One of 9 Unsung Heroes

Centinel Bank’s Angel Reyes named a 2018 'Unsung Hero'

Supporting the underdog

By Scott Gerdes
Posted 10/12/18

Before becoming the chairman of the board and CEO, Reyes, a spry 46, was named the president of Centinel Bank in 2003. Prior, he held the title of CFO in 1998. And it all started from behind a teller’s window. 

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One of 9 Unsung Heroes

Centinel Bank’s Angel Reyes named a 2018 'Unsung Hero'

Supporting the underdog

Posted

Sure, as Centinel Bank’s chairman of the board and CEO, banking is Angel Reyes’ job. He could, however, choose to be Mr. Potter from one of his favorite movies, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” But on the contrary, he’s more George Bailey than Mr. Potter.

“Angel is a special person,” said Pavel Lukes who nominated Reyes. “He’s a role model to young people and many people owe him for their prosperity. He is a fan of Taos business people.”

When it comes to getting accolades for taking chances on local entrepreneurs or people who just need a hand getting over a hurdle, Reyes feels that it’s the bank helping the community, not just him. He’s self-effacing when talking about how people have noticed his willingness to go out on a limb to help others in any way he can. 

“I'm humbled,” he shared with no hesitation, no reservation. “What feels really good is that I was able to come back home knowing that I wanted to make a big difference in my community, and having this opportunity to make decisions that have a positive outcome. Sometimes we understand that we might be getting over our skis a little bit, but we believe in the customer, in the business and in the community. I really feel good about knowing that we want to support the underdog. When it comes back to us that's great, but really it's them who should get the credit.”

Behind the scenes

It isn’t just from behind a banker’s desk from which Reyes touches the community. When his son, Angel Jr., and daughter, Elizabeth, were kids, Reyes was a Little League and soccer coach. He also served on the Little League board. For nine years he was the chair of the Taos Community Foundation and is presently the chair of TCF’s Real Property Foundation.

Through his time as TCF chairman, he learned there are people in Taos who had real estate they wanted to donate, but there wasn’t a clear way to deal with it. “It’s kind of hard to do,” Reyes explained. “We’ve had the opportunity of late to help people who’ve made bequests, and we figure out how to receive that property.” Ultimately, they liquidate most properties and then those funds become an endowment to support TCF.

If Reye’s plate wasn’t full enough, he’s the vice chairman of the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority. Its mission is primarily to provide access to affordable housing for New Mexicans, whether it's through home ownership or affordable rents as well as assisting the homeless and other individuals. One such apartment project was recently completed behind Taos High School. It’s part of the low-income housing tax credit, which involves a subcommittee he also chairs called the Allocation Review Committee. 

“Tax credits are the largest tax subsidy the state of New Mexico receives to provide housing to its constituents. There is a huge need for that,” he stated with conviction.

All of his chair responsibilities run on volunteered time. The NMMFA was a governor’s appointment in 2011. This summer, he accepted an invitation to serve on the New Mexico Independent Community Bankers Association board. And if that still isn’t enough to juggle, Reyes headed to the University of Colorado in July to serve as an instructor for third-year-banking-school students to help them understand the roles of senior-level management in a simulated environment. 

In the beginning

Before becoming the chairman of the board and CEO, Reyes, a spry 46, was named the president of Centinel Bank in 2003. Prior, he held the title of CFO in 1998. And it all started from behind a teller’s window. 

The born and bred Taoseño attended the University of New Mexico's Anderson School of Business where he earned a business degree in 1995. Four years later he graduated from the University of Colorado School of Banking. 

His initial pursuits, however, were squarely aimed at the military. Before UNM, he earned an associate of arts degree and was a regimental commander at New Mexico Military Institute in the early 1990s. He also served many years with the New Mexico Army National Guard. Reyes wanted to go into the “regular” Army and was hoping that his wife (Deanna, also from Taos) would be a teacher for the Department of Defense. 

“And then we had our son. At the time, I was scratching my head thinking, ‘Do I do the military? What do we do?’ We decided to come home.”

His sister and brother-in-law owned the Taos restaurant Jacquelina’s. He took over the manager reins and through that job made connections with the Centinel Bank owners. They pitched the idea of working at the bank. They saw something in Reyes. They had been watching him for a while. And those great banker’s hours? Well, that was too good to pass up. His first day was the day after Labor Day in 1996.

It wasn’t long before he was working alongside the CFO and within two years, she was getting ready to retire. He took over her position and the rest is history. Since then, he has won numerous leadership awards.

“Titles and awards weren't really of interest to me. It was just a real insatiable desire to want to learn, leverage my business degree and just having a lot of fun,” Reyes reflected. “I always felt I was sprinting a marathon, trying to learn a lot of things very fast — there’s still a lot to learn and there’s still a lot to give. Finding that balance is always the important thing of what I do and how I approach my day.”

Out of the office

Speaking of marathons, Reyes likes to run, literally. He runs long-distance races, but his biggest competition is with himself and his watch: “I set a lot of personal goals to improve the time by which I complete a certain distance.” 

What started as a fitness pursuit with his wife and inspired by his daughter, he found himself training for the Bull of the Woods marathon this past summer. He’s conquered the Up and Over at Taos Ski Valley for four straight years, which is “super tough.” People ask him what he thinks of that race and the answer is always, “I think I’ve tasted my aorta.” 

Frankly, Reyes never thought he’d enter a marathon. Running has become a kind of sanctuary to him. When solo training, he’s come to realize those hour to two-hour runs are a good time to think, process and reflect. “I get a lot of solitude and I come back with a lot of great ideas. I’m really invigorated, so the benefits of running are really good. But, then there's this whole other side of being able to evaluate challenges, process ideas and just take advantage of the time.” 

The backbones

Reyes is the youngest of five siblings (Luis, David, Sandra and Richard). His parents, the late Luis and Olivia Reyes, instilled the importance of education. He gives a lot of credit to his family for his success and for the type of person he has become.

“What (his parents) left me with is a great value system, tremendous work ethic and the acknowledgment to serve others,” Reyes stressed. “I really believe that my passion, where I get my energy, is from observing the success of others and helping do whatever I can to help somebody else. The circle doesn’t have to come back. I think success breeds the success of others.”

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