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Girl Banker of the Week: Emily Mays

Girl Banker of the Week: Emily Mays

As women in banking, it is important that we lift each other up and celebrate each other’s accomplishments. The entire purpose of the Girl Banker blog is to do just that! The Girl Banker of the Week series serves as a way to highlight Girl Bankers everywhere by telling their stories and motivating and encouraging other women in banking. It also is a great way for women in banking to connect! Read below about this week’s Girl Banker of the Week!

Emily Mays | VP, Senior Marketing Director | Community Spirit Bank

Emily Mays serves as Vice President and Senior Marketing Director for Community Spirit Bank, a $142 million bank headquartered in the Northwest corner of Alabama.  This Barret School of Banking graduate began her career at CSB in 2013 as a drive-thru teller and rose through the ranks very quickly. This is her Girl Banker Story!

Girl Banker Story
Growing up a farmer’s daughter, the value of hard work was instilled in Emily early on. In fact, she firmly feels those virtues have helped her navigate through life. Marrying at the young age of 18, she found herself leaving the only community she had ever known of Russellville, Alabama. She received her Bachelors in Business from the Univerisity of North Alabama in 2003 and went on to manage her in-laws’ furniture store where she began dabbling in advertising. She loved helping lay out the newspaper ads and recording radio spots. Her passion for marketing was sparked!

In 2005, Emily began her career in banking after a move to Auburn, Alabama. She began working as a retail lender at Citifinancial and found her rhythm as a loan officer. While living in Auburn, she had her daughter, Lola Olivia. Soon after, Emily and her family relocated back to Franklin County, Alabama. She was finally going home after 10 years.  After returning to Russellville, AL, Emily was able to maintain her position with Citifinancial by commuting to a branch in Decatur, AL. Although the commuting wasn’t ideal, it was necessary for a few years until she was able to transfer to a branch in Russellville.

Emily and her daughter, Lola.

Unfortunately, during this time, as things began to fall in place for Emily, things also began to fall out of place. Within the span of just a few months, she was newly divorced, going through selling her home and found out her Citifinancial branch in Russellville was closing. Thankfully, Emily and Lola were able to find a home close to her family and she was finally back in her hometown.

At the advice of a friend, Emily applied for a teller position at Community Spirit Bank in Russellville, AL. At this point, she had 8 years of banking experience under her belt and applying for an entry-level position was a bit begrudging. Regardless, Emily was resilient and wanted to get a fresh start so she applied.  After her third interview, Emily remembers sitting on her kitchen counter and seeing the bank’s number pop up on her caller ID. She was starting to question why this bank thought it was necessary for tellers to go through so many interviews! Unbeknownst to her, the EVP/COO/HR Manager of CSB was relentless and saw potential in her and potential for the bank.

Emily was hired for the teller position and started eight days after walking out of a job she had been at for over eight years. She recognized immediately this was her chance to do things differently.  Her previous banking experience was in a big corporation with no personal touch and now she was working the drive-thru at a community bank. At that point, she set a goal for herself to be the highlight of every customer’s day. Sometimes the power of a smile can change everything. She began to ask herself what made the banking experience better… was it speed, friendliness? If so, then do those things, but for every customer you touch, you should strive to make it the best banking experience they have ever had.

And the rest is history. Slowly she was incorporated into marketing projects and within five months of starting at Community Spirit Bank, she was moved to the main office as Marketing Director. Emily continued to help out on the teller line when needed. “That’s the heart of community banking. When everyone pulls together to help out.” A few years later she was promoted to Marketing Director/Executive Assistant to the President/CEO and started learning about what made the bank tick. More recently, she was promoted to her current position, Vice President/Senior Marketing Director. Not a day goes by that Emily isn’t thankful for her role at Community Spirit Bank and for all of the ups and downs that got her there.

Commitment to the Community
Working to carry out the bank’s EverFi Financial Literacy mission is one of Emily’s favorite areas of focus. Providing support to her bank’s ten sponsored schools is a highlight of her public relations role. To date, they have reached over 2,800 students and that number keeps growing. In 2016 she was elected to the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and was recently elected to serve as Vice President of the Director’s Executive Board in 2018. She also serves as a team captain for CSB’s American Cancer Society Relay team.

Fun Facts
In addition to being a full-time banker and full-time mom to Lola Olivia, Emily has also found the time to squeeze in two half marathons. She also happens to be a superhero fangirl and a lover of hiking, cooking, going to the movies and of course coffee.

