About Centinel Bank of Taos
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We are proud of our rich history in northern New Mexico and committed to local banking for the community we all call home. Since March 1, 1969 Centinel Bank of Taos has been about serving Taos County. It was founded here, remains focused here and is forever committed to helping people succeed.
What started as one man’s mission for equal access to financial services in his rural New Mexico hometown, now is a leader among the nation’s financial institutions—Centinel Bank of Taos.
Eliu E. Romero grew up here in Taos County as his family had for 4 generations, herding sheep, subsistence farming, and speaking Spanish. He went away to school, served his country in the Navy and Merchant Marines, put himself through law school and returned to Taos. He wanted to practice law in his hometown and went to a bank seeking a loan of $50 for furniture for his new office. Despite his education, service to his country and roots in the community, he was turned down. It was a time in our country when discrimination was a common part of life, but experiencing the inequity, Romero vowed then and there to someday have a bank to service the needs of all the people in his community.
After years of a flourishing law practice, Romero applied to the state for a charter to open a bank in Taos. That charter was denied, as was several other applications until Romero’s perseverance led him to Washington D.C. and a federal review of his application was approved by the FDIC and the state charter granted. Together, Eliu and his wife Elizabeth convinced 300 Taos County residents to help them capitalize the bank, and on March 1, 1969, Centinel Bank of Taos opened for business dedicated to serving all the people, cultures, and languages of the Taos County community.
Eliu and Elizabeth’s son, Martin, started working for Centinel in 1978 after having served an Albuquerque bank as a branch bank manager. In 1983 he assumed the position of President and CEO. His wife Cheryl took over as HR Director and they also brought in Cheryl’s mother, Pat Height, a successful CPA and bank director in Colorado, back to Taos to take over as CFO. Under Martin’s leadership and the whole family tackling any job big or small, the bank had spectacular growth and success, being recognized as a high performing organization and listed in the top 400 of the largest Hispanic owned corporations in the United States. Over the years, the Romero family, individually and through their holding company, has purchased all of the outstanding stock in the company and today Centinel Bank of Taos is one of the very few minority owned financial institutions in the country.
In 1999 Martin and Cheryl’s daughter, Rebeca, was appointed President and CEO, at the 30th annual Stockholder’s meeting of the bank. Rebeca, a Taos High School, Wellesley College and Pacific Coast Banking school graduate, became the youngest bank president in the US, joining the ranks of only a few Hispanic women heading American corporations.
In 2003 Rebeca was promoted to Board Chair and CEO. The bank began a new chapter with the promotion of Angel Reyes to President. Born and raised in Taos, Mr. Reyes graduated from New Mexico Military Institute as the ranking cadet and completed undergraduate studies at the Anderson’s Schools of Management, University of New Mexico. He received his graduate degree in banking from the University of Colorado, Graduate School of Banking. Under the leadership of Rebeca and Angel, Centinel Bank has remained strong, stable and secure while experiencing terrific growth and success.
2009 marked Centinel Bank’s 40th anniversary with the bank being recognized as one of the nation’s top performing community banks, winning national and local awards for community service and customer service. CEO Rebeca Romero-Rainey has been placed among the top handful of bank executives in the country with appointments to the FDIC advisory board, the Federal Reserve advisory board, the Executive Committee of the ICBA Board of Directors and, at the request of the White House, sat on a banking advisory panel to President Barak Obama. March of 2016 saw her elected as Chairman of the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), one of the nation’s largest trade and advocacy organizations, representing over 6400 community banks. She will be the nation’s lead volunteer advocate for community banks, differentiating them from Wall Street and the indiscretions of the “too big to fail” institutions, promoting the ability of hometown banks—like Centinel Bank—to understand and address the unique needs of their community.
The Centinel Bank story is one of family, hard work and dedication to the Taos County community. What started as one man’s mission for equal access to financial services in his rural New Mexico hometown, now is a leader among the nation’s financial institutions—Centinel Bank of Taos.