June 25, 2021  

Sizzling Content Sessions Highlight Annual Meeting

Our keynote programs at the 2021 GBA Annual Meeting made it an unmatched learning experience for member bankers attending. There was something for everyone. Here are some highlights: 

  • Economist Roger Tutterow kicked off the program with a deep dive into all the main economic trends. He noted a number of positive post-pandemic metrics, and stressed the state of Georgia remains well-positioned for solid growth.


  • Leslie Schreiner of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta delivered an in-depth look into the latest best practices in diversity and inclusion work. She walked the audience through a number or hands-on exercises and used examples from her learnings as the bank’s director of Diversity and Inclusion.


  • Georgia Power Chairman, President and CEO Chris Womack outlined his company’s work to provide reliable, competitively priced energy for customers in all 159 Georgia counties. He also discussed the company’s role in economic development, protecting the state’s energy infrastructure and how the company and its employees look to lead in their hometowns, much like bankers do.


  • Sean Payant of Haberfeld delivered a session full of practical ideas for banks to tune up their retail banking offerings, including takeaways on checking products and how those are intertwined with commercial relationships, sales and service techniques and revenue-growth strategies.


  • GBA Past Chairman Chuck Copeland of First National Bank of Griffin led a CEO panel discussion that touched on numerous C-suite hot topics. OneSouth Bank’s Kim Wilson, Great Oaks Bank’s Mike Odom and Pinnacle Bank’s Jackson McConnell were panelists. They shared PPP success stories, talked about how the pandemic has shaped how they do business in the long term, noted a variety of strategies they are using to deal with excess liquidity and compressed margins, and highlighted their thoughts on environmental, social and governance issues, as well as talent recruitment, retention and development.


  • Best-selling author Ross Bernstein closed the conference with a high-energy session that covered 11 common traits of the numerous sports champions he’s worked with over the years for his books.

We also had four info-packed breakout sessions of note.

  • Truist Securities’ Rachel Woods outlined balance sheet management and investment strategies.

  • Stewart Thigpen and Brad Washburn of Steve H. Powell & Co. did a joint session about learnings from recent loan reviews and compliance exams.

  • Mike Allen of Cadence Bank dissected the current credit environment around the state.

  • James Stevens of Troutman Pepper and GBA General Counsel Jonathan Hightower of the Fenimore Kay Harrison law firm teamed up to give tips on board decision making and strategic planning.

Thanks to all our experts for helping GBA deliver best-in-class content for members attending this year’s meeting. We would also like to thank this year's Annual Meeting sponsors:



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Mullis gives his State of
the Association address

State of the Association

Mullis Shares Successes of Leadership in Challenging Time

Morris Bank’s Spence Mullis is an optimistic guy by nature, and that outlook proved essential during his term as GBA Chairman in 2020-2021. “When I took the reins last June as Chairman, I talked to you all about my philosophy of taking an optimistic approach to dealing with challenges. Maybe another way to say that is to do whatever you can to make the most of the hand you’re dealt. I think we all can agree that the hand we were looking at in June of 2020 was a questionable one, at best. But, with the benefit of hindsight at this point, I think we managed to pull off some pretty good card tricks,” he said during his state of the association address to members at the Annual Meeting this week. Mullis recognized his fellow Morris Bank team members for stepping up to help lead the bank as he battled a significant health challenge as well as duties as bank CEO and GBA Chairman. And, he emphasized that GBA is in solid shape all around, as member engagement and participation have been high, advocacy efforts remain effective and services for members continue to fulfill the association’s mission to be the primary resource for successful bankers in Georgia. Read his full remarks here.


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Flatt takes the reins
as GBA chairman

Flatt Outlines Priorities for His Term

New GBA Chairman Luke Flatt likes to tell stories. In his remarks to members at the annual meeting, he described how he figures he was destined to be a banker from an early age. “Even as a little boy I was a saver. I saved every dollar that was given to me. I put each one in a box under my bed. A close family friend, Ben Easterlin, often chided me about my saving habit, suggesting I buried my money in coffee cans in the backyard. That was not true… the money was in cigar boxes,” he joked. Flatt said that during his term, he wants members to seize on the momentum built as financial first responders during the pandemic to further bolster the industry’s reputation and make full use of GBA’s resources. Flatt also noted his desire for bankers to extend their leadership reach further into their Georgia hometowns. “We have the wisdom, maturity, moral clarity and importantly, the financial platform to pull people together compared to the divisiveness that seems so prevalent in our world today,” he said. “Who better to lead these type efforts than we bankers, the ones to whom others look up, the ones who are called upon to lead every worthy cause?” Read his full remarks here.


