Barry B. - Vice President
Barry Belknap, Vice President at Harvest Bank in Kimball, didn’t set out to be a banker. Raised on a family farm in the tiny southern Minnesota town of Ceylon, Barry planned to return to the farm after he completed a degree in business at Drake University. But as it happens, those plans changed, and Barry spent the first several years of his career working as a financial analyst before meeting his future wife and embarking on a brand-new adventure as a Foreign Service Officer (FSO) with the U.S. Department of State. Foreign Service Officers are a part of the official diplomatic track of the U.S. State and are the “face” of our country while overseas. The mission of a U.S. diplomat in the Foreign Service is to promote peace, support prosperity, and protect American citizens while advancing the interests of the U.S. abroad.* Barry compares the experience to being a small-town banker in that you do a hundred different jobs, all while interacting with the local community and building trusting relationships.
Barry’s first assignment was in Georgetown, Guyana where he was a Consular Officer focused on applying U.S. immigration law in adjudicating visa applications and fighting immigration fraud. Living in a poor country like Guyana was a tremendous perspective builder, allowing Barry to gain an understanding how much of the world operates. He recalls fondly how warm and friendly the local people were during his travels around South America.
The next stop in Barry’s journey was Frankfurt, Germany as Political/Economic Officer focused on financial developments in the Eurozone, as well as political and economic issues in SW Germany. Frankfurt is the home to the European Central Bank as well as the German Central Bank. This afforded Barry a front row seat during the European financial crisis and a chance to watch and meet with these bankers as they wrestled with very difficult challenges. During this time, Barry felt very fortunate to work with Phil Murphy, the current governor of New Jersey who was the German ambassador at the time.
The time spent as an FSO has served Barry well in his banking career as a loan officer at Harvest Bank. He credits the experience with giving him a broad perspective and insight into how financial decisions are made. Barry also references Edward Murrow’s quote, “The real crucial link in the international exchange is the last three feet, which is bridged by personal contact, one person talking to another.” in understanding that face to face, personal interaction is what is truly important; something that those in the community banking space inherently know.
In his free time, Barry and his wife are parents to four active kids, aged 3 to 11. He enjoys running, biking, and being on the lake. And of course, he still has the travel bug, venturing out into the world whenever he can.