CoBank Announces Executive Appointments

Brett Challenger named head of Rural Infrastructure Banking Group and member of the Management Executive Committee; Mike Hechtner named head of Regional Agribusiness Banking Group

DENVER — February 6, 2023 — CoBank, a cooperative bank serving agribusinesses, rural infrastructure providers and Farm Credit associations throughout the United States, today announced that Brett Challenger has been named head of the bank’s Rural Infrastructure Banking Group. Challenger will also join CoBank’s Management Executive Committee.

Effective today, Challenger will have responsibility for CoBank’s entire rural infrastructure portfolio including Communications; Project Finance; Power, Energy & Utilities; Electric Distribution; and Water & Waste Disposal.

Challenger previously served as the head of CoBank’s Regional Agribusiness Bank Group. He will be succeeded by Mike Hechtner, who continues four decades of dedicated commitment to CoBank and the Farm Credit System. Effective today, Hechtner has been appointed senior vice president and head of the Regional Agribusiness Banking Group and will have responsibility for the entire regional agribusiness portfolio, which comprises loans to farmer-owned cooperatives and other small and mid-sized agribusinesses in all 50 states.

“Brett’s appointment as head of our Infrastructure business, and a member of the Management Executive Committee reflects his track record as an enterprise leader, reinforces our commitment and continued investment in our Infrastructure franchise, and recognizes infrastructure as a critical capital deployment and business growth opportunity for CoBank in the next decade,” said Eric Itambo, CoBank’s chief banking officer.

“We are also delighted that CoBank will continue to benefit from Mike’s deep industry knowledge and leadership experience to provide a seamless transition to the Regional Agribusiness Banking team and our customer-owners,” continued Itambo.

Challenger has been in the financial services sector over 30 years, spending the last 16 years at CoBank starting in Infrastructure Banking before being appointed to lead the Regional Agribusiness Banking Group in 2018. Before CoBank, Challenger held leadership positions with Duke Capital Partners, Banc of America Securities and Union Bank.

Hechtner celebrates 41 years in the Farm Credit System, including over 17 years with CoBank. He joined CoBank’s agribusiness lending operations in 2005 as Regional Vice President for the Omaha office. In 2011, he was promoted to Central Region President, leading the execution of business development and credit administration delivered by the Fargo, Minneapolis, Omaha, Wichita and Lubbock offices. Prior to CoBank, Hechtner held positions with the Farm Credit Bank of St. Louis, AgriBank, Farm Credit Services of Central Arkansas and Farm Credit Services of America.

About CoBank

CoBank is a cooperative bank serving vital industries across rural America. The bank provides loans, leases, export financing and other financial services to agribusinesses and rural power, water and communications providers in all 50 states. The bank also provides wholesale loans and other financial services to affiliated Farm Credit associations serving more than 76,000 farmers, ranchers and other rural borrowers in 23 states around the country. CoBank is a member of the Farm Credit System, a nationwide network of banks and retail lending associations chartered to support the borrowing needs of U.S. agriculture, rural infrastructure and rural communities. Headquartered outside Denver, Colorado, CoBank serves customers from regional banking centers across the U.S. and also maintains an international representative office in Singapore.

Media Contacts

Julie Davis
Corporate Communications

Leslie Hagele
Corporate Social Responsibility

Dave Harding
Knowledge Exchange