MOTIVATION | “That feeling of overcoming new challenges. I have never served in a capacity that has pushed the limits more of what I “thought” I could do. There is always something new to learn and something new to try!”

Join me as we celebrate this week’s Girl Banker of the Week, Emily Mays!

Know someone who should be the next Girl Banker of the Week? Send nominations to thegirlbanker@gmail.com!

Girl Banker of the Week: Autumn Hudgins

Girl Banker of the Week: Autumn Hudgins

As women in banking, it is important that we lift each other up and celebrate each other’s accomplishments. The entire purpose of the Girl Banker blog is to do just that! The Girl Banker of the Week series serves as a way to highlight Girl Bankers everywhere by telling their stories and motivating and encouraging other women in banking. It also is a great way for women in banking to connect! Read below about this week’s Girl Banker of the Week!

Autumn Hudgins | AVP, Loan Officer | Cornerstone Bank

INTRO | This week, the Girl Banker of the Week has a unique story. Not only is she a hard working mom, but she is also an entrepreneur and a philanthropist with a personal vested interest in giving back to single parents. I became connected with Autumn as a result of our being on the Single Parent Scholarship Fund of NWA Board of Directors and I’m proud to highlight her and her story this week on the Girl Banker!

GIRL BANKER STORY | Autumn is nearing her 15th anniversary in banking, all of which has been with Cornerstone Bank, headquartered in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. She got her start as a teller and then was promoted through the ranks, serving as Account Opening Deposit Representative, Loan Assistant, Marketing Director, Board Secretary, and Executive Assistant to the President and CEO. She now is an AVP, Loan Officer, specializing in mortgage lending. Through her rise in the ranks of Cornerstone Bank, she has witnessed her small community bank grow from two branches to 6, serving 3 counties in North Central Arkansas.

She earned a Bachelor’s of Science in  Mass Communication with a concentration in Advertising and Public Relations from East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma. She is a graduate of the American Bankers Association Bank Marketing and Finance School at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.

Autumn and her kids at a SPSF NWA Event.

HER INSPIRATION | Autumn is a single mother of two children, Anna-Claire,12 and Jackson, 9. She is incredibly involved in her community of Huntsville, Arkansas and thrives on being exposed to new experiences, meeting new people, and challenges. Her number one goal in life is to raise her children to be caring and appreciative adults that want to give back. While her children are involved in numerous activities themselves, Autumn has always included them in her own volunteer work in order to serve as an example. She currently sits on the Single Parent Scholarship Fund of NWA Board of Directors as Secretary and is a past member of the Eureka Springs Rotary Club, Eureka Springs Main Street Board, Carrol County Relay for Life committee and was a graduate of Leadership Arkansas: Carroll County.

Being an independent, confident woman comes naturally to Autumn. She learned these traits from her mother, who took on raising Autumn and her brothers alone after losing their dad at the age of 13.  Autumn watched her mom persevere, making ends meet as an entrepreneur but always making sure her children had a happy childhood with a positive future. Her mother is now retired from owning her own business but her determination and zeal still serve as an inspiration to Autumn and is the number one reason why she is an avid supporter of the mission of the Single Parent Scholarship Fund of NWA.

“I don’t serve because I am a single mother, but instead, because of the example set by my mother. She always told me I could be anything I wanted and gave my siblings and I unconditional love and support each and every day, regardless of the trials she was facing.”

A single mother herself, Autumn vows to give back to single parent’s pursuing their dreams through furthering their education by providing advice, support and love. She feels that the recipients of the SPSF NWA are living proof that regardless of your situation, you can achieve your dreams and create a better, brighter future for your children.

When Autumn became a single mother in 2012, she was more determined than ever to find a way to provide more for her children in addition to her banking career. In 2013, she became an entrepreneur herself, purchasing the Crooked River Cabins Resort in Battiest, Oklahoma near her childhood home. The resort includes luxury cabin rentals that overlook the Glover River and attract guests from all over the US. Buying the resort not only gave Autumn a safe haven near her family but also proved to be a way for her to invest in her childhood community.

MOTIVATION | “First and foremost, my two children are always my motivation, hands down! They give me the strength to get up and put one foot in front of the other every day. Secondly, I want to do more and be more in life; to give back and not be an idle citizen of society. My favorite quote is: ‘Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.'”

