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John R. Koelmel

Member of the NYSERDA Board
Appointed 06/26/2012

John R Koelmel
John R.

Current Responsibilities

John R. Koelmel was named Chairman of NYPA on June 26, 2012, after being nominated by Governor Andrew Cuomo and confirmed by the State Senate as Trustee.

Work History

Mr. Koelmel is President and Chief Executive Officer of First Niagara Financial Group, Inc., and its principal subsidiary First Niagara Bank, N.A. He joined First Niagara as its Chief Financial Officer in January of 2004, and was appointed to his current position in December of 2006. He has served on the Buffalo, N.Y. company’s board of directors since 2007.

During his tenure as CEO, Mr. Koelmel has led First Niagara’s growth from an $8 billion savings institution with 119 branches in Upstate New York to what is now a top-25 regional commercial bank, which has almost $40 billion in assets and more than 430 branches in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts following its recent acquisition of HSBC branches in Upstate New York and Southern Connecticut.

Mr. Koelmel is a regular banking industry commentator for some of the country’s major media outlets, appearing often on CNBC and routinely featured in national and trade publications such as The Wall Street Journal, CNNMoney, Bank Director, American Banker and Dow Jones Newswires.

Mr. Koelmel has been recognized by numerous organizations for his business acumen and innovative leadership. In 2012, he was named a “Citizen of the Year” by The Buffalo News; “Man of the Year” by The Buffalo Renaissance Foundation; and was named by Leadership Niagara as “Leader of the Year.” In March 2011, he received the Buffalo Niagara Sales & Marketing Executives (BNSME) “2010 Executive of the Year” award; and in November 2010, he was recognized by the University at Buffalo School of Management as its “2010 Buffalo-Niagara Executive of the Year”. In 2009, Mr. Koelmel was named “Community Banker of the Year” by American Banker.

Mr. Koelmel began his professional career with KPMG LLP. During his 26 year career as a Certified Public Accountant, he served many banking and financial services clients, and was Managing Partner of KPMG’s Buffalo office and KPMG’s Upstate New York Business Unit, which included its Rochester, Syracuse and Albany offices.

Mr. Koelmel, 59, serves on several boards in addition to First Niagara’s, including: Kaleida Health, where he serves as Chairman; Great Lakes Health; Buffalo Arts and Technology Center (which he also chairs); and the New York Bankers Association. He is also a member of the WNY Regional Economic Development Council.

Throughout his career, Mr. Koelmel has been actively involved with, and has had leadership roles in, numerous other community organizations in Buffalo and Western New York.


A native of the Buffalo area, Mr. Koelmel earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and accounting from the College of the Holy Cross in 1974.

Last Updated: 07/01/2014