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Columbus First Bank prides itself on providing a level of personal service unmatched in the business banking community – a commitment made possible by the quality of our staff from the chief executive on down through our branch and support personnel.

Many of our team members have been with the bank since its inception in 2007 and continue to play the critical role in our ability to grow without sacrificing the attention we give to each and every customer.

  • Seasoned professionals
  • Invested in the Columbus community
  • Long tenure in banking industry
  • Committed to personal service
  • Central Ohio residents

Business-minded People Driven to Get You What You Need

meet-team-btnEvery member of the Columbus First team is dedicated to providing our clients the best level of service in the banking industry. Most Columbus First employees live in the Central Ohio area and are active members of their communities.


Rhett Huddle, CEO

Before founding Columbus First, Rhett was an executive officer with Prospect Bank from 2001 to 2004, and was elected a director in 2003. In 1990, he was one of four principal officers to organize Commerce National Bank, a national bank headquartered in Columbus, where he was an executive officer and later a director until 2000.

He began his successful career practicing law in Columbus with Baker & Hostetler (as well as a predecessor firm) representing clients in the areas of corporate law, real estate and banking. He and his wife reside in Dublin, Ohio.

John Smiley, President

John Smiley is one of the co-founders of Columbus First Bank. He has over 20 years of experience in the banking industry, specializing in commercial real estate and medical/dental lending. His career began as a loan officer with State Savings Bank, where he worked for 11 years. He went on to work at Commerce National Bank as a loan officer and was one of the original employees of Prospect Bank, which was later sold to Sky Bank.

John is a graduate of Bishop Watterson High School and The Ohio State University, and currently resides in Dublin.

Commercial Lending

Erica Godfrey, Vice President

Erica’s experience in lending began as a closing coordinator at the Service Title Agency where she helped clients manage their financing or refinancing processes, working with their mortgage lenders and real estate agents. She joined Columbus First Bank in March 2009 and manages a large commercial loan portfolio. In her role at the bank, Erica serves as a mortgage consultant advising clients on lending opportunities, negotiating contracts and managing customers’ portfolios.

Originally from Northeast Ohio, she graduated from The Ohio State University and currently resides in the Columbus area.

Dean Lucas, Senior Vice President

Dean joined Columbus First in July 2013 with over 30 years of banking experience in commercial lending. He earned his degree in Business Administration in Accounting from The Ohio State University and is a graduate of the Oklahoma University ABA Graduate School of Commercial Lending. He was awarded the CCDC “Banker of the Year” award in 1995.

Dean has served on various boards and takes pride in his active involvement in the communities he serves. He currently resides in Dublin, Ohio, with his wife Robin.

Tim Norris, Senior Vice President

Tim joined Columbus First in March 2008, where he is primarily responsible for the lending and depository needs of the bank’s business clients, as well as a shareholder. He was previously at UPS Capital, specializing in business acquisition finance.

He graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1987 with a B.A. in communications and psychology, and was a member of the Ohio Army National Guard. Tim currently serves as loan committee member for Community Capital Development Corp., a rotary member, and committee member for U.S. Sportsman’s Alliance. He and his wife Jen have two children and reside in Powell.

Justin Nolan, Assistant Vice President

After joining Columbus First Bank in 2009 as a member of the Credit Department, Justin transitioned to the Lending team as a commercial loan officer and portfolio manager in October 2012. In his new role, he now utilizes his skills in credit analysis and cash flow to assist clients with all of their lending and deposit needs.

Originally from Kettering, Justin graduated from The Ohio State University, and has been a resident of the Columbus area ever since. He and his family currently live in Westerville

Justin Doran, Vice President

Justin Doran has been working in commercial lending since 2004 with a specialization in complex commercial loan transactions, including commercial and industrial lending and commercial real estate. His deep experience in credit, loan structure and customer service has proven particularly valuable to clients looking to expand their operations or refinance their debt structure.

Justin is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a major in Finance, and previously worked with Heartland Bank and Fahey Bank, managing large, sophisticated commercial loan portfolios.

Christine Ruddy, Senior Vice President

Chris Ruddy has been in the commercial real estate industry for more than 25 years. Starting out as a commercial appraiser in the 1990’s, she then redirected her career in 1997 and began working as a Commercial Lender for Commerce National Bank. She has been a commercial real estate lender for the last 19 years, assisting her customers with loans on apartment projects, office buildings, and retail and warehouse projects including construction, permanent and mezzanine financing. She completed her M.B.A. degree at Franklin University in 2001. She maintains a commitment to excellent customer service and to providing financing solutions for her customers to help them build a profitable real estate portfolio. Chris currently lives in Clintonville.

Will Berisford, Senior Vice President

Will comes to Columbus First as a leader in commercial lending with a specialty in the healthcare marketplace. Since 2000, Will has worked with thousands of dental and medical practice owners in navigating the lending landscape in order to choose the products that fit them best.  Highly regarded in the industry, he excels in getting to know his clients and their true financial health and to demonstrate how this impacts future goals. His expertise also extends to business development, strategic planning, and project management.

Will is an experienced public speaker in many areas of practice management and has been called upon to share his knowledge at many of the nation’s top universities as well as state and national dental organizations.

Will is a graduate of Wheeling Jesuit University with a Bachelor degree in business management. He and his wife, Dr. Shauna Hindman, have 2 children and reside in Galena, Ohio. In his personal time, Will is a volunteer in youth athletics and the Boy Scouts of America.

Residential Lending

Eric Holmes, Senior Vice President

Eric joined Columbus First Bank in 2016 as the Senior Vice President of Residential Lending.  He has over 20 years of experience in mortgage lending in Central Ohio as a loan officer or in various management roles with mortgage brokers, national banks, and other community lenders.  Specializing in residential loans, he provides creative financing strategies, honest answers, and straight advice to help his clients find the ideal home loan that matches their own unique, personal financial situation.  As a founding member of CLOCO (Community Lenders of Central Ohio), Eric also works closely with other local lenders to serve the Columbus area’s more unique mortgage needs.

Eric graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in Business Information Systems.  A native of Worthington and longtime Northwest Columbus resident, he graduated from Centennial High School and he currently resides in Worthington with his wife, Shannon, and son, Charlie.

Katie O’Brien, Assistant Vice President

Katie joined Columbus First Bank in 2009 as a Credit Administration Intern, and since that time has acquired valuable experience working in various roles at the bank. Most recently, she worked as a Commercial Credit Analyst prior to moving into her current position as an Assistant Vice President of Residential Lending.

She graduated from the University of Dayton in 2010 with a double major in Finance and Marketing. A native of Columbus, Katie is a graduate of Bishop Watterson High School. She currently resides in Powell with her husband.

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