Join me as we celebrate this week’s Girl Banker of the Week, Autumn Hudgins!

Know someone who should be the next Girl Banker of the Week? Send nominations to thegirlbanker@gmail.com!

Girl Banker of the Week: Brittany Little

Girl Banker of the Week: Brittany Little

As women in banking, it is important that we lift each other up and celebrate each other’s accomplishments. The entire purpose of the Girl Banker blog is to do just that! The Girl Banker of the Week series serves as a way to highlight Girl Bankers everywhere by telling their stories and motivating and encouraging other women in banking. It also is a great way for women in banking to connect! Read below about this week’s Girl Banker of the Week!

Brittany Little | Market President-Huntsville, SVP | Today’s Bank

In the spring semester of 2002, my naive, freshman self, sat down next to Brittany (Thompson) Little in Accounting I at the University of Arkansas Sam M Walton College of Business. She introduced herself, mentioned she was from Huntsville, then I did the same and said I was from Prairie Grove. We commenced in small talk and then suddenly realized that we both were part-time tellers at community banks. I then sat by her every day for the rest of the semester and then again in Accounting 2. To this day, Brittany and I have stayed connected through our involvement in the Arkansas Bankers Association and other community organizations and continue to share something in common:

Brittany, her husband, Denver, and twin daughters, Ava and Emma.

our girl banker backgrounds.

In 2002, Brittany had just moved to Fayetteville from Huntsville to attend the University of Arkansas and because nothing is sacred in a small town, some of the ladies at First State Bank in Huntsville (now Today’s Bank) found out she had moved and thought she should work at their Fayetteville location as a part-time teller. This led to a call from the bank President’s wife and suddenly, Brittany was a banker. At that time, however, Brittany was already working part-time in the Target photo lab because she loved the 10% discount. But she realized shortly after joining the bank, that she belonged in banking and hung up her Target khakis and red shirt. This also led to her later changing her degree from General Business to Finance with an emphasis in Banking.

She started out as a teller and new accounts representative and volunteered for anything that came her way.  She liked to stay busy so naturally, once other bank employees figured this out, they kept her going with random projects.  At that time, the bank only had a couple of computers that had a word processor program, so before she knew it, she was preparing loan documents. The bank went through management changes during her first year, but this gave her the opportunity to gain multiple mentors as a result of the new bank president and operations officer being former examiners. Then the bank changed their core, new accounts, teller, and loan platforms, which gave Brittany a front row seat as a very young banker to an important and exciting time in the bank’s history.  She went to four different conversion trainings and gained a lot of important insight into how things should work well together. While Today’s Bank continued to change tremendously throughout the years, Brittany obtained a strong foundation in the fundamentals of how a bank operates.

She worked full time while attending school at the University of Arkansas and when she graduated, she batted around applying with the Arkansas State Bank Department. When discussing this with her management team, she was urged to stay and it paid off. Since her college days, Brittany has climbed the ladder of Today’s Bank through the loan department, serving as a BSA Officer, CAO, and now holds the title of Market President in Huntsville. She graduated from the Graduate School of Banking at LSU in 2010.

Brittany was a member of the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce Leadership Class of XXV and still sits on their Leadership Link Committee, was the 2016 Huntsville Chamber of Commerce President and was a member of the Arkansas Bankers Association Emerging Leaders Council. She currently serves on the Junior League of Northwest Arkansas. If all of the above isn’t enough to keep Brittany busy, she has her husband, Denver and twin daughters, Ava and Emma. Her hobbies include spending time with her family, reading, cooking up the latest new recipe she pinned and traveling.

I love that no matter how much time goes by, Brittany is always the same, sweet person I met in Accounting I so many years ago. It’s an honor to highlight her on the Girl Banker and I know she isn’t done blazing her trail.

MOTIVATION | “I have been so blessed to work with some really great people that inspire and encourage me daily. Working at the same bank for almost sixteen years, I have had the privilege to work under two President/CEO’s that have stretched me and helped me grow professionally in different ways. They both have motivated me to think differently and to think outside of the box. Being at a small bank that had two branches and $73 million in assets when you started, and now has ten branches and over $200 million in assets motivates you because you got to be a part of that growth and success. Through those changes, I have also had the opportunity to work closely with some really talented people. Another thing that motivates me, is seeing the bank’s customers succeed. Creating a new product that your customer is going to enjoy using, loaning them money to help their business grow, or financing a couple’s dream home. That gives me motivation. I have a very strong village that surrounds me and I wouldn’t be able to succeed in my career if it wasn’t for my supportive husband and family. I wish everyone had a cheerleading section as strong as mine.”

