Financial expertise and banking industry experience aren’t the only qualifications for working at Independence Bank, a business that considers its greatest assets to be its employees. A commitment to community and focus on the people within the community are equally important. Louisville native Louis Straub had all the qualities the Bank needed when Independence Bank was looking for the President of the Louisville market.
It was a role he was happy to take on. “Even after decades in the industry, I’ve never experienced a company that cares and gives back to their employees, customers and the community like Independence Bank,” he notes.
Prior to joining Independence Bank in 2017, Louis spent 31 years working for a national bank, and his role expanded over the years until he was responsible for business development in 11 states. His job involved a great deal of travel, and while he loved the work, he missed the two most important things in his life: his wonderful family and the town he grew up in. In his new role at Independence Bank, he now has the opportunity to spend more time with his wife, Elizabeth, and two daughters, Madeline and Anna Claire, while continuing his commitment to serving his community.
Throughout his career, even as his focus grew well beyond the city of Louisville, he has dedicated his time to local organizations, including serving as the chairman for Brightside, the Downtown Housing Fund, and the Norton Healthcare Foundation. He has also been active with Louisville Downtown Partnership, Greater Louisville Inc., Fund for the Arts and Metro United Way.
Rebecca Matheny, Executive Director of Louisville Downtown Partnership (LDP), says that Louis has been an invaluable partner in helping build a vibrant, safe downtown area. She says he was instrumental in the success of the Downtown Housing Fund, which is focused on bringing market rate housing to the city’s downtown area. “Louis is great,” she says simply. “He has vision and knows how to get things done.”
In fact, over the last three decades he has helped change the landscape of downtown Louisville, working with LPD and other organizations that helped revitalize the area with local attractions like the Muhammad Ali Center, Frazier Museum, Waterfront Park, Fourth Street Live, and Louisville Glassworks, as well as living spaces and hotels such as Fleur de Lis, The Henry Clay, and 21C.
It’s not just his time and financial expertise he gives. He laughingly notes that he’s planted around 200 trees in the city working with Brightside. He is serious, though, when he says he is proud to be able to bring the full resources of his profession to enhance his community. Cynthia Knapek, who served as the Executive Director of Brightside from 2003 to 2010, says Louis was an active leader of the organization for more than a decade. “Louis is committed to the idea that how our community looks is important for the residents and for economic development,” she says.
She says his contribution was in more than just ideas; it was also in planning and execution. “One of his legacies is the planters along Main and Fourth Streets, similar to those in cities like Chicago,” she notes. “He personally went to downtown businesses to secure funding and created a plan to ensure it was economically viable for the long run.”
Louis’s community service continued after moving to Independence Bank. In fact, the same year the bank opened in St. Matthews, Louis served as the 2018 chair for the Metro United Way (MUW) annual community campaign, helping raise $26.3MM for the year. The 2017 campaign marked 100 years of raising funds to help people in seven counties in Kentucky and Indiana. Theresa Reno-Weber, CEO and President of MUW, says she knew she needed someone with a fresh vision to continue the momentum in 2018.
She knew Louis from his work at Brightside, and admired his drive and dedication to making the community better for all residents. “If anyone could help us into our 101st year, I knew it was going to be Louis,” she notes. “Despite starting in his new role at the Bank, he gave 100% in making the campaign a success, not only inspiring other volunteers but offering ideas that were carried over to the 2019 campaign.”
Louis may be quick to help out wherever he can, but he consistently shies away from taking credit. He states, that because the Independence Bank team focused upon daily business tasks, it allowed him time to lead the Metro United Way fundraising efforts. The campaign’s success is due to his team’s commitment and support of this community.
“I think it is a wonderful example of the dedication the bank has to this community,” he says. “As a new business, not only was our time divided between putting this operation into place, but the tremendous volunteer time spent to raise financial and public support for the MUW which touches 240,000 people annually.”
Louis credits his parents with instilling principles early in his life that he still uses to guide his decisions and actions. “My parents taught me the value of honesty and integrity,” he explains. “My number one goal has always been to do the right thing.”
He is strengthened by his faith as well and says the words of Methodist church found John Wesley to “Do all the good you can, By all the means you can,” have been a driving force for how he lives his life. He also says the poem “The Dash” by Linda Ellis is a particular favorite and one he knows by heart.
It’s about a man at a friend’s funeral speaking of the dash between the date of birth and the day his friend died. “For it matters not, how much we own, the cars… the house… the cash. What matters is how we live and love and how we spend that time between our dash.”
For Louis Straub, it isn’t about being hailed as a great man or receiving accolades for his work, it’s about doing his best to be a good person every day and giving back to the community he’s been a part of all his life.