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1st Summit Bank: Investing in Local Youth

During the 2004/2005 school year, 1st Summit Bank became one of The Challenge Program, Inc.’s first business partners, helping to turn our founder’s dream of motivating high school students to succeed into a reality. The man who took that initial leap of faith in our program was Elmer C. Laslo, President and CEO of 1st Summit Bank.

Mr. Laslo’s personal success story serves as a powerful example of what young people can achieve with hard work and self-motivation. When he was just 28 years old, Mr. Laslo was named CEO of Salix State Bank, the predecessor to 1st Summit Bank, and under his leadership and direction the Bank has enjoyed tremendous success. During his 38-year tenure as CEO, Mr. Laslo has seen the Bank grow from having three offices and 15 employees in 1977 to 15 offices and 200 employees in 2015, with assets totaling more than $900 million.

Because Mr. Laslo shares The Challenge Program, Inc.’s vision of providing opportunities for young people to stay in the area, 1st Summit Bank was a natural fit to participate in the Program. As a business partner to Richland Senior High School (Cambria County), representatives from 1st Summit Bank speak in front of an auditorium full of high school students every fall to expose them to employment opportunities in the Johnstown, PA, region.

1st Summit Bank awards and promotes their employees in the areas of attendance, community involvement, and employee improvement, which align with The Challenge Program, Inc.’s incentive award categories, proving these are qualities employees like 1st Summit Bank look for when hiring.

One area that the Bank particularly emphasizes for its professionals is community involvement, and that is likely because Mr. Laslo is so community-minded himself. Throughout his career, Mr. Laslo has generously donated his time and expertise in hopes of “making Johnstown a more vibrant community with a high quality of life.” Examples of his deep community involvement include serving as the immediate Past Chairman of Johnstown Area Regional Industries; two-term President of the Community Arts Center; President of Enterprise Venture Capital Corporation; member of The Greater Johnstown Regional Partnership; board member of Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center; and member of his church council.

Kathy DePra of 1ST SUMMIT BANK (back left) pictured here with student award winners and volunteers at The Challenge Program, Inc.'s 2015 kick-off assembly.
Kathy DePra of 1ST SUMMIT BANK (back left) pictured here with student award winners and volunteers at The Challenge Program, Inc.’s 2015 kick-off assembly.

As one of our first participating businesses, it has been exciting to watch our partnership with 1st Summit Bank grow and evolve. Assistant Vice President and Loan Officer Kathy DePra, who attends the Kick-Off and Awards assemblies on behalf of the Bank, says last year’s mock interview format stands out as one of her favorite memories with the Program. “The problems that new interview students would have [in real life] were brought out in this exercise,” she explains. “This exercise allowed students to see how they should conduct a good interview.”

Earlier this fall, 1st Summit Bank took its partnership to the next level by hosting Richland High School senior and 2015 Student of the Year Brittney Lybarger for an afternoon of job shadowing. These types of activities help us carry out our shared mission of exposing students to local careers and encouraging them to stay in the region.

In addition to being a business partner to the Program, 1st Summit Bank is The Challenge Program, Inc.’s own banking institution. The Bank successfully navigated The Challenge Program, Inc. through the rough economic times the country faced during the recession so that we could continue to carry out our good work and mission.

We thank 1st Summit Bank, and especially Mr. Laslo, for your 12 years of partnership and continued investment in local youth! We truly could not have come this far without you!

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