RICHMOND -- Mechanics Bank, which has three Napa Valley branches, on Friday announced the appointment of Christa Steele as its new president and chief executive officer.

[caption id="attachment_80976" align="alignleft" width="313"] Christa Steele[/caption]

"Christa's excellent credentials reflect the high bar at which our executive management team currently performs," said Chairman D.D. Felton in the announcement.

She joins the bank, effective Oct. 21.

Ms. Steele was most recently an executive vice president and wholesale banking manager for Farmers & Merchants Bancorp in Northern California, a $1.9 billion-asset institution where she worked for 11 years.

Her appointment follows what the bank said was an extensive search following the exit of Steve Buster. He had been president and CEO since 2005 and left the bank at the end of last year.

"I am truly invigorated by the opportunities present in the Bay Area for the community banking model, and expect mechanics Bank to continue to flourish," Ms. Steele said in the announcement.

Mechanics Bank has $3 billion in assets, and has been active in the Napa Valley for more than 16 years. The bank most recently opened a new branch in the city of Napa, its third for the region.