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Executive Leadership Team

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, Lawton 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, Lawton 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 executive vice president and chief financial officer since January 2018. Nicole joined Ameris Bank in December 2010 as controller and served as Ameris Bank chief financial officer beginning June 2016. Prior to joining Ameris Bank, she 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 Information Officer
Ameris Bank and Ameris Bancorp

Ross Creasy has served as Corporate Executive Vice President and Chief Information 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 with his wife and two daughters.

James A. LaHaise

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

James A. (Jim) LaHaise III has served as 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. Jim 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.

William D. McKendry

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

William (Bill) McKendry has served as Executive Vice President and Chief Risk Officer since September 2017. Prior to joining Ameris Bank, Bill 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, Chief Governance Officer and Corporate Secretary
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, and as Corporate Secretary since January 2022. Previously, he served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operations 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.

Jody L. Spencer

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

Jody Spencer has served as executive vice president and general counsel 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. He 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.

Douglas D. Strange

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

Douglas D. (Doug) Strange is Executive Vice President and Chief Credit Officer for Ameris Bank. Strange joined the company in 2005 and was named the Company’s first Regional Credit Officer in 2008. Prior to Ameris, he worked for Bank of America Business Capital and KPMG. Doug earned his degree in accounting from the University of Georgia and is a certified public accountant. He is also a graduate of the Stonier Graduate School of Banking at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.