Merri Johnson, married to Albert Johnson of Georgetown, is Zions Bank’s Region President for Eastern Idaho, and also the first female president in Eastern Idaho.
Merri manages 11 branches of Zions Bank and will soon be including the new Zions branch that will be opening in Garden City. Her duties include branch staffing and employee development (which is her favorite and her passion because she loves helping people better themselves). She directly manages all the branch managers, she is in charge of local diversity equity and inclusion efforts, and she manages branch service levels (customer service and getting service from clients). She is also in charge of mass consumer and micro-business growth and is in charge of new client growth, regional marketing, and partnership relationships (partnership with other business lines like different bank functions such as mortgage leasing, commercial, and industrial commercial real estate).
Merri also chairs the Regional Executive Management Committee, and she is in charge of CRA investments (low-income donations) and volunteer engagement and lending for the CRA (Community Reinvestment Act), a mentor-in-mentor program. She is on the advisory board for regional economic development for Eastern Idaho serving 14 counties and is a counselor for the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace Program, as well.
Merri has been in banking for 41 years. In fact, she started in high school at Skyline High in Idaho Falls. While she was taking a work class in school to learn how to have a job, she filled out a form telling what jobs she was interested in. She put down that she was interested in landscaping. However, Jeanine Murdoch, her teacher, told her she was not going to be working in a greenhouse or planting by herself — she was “a people person.” So, her teacher sent her to Idaho First National Bank for an interview, and Merri got the job as a teller’s helper, starting her banking career.
As a teller’s helper, she learned professionalism, career clothing, smiling, and all the professionalism it takes to work in a bank. At that time, ATMs had to have only new twenty-dollar bills with no wrinkles or turned corners. So, every week, part of Merri’s job was to take a basket with $60,000 of twenties from the tellers to the boiler room in the basement and iron every one of them. She took this job very seriously because over the weekend during the night officers would receive a page and have to fix the ATM. She didn’t want them to get that page and know it was her fault that a twenty had jammed the ATM.
From that job, she moved to other jobs and banks until she worked her way to the amazing job she has now.
Merri has won many awards during her career, including the most recent and meaningful Excellence in Finance for the State of Idaho Award, which she received from the Idaho Business Review. She also received the Woman of the Year Award, also from the Idaho Business Review.
Amazingly, Merri was one time stalked, held at gunpoint at her home, then had a bomb strapped to her and was told to go to the bank and put money in a bag. Then she was directed to follow a “scavenger hunt” line of directions as to where to leave the money and where she would find the key and wire clippers to remove the bomb. Later, the FBI called America’s Most Wanted, the program we’ve seen on television, and she re-enacted the nightmarish event for them. Because of that program, the robber was found and prosecuted.
But Merri is more than a banker. She is a beautiful, down-to-earth, friendly, and very personable woman. She is concerned about peoples’ well-being and is very family oriented. I know all this, because Merri and Albert are my next-door neighbors and I have personally been the recipient of her kindness and loving nature.
When she isn’t working, Merri loves spending time with her children and grandchildren. She also loves to do things outside. She and Albert and much of their family spend time camping, snowmobiling, flyfishing, dirt-biking, and horseback riding. She also loves flower and vegetable gardening, and if she happens to have a day with nothing else to do, she loves to read. She also likes to experiment with Dutch-oven cooking.
Merri says, “I love living in the Bear Lake Valley because all the things I love to do are easily accessible here. I also think the people here are the kindest, most down-to-earth people I have ever found. They are very unassuming and gracious, and there are many accomplished people in the area. It’s also a marvelous place to raise children and a family.”
Merri is obviously a very talented, diversified person, and we are lucky to have her in our valley.