BNC Financial Group, the bank holding company that owns and operates The Bank of New Canaan, The Bank of Fairfield and Stamford First Bank, has announced Peyton R. Patterson will assume the role of chief executive officer of the holding company and its subsidiary banks in early September 2012. She will also join the board of the holding company and the boards of the subsidiary banks.

BNC Financial Group's current CEO, Merrill Jay Forgotson, will work closely with Patterson throughout the transition period, and subsequently remain with the company as president of The Bank of Fairfield and a member of the board.

Patterson brings to BNC more than 25 years of experience, and has been widely recognized as an exceptional community banker. Most recently, she was chairman and chief executive officer of NewAlliance Bancshares, Inc., headquartered in New Haven.

Under her leadership, NewAlliance was regarded as a model community bank -- an organization known for its financial strength and a company that was able to maintain its deep-seated commitment to community while it more than quadrupled in size. During her 10 years with the bank, Patterson successfully completed six acquisitions and NewAlliance grew to be the third largest bank headquartered in New England.

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Patterson was named Community Banker of the Year by American Banker in 2008. U.S. Banker named her one of the top 10 CEOs in banking nationwide in 2006. In 2004 and 2005, U.S. Banker ranked Patterson second on its list of the 25 Most Powerful Women in Banking.

"Peyton joins us at a time when we've just passed some important milestones, and are poised to take the next step in our company's growth," Blake Drexler, chairman of BNC Financial, said. "We just celebrated our first decade in business and surpassed $500 million in assets. With Peyton's strategic vision and extensive experience in community banking, we believe that we will continue to successfully grow our franchise, while holding steadfast to the community banking model that differentiates us so distinctly."

Prior to NewAlliance, Patterson was the executive vice president of consumer financial services for Dime Bancorp, headquartered in New York. Previously, she spent eight years with Chemical Bank and Chase Manhattan as senior vice president running, most recently, their National Consumer Lending businesses. She began her banking career with Corestates Financial Corp. in Philadelphia, where, over an eight-year period, she held a variety of retail banking positions.

"We are excited to have someone of Peyton's caliber leading our organization as we continue to execute our growth strategy," Forgotson said. "She will be instrumental in helping us achieve our goal of providing outstanding value to our constituents -- our shareholders, customers, staff and the communities we serve."

Patterson received an A.B. degree in political science from Kenyon College and an MBA in marketing from George Washington University. She serves on the boards of the Consumer Bankers Association, Connecticut Council for Education Reform, The NewAlliance Foundation, The Greater New York United Way, the Greenwich YMCA and is on the executive committee of Yale New Haven Hospital. This position paves the way for Peyton to return to Fairfield County as a resident, previously in Greenwich, but this time in New Canaan.

"I am honored to be joining BNC Financial Group because it represents everything I love about community banking," Patterson said. "Its enviable capital and financial strengths position it uniquely to grow and deliver exceptional service. I am so grateful to be joining the organization and look forward to working with an exceptional team of employees and directors."

BNC Financial Group reported record earnings of $2.2 million at year-end 2011, a 335 percent increase over the previous year. In January 2012, the organization was ranked second of nearly 300 banks nationwide for its lending performance under the Treasury Department's Small Business Lending Fund. The Bank of New Canaan, The Bank of Fairfield and Stamford First Bank are all locally owned and managed commercial banks. More information is available at www.bankofnewcanaan.com, www.thebankoffairfield.com and www.stamfordfirstbank.com.