Join me as we celebrate this week’s Girl Banker of the Week, Brittany Little!

Know someone who should be the next Girl Banker of the Week? Send nominations to thegirlbanker@gmail.com!

Girl Banker of the Week: Martha Londagin

Girl Banker of the Week: Martha Londagin

As women in banking, it is important that we lift each other up and celebrate each other’s accomplishments. The entire purpose of the Girl Banker blog is to do just that! The Girl Banker of the Week series serves as a way to highlight Girl Bankers everywhere by telling their stories and motivating and encouraging other women in banking. It also is a great way for women in banking to connect! Read below about this week’s Girl Banker of the Week!

Martha Londagin | SBA, VP Commercial Loan Officer | Legacy National Bank

I have had the privilege of knowing Martha Londagin since I was a student at Prairie Grove High School where she was an English teacher back in the early 2000’s.  She also served as the Student Council Sponsor and that’s where I really got to work with her one and one. I always knew she stood apart as a teacher given her real-world experience and her approach to coaching future leaders. She certainly has served as a role model for women in business by showing that you don’t have to fit a certain mold in terms of a career path. Martha not only is a former public school teacher, but she also practiced business and banking law in Northwest Arkansas and Northeast Oklahoma and was with the Walton College Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center where she served as a training coordinator and business consultant. In her four years at the ASBTDC she served hundreds of small businesses in the NWA eight-county region with one-on-one consultations and group trainings on starting and growing small businesses. Today, she serves as a Small Business Administration (SBA), VP Commercial Loan Officer with Legacy National Bank based in Springdale, Arkansas. She is a Siloam Springs High School graduate and a licensed attorney in Arkansas and Oklahoma.  Her family has lived in Washington and Benton Counties, Arkansas for over 160 years. To say that she is an NWA/NEO staple and an incredibly well-rounded girl banker is an understatement!

Martha with her husband, Doug, and son, Carter.

Martha has been married to her husband Doug for over 30 years and they own a small business together, which makes her a fifth-generation small business owner in her family. They live in Grove, Oklahoma and Fayetteville, Arkansas and have one child Carter, a Walton College graduate, who works for Amazon.com in California. She holds a Secondary Education bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas and is a graduate of its School of Law as well. Martha serves as a children’s Sunday school teacher and volunteers with outreach projects for persons in need at Genesis Church in South Fayetteville, an outreach ministry of Central United Methodist Church. She is an active volunteer with several Northwest Arkansas chambers of commerce enthusiastically assisting members with starting and growing their small businesses with education and information about Northwest Arkansas resources. She also frequently volunteers in outreach and service to NWA public school students and teachers in their classrooms on topics regarding business, career information, and marketing.

Her accolades include being named the  2016 Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce “Small Business Advocate of the Year” and the 2017 Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce Volunteer of the Year and currently serves as co-chair of the RLACC Small Business Council. In her spare time, Martha enjoys distance running, road cycling and mountain biking, motorcycle trips with her husband, reading good books, and ANY time spent with her extended family or any children and teens.

MOTIVATION | “I am a naturally enthusiastic person who truly loves spending time with people. Small business owners and entrepreneurs come from absolutely every walk of life and background, so my work with them easily keeps me motivated to assist in any way I can; it is never a chore or a work assignment only for me- it is a daily joy. If you have enthusiasm for what you do and are genuine in your attitude, everyone benefits.  I think what I most want people to know and remember about me is that I genuinely care, even if I am not able to always say “yes” to a project or a request for my time. I strive to always leave everyone I meet with some positive encouragement, idea, or impression.”

Join me as we celebrate this week’s Girl Banker of the Week, Martha Londagin!

Know someone who should be the next Girl Banker of the Week? Send nominations to thegirlbanker@gmail.com!

Girl Banker of the Week: Stacy Matlock

Girl Banker of the Week: Stacy Matlock

As women in banking, it is important that we lift each other up and celebrate each other’s accomplishments. The entire purpose of the Girl Banker blog is to do just that! The Girl Banker of the Week series serves as a way to highlight Girl Bankers everywhere by telling their stories and motivating and encouraging other women in banking. It also is a great way for women in banking to connect! Read below about this week’s Girl Banker of the Week!

