Oct. 6, 2023  

GBA, GBAIT, Paragon, GBARS Boards Meet

Our association is fortunate to have strong member leadership guiding its priorities and activities on behalf of the entire membership. We recently had more than 40 volunteer member bankers convening for quarterly board meetings of directors for the association and its primary affiliates, GBA Insurance Trust (including Paragon Benefits) and GBA Retirement Services.


GBA Board

The GBA board, led by Chairman Rhodes McLanahan, First American Bank & Trust Company, met Sunday, Sept. 24. In addition to the quarterly review of association finances, the board got a status update on member and Associate Member renewals and reviewed and approved six new Associate Member applications. This quarter’s meeting was also the time when the board provides feedback informing the association’s strategic plan. The staff provided an overview of activities and plans within each area of strategic priority – government relations and public advocacy, education and products and services – and received feedback about member needs within each area.


GBAIT and Paragon Benefits Boards

The GBA Insurance Trust Board, chaired by Rick Whaley, Citizens Bank of Americus, met recently to review the Trust activities throughout the year, set 2024 rates, and adopt a 2024 budget. The Board approved a 2% increase for health insurance plans next year, while holding dental rates flat and reducing by 50%the individual and family deductibles associated with those plans. In 2024, members participating in the Trust will enjoy a 20% cost advantage compared to other financial services companies offering health plans to their employees, and a 25% cost advantage over all group health plans in the South. These benchmark comparisons highlight the ongoing competitive advantage of the Trust’s entity structure, not-for-profit status, strong reserves, and low overhead expenses. The Board also discussed the progress being made to reduce the number of high-cost claims in the Trust, some of which can be attributed to the Trust’s continued partnership with SentryHealth, providing our members with the resources they need to take control of their health and wellbeing—at no cost to participants. The GBA Insurance Trust Board and staff team remain committed to ensuring our members have access to the best possible care any time they need it. The Board for the Trust’s wholly owned subsidiary, Paragon Benefits, also met recently week. Chaired by Jackson McConnell, CEO of Pinnacle Bank, Elberton, the board reviewed claims processing reports and services metrics, and received an update related to the ongoing efforts to identify future high-cost claimants and deploy medical interventions sooner.



The GBA Retirement Services (GBARS) Board, chaired by Chuck Copeland, president and CEO of First National Bank of Griffin, held its fall meeting recently. American Trust serves as the discretionary trustee for our plans and several team members were on hand to discuss the many ways in which our partnership is helping GBARS members achieve retirement success. The Board reviewed the retirement readiness of those covered and noted 64% of participants are on track to replace 70% of their current income during retirement. With the national average hovering around 25%, the GBARS Board was pleased with progress being made and will continue working to ensure participants have the tools necessary to achieve their retirement goals. The stories of participant success seem to be spreading throughout our industry, with several banks and associate member companies planning to join GBARS in the coming months. If you are not currently participating in GBARS, we would be happy to speak with your team about our current retirement offerings and do a plan comparison at no cost. Please contact Mandy Richards at for more information.


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CSBS Survey Results

NIM and Funding Costs are Challenges; Good News on Ag and CRE Competitiveness

The annual survey of community banking conditions out this week from the Conference of State Bank Supervisors has some interesting trend lines this year.

  • No surprise: Higher rates and inflation are significant drivers of risk to margins and funding costs.

  • Good News: It was nice to see that community banks say they’ve regained a competitive edge against nonbanks for agriculture and commercial real estate loans.

  • More Good News: Compliance costs as a percentage of various overhead costs, generally continued to fall.

  • Top Internal Risks: Cybersecurity and liquidity.

Read the full 2023 CSBS Annual Survey of Community Banks report here.


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Last Call! South Georgia Community Bank Symposium

Join GBA and Valdosta State University's Harley Langdale Jr. College of Business Administration for the South Georgia Community Bank Symposium Oct. 12 on the VSU campus. Experts will address key banking challenges and opportunities to collaborate with the university and its students. It’s a great event for learning and networking for all bankers. Confirmed sessions include:

  • Economic Outlook with Dr. Elvan Aktas, Professor of Finance, Valdosta State University

  • Credit Conditions/Concerns with Stewart Thigpen, CEO, Steve H. Powell & Co.

  • Regional Economic Development Panel with Moderator Tiffany Holmes, Director of Center For Rural Prosperity, Georgia Chamber; and Panelists Jason Dunn, Executive Director, Fitzgerald Ben Hill Economic Development Authority; Jana Dyke, President & CEO at Albany-Dougherty Economic Development; and Scott Purvis, Community Development Manager, Georgia Power

  • A look at Georgia's Heirs Property Law Center and the impact of heirs property on communities throughout Georgia. 

