James H. Sills, III
Honoring Black History Month
Each February, we celebrate transformative men and women who, over the course of this nation’s history, impacted the lives of us all. Madame C.J. Walker, the first female self-made millionaire in America, Samuel Wilcox who established a successful high-end grocery store unlike any other in the 1800s, Reginald Lewis, the first African American to build a billion-dollar company – we honor them and others who courageously forged a path forward for future generations.
From the valiant A&T Four and the great Maya Angelou to Joe Dudley, the visionary who built a multimillion dollar hair-care empire, and Janice Bryant Howroyd, the first African American woman to own a billion-dollar business, North Carolina has been home to many inspiring men and women, past and present, whose actions and contributions have transformed our nation. As the president and CEO of Mechanics and Farmers Bank (“M&F Bank”), I have the honor of leading an institution founded by some of North Carolina’s legendary businessmen – R. B. Fitzgerald, J. A. Dodson, J. R. Hawkins, John Merrick, Aaron M. Moore, W.G. Pearson, James E. Shepard, G. W. Stephens and Stanford L. Warren.
History Lights the Way for our Future
At Mechanics and Farmers Bank we often reflect on our institution’s storied history, understanding that it is much more than an anecdote on a historical marker – it lights the way for our future. Founded in 1907, M&F Bank is North Carolina’s oldest African American-owned bank and the second oldest in the nation. Over the last century, M&F Bank has grown into the 9th largest minority-owned financial institution in the United States, upholding the community values on which the bank was founded.
M&F Bank is one of several historic North Carolina businesses founded during the Jim Crow era to serve African Americans who were denied services merely for the color of their skin. In 1898, John Merrick, Dr. Aaron M. Moore – Durham’s first black physician – and C.C. Spaulding founded North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company to help African American communities that the established insurance companies refused to serve, becoming the first black-owned insurance company in the state and largest in the nation. In 1906, Merrick, Moore and Spaulding moved the company’s headquarters to Parrish Street in Durham, purchasing extra office space to rent to other black entrepreneurs. Known as “Black Wall Street,” Parrish Street garnered national recognition and became the first home of M&F Bank – it even remains one of our locations today.
In business and in life, our future is determined by our past. This Black History Month, I encourage you to pay homage to the extraordinary contributions of the past, while celebrating the accomplishments of the future. We must honor the legacy of those who came before us by supporting intentional efforts to advance diversity and inclusion within our organizations and continuing these conversations all year-round.
James H. Sills, III
President and CEO, M&F Bank
James H. Sills, III has over 30 years of Banking and Technology Management experience. His background includes a unique combination of executive experience within large-scale banking operations, community banks, and government organizations.
Mr. Sills was recently named the President and CEO of Mechanics and Farmers Bank and M&F Bancorp, Inc. Prior to this position, Mr. Sills was appointed by Delaware Governor Jack Markell as the Cabinet Secretary and Chief Information Officer (CIO) for the State of Delaware, Department of Technology and Information in January 2009. Mr. Sills has been instrumental in leading the state in the following areas: IT consolidation, cloud computing technology, cyber security and various cost saving programs. Mr. Sills was responsible for providing strategic direction and management for information technology operations supporting over 34,000 end users. In 2014, Mr. Sills was selected IT Executive of the Year by Government Technology Magazine.
Prior to starting his own company in 2007, Mr. Sills was an Executive Vice President of MBNA America Bank (now Bank of America), the largest credit card institution in the world. In this capacity, he served as the Director of Corporate Technology Solutions for the $80 billion US Card Division.
Prior to relocating to Wilmington, Delaware in June of 2001, Mr. Sills served as the President and CEO of Memphis First Community Bank (now Landmark Community Bank) in Memphis, TN. Mr. Sills also served as the Chief Operating Officer for First Tuskegee Bank in Montgomery, AL.
Mr. Sills received a Bachelor of Arts from Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA and Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Pittsburgh. He is also a graduate of the University Of Wisconsin School of Banking.
Mr. Sills also serves on the Board of the North Carolina State Chamber of Commerce, Durham County Chamber of Commerce, Carolina Small Business Development Fund, (DDI) Downtown Durham, Inc., Duke University Chancellor Community Health Advisory Board, North Carolina Banking Association, ICBA Minority Banking Council and The NC A&T State University Board of Visitors.