First Niagara Financial Group announced that its Board of Directors, at its regularly scheduled March 19th meeting, appointed Gary M. Crosby to serve as interim President and CEO. Crosby currently is Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative and Operations Officer of First Niagara. The appointment of Crosby follows the mutually agreed upon departure of John R. Koelmel, as First Niagara's President, CEO and Board member, effective immediately. A special committee of the Board's independent directors has been formed to initiate a search for a permanent President and CEO. The special committee will be chaired by board member Nathaniel Woodson, and will conduct a thorough and expeditious search, considering both internal and external candidates. An executive search firm will be retained to assist in the CEO selection process.