Celebrating 40 Years: An Enduring Career of Banking and Advocacy in Our Community

Send Ernest a message and congratulate him on 40 years with American National Bank.

Ernest White never thought he’d be with American National Bank (ANB) for 40 years. It’s the only company he’s worked for as a professional.

“It’s never been just a job for me. I get up every morning looking forward to coming to work because this is my passion. If you aren’t passionate about what you do, then it’s just work,” White said.

Ernest credits his longevity with the bank not only to being able to create impact, but also to Executive Co-Chairmen and Co-CEOs John and Wende Kotouc for being faithful supporters who provided opportunities for him, seeing something in him that allowed him to be his authentic self at work. Their belief in him has given him much of his confidence to get out there and spend his career doing good things with the bank and for North Omaha.

“No matter what position I held, whether I was lending mortgages or managing branch operations, they always let me be me and let me do the things I do well in the community,” White said.

“Ernest is a wonderful reflection of community banking at its best. He has always enjoyed being on the frontlines interacting with our clients, team members and neighbors. What makes Ernest special is his passion for his work, which allows him to serve the place he loves by helping anyone around him in need,” Wende said.

Early business sense

As a child, he spent many late nights in New York jazz clubs with his musician father who raised him, along with his brother, on his own. In fifth grade, his dad sacrificially chose to send his two sons to Pittsburgh to live with an aunt and uncle who provided Ernest with more structure, enabling him to turn from an “F” to an “A” student.

An enterprising young man, Ernest started a paper route around the age of 11 and eventually bought out other paper boys because he figured out how to work hard and make more money. After graduating high school, he went to Penn State on a track and field scholarship.

“I was into math, so, I was a finance major. I was always about business and entrepreneurship,” White said.

Banking on Omaha

After graduation, White moved to Omaha for family reasons and got a job as an assistant manager at ANB.

“I had some trying times. I worked my way up and down the ladder. I was a teller at one time, then worked my way back up. I’ve always been pretty resilient,” White said.

White later became a branch manager. He moved locations a few times and then eventually ended up at 30th and Ames in the mid-90s after ANB acquired Northern Bank.

Creating a powerful connection

Once at 30th and Ames, White recognized that while North Omaha residents banked there, ANB “was sitting in the middle of a community it was not connected to” and that “people bank with people, not an organization.”

White wanted to be “in the room and take a seat at the table,” be authentic, make an impact and create the community connection he felt was missing. He joined boards including Family Housing Advisory Service, Omaha 100, Metro Area Youth Services, Charles Drew Foundation, Urban Financial Services Coalition, Omaha Economic Development Corporation, You Turn and the Empowerment Network.

The power to do more

As a Community Development Officer and Carver Bank Ambassador, White is heavily involved with the Carver Legacy Center on 24th and Lake streets, a Black-owned initiative which ANB is a partner with. White works to build Carver-ANB relationships, securing deposits and making loans to area businesses. He considers himself a spokesperson for the Carver movement. He often finds himself at community events pitching the Carver story, keeping the mission on people’s radars.

White also proudly recalls his tenure on the Omaha Public Library (OPL) board where he advocated for increased funding for the Washington Branch, citing disparities in resources allocated to libraries in other parts of the city. He fondly passes the branch on 28th and Ames daily.

His resilience, tenacity and authenticity help drive him to do whatever it takes to make things happen.

“Sometimes there are loans that I can’t do, but my clients know that I’ll do anything in my power to help them. Whether it’s referring them to Omaha 100, the Nebraska Enterprise Fund, another agency I have ties with, or even directing them to credit counseling, people know I will go 100% to try to help them. We can find another path,” White said.

Just Ernest

Ernest is humble and a self-proclaimed introvert. He doesn’t seek recognition or feel he needs to shout to the world everything he’s accomplished because he’s happy that what he does every day makes a difference. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t made a name for himself, and though he won’t admit it, Wende Kotouc tells another story.

“Most people know him simply as ‘Ernest.’ This celebrity type of status is one of many things that endears Ernest to both our community and the ANB family,” Kotouc said.

Send Ernest a Message

Congratulate Ernest on his 40th anniversary with American National Bank.

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