As former president and CEO of Bancorp Rhode Island, Inc. and its subsidiary, Bank Rhode Island, Merrill Wasserman Sherman was Rhode Island’s only female CEO of a publicly held bank. Sherman spearheaded the founding of the bank in 1996. During her tenure, Bank RI became a leading commercial bank with 16 branches and a lending capacity to rival that of major national banks. In January 2012, Bankcorp RI merged with Brookline Bancorp at a substantial premium to Bankcorp RI shareholders. She now sits on the Board of Brookline Bancorp. Prior to Bank RI, Sherman successfully served as CEO of two other community banks, where she utilized her years of prior experience practicing corporate law.
Sherman has been ranked as one of the 25 Most Powerful Women in Banking by U.S. Banker magazine, and in 2011, was named one of Rhode Island’s 25 Most Influential Business Leaders in the past 25 years by the Providence Business News. In 2008, she was recognized by Women’s Business Boston as a Top Ten Banker in the Region. In recognition of the business acumen and leadership in Rhode Island, she was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 2007.
Sherman is active in numerous civic and charitable projects. She is the former chair of the Board of Trustees of Rhode Island School of Design Board and of Crossroads Rhode Island. She still serves on those boards as well as that of Johnson and Wales University and as of a member of the Executive Committee of the Providence Foundation.In 2007, the March of Dimes named her Citizen of the Year.In 2003, she was named Humanitarian of the Year by the National Jewish Medical and Research Center.
After graduating from Mount Holyoke with a major in political science/government, Sherman earned a J.D. from the Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver. She received an honorary degree in 2002 from Johnson and Wales University.