WALLA WALLA, Wash., April 25, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Banner Corporation (Nasdaq:BANR), the parent company of Banner Bank and Islanders Bank, today announced that Connie Collingsworth has been elected to its Board of Directors. Ms. Collingsworth serves as General Counsel and Secretary of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, Washington, where she manages the Foundation's legal needs and has provided leadership in the areas of risk management, compliance and corporate governance. Since 2007, she has also served on the Foundation's Management Committee which is responsible for the development and execution of Foundation-wide strategy and policy and coordination of overall operations. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ( www.gatesfoundation.org ) works to help all people to lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, the Foundation focuses on improving people's health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, the Foundation seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. With over 1300 employees and an asset trust endowment of $36.4 billion, the Foundation works in partnership with governments, the private sector, and other donors and organizations to achieve the greatest possible impact. The Foundation supports grantees in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Internationally, it supports work in more than 100 countries. Prior to joining the Foundation in 2002, Ms. Collingsworth was a partner of Preston Gates & Ellis, now K&L Gates, a leading Northwest law firm based in Seattle, where she served as lead attorney for a broad range of commercial transactions, mergers and acquisitions, and private equity financings. Ms. Collingsworth is a graduate of Andrews University and received her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Nebraska. She also earned a Master of Laws degree in international business legal studies from the University of Exeter in England.