Khalid Acheckzai, president and CEO of Poppy Bank, was voted best community business leader in the North Bay based on his unwavering community support and provision of economic and social opportunity throughout the North Bay.
Acheckzai’s connection to the Bay Area began during his childhood, when he moved from Afghanistan to the East Bay city of Fremont at 9 years old. He spoke little English at the time, primarily teaching himself as he adapted to his new home.
He earned his bachelor’s degree from California State University Hayward in 1996, later graduating from the Pacific Coast Banking School at the University of Washington in 2010.
Acheckzai has had an extensive career in the finance industry. In 2015, he joined Poppy Bank as the chief financial officer and chief operating officer. Since 2017, he has been leading the company as president and CEO. During that time the bank has grown from less than a billion in assets to nearly $6 billion.
Since its establishment in 2005, Poppy Bank has prioritized giving back to the community through partnerships with local nonprofits like Habitat for Humanity of Sonoma County, Boys & Girls Club and the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County. A father of three, Acheckzai is most proud of his support of community programs that serve local children.
These contributions have bolstered the community when it needed it most.
During the pandemic, the Epicenter of Santa Rosa was forced to shutter its doors when no other banks would accept their pleas for loan assistance.
Poppy Bank provided the recreation center with an $18 million loan, allowing it to maintain its staff and building throughout the shutdown. Today, renamed the Poppy Bank Epicenter, the business is thriving.
“Every time there has been a crisis, we’ve created a special program to help the community,” says Acheckzai. When the community was struck by pandemic hardships and local businesses could no longer stay afloat, Poppy Bank also provided Paycheck Protection Program loans to keep businesses and employees secured.
Acheckzai is humbled to receive this recognition. “I’m very proud. I didn’t expect it frankly we’ve always done a lot in the community, even if we’re not in the limelight as much. It means the community is starting to recognize the contributions of Poppy Bank.”
Through his leadership of Poppy Bank, he has helped create a renewed sense of strength and recovery for the communities of the North Bay. “We are here for the community,” says Acheckzai. “Not just through lending, donations, volunteer hours—whatever the community has needed, we have stepped up. We have contributed to the community and the community has contributed to our strength.”