognize leaders in business, community affairs and charitable endeavors dedicated to preserving liberty and advancing the causes of human rights, dignity and equal opportunity. It's a tall order, and Steinour exemplifies its mandate.

A non-Jew himself, Steinour has taken a particular interest in the Jewish community and its causes, and has been an avid supporter of vital programs and institutions.

Through the Citizens Bank chairman and CEO, for example, the company has supported HIAS and Council Migration Service, the Jewish Business Network, the Jewish Employment and Vocation Service and the National Museum of American Jewish History.

"The Jewish Federation [of Greater Philadelphia] has consistently shown leadership in helping others, and we're so proud to support its terrific work. Our contributions are merely an expression of gratitude for all it's done for this community."

Steinour, who's on the executive committee of the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania and on the boards of the Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition, the National Constitution Center and the Eisenhower Fellowships, is particularly pleased that the bank has also developed a Neighborhood Investment Program and Citizens Job Bank.

"These are programs that provide capital funding, volunteers and resources to communities and businesses that are expanding and making improvements," he said. "The concept is to help people help themselves."

Recently, the bank announced a gift of $250,000 to the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia for a very special initiative.

Called "Citizens Community Bridge," the grant will fund the introduction and expansion of six initiatives that help disadvantaged people by providing food, housing, health care, medicine and employment programs.

"We're always glad to become involved in very focused programs that have immediate impact on people's lives," said Steinour. "The lesson I learned in childhood from my own family has stayed with me: It feels good to do good."

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