Decades before becoming the chief executive officer of Martha’s Vineyard Bank, James Anthony worked in strategic consulting, often living out of a suitcase as he hopped from plane to hotel room.

“It was an unsustainable existence,” he said. “I just wanted to have a life where I could have a dog.”

Life did Mr. Anthony one better. He now has two dogs, both mixed-breed rescues, named Olly and Bella. And far from traveling the country between PowerPoint presentations, he is deeply embedded in the Martha’s Vineyard community.

“It’s a community of human beings who have self-selected into a very uncommon circumstance,” he said of Island life. “It reminds of me backcountry backpacking . . . only the people who want to be here are here.”

Mr. Anthony grew up in Maryland, where he was living when he was recruited in 2017 to be the CEO of Martha’s Vineyard Bank. He holds an undergraduate degree in engineering from the University of Maryland and a, MBA from the University of Chicago. Since leaving strategic consulting with McKinsey & Company, he had helmed two banks and started his own firm.

Mr. Anthony had spent some summer vacations on the Island in his youth but had not been back as an adult. The opportunity was tempting, he said, and asked his wife, Kelly O’Meara what she thought about the potential move.

“She just replied, ‘Sure,’” he said. “So, we went.”

The family now lives in Chilmark. The couple has two daughters, Natalia and Isabel, ages eight and 15, respectively.

Coming from a small town on the tip of a peninsula in Chesapeake Bay, Mr. Anthony said he adapted easily to Island life.

“It wasn’t an island but it had that same sense of isolation and interdependence,” he said of his upbringing.

Mr. Anthony said he was drawn to the rural qualities of Martha’s Vineyard and the values born out of them. It helped that he also found a tight-knit community in the Island’s recreational kiteboarders, a sport he took up in his 40s.

“[The first time] is like being waterboarded for 12 hours,” he said. “Then you get up and have no idea how to control the speed of it.”

In the end, however, he caught the hang of it, thanks in part to the encouragement and acceptance of the more-experienced kiteboarders on the Vineyard, he said.

Living in a small community makes it easier to feel connected to the people around you, he said, and it’s that culture of community care he seeks to foster in his work.

“There’s full accountability within small communities — within small workplaces,” he said. “You end up working for everybody else, which is a wonderful thing.”

Mr. Anthony has made it a goal of his leadership at the bank to give back to his new community. Since 2018, Martha’s Vineyard Bank has donated 100 per cent of its dividends to its community giving foundation, totaling $7.4 million. In October, the bank’s charitable foundation gave away $1.1 million in community grants, including a $1 million grant to Island Grown Initiative to help relocate the food pantry’s distribution center to Dukes County avenue in Oak Bluffs.

Earlier this year, the bank was also awarded official B-Corporation certification, joining the ranks of socially-conscious corporations such as Patagonia and Ben & Jerry’s. It is the first and only bank in Massachusetts to receive the distinction and one of only a handful of B-Corp certified banks in the country.

Mr. Anthony said the bank did not initially set out to pursue certification as a goal in itself. Rather, the bank began looking through the assessment of what it takes to be B-Corp certified to see where it could improve best practices. Over time, it took on initiatives such as lowering its carbon footprint by switching all electricity to renewable energy.

It was a series of steps working towards Mr. Anthony’s long-term goal: to set up the 114-year-old mutual bank for the next century of operation. It’s a goal Martha’s Vineyard Bank board chairman Ron Rappaport believes he has already met.

“He’s upped our game in all aspects of the bank just because of who he is,” Mr. Rappaport said. “He has boundless energy. He’s incredibly creative. He’s very smart. There’s almost no problem he’s not willing to solve.”

The two have worked closely together since Mr. Anthony first joined the bank, when Mr. Rappaport discovered he was “as close to a perfect fit” as one could get.

“He took the management team and made them shine simply from the kind of leader he is,” Mr. Rappaport said.

For Mr. Anthony, the present and future depend on rebuilding the very technological foundation that runs the bank’s day to day operations and ensuring his workforce can live sustainably on the Island.

The first goal means digitizing the bank’s bookkeeping, a system that has remained largely unchanged in the banking industry since the 1950s. The next four to five years of Mr. Anthony’s tenure will be consumed with that pursuit, he said, as they build a new system with modern technology from the ground up.

The second goal is what Mr. Anthony calls a “human issue.”

“In business there are numbers issues and there are human issues,” he said. “I’m most interested in the human issues.”

For the next decade or more, the bank will be focusing on building and acquiring new workforce housing for its employees. Several months ago, the bank purchased two units in Vineyard Haven for workforce housing and have already filled them with tenants. Next to the flagship site in Edgartown, the bank has also applied to build three more units over its existing property on School street.

Although the size and scope of what that housing will look like in the end is unclear, Mr. Anthony said he knows one thing for sure.

“There’s no path forward that doesn’t involve workforce housing,” he said.

Still, as he looks ahead to the next century of banking, the questions on his mind are virtually identical to the ones that had been asked over a century ago, he said.

“How do you bring a community together? How do we keep the fabric together? How do we connect as human beings? Those are always the questions we’re going to ask. Those are the old-world issues.”