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McLanahan, Wilson Elected as New GBA Officers, Board Installed

During the 129th GBA Annual Meeting this week, Luke Flatt, President, Chairman and CEO of AB&T in Albany was installed as GBA Chairman. GBA members also elected C. Rhodes McLanahan as Chairman Elect. McLanahan is CEO, First American Bank & Trust Company, Athens, and Kimberli (Kim) D. Wilson, president and CEO, OneSouth Bank, Blakely, as Vice Chairman. They join the other GBA officers to comprise the Executive Committee: Secretary-Treasurer Brad Barber, President and CEO of First National Bank, Bainbridge, and Immediate Past Chairman, Spence Mullis, president and CEO, Morris Bank, Dublin.


Flatt McLanahan Wilson Barber Mullis


In addition, nine new board members representing the association’s geographic divisions, appointed to At Large positions or serving in designated positions were installed for their terms, which begin July 1. They are: 

  • Group 4: Bill Stump, chairman, president and CEO, Community Bank & Trust-West Georgia, LaGrange

  • Group 6: John Childs, president and CEO, Exchange Bank, Milledgeville

  • Group 8: Parrish Clark, CEO, Guardian Bank, Valdosta

  • Group 10: David Voyles, president, Pinnacle Bank, Elberton


Stump Childs Clark Voyles


  • At Large: Bill Easterlin, president and CEO, Queensborough National Bank and Trust, Louisville

  • At Large: Stephen Cheney, CEO, Thomasville National Bank

  • Community Bankers Committee Chair: John Barker, president and CEO, First Bank of Pike, Molena

  • GBA Services Inc., Chair: Susan Moss, president and CEO, Planters and Citizens Bank, Camilla

  • Leadership GBA Chair: Jenny Wofford, Pinnacle Bank, Elberton


Easterlin Cheney Barker Moss Wofford


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Board Members Make Indelible Contributions

As we welcome new members of GBA’s Board of Directors, we also want to take a minute to recognize those Board members who will be rolling off at the end of the month. They have served ably in elected, appointed or designated positions, and the industry and association are better because of their contributions. Please join us in thanking:

  • Past Chairman Chuck Copeland, First National Bank of Griffin

  • Group 4 – Charles Sweat, First Peoples Bank, Pine Mountain

  • Group 6 – Chuck Haley, The Peoples Bank, Eatonton

  • Group 8 – Daryn Russell, Commercial Banking Company, Valdosta

  • Group 10 – Ed Pope, F&M Bank, Washington

  • At-Large – Darron Burnette, Synovus, Statesboro

  • At-Large – Bill Walker, Legacy State Bank, Loganville

  • Outgoing Leadership GBA Chairman – Danny Minick, The Citizens Bank of Americus.

Copeland Sweat Haley Russell


Pope Burnette Walker Minick


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Whaley updates members

GBA Insurance Trust Elects Directors

The GBA Insurance Trust held its annual business meeting June 15 and elected three directors. The following bankers were elected by their peers to serve a three-year term, expiring in 2024:

  • Ryan Earnest, Heritage First Bank, Rome

  • Chris Edwards, United Bank, Zebulon

  • Jud Vann, Planters and Citizens Bank, Camilla


Earnest Edwards Vann


Rick Whaley, The Citizens Bank of Americus, is chairman of the GBA Insurance Trust, and he gave a summary of the Insurance Trust’s activities in the past year. Highlights were:

  • $11 million premium holiday earlier this year

  • Mental health therapists added to Wellview program

  • Technology enhancements ongoing

  • 56 years serving members.

With questions about the GBA Insurance Trust, contact Dan Thomason, 404.420.2016.

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Copeland updates members

Copeland Gives GBA Retirement Services Highlights

More than 3,300 Georgia bankers are being well prepared for retirement through their banks’ participation in GBA Retirement Services, Inc. First National Bank of Griffin’s Chuck Copeland is GBA Retirement Services Chair, and he shared some points of pride with members during a session at the GBA Annual meeting this week. They were:

  • 63 member companies

  • $240 million under management

  • 3,300+ plan participants

  • 65% on track to retire at 70% of income (national average is 25%)

  • Unified Plan battle tested; consistently outperforms broad equity indexes.

With questions or interest in joining GBA Retirement Services, contact GBA Retirement Services Director Mandy Richards, 404.420.2025.


