Deborah A. Golden

Board Experience

Midland States Bancorp, Inc.

Compensation Committee Chair; Member of the Governance Committee

Q & A

How did you learn about your current board opportunities? Did active networking play a role?

I was contacted by NACD, an organization I had joined in connection with my active networking for a board seat. I was networking, but it was focused on particular industries which I thought might be interested in the particular skills and abilities I bring to the board table.

How has DirectWomen helped you achieve your board service-related objectives?

DirectWomen provided a clear path for me to follow on the way to my first director position. I learned how to craft a board resume, give the "3 minute elevator speech" and consider various means by which to approach the process. Not only did DirectWomen provide a valuable learning experience, it was great to meet and discuss the challenges surrounding women on boards with tremendously talented class members and the alum.

What have been/were the most challenging aspects of establishing yourself as a director?

In short, learning the business and the financial metrics to evaluate performance and successful implementation of strategies.

Which of your skills/attributes do you believe have been most instrumental in your board role(s)?

Frankly, the most instrumental skills/attributes for board service are precisely the same ones that are instrumental to success as a lawyer. Those include a willingness to ask questions, take a deep dive into the business to evaluate strategies, clearly and persuasively communicate and to simplify otherwise complex matters.

What specific events, people or tactics (if any) have helped your transition from career woman to board director?

Before every board meeting, I remind myself that I am serving in an oversight role and not "in the trenches" management role.

What ongoing activities continue to develop/enhance your effectiveness as a director?

I continue to learn about banking, complex regulatory schemes and specific business strategies to help me enhance my effectiveness as a director.

What are your further short/medium/long-term board service objectives?

In the short term, continue in a board leadership position as Chair of the Comp Committee. In the coming two years, I would hope to add another board.

What advice would you give to aspiring women directors?

Although the pace is slow, more and more boards are seeking women candidates for directors. Focus in on industries where you have a deep knowledge/experience base or where diversity in the boardroom is a top priority. Continue to network and use the "playbook" from the DirectWomen Institute.


Deborah A. Golden is Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of GATX Corporation, a transportation company and world leader in railcar leasing.  Ms. Golden is responsible for legal affairs, compliance, regulatory, and internal audit at GATX.  Additionally, she is actively engaged in developing and implementing all strategic initiatives, including global mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and other key business activities.     

Ms. Golden has overseen critical international business development initiatives in India and other emerging markets.  She led a team creating the first railcar leasing program in India and successfully negotiated rail joint ventures in other international markets. Ms. Golden also oversees all rail acquisitions, led a $1.3 billion divestiture of the company’s aircraft leasing business, and was instrumental in securing the largest railcar supply agreement in the company’s 117 year history.     Ms. Golden is expert in regulatory policy, enterprise risk management and global legal and human resource issues.   She has extensive experience in public policy and legislative affairs both at the local and national level and is actively engaged in current rail regulatory matters. 

Ms. Golden is on the board of Midland States Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:MSBI), a community-based financial holding company, with assets of approximately $3 billion.  She sits on the Compensation and Governance Committees.  Ms. Golden also represents GATX on the board of Rolls-Royce & Partners Finance LLC, the global leader in spare aircraft engine leasing.  Headquartered in the UK, RRPF leases to over 40 airlines in 22 countries. 

Prior to joining GATX Corporation, Ms. Golden had a wealth of experience in highly regulated industries serving as Vice President and General Counsel of Midwest Generation LLC, a power generation company, and Assistant General Counsel for Ameritech Corporation and then SBC Communications, Inc.  As such, she was engaged in public policy as well as regulatory and legal matters.  Ms. Golden also served in the public sector as Deputy General Counsel for the State of Illinois, Office of the Governor. Her legal career began at Schiff Hardin & Waite, Chicago, Illinois, where she was a partner.    

Ms. Golden is engaged in numerous professional and civic organizations, including prior service on the board of The Chicago Network and currently on the boards of the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation and Women Employed.  She is a member of The Economic Club of Chicago, past Chair of the Board of Governors of Loyola University School of Law and the Senior Leadership Council of Loyola Graduate School of Business. She is a frequent panelist and speaker on a variety of issues including international business expansion, corporate governance and regulatory and legal matters.

Ms. Golden holds a JD from Loyola University School of Law, an MBA from Loyola University of Chicago (summa cum laude, Beta Gamma Sigma) and a BA from Boston College (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa).

Ms. Golden resides in Chicago.