Bank chairman will speak at Northern Essex commencement

COURTESY PHOTO: Bob Rivers, chairman and CEO of Eastern Bank, will be the featured speaker at Northern Essex Community College's 57th annual commencement ceremony, which will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 18, on the Haverhill campus.

HAVERHILL —  Bob Rivers, chairman and CEO of Eastern Bank, will be the featured speaker at Northern Essex Community College’s 57th annual commencement ceremony, which will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 18, on the Haverhill campus.

Rivers is a leader in social justice and sustainability causes as well as an advocate for a more inclusive community, college officials said.

Eastern Bank is America’s oldest and largest mutual bank and the largest independent community bank headquartered in Massachusetts with $11 billion in assets.

"I have long been an admirer of Bob, his story, and the incredible community building and economic development work — centered in principles of social justice — that he and Eastern Bank have been doing locally and regionally,” said Lane Glenn, president of Northern Essex. "He’s been a strong supporter of community colleges and our mission, and he will be the perfect speaker for our grads."

Rivers, a 37-year community banker who started his career as a teller and bank janitor in his hometown of Stoughton, believes that doing what’s right and smart means building a strong business that does good things to help people prosper.

Under his leadership, Eastern regularly invests in underrepresented and underserved communities and has locations in 12 of the 26 “Gateway Cities.”  One of those is Lawrence, where in 2011 Eastern opened the first full-service banking office in the community in more than two decades.

During Rivers' tenure as CEO, Eastern has been a leading voice in the business community in support of equal opportunity for all, including on the successful Yes On 3 transgender rights ballot initiative in Massachusetts, the advancement of women, and the growth of minority-owned businesses. Since 1999, Eastern has donated an average of 10 percent of its net income to local charities and its outspoken advocacy and community support have exceeded more than $120 million in charitable giving.

In Lawrence and Haverhill, Eastern has given more than $550,000 to nonprofits in those communities in the past five years alone and made a $100,000 grant in 2018 to “The Leading Into the Future Together (LIFT)” campaign for Northern Essex Community College. Rivers is also a co-founder of the Lawrence Partnership, the private-public sector collaboration focused on accelerating economic development and improving the quality of life in Lawrence.

In addition to his work at Eastern, Rivers serves on the Boards of many nonprofits across the state. He was named among the Top 10 “Most Influential People in Boston” by Boston Magazine, and to the Boston Business Journal Power 50 list for the last three years.

For more information about NECC’s 2019 commencement, visit www.necc.mass.edu/commencement.