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, the global leader in railcar leasing. She is responsible for all legal, regulatory and corporate governance matters at GATX and manages a team of professionals located throughout North America and Europe.  As a member of GATX’s senior leadership team, Ms. Golden is actively engaged in all facets of the Company’s business including developing and implementing global strategic initiatives, and overseeing all mergers, acquisitions and divestitures.    

In addition to her legal and regulatory responsibilities at GATX, Ms. Golden is also the executive in charge of Internal Audit and Compliance.   In this capacity, she is responsible for management and oversight of all internal audit initiatives, as well as the development and implementation of effective world-wide compliance and risk management programs.  She has extensive experience in public policy and legislative affairs both at the local and national levels and is actively engaged in transportation regulatory matters.  She is a frequent panelist and speaker on a variety of issues including corporate governance, regulatory and legal matters.

Ms. Golden is a member of the board of directors of Midland States Bancorp, Inc., a publicly-held, community-based financial holding company, where she serves as Chair of the Compensation Committee.  Ms. Golden is also a director on the board of Rolls-Royce & Partners Finance Limited, a joint venture between GATX and Rolls-Royce that is one of the world’s largest spare aircraft engine leasing companies. She is also engaged in numerous professional and civic organizations, including serving on the boards of the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation and Women Employed.  She is a member of The Chicago Network, 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.   

Prior to joining GATX Corporation, Ms. Golden worked in highly regulated industries, serving as Vice President and General Counsel for Midwest Generation LLC, a power generation company, and Assistant General Counsel for Ameritech Corporation and SBC Communications, Inc.  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 as a partner at Schiff, Hardin & Waite in Chicago, Illinois.