Synovus announces 2022 Chairman’s Awards winners

COLUMBUS, Ga, Feb. 23, 2023 — Synovus Bank is pleased to announce the winners of its annual Chairman’s Awards:

  • James H. Blanchard Leadership Award
  • James D. Yancey Customer Covenant Award
  • William B. Turner Community Impact Award
  • Kessel D. Stelling Emerging Leader Award
  • Synovus Game Changer Award
  • Synergy Award

The awards honor team members who best represent Synovus’ award-winning culture, including its focus on leadership, customer satisfaction, serving others and innovation. The winners of the awards are selected from nominations submitted by team members across the company’s five-state footprint.

This year’s winners are:

James H. Blanchard Leadership AwardKevin Gillen, Middle Market Banking Senior Director, Sarasota, Fla.

This award is named for retired Synovus Chairman and CEO James H. Blanchard, who set a high standard for leadership throughout his 36-year tenure at Synovus. The award recognizes individuals who exemplify leadership and interpersonal skills such as teamwork, communication and coaching in various corporate, departmental and community roles.

Gillen is celebrated for developing talent, building high-performing teams and leading change throughout Florida while celebrating his team.

James D. Yancey Internal Customer Covenant AwardSamantha Dixon, Enterprise Business Analyst, Atlanta, Ga.

James D. Yancey External Customer Covenant AwardCayce Bell, Commercial Assistant, Columbia, S.C.

This award is named in honor of former Synovus Chairman James D. Yancey, who always put the needs of the customer first. Yancey was instrumental in the creation of the Customer Covenant, Synovus’ pledge to deliver exceptional internal and external customer service. The award recognizes individuals who consistently deliver exceptional job performance while making outstanding contributions in client satisfaction.

Dixon is celebrated for her cross-functional support of Synovus lines of business. Bell is recognized for taking 100% ownership of client, loan officer, trust specialist and financial advisor coordination and satisfaction.

William B. Turner Community Impact AwardErin Moore, Credit Risk Manager, Huntsville, Ala.

This award is named in honor of former Chairman of Synovus’ executive committee William B. Turner. Turner inspired others through his deep moral and spiritual convictions to make a difference in the lives of Synovus team members, their families and communities. The award recognizes individuals for outstanding philanthropic contributions and community service.

Moore is celebrated for her leadership as a Here Matters champion and advocate for financial education in her community.

Kessel D. Stelling Emerging Leader AwardTJ Patel, Wholesale Credit Risk Director, Atlanta, Ga., and Willette Shalishali, Senior Director of Talent Management and Development, Columbus, Ga.

This award is named for former CEO and Executive Chairman of the Synovus board Kessel D. Stelling. Stelling served as CEO from 2010 until 2021, during which he led Synovus through the Great Recession, consolidated 30 historic bank charters into one, repositioned the company for long-term growth, and led a historic transition from 26 separately branded divisions to one Synovus brand. The award recognizes individuals for their steadfast and transformational leadership within Synovus.

Patel is celebrated for his strategic approach to improving processes, building relationships and instilling exceptional risk management practices across multiple lines of business. Shalishali is recognized for her expertise and leadership in developing Synovus team members, including empowering others and being a transparent servant leader.

Synovus Game Changer AwardMatt Paluch, Wholesale COO, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

This award recognizes high-performing Synovus team members for making significant and positive contributions to the company with forward-thinking and innovative ideas.

Paluch is celebrated as a revolutionary thinker who acts as a true change agent at Synovus, perennially challenging the status quo.

Synovus Synergy AwardDavid Abee, Senior Director of Middle Market Banking, Atlanta, Ga.

This award recognizes cross-functional teams or leaders for delivering meaningful and measurable results related to the execution of projects or initiatives, overcoming business challenges, or ensuring comprehensive performance and delivery across all acumens within a geography.

Abee is celebrated for his ownership of Synovus’ nCino implementation. nCino is a cloud-based, industry-leading loan origination system that will enable Synovus to achieve greater modernization, speed and scalability.

Synovus Bank, a Georgia-chartered, FDIC-insured bank, provides commercial and consumer banking in addition to a full suite of specialized products and services including private banking, treasury management, wealth management, mortgage services, premium finance, asset-based lending, structured lending, capital markets and international banking. Synovus has branches in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Florida and Tennessee. Synovus is a Great Place to Work-Certified Company and is on the web at, and on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.