On January 24 the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce announced that longtime banking executive #b#Thomas Bracken#/b# has been named its new president and CEO, effective in February.

Bracken, president of TriState Capital Bank’s New Jersey operation, located at 1200 Lenox Drive, is a former chairman of the state chamber’s Board of Directors and has been involved with the chamber for more than 30 years. He replaces Joan Verplanck, who retired as the state chamber’s president and CEO last summer.

Bracken joined TriState Capital Bank, which serves mid-market businesses in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New Jersey, in 2008. Prior to that he was president and CEO of Sun Bancorp. He also held executive positions with First Union Bank and is a former chairman of the Economic Development Corporation of Trenton and of the New Jersey Bankers Association.

A native of Corry, Pennsylvania (near Erie), and a graduate of Bucknell, he chose banking because in 1969 “the country was a mess. I didn’t know what to do.” An uncle was a banker. He advised Bracken to give the industry a try, saying “You’ll touch every industry. You’ll find one you like.”

Acting on the advice, Bracken joined First Trenton National Bank in 1969. He stayed with that bank as it became New Jersey National Bank, CoreStates (where he became president of the New Jersey division), and First Union. He left when First Union morphed into Wachovia (soon to become part of Wells Fargo, the third largest bank in the country).

Meanwhile, at the Princeton Chamber, another banker is being groomed to take over as chairman in 2012. On January 20 the chamber named Patrick Ryan, chairman of Hopewell Valley Community Bank, as its chairman-elect. Bob Hillier, founder of the J. Robert Hillier architecture firm at 190 Witherspoon Street, will stay on as chairman through December 31, after which Ryan will take over.

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