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Executive Leadership Team

Meet the leaders helping us be the bank our customers deserve – a bank that isn’t afraid to scrap convention to get things done, right.

Meet our leadership team

H. Palmer Proctor Jr.

Ameris Bank Chief Executive Officer
Ameris Bancorp Chief Executive Officer

Palmer Proctor is CEO of Ameris Bank and CEO of Ameris Bancorp and serves on the Board of Directors of both. Palmer holds degrees from Auburn University and The Stonier Graduate School of Banking, Georgetown University. He is a director of Brown & Brown, Inc., a member of the Advisory Board of Allied Financial, director of Choate Construction Company and served as past chairman of the Georgia Bankers Association. Palmer is involved in many civic activities, serving as emeritus director and past president of Callanwolde Fine Arts Center, former trustee of Fernbank Museum of Natural History, past cabinet member for the Westside Future Fund Campaign and administrative chairman of Peachtree Road United Methodist Church. He is also a member of the Rotary Club of Atlanta and the Buckhead Lions Club. Palmer and his wife founded the Night of Hope Gala, supporting research for MDA/ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and serves on its executive committee. In August 2021, Palmer Proctor was recognized by the Atlanta Business Chronicle as one of the Most Admired CEOs.

Lawton E. Bassett, III

Ameris Bank President
Ameris Bancorp Banking Group President

Lawton E. Bassett, III, has served as Ameris Bank president and Ameris Bancorp Banking Group president, since February 2017. Prior to his current position, Bassett served as executive vice president and chief banking officer for the Company’s Georgia and Alabama regions beginning January 2016, and regional president and market president from 2006 to 2016. From 2003 to 2006, he served as president and chief executive officer of Citizens Security Bank, formerly a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company. Prior to joining the Company, Bassett served in various commercial lending and leadership roles at Barnett Bank and SunTrust.

Nicole S. Stokes

Corporate Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Ameris Bank and Ameris Bancorp

Nicole S. Stokes has served as Ameris Bank and Ameris Bancorp Corporate Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer since January 2018. Stokes joined Ameris Bank in December 2010 as controller, and served as Ameris Bank chief financial officer beginning June 2016. Prior to joining Ameris Bank, Stokes served as chief financial officer of PAB Bankshares and Park Avenue Bank in Valdosta, Georgia, controller of The Bank in Birmingham, Alabama and senior auditor of Synovus Financial Corporation in Columbus, Georgia.

Ross L. Creasy

Corporate Executive Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer
Ameris Bank and Ameris Bancorp

Ross Creasy has served as Corporate Executive Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer of Ameris Bank since July 2019. Prior to joining Ameris Bank, Ross was the Chief Information Officer at Fidelity Bank where he had oversight of Technology and Operations. With over 24 years of experience in banking and technology, Ross has held many leadership positions, including at E*TRADE, Capital One, and the Federal Reserve. He has a MBA from Averett University and resides in Atlanta, GA with his wife and two daughters.

Jon S. Edwards

Corporate Executive Vice President and Chief Credit Officer
Ameris Bank and Ameris Bancorp

Jon S. Edwards has served as Corporate Executive Vice President and Director of Credit Administration since May 2005. He was Executive Vice President and Regional Bank Executive for Southern Division from August 2002 through April 2005. Mr. Edwards served as the Director of Credit Administration from March 1999 to July 2003 and Senior Vice President from March 1999 to August 2002. He was a Director of each subsidiary bank in the Southern Division from September 2002 through April 2005.

James A. LaHaise

Corporate Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer
Ameris Bank and Ameris Bancorp

James A. LaHaise has served as Corporate Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer since June 2018. Prior to this role, he served as executive vice president and chief banking officer for Georgia and Alabama since January 2016. He was executive vice president and commercial banking executive from June 2014-January 2016. Mr. LaHaise served as president and chief executive officer of Coastal Bankshares, Inc. and The Coastal Bank from January 2013-June 2014. He was executive vice president and chief banking officer of The Coastal Bank from May 2007 – January 2013.

Cindi H. Lewis

Corporate Executive Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer and Corporate Secretary

Ameris Bancorp and Ameris Bank
Cindi H. Lewis has served as the Chief Administrative Officer since May 2006, Corporate Executive Vice President since May 2002 and Corporate Secretary since May 2000. Ms. Lewis was the Director of Human Resources from May 2000 to May 2006 and Senior Vice President from May 2000 to May 2002.

William D. McKendry

Corporate Executive Vice President and Chief Risk Officer
Ameris Bancorp and Ameris Bank

William (Bill) McKendry has served as Corporate Executive Vice President and Chief Risk Officer since September 2017. Prior to joining Ameris Bank, Mr. McKendry served as executive vice president and chief risk officer for Bank of North Carolina. Prior to that, he served as deputy general auditor at First Citizens Bancshares and as an audit & consulting leader for both Wachovia and Bank One Corporation.

Michael T. Pierson

Corporate Executive Vice President and Chief Governance Officer
Ameris Bank and Ameris Bancorp

Michael Pierson has served as Corporate Executive Vice President and Chief Governance Officer of Ameris Bank and Ameris Bancorp since March 2020. Previously, he served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Ameris Bank and Ameris Bancorp July 2019 to March 2020. Prior to joining Ameris, Michael was with Fidelity Southern Corporation and Fidelity Bank for 21 years where he served in several leadership roles including Head of Commercial Banking, Mergers and Acquisitions, and Chief Risk Officer.

TODD SHUTLEY

Corporate Executive Vice President and Chief Specialty Banking Officer
Ameris Bancorp and Ameris Bank

Todd Shutley has served as Corporate Executive Vice President and Chief Specialty Banking Officer of Ameris Bank since June 2020. Prior to joining Ameris Bank, Todd was the EVP and Head of Commercial Industry Specialty and Advisory at SunTrust Bank (now Truist Bank) where he had oversight of several specialty groups. Prior to that, Todd was managing director and on the operating committee for SunTrust Robinson Humphrey. Todd earned his master’s in finance from Georgia State University and a bachelor’s in business administration from the University of Georgia. He currently serves as the chair of the Georgia State University Foundation Board and is on the University of Georgia Board of Visitors.

Jody L. Spencer

Corporate Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer
Ameris Bancorp and Ameris Bank

Jody has served as Corporate Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer of Ameris Bank since July 2019. Prior to joining Ameris, Jody was an attorney with Rogers & Hardin LLP in Atlanta where he was a partner for more than 11 years and worked closely with Ameris. Jody earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Georgia School of Law, and holds a master’s in accounting from the University of Virginia and a bachelor’s in accounting from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

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