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A Conversation with Leigh Lytle, President and CEO of the ELFA

Date: Jan 19, 2024 @ 07:00 AM

In late October of 2023, the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA) announced a significant transition with the appointment of Leigh Lytle as President and CEO, marking her official assumption of duties on December 4, 2023. This pivotal moment marked the succession of leadership from Ralph Petta, who concluded his remarkable three-decade tenure with the association at the close of 2023.

Lytle brings to her new role a distinctive and multifaceted background, rich in experience across the realms of banking, operations, advocacy, and education. Her most recent position as the Head of North American Policy at Plaid, coupled with her concurrent role as Chair of the Board of Directors at the Financial Technology Association (FTA), underscores her prominence in the dynamic financial sector. Prior to her tenure at Plaid, Lytle spent over 15 years with the Federal Reserve Bank, where she held various executive roles spanning monetary and regulatory policy, as well as operational and data analytics oversight.

In an exclusive interview with Michael Toglia, the Publisher of Equipment Finance Advisor, Lytle discusses how her extensive professional background and life experiences have uniquely positioned her for the leadership of the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association. Lytle shares her priorities for 2024 and offers a glimpse into her personal life.

Michael Toglia: Thank  you for joining me today, Leigh. Please tell our readers a bit about your professional background including your latest position with Plaid and your time with the Federal Reserve.

Equipment Finance article with Leigh Lytle - President and CEO - Equipment Leasing and Finance Association

Leigh Lytle: Immediately prior to joining the ELFA, I was head of North American policy at Plaid, which is a fintech infrastructure company that is situated between fintech applications and banks. This position involved a lot of advocacy and policy work. Obviously, working with regulatory bodies, legislators, etc., was a great opportunity for me to take what I had learned in my long tenure at the Federal Reserve and leverage my skills in a new way. I was very excited about the promise of fintech and felt I had a unique skill set, particularly during that time, to help Plaid push their regulatory and policy agendas forward. I was able to leverage my background and contacts to support the business both in what they had historically done over the past decade, and toward where the business was headed as they continued to reinvent themselves.

It was a fantastic experience. While I was there, I was also the Chair of the Financial Technology Association (FTA), which is the premier fintech association. This provided a fantastic opportunity for me to learn about other companies in the space and to expand my network, and to get a good taste of what an association does and how one can excel.

My time at the Federal Reserve was long and very diverse. I was provided with many amazing learning opportunities while at the Fed and it was hard to leave. Frankly, it took a truly great opportunity like Plaid to draw me away. I started there as a bank examiner – focusing on community banks from a compliance, safety and soundness standpoint. I really cut my teeth doing that type of work early in my career. Eventually I moved into several other roles – having worked in strategy and internal communications and I also led the data science and analytics function. My last position there was as the head of finance – focusing on procurement, accounting, etc. So, my tenure there ran the gamut between working on regulatory policy, monetary policy, and many operational and strategy roles.

Toglia: How have the experiences you gained in prior positions related to strategic planning, operations management, and of course working on policy issues, prepared you for this new role leading this nationwide association?

Lytle: To be honest, this wasn't on my career map. But my experience working with FTA while with Plaid was one that allowed me to utilize many of my unique experiences. This opportunity brings together my operational background such as budget planning and brings together strategic planning, policy and advocacy.

I'm not as steeped in the equipment finance industry as you and many others are, but this opportunity piqued my curiosity as it’s a $1 trillion industry with an enormous impact on the economy. This curiosity combined with my experience in the association world, and realizing this position would pull together many of my past experiences and skill sets in a way that would provide a unique opportunity to add value, made this super attractive to me. I believe I'm very well positioned in terms of my experience and skills. That said, I also know I have a knowledge gap in the niche parts of the industry, but people have been incredibly generous with their time and I'm certainly super lucky to have a team at the association who all possess tremendous experience and are experts in their roles. I feel well supported both internally within the association and externally by the membership to make sure that we don't miss anything and we can serve our members in the best possible way.

Toglia: Knowing you have been with the association a short period of time, what are your top strategic priorities for 2024?
Lytle: Priority number one for me is listening and meeting with as many people in our membership as possible to learn from them as quickly as possible. I will be spending a lot of time with our board and Board Chair Rob Boyer, conducting member visits and attending our conferences and meetings to achieve this goal. I have a lot of energy and enthusiasm and I’m filled with excitement, but I also need the “grounding” of people who have been in this industry over many cycles. My focus is to learn how we can help our members become more successful.

We will also be looking at new technology capabilities for the association. Our board recently approved funding for a technology audit which is very exciting. We will be reviewing the resources we can provide members and ways to make our back end more efficient – which all translates into providing more value to our members.

As our strategic plan outlines, we’ll also remain focused on the core areas of advocacy, education and training, business intelligence and DE&I. I'm also excited about working with the team and members to create new and innovative ways to continue to elevate the profile of the industry given its importance to the economy.

Toglia: Is there anything you would like to share about yourself personally?

Lytle: I’ll try to share a few insights. I tend to be a “glass half full” type of person as I believe there is always a path through difficult times. I am not easily flustered or rattled, so I can be trusted to be very steady – even in times of turmoil. I've always run towards problems and enjoy solving them.

I'm a mom of two – a daughter who just turned 12 and a son who is 7 years old. They’re super fun and make me so happy. We also have a pandemic puppy (at least he thinks he’s a puppy) named Barney. I’m a very active and outdoorsy person and have always been athletic, having played a number of sports. So, I’m very competitive – a quality I have carried into adulthood. I've been a fitness instructor just for the fun of it because I enjoy the energy and camaraderie that comes with physical exertion and teamwork. I’m also a naturally curious person and enjoy learning.
As I delve into my new role, I’ve been asking a lot of questions and the members I’ve met have been so giving of their time and their expertise. Their enthusiasm for the industry, as well as for our association and Foundation, has rubbed off on me—it’s contagious!

Founder / Publisher | Equipment Finance Advisor
Michael Toglia's experience in commercial finance spans over 30 years having held various roles in senior management, business origination, capital markets and commercial credit underwriting. Prior to entering the publishing industry, Toglia served as Vice President of Capital Markets and as the National Sales Manager for both the Equipment Finance and Asset-Based Lending Divisions of Textron Financial Corporation. He also held various roles with General Electric Capital and CIT Group.

Toglia currently serves on the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association's Service Providers Business Council Steering Committee and the ELFA's Communications Committee. Toglia has also served as Marketing Chair, for the Turnaround Management Association (TMA) Philadelphia/Wilmington Chapter.

From 2018 - 2020, Toglia served as the Executive Director/CEO of the National Equipment Finance Association.

Toglia holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting and an M.B.A. in Finance.

Contact Michael Toglia at 484.380.3184 or

[  View APN Profile for Michael Toglia  ]

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