Refreshments and lunch will be provided. Click here to access the event website with everything you need to know.


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Linda Johnson

Member Profile

Bridging Banking, Marketing and Technology with Linda Drew Johnson

Linda Drew Johnson's passion for people and marketing is what brought her into the world of banking, she says. Johnson, vice president/Chief Technology Officer/Marketing at United National Bank, says she discovered that these qualities not only helped her establish strong connections with customers but also propelled her career in banking. “Over the years, I've honed my banking skills, which have not only enhanced my ability to learn more but have also positioned me to lead the bank into the realm of cutting-edge technology,” Johnson said. “I'm deeply committed to bridging the worlds of marketing and technology to drive innovation and growth for United National Bank.” The member of GBA’s Marketing Committee shares her philosophy in work and life of embracing change, some diverse life experiences growing up in Grady County and much more in the latest GBA Member Profile.


Related: GBA's Marketing Peer Group meeting is Nov. 1. Get details and register here.


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Leader Updates

Deposit Details, SVB Autopsy, OCC Exam Focus and Mortgage Performance

Our series of regular email updates to CEOs, committee members and other key leaders continued this week. Topics included:

  • Deposit Movement: We did a deeper dive into the recent FDIC summary of deposits report for member leaders. A few takeaways were: 90 banks reported deposits remained flat or grew, those inflows totaled $12.4 billion, and 104 banks reported deposits fell by a combined $14.8 billion.


  • GBAIT Renewal Season: We’ve communicated renewal rates for GBAIT members, and we noted several highlights our actuaries at Lockton noted about the cost of our plans compared to others. For GBAIT plans, the average cost to cover an individual is 20% below the average being paid by other financial service companies, 19.4% below what all industry providers will pay, and 25% below what all industries in the South will pay.


  • SVP Autopsy: The Federal Reserve Office of Inspector General’s report about the Silicon Valley Bank closure had seven recommendations for how the Fed could approve its regulatory process. We took a look at those focused on how regulations may be tailored based on the size and complexity of an institution.



  • Mortgage Loans Doing OK: Also out from the OCC was it’s most recent mortgage performance report that shows 97.3% of mortgages were current and performing at the end of the quarter, compared with 97.6% in the first quarter 2023, and performance improved compared to second quarter 2022 when 97.0% of mortgages were current and performing.

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


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Attention Attorneys!

Status of Important Cases - October 2023

The ABA Newsbytes Banking Docket for October 2023 is now available. Click here for the details of the status of important cases. (Each article contains a “Read more” link with access to additional details on the issues, case summaries and links to related documents.)


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Attention Lenders!

Not Too Late to Join SLO Roundtables

We’ve still got some capacity available in all four Senior Lending Officer Roundtables, and we’re excited to have Mike Allen of 3B’s Advisors as our new facilitator. With 45+ years of banking/credit expertise and experience, Allen is among the most respected lending experts in Georgia. A passionate and dynamic instructor, he's president of the Graduate School of Banking at LSU Board of Trustees as well as a faculty member there. He's also a longtime member of the Georgia Banking School Board of Directors and faculty. For those looking to join, get all the details and contact information here. With questions, reach out to Alison Moreau, 404.420.2034.


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Explore What Choice in Debit Looks Like with GBA Partner Discover Debit

A robust debit card portfolio can help you generate more revenue right now. Has your bank’s debit card program been on autopilot for too long? VISA and MasterCard will likely fight to keep your business, but Discover Debit wants to invest in your bank, your customers and your community. Recently-introduced cardholder benefits like credit monitoring and dark web monitoring backed by Experian® mean customers can feel more secure with their new debit card. By implementing Discover’s debit card program, you will also realize an immediate impact on your interchange income and expense. Discover® Debit is the only program that delivers superior economics, simplified rules, fee transparency and unmatched program flexibility. To find out more, contact Brian Harbin, brianharbin@discover.com, 678.325.9910.


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2024 Enrollment Begins Oct. 13!



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2023 BankPAC Campaign Update, Online Contributions Available

The 2023 BankPAC campaign continues at a good pace this week and we ask you to please consider your contributions to the two funds if you have not done so already. You can find the campaign materials on GBA’s website where you can easily download contribution forms for the GBA StatePAC and FedPAC and find a link to make an individual contribution online to the FedPAC. Members of the GBA BankPAC Board very much appreciate your participation.


Contributing to the FedPAC this week are officers, directors and eligible employees of the following organizations:

  • Synovus Bank, Columbus, Kevin Blair, president, CEO and chairman

  • TIB, Dallas, TX, Michael O’Rourke, president and CEO

With questions, please call GBA’s Elizabeth Chandler at 404.372.7893 or Bo Brannen at 404.731.9886.


