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Community leader Behrman ending 38-year run

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Linda Behrman never made a big deal out of the fact that she was among the initial wave of top female executives in Bartholomew County. Colleagues say that modest approach served the 63-year-old Behrman well as a community leader during her 38 years in banking. She retires Friday as Columbus-area president of Salin Bank.

“Linda was a huge contributor in the community in a lot of different capacities,” said Tracy Hamilton Souza, head of The Heritage Fund — the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County. “She was one of the first women in senior leadership roles in the community, one of three or four women at the table who made their voices heard.”

Souza said she first met Behrman a decade ago on the Columbus Economic Development Board, and discovered that Behrman “was the only other woman in the room. I think she certainly contributed to the community and to a culture in which women were taking their place at the table in leadership roles.”

Behrman started her banking career with Columbus Bank and Trust Co. in 1974. Salin Bank acquired that institution 10 years later, and Behrman eventually rose through the ranks to become community bank president here in 1994.

Bowing out

Name: Linda Behrman

Title: Columbus community president for Salin Bank

Age: 63

Background: Will retire Friday after more than 38 years in banking, nearly 19 as Salin Bank’s Columbus community president.

First job: Joined staff at Columbus Bank and Trust Co. in 1974. Salin Bank acquired that bank a decade later.

Community involvement: She has served on boards and committees with the following groups: St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Rotary, March of Dimes, United Way, The Heritage Fund and the Economic Development-Governance Committee.

Awards: Chamber of Commerce’s Athena Award, Chairman’s Award for the National Association of Bank Women and the 2006 Richard Johnson March of Dimes Leadership Award, among others.

“I’m grateful to have spent nearly 40 years with this great company, and deeply honored to have had the opportunity to lead the Columbus market,” Behrman said Monday. “I believe that 2012 is the right time for me to retire. The bank has thrived over the past couple of years, exceeding my expectations. And it is operationally very sound and positioned for continued success.”

Behrman was a Heritage Fund board member for eight years and also has been active with St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Rotary, March of Dimes and United Way, among other nonprofits.

Behrman has been planning to retire for some time. Earlier this fall, she was officially replaced as community president in Columbus by Scott Ballard, who had been in commercial lending with Indiana Bank & Trust. Ballard took over in late September, but Behrman stayed on for nearly three months to help with the transition.

“Linda has been very gracious, staying on board through the transition, making introductions to clients and helping me get adjusted,” Ballard said Monday. “It has made my transition so much smoother.”

Sousa said Behrman’s achievements rank with those of Loretta Burd, who will retire this month as CEO of Centra Credit Union; Sherry Stark, former president of the Heritage Fund; and Sarla Kalsi, former president and CEO of Irwin Management Co. and former head of the Irwin-Sweeney-Miller Foundation.

Behrman was a founder and the first chairwoman of the Heritage Fund’s Women’s Giving Circle, which brought together people of various economic backgrounds to raise money and make grants that help women, families and children.

“One of their very popular programs has been Ramps to Freedom,” Souza said. That program has made thousands of dollars in contributions to build wheelchair ramps at disabled people’s homes.

“They also did a girls’ run — a project to help young girls focus on building self-esteem through physical activity,” Souza said.

“On behalf of Salin Bank’s board and executive team, I would like to recognize Linda’s significant leadership over a challenging period for both the bank and the industry. She has been seen as a leader among her peers for many years, and Linda will be greatly missed,” said Bill Salin II, president and chief executive officer of the bank.

Privately, Behrman and her family established a college scholarship program for graduating boy’s basketball players of Columbus North High School who plan to attend two- or four-year schools. She has also received the Chamber of Commerce’s Athena Award, the Chairman’s Award for the National Association of Bank Women and the 2006 Richard Johnson March of Dimes Leadership Award, among other accomplishments.

Salin Bank will honor

Behrman at an open house from noon to 3 p.m. Friday at its Columbus Downtown Banking Center, 655 Third St.

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