PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Bank has undergone another personnel shift as executive vice president/chief experience and culture officer Malia Lazu has left the company to pursue other opportunities, the financial institution's holding company announced Wednesday.

The bank has promoted Jacqueline Courtwright, senior vice president and chief human resources officer, to fill Lazu's position, effective immediately.

In her new role, Courtwright will continue to lead all aspects of the bank's human resource strategy and oversee cultural development for the company's workforce, including compensation and benefits, talent acquisition, assessment, and development and organizational design and effectiveness.

Lazu's decision to leave the bank, also effective immediately, comes less than a month after former CEO Richard Marotta was let go suddenly Aug. 10, without explanation.

The bank's stock price has plunged 70 percent since the start of 2020, with most of the decline occurring since the COVID-19 pandemic began affecting the economy in March. Shares of Berkshire Hills Bancorp stock closed at $9.22 on Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange, a steep decline from a high of $33.72 per share in December.

Marrotta, who had replaced former CEO Michael P. Daly under similar circumstances in December 2018, brought Lazu to the company in July 2019, after her consultancy, Urban Labs, had been brought in to help the bank reach minority households that traditionally have had trouble receiving bank financing. Lazu, a community activist, had no previous experience in the banking industry.

In a statement, Lazu said she intends to expand her work building more diverse, inclusive and prosperous companies and communities.

"I'm grateful for the opportunity I have had to help make diversity and inclusion a fundamental part of Berkshire Bank's mission and strategy, both internally and in the communities it serves," she said. "Having seen the tremendous opportunity first-hand, I am eager to scale my work within industryto address the pressing problems — and opportunities — around diversity, equity and inclusion that face our communities and country today."

Lazu also served as an adviser to the corporate responsibility and culture committee of Berkshire Hills Bancorp's board of directors, as the bank's regional president for the Boston region, and coordinated with the executive director of the company's charitable arm, the Berkshire Bank Foundation.

"On behalf of the bank, I want to thank Malia for her significant contributions," said Berkshire Hills Bancorp's acting president and CEO, Sean Gray. "Malia was instrumental in helping to build the foundation of our Be FIRST culture and in moving forward Reevx Labsinto diverse communities to help underserved individuals and small businesses access services and capital. The bank remains committed to these important initiatives and to our high-performing culture that fosters diversity, equity and inclusion."

Be FIRST is the bank's social impact strategy. Reevx Labs are co-working and event spaces that Berkshire Bank has set up to help emerging entrepreneurs, artists and small nonprofits access the financial tools they need to succeed.

In a statement, the bank's holding company said it is committed to building on momentum these initiatives received under Lazu's leadership.

Courtwright also will be responsible for working closely with the bank's leadership team to promote Berkshire's Be FIRST values, core behaviors and its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and corporate social responsibility. She also will manage the bank's internal and external communications, including its social media platforms.

Courtwright will remain the co-chairwoman of the bank's diversity and inclusion employee committee and coordinate with the executive director of the Berkshire Bank Foundation and the board of directors' corporate responsibility committee.

Berkshire Bank has engaged an outside consultant that has significant expertise in diversity, equity and inclusion work. This consultant will work with Berkshire's leadership and board to enhance the bank's organizational structure and accountability around its diversity strategies to deliver on the promise of its Be FIRST values and establish partnerships with diverse audiences within the bank and in the communities it serves.

Lazu grew up in Hawaii, and initially came to Boston to attend Emerson College. While still in college, she founded MassVOTE, a statewide initiative to close the turnout gap between largely white suburbs and urban communities of color.

Tony Dobrowolski can be reached at tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com or 413-281-2755.