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Food & Wine

Peninsula brewers take center stage at SV Beer Week

Peninsula brewers take center stage at SV Beer Week


Courtesy of Derek Wolfgram
Hop Dogma co-founder and brewer Ethan Martini introduced beer lovers to his Alpha-Dankopottamus IPA at the San Mateo County Brewery Festival last month.

The fourth annual Silicon Valley Beer Week, held July 22-30, included...

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Your Health

Los Altos doctor takes lead role at American Heart Association

Los Altos doctor takes lead role at American Heart Association


courtesy of aha
Dr. David Lee of Los Altos, center, recently assumed the role of board president of the American Heart Association’s Western States Affiliate. Pictured with Lee are, from left, fellow board member Joni Byun and Kathy Rogers, executi...

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Your Home

Permanent pop-ups: Prefabricated homes hit the local remodel market

Permanent pop-ups: Prefabricated homes hit the local remodel market


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
The Krivokon family of Mountain View observes the installation of a prefabricated home on Pilgrim Avenue.

Pop-up houses are sprouting like mushrooms around Los Altos and Mountain View, but unlike other pop-up structur...

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On The Road

Beauty in our own backyard

Beauty in our own backyard


Genie Anderson/Special to the town Crier
The annual outdoor sculpture show at Filoli Estate and Gardens is underway.

People often look beyond local attractions when thinking about where to go sightseeing, but we should keep in mind that visitors...

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Senior Lifestyles

Monkey business: Senior Program volunteers lift spirits of sick kids

Monkey business: Senior Program volunteers lift spirits of sick kids


Photo Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos Senior Program volunteers – affectionately known as The Monkey Toy Ladies – make sock monkeys to comfort sick children.

Last year, nearly 400 children at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital received a s...

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Wedding To Remember

Got a wedding singer? Musicians and engaged couples work in tandem to orchestrate perfect night

Got a wedding singer? Musicians and engaged couples work in tandem to orchestrate perfect night


Courtesy of Dick Bright
Dick Bright, a veteran Bay Area musician, manages local bands such as the Dick Bright Orchestra, Club 90 and Encore. His bands ramp up the energy at weddings.

A wedding soundtrack draws nearly everyone to the dance floor....

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Your Kids

Back to School

Is Early Decision the right choice for your student?

Is Early Decision the right choice for your student?


Courtesy of Hollis Bischoff
This chart compares the rate of Early Decision acceptances with the overall acceptance rate at various colleges.

As students apply to an ever-increasing list of schools, colleges are challenged to predict accuratel...

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Banking on women


Photo by Monique Schoenfeld, Town Crier

Mid-Peninsula's CEO Susan Black makes impact on 'man's world'

Banking has changed in the 14 years that Los Altos resident Susan Black has worked in the field. It's not just about mergers and new technology. Black remembers when most women starting businesses used credit cards for financing because they couldn't get a loan.

Banking is generally still a man's world, said Black, who was named president and chief executive officer of Palo Alto-based Mid-Peninsula Bank in March. The appointment made her the first woman CEO to head a bank in the Silicon Valley. She was formerly an executive vice president at Mid-Peninsula. Black was also named to the bank's board of directors.

Black was one of six founding members of Mid-Peninsula in 1987. With three of her fellow founders, she left Crocker Bank following its 1986 merger with Wells Fargo. Their goal with Mid-Peninsula was "to continue to provide old-fashioned personal service without the dictates of a large bank," she said.

Mid-Peninsula's mission struck a chord with customers and investors. "We had $9 million in capital and $20 million in deposits on the day we opened, and were profitable in the first nine months," Black said.

Today, Mid-Peninsula Bank has more than $400 million in assets and offices in Palo Alto, Redwood City and San Mateo. In a 1996 merger of equals with Cupertino National Bancorp, it formed Greater Bay Bancorp, described by American Banker as "a darling of bank analysts."

"In 1994, we looked at our strategy," Black said. "We were at around $250 million in assets, a size when many banks are acquired. We wanted to be large and strong enough to survive as an independent. Our goal is to be the dominant independent force in the Bay Area."

Black describes Greater Bay's strategy as "super community banking." It allows independent banks to achieve economies of scale by centralizing their support services operations. Member banks retain their own identity. "Decision-making, especially as it relates to customers, is made in the individual banks," she said.

Greater Bay also includes Peninsula Bank of Commerce in Millbrae. It recently announced a merger agreement with Pacific Rim Bancorporation, holding company for Golden Gate Bank in San Francisco.

"Our system expands our legal lending limits," Black said, "so client won't outgrow the lending limits of an individual bank."

"We get constant inquiries from other banks" interested in joining their system, Black said.

Last week Greater Bay (NASDAQ: GBBK) announced net earnings of $6.6 million or 67 cents per share for the six month period ended June 30.

Excluding $1.3 million in costs related to the Pacific Rim merger, net earnings for the period would have been $7.9 million, an increase of 36.6 percent over the same period in 1997. It has total assets of $1.5 billion.

Black calls Mid-Peninsula and Greater Bay Bancorp "truly gender blind." But at banking conventions her husband is often the one taken for a bank president, she said.

Her advice to women: "If you take care of your clients and your employees, I think that advancement will come."

"Banking offers wonderful careers for young people today," Black said. "Careers are not just in high-tech. It's gratifying working with clients, helping them be successful."

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