Westmont Magazine The Politics of Banking
As a Westmont student, Janet Jones Lamkin ’81 developed an interest in politics that has never waned. For more than 20 years, she has combined her majors in political science and business in a varied and successful career. In August, she became president and chief executive officer of the California Bankers Association (CBA), the largest state banking organization in the country. She oversees advocacy efforts, educational programs and a subsidiary that develops products and services for the banking industry.
An internship with the House Ways and Means Committee during a semester in Washington, D.C., confirmed Janet’s interest in politics. Other off-campus programs influenced her as well. She participated in Europe Semester and traveled to Asia with business faculty and students. “We were one of the first groups to enter China,” she recalls. “Contact with the culture at that time was a life-changing experience. We saw firsthand a country and a culture awakening. Those trips gave me a global perspective.”
Interested in international trade, Janet attended graduate school in Australia, where she earned a master’s degree with help from a Rotary Scholarship. Her experience in Washington drew her back to the capital, where she looked for a job affecting policy in international trade. She spent six years working first for a member of the House Banking Committee and later for a senator on the Senate Banking Committee.
“Banking is an incredibly rich area of public policy,” Janet says. “I like the combination of government and private sector work in that arena.” Her interests include economic-development issues, the challenge of bringing low-income people into the banking system and financial literacy programs for youth.
Janet next joined then-Sen. Pete Wilson’s staff and served as liaison to the San Francisco business community. That led to her first position with CBA managing government relations. She left to become the corporate communications and public affairs executive at Bank of America responsible for all government and media relations, a $150 million foundation and a staff of 220. The San Francisco Business Times named her one of the 100 Most Influential Women in the Bay Area in 2002 and 2003. She has served as president of Professional Business Women of California and of the State Government Affairs Council, a national organization. She also sits on the board of American Conservatory Theatre.
Janet’s husband, Bill ’81, also works in banking. Last year, he formed a small boutique investment banking firm with three partners. He has worked on Wall Street, practiced law, and earned both an M.B.A. and a law degree from UC Berkeley. The couple met at Westmont; they both went on the Asia trip. Bill served as student body president and majored in business.
“We feel strongly about what Westmont did for our growth and development intellectually and spiritually,” Janet says. ‘The environment was challenging but also supportive. We learned critical skills as well as diligence and discipline. In the work environment, you have to do your homework to be good and effective. We developed those habits at Westmont because the professors required us to work hard.”