President and CEO, Bank of North Georgia
Regional CEO, Synovus
Kessel D. Stelling Jr. began his banking career with the First Railroad and Banking Co. in Augusta, where he worked for 11 years. He served as senior vice president of the First National Bank of Cobb County from 1985-90 and then as executive vice president of the Chattahoochee Bank in Marietta from 1990-94.
He then took a brief sabbatical from banking to serve his community as interim CEO of the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce. While there, Stelling hatched the idea to create a true community bank like the one he had grown up with in Augusta. He and his business partner, Atlanta realtor John Williams, bought the financially troubled Cobb American Bank and changed the name to Riverside Bank in 1996. Stelling served as chairman and CEO of Riverside Bancshares Inc. and Riverside Bank, which was the largest and oldest community bank headquartered in Cobb County.
In March 2006, Riverside Bancshares Inc. was sold to the Synovus Financial Corp., headquartered in Columbus, Ga. As a result of the sale, Riverside Bank merged with Bank of North Georgia to form one bank under the Bank of North Georgia name. As Bank of North Georgia's president and CEO, Stelling currently oversees $5.8 billion in assets. In 2008, he was promoted to Synovus' regional CEO for the Atlanta market.
Stelling is an accomplished business and community leader whose leadership abilities and dedication to service have benefited many civic organizations. He is the Sixth Congressional District Representative to the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. He is also a member of the Dean's Advisory Council at the Terry College of Business. Stelling is a trustee of Kennesaw State University, and a board member of the Cobb Community Foundation, Wellstar Health Systems and The Georgian Club. He is a member of the board of directors of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and served as chairman in 2008. Stelling is also a member of the board of directors of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, where he served as chairman in 1998 and 2006.
Over the years, Stelling has also served as chairman of the United Way of Cobb County, chairman of the Regional Business Coalition, president of the Cobb YMCA and chairman of the Cumberland Community Improvement District. The Marietta Daily Journal named him Cobb County Citizen of the Year in 2003, and Georgia Trend named him one of the "100 Most Influential Georgians" in 2009.
Stelling and his wife, Carol Cusick Stelling, who is a 1980 alumna of UGA, have two children — Chris, who received a finance degree from the Terry College in 2007, and Drew, who is an undergraduate at Terry. Stelling's late father, Kessel Sr., graduated from the Terry College in 1945 and served as city controller of Augusta until his retirement.