Back when Kate Carr was growing up in the family house off Loughboro Street in Northwest DC, she and the other local kids were known as the “Millwood Mob.” Flash forward years later and the neighborhood hooligan is all grown up and the president of Cardinal Bank in DC. Not surprisingly, Kate tells us she feels DC is a core part of her, and that today she’s in what she calls “the lifeblood of the city”: community banking.
Kate, right, with collegue Kathy Speakman, a lender who Kate’s worked with since DC National Bank days, over 20 years ago.
Kate’s parents were also native Washingtonians–and banking is indeed in her blood. Her father was vice chairman of National Permanent Federal Savings and Loan (now a part of CitiBank) and head of real estate property management. Kate’s mom died when she was in her early teens and her father remarried a woman who Kate remembers as “remarkable.” “First of all, who would marry a widower with seven children?” Kate genuinely wonders. Her stepmother was an investment manager who started her own firm and then sold it to Tucker Anthony. She was even one of the first women to own a seat on the stock exchange. It was she who convinced Kate to go into banking after graduating from Marquette University. “She said, try it for one year.” 34 years and four banks later, Kate still remains grateful for the advice.
Kate started in banking as a management trainee at National Bank of Washington in 1973. Although she said this meant she was “basically a slave,” she stuck with it. After a while, Kate got an opportunity in commercial lending and went with DC National Bank until it merged with Sovran and CNS. She went on to NationsBank, and then to Abigail Adams for seven years, where she became president.
Then what? Bernard Clineburg, with whom she worked 30 years ago at National Bank of Washington, called with a chance of a lifetime. He had put together a team of seasoned bankers and revamped Cardinal Bank. He hand picked Kevin Reynolds (now president of Cardinal in Virginia), Kendal Carson (vice chair of the holding company), Chris Bergstrom (chief credit officer and senior lender) and asked Kate to join. It was her ideal: a locally focused bank with commercial lending capability.
Kate also sits on the DC Chamber of Commerce, the Board of Trade, and the Advisory Board of So Others Might Eat. She’s chairing the Dress for Success fundraising event on November 15th at the Hotel Monaco. Her latest summer adventure was Camp CEO—a week during which top women execs of the Washington region camp with high school girls. She says there was a lot of singing, laughter, games, and camaraderie mixed in with cold showers, heat, and bugs. And in between, stories and guidance from the adults about career options and secrets of success.
Kate and her husband have five children, and unlike her own 11 siblings of which 8 live in DC, there’s been somewhat of a diaspora with her own kids: one is in Boston, another in Atlanta, two in Charleston, and another in Boulder. She says now most of her traveling is jetting back and forth visiting, although she’s headed to Paris next month for a vacation.
Kate and her husband also have a house at the top of Blue Ridge Summit in Pennsylvania. Considerate boss that she is, the other day she even brought in fresh-picked peaches from her orchard for the whole office. They’ve been heading up there for the past 27 years when they feel like getting away or playing at the world’s worst nine-hole golf course.