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50-Year Bankers Honored

One of the favorite traditions of the GBA Annual Meeting is to honor Georgia bankers who have dedicated 50 years or more of their careers to the banking industry. Following are the lifelong bankers we recognized this year. Watch the short video for brief bios. Thank you for your service!

  • Ken Thigpen, Westside Bank, Hiram, 58 years. Ken and his wife, Carol, were at the meeting so we were able to give him a round of in-person applause.

  • Lynn Barron, Touchmark National Bank, Alpharetta, 50 years.

  • Joyce Blackstock, North Georgia National Bank, Calhoun, 50 years.

  • Carol Burke, United Community Bank, Rome, 51 years.

  • Gene Haskins, Great Oaks Bank, Eastman, 50 years.

  • Robert James, Carver State Bank, Savannah, 50 years.

  • Catherine Storey, Synovus Bank, Roswell, 50 years.

  • Jud Vann of Planters and Citizens Bank, Camilla, 50 years.


Thigpen Barron Blackstock Burke


Haskins James Storey Vann


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CEO / Leader Updates

New Child Tax Credit Info, Restaurant Revitalization Program Halted, PPP Stats

Our series of ongoing time-sensitive emails to member CEOs, committee members and other key contacts continued this week. Email alert topics included details and resources about the following:

  • PPP Data: We don’t have updated info yet on exactly how many PPP loans were approved since the portal was closed May 28, but SBA data shows that through May 31, there had been a total of 590,487 loans to Georgia Small Businesses totaling $25.7 billion.


  • Child Tax Credit ACH Info: An IRS document detailing the ACH presentments scheduled to be generally the 15th day of each month from mid-July to December.


  • Juneteenth: With the new federal holiday signed in to law last week we’ve had a number of member questions about compliance and there was media interest in the effect of the holiday on banks. Related to compliance, CFPB released a general statement about the complexities of TILA and TRID compliance we’ve asked for clarification about. GBA was a resource for an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about how a variety of businesses were adjusting to a quickly approved new holiday.


  • Restaurant Revitalization Fund Halted: Several courts around the country have ruled part of the rollout of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund grants authorized by the American Rescue Plan is unconstitutional and SBA has halted the program for certain applicants.


  • Gov. Kemp Exeutive Orders. The Governor signed two orders ending the Public Health State of Emergency and his earlier orders designed to Empower a Healthy Georgia.

  • CERTS Grant Program. A new grant approved last year by Congress to assist those in the transportation industry who saw revenue drops due to Covid-19.

  • Unemployment and EIDL Fraud. Bankers are working with the Georgia Department of Labor and the Small Business Administration to help stop unemployment fraud and other fraud in programs like SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.

If you’d like more information about any of those topics, contact Joe Brannen, 404.420.2026.


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How His Childhood Paper Route Prepared Bill Hogan for a Career in Financial Services

Northeast Georgia Bank’s Senior Credit Officer Bill Hogan started working at age 11 when he got his own paper route. While a paper route seems fairly straightforward, this experience taught him valuable lessons. “I learned how to budget and collect because I had to pay for the newspapers out of the subscription fees I collected,” Hogan said. The Group 9 representative on the Leadership GBA Board of Directors shares about his unexpected journey to becoming a banker, the bank’s accomplishments that he’s most proud of, and how he spends his free time (spoiler alert: this includes cheering on the Dawgs!) and more in the latest GBA Member Profile.


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GBA Partner Article: Compliance Alliance

Demonstrable Intent – Open the Box and Look Inside (No Cats Were Harmed in the Process)

Have you heard about Schrodinger’s cat? It is a famous thought experiment where a cat is put into a box with a flask of poison, an internal monitor, and a radioactive source. The experiment was designed to show that once the cat goes into the box, the state of the cat is unclear until it can be determined. Demonstrable intent must similarly be shown or demonstrated. The E-SIGN Act, or Electronic Signature in Global and National Commerce Act, created a system of ensuring that electronic signatures, contracts, and records are valid and enforceable if they meet certain criteria. The E-SIGN Act requires the bank to obtain consumer consent before sending any disclosures or notices electronically. It requires the bank to do the following…


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Leadership Conference - July 12-14

Don’t Wait to Sign Up! Only A Few Rooms Left

Don’t delay another day to register for the GBA Leadership Conference, July 12-14 at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club, Ponte Vedra, FL. We’ve got just a few rooms left, and we’ve already got a near-capacity crowd registered. This is the headline in-person conference for Georgia’s emerging bank executives. Sessions will include exclusive looks at the economy, advocacy updates, strategic planning, technology tactics, housing trends and management skill building. Click here to visit the event website with all the details. Thanks for our conference sponsors: Anthem; CSRA Business Lending; FHLB of Atlanta; Fenimore, Kay, Harrison & Ford; Fiserv; Holmes-Shaw Agency; Mauldin & Jenkins; McNair, McLemore, Middlebrooks & Co., LLC; Point to Point Environmental; Troutman Pepper LLP; and Wipfli. Sponsorships are still available. Click on the above link for info. Questions?  Contact GBA’s Kathy Friestad.


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Welcome GBA’s Newest Associate Members

GBA Associate Membership is for individuals and organizations that serve banks and bankers. Today, approximately 220 Associate Members are taking advantage of business development opportunities and affordable access to the latest news and events in Georgia's banking industry, all for about $2 a day. These members also provide invaluable support to GBA’s activities and programs throughout the year through attendance, sponsorships, exhibits and shared expertise. Be sure to get to know them and thank them for their support of GBA. You can get information about any of GBA’s Associate Members by using the Associate Member search function on our website. Click any of the links below to learn more about each member, and please consider these banking industry supporters if you have a product or service need, they provide. For additional information, contact Bo Brannen, bbrannen@gabankers.com. 404.420.2014.



Mr. Jason Bradley


Franklin, TN


Partnering with Five Iron means you leverage the power of one of the financial industry’s most advanced Security Operations Centers. Their machine learning capability combines real-time threat intelligence from our tools, deployments, and industry data to form the most comprehensive cybersecurity platform available.


Foresight Research

Mr. Steven D. Bryun


Rochester, MI


A leader in syndicated marketing research surveying 15,000 households annually in 60 markets. Subjects include banking and credit union marketing topics: cross selling, attracting customers, payoffs for great customer experience, branches/digital/mobile banking and many others. Reporting is national, regional and for many markets - local. Syndicated market research is cost effective and often a fraction of the cost of custom marketing research.


OakNorth Americas (US) Inc.

Mr. George Garnett


New York, NY


OakNorth is the creator of the ON Credit Intelligence Suite - proven cloud software that transforms commercial lending by helping banks build deeper relationships with their clients, unlocking new opportunities, and delivering credit decisions ten times faster than traditional models with lower risk and greater efficiency.


Profit Resources, Inc.

Mr. Dave Koto


Monroe, GA


Profit Resources specializes in identifying profitability improvement areas for financial institutions through revenue growth, cost control, streamlining processes, and effective use of technology. PRI focuses on an active, hands-on approach with measurable results to the bottom line.


Equity Valuation Partners (EVP)

Mr. Brett Cowden


Fairhope, AL


Appraisal management company (licensed in 18 states) and property valuation software developer.


Celero Commerce

Mr. Hank Corriher


Greenville, SC


Celero Commerce is a FinTech company that partners with Financial Institutions to deliver payment processing services, business management software, and data intelligence to small and medium-sized businesses across the US. Celero empowers business owners and executives to focus on driving commerce and cultivating growth and profitability.



Ms. Victoria Ishee


Lawrenceville, GA


NXTsoft is a secure data solutions software platform. Their products and services help businesses secure, connect and optimize their data to maximize revenue opportunities, enhance profitability, and mitigate cybersecurity risk.



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Deadline June 25 for Compensation Survey

Time’s almost up to complete this year’s Georgia Banking Compensation Survey. The deadline is Friday June 25. Remember, with your purchase of your Georgia Banking Compensation Survey Report you also receive a complimentary copy of the Pearl Meyer National Banking Compensation Survey Report. Also, if you were a 2020 participant, please contact Rhonda Snyder and she can reduce your participation time for 2021! Email rhonda.snyder@pearlmeyer.com.


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Dart Appraisal Offers the Best Custom Appraisal Management Solutions

GBA Strategic Partner Dart Appraisal knows that appraisal management is not a one-size-fits-all process. Dart has extensive experience with community banks that provide about 35 percent of their monthly volume. This has driven Dart to develop the best solutions in the industry. Their expert, national appraiser panel consistently delivers effective results wherever they are called. And, Dart is committed to meeting every one of their client’s specific needs. They can customize solutions every step of the way. Those are just a couple of the reasons why we believe they’re a great choice to be your bank’s appraisal management company. To learn more, contact Dart’s Michael Dresden, mdresden@dartappraisal.com, 866.799.7488.


