DARIEN — Darien residents may recognize Ellen Bay from a number of places. Perhaps she was a substitute at one of the town’s public schools, the friendly face greeting them in the Tokeneke School Office or the one organizing an event for their business with the Darien Chamber of Commerce .
After nearly three decades in town, Bay has made her presence known in the community.
In addition to working as a substitute in the town schools and in the office at Tokeneke and volunteering for the Chamber of Commerce, she’s also chaired Parent Teacher Organizations, been on the Darien Council of School Parents and volunteered with the Darien Domestic Abuse Council. She spent over seven years working for Darien Rowayton Bank. Now she’s putting her deep Darien roots to use as the vice president and market manager for the new Darien branch of Bankwell, opening this spring.
Bay will be responsible for for delving into the community to develop new business for the bank, as well as partnerships.
“The area market manager is going to be out in the community, connecting with customers, potential customers and hopefully increasing our customer base within the
community,” Bay said.
Bay has a long history working in banking. After graduating from Vanderbilt University with a degree in business administration, she worked in stock brokerage at A.G. Edwards in St. Louis, where she met her husband.
The two moved to Darien, where Bay’s sister lived, with their young son 29 years ago when her husband got a job on Wall Street.
“He wanted to be right on the train line and there was an express train that went from Darien into Grand Central,” she said. “Greenwich was a little larger. We liked the small town atmosphere of Darien. We like the beaches and the good schools. That was pretty much what drew us there.”
Bay, who had been working from home, took time off after the move, because she had lost her contacts in Missouri after moving out east. When her second son was in kindergarten, she began working at Tokeneke and eventually became the office manager for her brother-in-law’s Darien-based construction company, Fox Hill Builders. In 2010, she left to rejoin the world of banking for Darien Rowayton Bank. She found working in small banking appealed to her over the compliance work she did before while working in stocks.
“For years, my husband worked for a large bank and we had banked with large banks and it can be frustrating,” Bay said. “I like the ability to help customers with different issues, opening accounts, figuring out what they needed and doing that at a local level with individuals or businesses. They’re people I know.”
Bay said Bankwell reached out to her when putting together the plans for their Darien branch, which is on track to open around April. Again, Bay was drawn in by the community banking feel.
“It’s a very welcoming feeling,” she said. “It’s very focused on the local residents and businesses — That appealed to me. And I think they were probably interested in me because I’d been doing that and the fact they were opening in Darien and I was a resident.”
While the new branch is being built, Bay has been getting acquainted with Bankwell, visiting different area branches and learning the company’s operating system. She’s looking forward to using her presence in the town to help ingrain the new branch into the community, especially when it comes to serving local businesses.
“At my former job, we had a lot of the local businesses,” she said. “It seems to really make sense for them, so if they have an issue with their online banking, bill pay or whatever, they can come right in and give you a call. With some of the large banks, you get caught in the whole phone system. I think the customers like that you can have direct contact and help them solve any issue you might have and make suggestions, come and meet with them and help them set up their accounts and online banking so things work for them.”