Stacy Matlock | Community Banker | Arvest Bank

Stacy got her start in banking in 1991 with National Bank of Arkansas in North Little Rock as a part-time bank teller while attending her senior year in high school. Following her sister’s footsteps, who was also a “girl banker”, Stacy moved on to Worthen Bank which was later acquired by Boatmen’s Bank, Nations Bank and finally Bank of America.

Stacy and her husband, Jesse enjoying a hike!

Stacy moved up the ladder from a bank teller to Indirect Lending at Worthen Bank and was later offered a position at Bank of the Ozarks in 1997 at which time her son was only 4 months old. At Bank of the Ozarks, Stacy was a Commercial Loan Assistant for 3 years before moving up once again to Assistant VP, Consumer, and Construction Loan Officer.

In 2006, Stacy ventured off of the banking grid to become a commercial real estate agent. During this time she obtained her real estate license and strengthened her sales and relationship building skills as a real estate broker, property manager and leasing agent specializing in retail, office and industrial properties. In 2017, Stacy moved to NWA to join her new husband and accepted a position with Arvest Bank as a Commercial Banker. Stacy feels that her past experiences and positions in banking have helped pave the way to where she is today. Each job has helped shape and prepare her to build relationships and grow a portfolio of long-term, loyal customers.

In addition to banking, Stacy is heavily involved in the economic development of Springdale by serving as a member of the Springdale Chamber of Commerce and Leadership Springdale Class of XXIII.  She is also a member of Women In Networking NWA and serves as a board member for the Arkansas Crisis Center of NWA.

Stacy and her husband, Jesse, live in Springdale, along with their 3 children: Chase, a full-time student at the University of Arkansas, Bradi, a student at NWACC, and Landen, a student at Har-Ber High School. She unplugs by hiking the Buffalo River trail and bicycling the Razorback Greenway with her husband. They are also big fans of taking family vacations.

MOTIVATION | “My motivation comes from other successful women in male-dominated careers, friends, and family and my desire to build relationships and meet the needs of my customers. I have also been very blessed by the people who believed in me throughout my career and mentored me along the way.”

Join me as we celebrate this week’s Girl Banker of the Week, Stacy Matlock!

Know someone who should be the next Girl Banker of the Week? Send nominations to thegirlbanker@gmail.com!

Girl Banker of the Week: Fre Breathitt

Girl Banker of the Week: Fre Breathitt

As women in banking, it is important that we lift each other up and celebrate each other’s accomplishments. The entire purpose of the Girl Banker blog is to do just that! The Girl Banker of the Week series serves as a way to highlight Girl Bankers everywhere by telling their stories and motivating and encouraging other women in banking. It also is a great way for women in banking to connect! Read below about this week’s Girl Banker of the Week!

Fre Breathitt | Market Retail Manager | Simmons Bank

Fre and her husband David and daughter Journey.

Fre began her career in banking in August of 1997 while she was attending the University of Arkansas, where she later graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. Over the past 21 years, she has worked her way up from a part-time teller to Market Retail Manager for Simmons Bank in Rogers, Arkansas.

Fre is incredibly involved in her community where she serves on the Go Red for Women and Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce Retention committees. She also is involved with the Northwest Arkansas Mercy Ball, Teen Action and Support Center, and is a member of the St. James Missionary Baptist Church. Additionally, Fre teaches financial literacy at numerous schools through Simmons Bank and Pathfinders.

She loves shopping, shoes, and leopard print. She and her husband David and daughter Journey are big Arkansas Razorback fans!

MOTIVATION | “I am motivated most by my daughter, Journey.  She is 7 years old and very impressionable.  She motivates me to always do my best because she absorbs my every action and may someday imitate my behavior.    I want to always be someone that she can look up to; her own personal (she)hero! Another motivator would be my co-workers.  My definition of co-workers includes my direct reports and my superiors.  If I can be of assistance to them in any way, I know my presence is not in vain.  I am here for a reason!”

Join me as we celebrate this week’s Girl Banker of the Week, Fre Breathitt!

Know someone who should be the next Girl Banker of the Week? Send nominations to thegirlbanker@gmail.com!