Change has arrived at the Sawyer Savings Bank in Saugerties. Cindy Saporito, senior vice president and chief operating officer of the bank she started working at as an auditor fresh out of Ulster County Community College 33 years ago last month, has been named to the 147-year-old financial institution’s board of trustees.
It’s rare that an officer of the bank gets named a trustee. And Saporito will be only the third woman named to serve as a trustee, replacing the first – Marita Lopez-Mena.
“I’ve worked with Cindy most of my adult life,” said Sawyer Savings’ CEO and board president Gabe Sottile, who began his career with the bank eight years before the new trustee. “The issue is she represents half the population, and the demographics of new working moms on issues such as healthcare<” said Sottile. “Culturally, Cindy recognizes the need for flexibility.”
And there’s another advantage to having Saporito on the board of trustees. “We can keep her until she’s 75 years old,” added Sottile. Both Saporito and Sottile are set to retire from their staff positions at Sawyer Savings at the end of next year.
Saporito grew up in Rosendale, graduated from Rondout Valley High School, and was first hired as an auditor while still a student at Ulster County Community College.
“Eventually, it was decided I’d need more experience and was moved to the finance department, then the lending department, where I worked overseeing loans for quite a few years,” she said. “I got to see all aspects of the bank before I proceeded to my current position, including time spent running the IT department and, more recently, the HR department, which I still run.”
Saporito moved to Saugerties with her two daughters. Eventually she remarried, and has now been with her husband Mike for almost three decades.
“I’m an accidental banker,” Cindy Saportio said.
In addition to her bank work, Saporito served as president of the Saugerties Public Library board for a number of years.
Sawyer Savings changed its name from Saugerties Savings Bank in 1973 a little over a century after its birth. “Our advantage is that we know the community. All our employees are from here,” Sottile explained. “We make local decisions face-to-face. We can’t hide.”
He added that the bank came through the downturn very well. “We loan to people who have our same values,” he noted.
Sawyer Savings has branches in Marlboro and Highland. It has about $250 million in assets.
Saporito pointed out how the bank “has always stood by what we have found to be sound lending practices.” Those, she added, often mean a difference between sound business practices and straight-out conservative attitudes.
“Not everyone can afford a house; you can’t put people’s future in jeopardy,” she added. “We’re always willing to work with our clients. We’ll always help them get through tough times.”
Sottile and Saporito have been working on a succession plan for the bank management. They say their accession to the board will be helpful in this process.
Would there be any celebration of Saporito’s new role in the bank she’s served for most of her adult life? “No, it’s basically just an internal thing,” Saporito replied. “It’s the sense of support that matters most.”