The U.S. Small Business Administration’s second consecutive leader from Maine is returning home to take on a new role as a banking executive.
Acting SBA Administrator Jeanne Hulit, a Falmouth resident, said she is stepping down from that position to take a job as president of Lewiston-based Northeast Bancorp’s Northeast Community Banking Division.
Hulit was named acting administrator in late August, when her predecessor, Karen Mills of Brunswick, announced that she would step down and accept a job offer from Harvard University. Mills was the SBA’s top official, a Cabinet-level position, for four years.
Hulit said in an interview Thursday that she is excited to return to living and working in the Portland area, after commuting to Washington.
“My heart is in Maine, and my home is in Maine,” she said.
Hulit told SBA staffers in a letter released Thursday that her five-month stint as acting administrator has been a rewarding experience.
“When President Obama asked me to serve in this role, I took on this assignment because I believe in what the SBA does, and I believe in public service,” she said in the letter.
“The time has come for me to move on from the agency and start the next phase of my career.”
Obama has chosen Marianne Markowitz, the SBA’s Midwest regional administrator, to fill in as acting head while awaiting Senate confirmation of the administration’s nominee, Maria Contreras-Sweet.
Contreras-Sweet is a commercial banking executive who immigrated to Los Angeles from Guadalajara, Mexico.
Northeast Bancorp President and CEO Richard Wayne said in a written statement that the bank is fortunate to have Hulit joining its team.
She plans to leave the SBA on Feb. 7 and begin working for Northeast on Feb. 17.
“She brings us great experience and insight about commercial and community banking in Maine, and a demonstrated record of success both as a banker and acting administrator of the SBA,” Wayne said.
Hulit said she is looking forward to working at Northeast, and returning to the industry that made her a success.
“Banking is my background, and frankly it’s the background that helped me be successful at the SBA,” she said.
Hulit was appointed in August 2009 to serve as the SBA’s New England regional administrator.
Before that, she spent 18 years in banking.
She served as senior vice president for commercial lending at Citizens Bank, vice president and middle market lender at KeyBank, N.A., and manager of KeyBank’s International Banking Division.
Previously, she was deputy director of the International Division in the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development.
J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at: