For as far north as many Americans consider our corner of the world, First Fed’s Christopher “Chris” Neros comes from a place even more northwest than Whatcom County: Alaska.
Neros, First Fed’s ne executive vice president and chief lending officer, grew up in Sitka. Although he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Marketing from the University of Alaska Anchorage, Neros describes his banking career as an accidental one.
Two years out of college, a family friend invited Neros to be a loan officer at the Sitka branch of First National Bank Alaska. He planned to be there just two years, but instead spent nearly 11 years at the bank, becoming a Vice President and Lending Branch Manager.
During this time Neros also met and married his wife, a Southern California girl who’d moved to Alaska for a two-year military commitment with the Public Health Service. Neros added a graduate degree to his resume in 2002, obtaining a Master of Business Administration from Colorado’s Regis University.
In 2006, he and his wife, along with their 5-year-old daughter, moved to Bellingham. It was a place Neros had passed through on road trips from Alaska, and also knew through friends who’d attended Western Washington University — where his daughter is now a senior.
“Bellingham seemed like a really nice place to raise a family,” he says.
Besides spending time with his family, Neros enjoys golfing and riding mountain bikes. You can also find him taking hikes with his three rescue dogs — a German shepherd mix, an Akita mix, and a Siberian Husky mix.
After arriving in Bellingham, Neros landed at Peoples Bank as a Vice President and Commercial Loan Officer and spent over 15 years with the Lynden-founded institution. At Peoples, Neros came to oversee bank-wide strategies for commercial and marine lending and left as its Chief Lending Officer.
During this time, he also graduated from Pacific Coast Banking School, a graduate school of banking on the University of Washington campus. In joining First Fed, Neros brings a diverse lending background to the table, including time in commercial, mortgage, and consumer lending.
“Chris is a well-respected leader with a successful track record of business development, relationship management, and team leadership,” says Matt Deines, First Fed President and CEO. “He will bring valuable experience and strategic direction to our lending initiatives.”
Neros says it was First Fed’s innovative and entrepreneurial approach to banking that attracted him to the company, which continues its growth in Whatcom County and beyond. The bank currently has local branches in Fairhaven, Bellingham’s Barkley neighborhood, and in Ferndale.
As Chief Lending Officer at First Fed, Neros appreciates the positive impact he can have on both customers and employees. Whether it’s helping a business expand or advocating for another First Fed employee, his position puts him at the heart of banking.
“First Fed is very customer and community-focused,” Neros says. “We’re looking to continue to grow in Washington.”
First Fed is a member FDIC and equal housing lender.