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Seminar: Georgia Specific New-Account Documentation and Compliance – Aug. 10

Join us Aug. 10 in Macon for the popular New-Account Documentation and Compliance Seminar with Suzie Jones of Training Resources Consulting. This full-day workshop, customized to Georgia state law, teaches essential new account opening procedures, best practices, and compliance requirements. It answers complex questions asked by customers and staff while focusing on vital information for every new account type. Learn more here.


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Women in Banking Conference - Aug. 12-13

Powerful Lineup in Store for Women Bankers

A panel of peer executives, a leading political and economic strategist, a banking industry overview, a wellness tune-up session and a nationally recognized comedienne are all part of GBA’s Women in Banking Conference  Aug. 12-13 at Chateau Elan in Braselton. So, why not join your peer women bankers and Associate Members at this year’s conference? Click here for the complete agenda, hotel information, and more. We’d like to give a shout-out to our conference sponsors:  ATM Solutions; Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta; Fenimore, Kay, Harrison & Ford; and McNair, McLemore, Middlebrooks and Company. Sponsorship opportunities are still available – click here for info. Contact GBA’s Kathy Friestad with questions about the conference or sponsorship.


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New location, Athens, Ga!

The BSA Experience Returns: Only 10 spots left!

We’re teaming up with Terri Sands of Secura Risk Management to present the 3rd Annual BSA Experience! This year’s program was designed to provide the most pressing topics for BSA officers and support teams such as regulatory expectations, emerging trends that impact your daily BSA, increased fraud and changes to the BSA laws and regulation such as the updated FinCEN guidance on Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020. This year, we are offering a great program that provides subject matter experts and practical tools to simplify BSA compliance. In addition, each attendee will leave with two certificates to reflect the completion of The BSA Experience. Click here to learn more and register.


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Join live or purchase a recording!

July Webinars: Lending, Reporting and more!

We offer webinars for all financial institution professionals from the front line to the board room. Click here to learn about the June All Access Pass!

Do you have a BankWebinars.com webinar subscription package? Save 10-30% with a subscription package (details here). Use your credits on the webinars below or purchase webinars individually. View the full calendar here. Questions? Email: bankwebinars@oncourselearning.com


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Recruit, Retain and Develop the Best Bankers with GBA Career Solutions


GBA Job Bank - GBA will post open positions, free of charge, for GBA members. See the open positions in Georgia here. We will also post professional summaries for bank-job seekers on our Bankers Available page. To make the process easy and answer any questions, we've developed this Q & A. Please contact Katina Prokos, 404.420.2021.


GBA Strategic Partner BankTalentHQ - The central feature of BankTalentHQ is its national bank-job board. Other key benefits include: resume search access, regional and national reach for your open positions, frequent special offers and custom sales/coaching programs. Visit BankTalentHQ to learn more. See the open positions in Georgia here, or search regionally or nationally here.


GBA’s Career Paths for Bankers™ - GBA’s Career Paths for Bankers™ is the most unique, organized and easy-to-use career development resource available for bankers and banks. GBA’s pioneering career development resource is unlike any other in the banking industry. Click here to start mapping your banking career today.


Why do people choose careers in banking? Whatever their talents, interests and educational background, there is a career in banking for them. Here are few good reasons to share with folks you know.


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Atlanta - Ameris Bank

Shane Anglin has joined the bank as the corporate information security officer. Read more here.


Atlanta - Georgia Banking Company (GBC)

The bank announced its relaunch as the company accelerates its plans to build a banking franchise serving middle market business across Atlanta. Customers will be introduced to the new GBC team, products, services and enhanced technology as well as changes to signage and branch environments in the coming months. Read more here.


Chatsworth/Rome - First National Community Bank/Heritage First Bank

First National Community Bank will welcome Ryan Earnest as the organization’s new president and CEO, effective July 1, upon completion of the merger between First Chatsworth Bankshares Inc., parent of First National Community Bank, and Heritage First Bancshares, Inc., parent of Heritage First Bank. Earnest presently serves as president and CEO of Heritage First Bank. Read more here.


Eastman - Great Oaks Bank

Chris Howe has joined the bank as Middle Georgia Division President. Read more here.


Greenville, S.C. - United Community Bank

David Matthews has joined the bank as a business development officer under its newly created USDA Lending Group.


Atlanta - Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE)

Sage, a market leader in cloud business management solutions, launched a new sustainability and society strategy in partnership with Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE). Read more here.



Anglin GBC Earnest Howe Matthews



Read All About It: Send Us Your News

Please remember to include the Georgia Bankers Association on the list of recipients for announcements about promotions, new employees and special recognition your bank has received. We want to share your news with your colleagues across the state. Please forward your announcements and photos to GBA's Katina Prokos.

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