Everett banking veteran Carol Nelson leaves Opus

Carol Nelson, the president of Opus Bank’s Washington region, is no longer with the company, which bought Everett-based Cascade Bank less than a year ago.

The former chief executive of Cascade Bank, Nelson had stayed with Opus as president of the California-based bank’s Washington region.

Nelson’s last day at Opus was April 20, Stephen Gordon, CEO of Opus Bank, said in an interview. While praising Nelson, Gordon declined to elaborate on the reason for her departure. Nelson could not be reached for comment.

Cascade was the largest community bank in Snohomish County when it was bought by Opus last June 30. Initially, Cascade looked as if it would survive the recession as other community banks failed, including Frontier in Everett, First Heritage in Snohomish, City Bank of Lynnwood and North County Bank in Arlington.

By July 2010, however, federal regulators began monitoring more closely the practices of Cascade, which was founded in 1916. And by March 2011, board members for Cascade’s parent company had found a buyer for the struggling local bank.

“We are a bank with a long history in this community, and we lent to developers right here in our own back yard,” Nelson told The Herald in 2011. “When they had pain, we had pain.”

She noted in an interview two months ago that Cascade had a better fate than some other Snohomish County community banks.

“Unlike many other banks, such as Frontier and Horizon, we didn’t fail, but we needed more financial strength,” Nelson said.

As of March 31, Opus Bank had $2.4 billion in assets. Opus, which announced on Thursday the opening of two new offices in California, has 45 West Coast locations, including 23 in Washington.

Opus’ Gordon credited Nelson with guiding the bank through the transition with Cascade.

“She fulfilled that transition tremendously,” he said. “She was unbelievably wonderful and helpful.”

Gordon said he’s pleased with the progress of Opus in the region and expressed confidence that his team of bankers in Washington will continue to do well in Nelson’s absence.

“We’ve got great leaders in Washington,” he said.

Nelson, too, had seemed upbeat about Opus and its future in Washington when she was interviewed recently.

“We want to grow Opus Bank from Bellingham to Olympia, and that’s a lot of ground to cover,” she said.

Michelle Dunlop: 425-339-3454; mdunlop@heraldnet.com.

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