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Man Indicted for ATM Explosion and Possession of Explosives

Abdurrahim Jalal was indicted on Sept. 12 for blowing up an ATM and possessing illegal explosive devices, U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan announced this week. The incident occurred on March 29 when Jalal detonated an explosive device at an ATM at a Bank of America branch in Decatur, making off with about $88,000. Fortunately, no one was injured. Federal and local law enforcement agencies collaborated in identifying Jalal and securing a search warrant for his home, where they discovered additional explosive devices. This case was investigated by the FBI, ATF, DeKalb County Police Department, and DeKalb County Fire Rescue, under the banner of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), aimed at curbing violent crime and fostering community partnerships.


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Not Too Late to Register!

Compliance Conference to Feature BSA/Fraud Panel

There's still time to sign up for GBA Compliance Conference & HMDA Workshop Oct. 18-20 at the Westin Jekyll Island. The agenda features a BSA/fraud panel that will cover the following topics:

  • Mail Fraud, Payments Fraud, and Pig Butchering

  • How to mitigate elder abuse and examiners expectations

  • Beneficial Ownership Registry updates

  • BSA Training best practices

  • BSA’s New Terminology: AML/CFT

  • Insight on regulations & enforcement

  • Marijuana Banking: Legislation Update.

Get all the details and register here. Attendees have the option to register for both workshop and conference, conference only, or workshop only. Led by Chair Tabitha White, First State Bank of Blakley, and Vice Chair Lindsay Holloway, The Four County Bank, Allentown, GBA’s Compliance Committee would like to thank these GBA Associate Members who are showing their support through sponsorship;

  • Platinum Sponsors: American Bankers Association and Steve H. Powell & Company

  • Silver Sponsors: Carr, Riggs, & Ingram, CPAs and Advisors, Compliance Alliance, Mauldin & Jenkins, Ncontracts and Troutman Pepper.

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Place your order by Oct. 27!

Make Plans Now to Use GBA’s Holiday Closing Decals in 2024

For more than 30 years, GBA has been the source for banks to buy top-quality, thoughtfully designed Holiday Closing Decals, that provide a professional appearance and communicate the federal holiday closings recognized by the Federal Reserve Bank in accordance with FDIC rules. Each set includes 11 unique decals. To place a new order, please contact Bo Brannen at bbrannen@gabankers.com, or 404.420.2014. GBA Holiday Closing Decals feature:

  • A unique decal for each holiday

  • Large 6"x 9" size to maximize visibility

  • No messy adhesive for easy removal and reapplication

  • All-weather durability

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Financial Risk Management Conference - Nov. 2-3, Atlanta

Hotel Deadline Oct. 11 at The Westin Buckhead

Join Georgia bank CFOs and other finance professionals in Atlanta Nov. 2-3 at The Westin Buckhead for the annual GBA 2023 Financial Risk Management Conference, hosted annually by GBA’s Asset/Liability Management Committee under the leadership of Chair Haynes Standard, The First Bank, Wrens, and Vice Chair Holt Redding, South Coast Bank & Trust, Brunswick. The hotel room block at The Westin ends Wednesday, Oct. 11, so get your reservation made if you plan to attend! Get all the details and register here


We’d like to thank these Associate Members who are showing their support:

  • Platinum sponsorship: The Baker Group PC

  • Gold sponsorship: Brean Capital LLC and Raymond James & Associates

  • Silver sponsorship: Carr Riggs & Ingram CPAs and Advisors, Empyrean Solutions, FHLBank Atlanta, ServisFirst Bank and Wiplfi LLP.

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Save the Date!



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Cal Evans

Credit Conference - Nov. 30 - Dec. 1, Atlanta

Current Challenges and Opportunities in CRE Credit

At the Credit Conference Nov. 30 - Dec. 1 at The Westin Buckhead Atlanta, Cal Evans, senior director, market intelligence and analytics, Synovus, will discuss capital market activity in an elevated rate environment, cap rate trend analysis and forecast, sector overview with a heightened focus on office and multifamily - the two sectors facing the most regulator and investor scrutiny - and projections for 2024 in the industry. Thanks to the GBA Credit Committee, under the leadership of Michael Tesler, Ameris Bank, and Vice Chair Rebecca Abraham, Signature Bank of Georgia, for their hard work. Get all the details and register here.


We’d like to thank these Associate Members who are showing their support through sponsorship.

  • Platinum Sponsor: Steve H. Powell & Company

  • Silver Sponsors: CRI - Carr Riggs & Ingram CPAs and Advisors, CSRA Business Lending, Mauldin & Jenkins, Point to Point Environmental and Wiplfi LLP.

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GBA Partner Dart Appraisal Offers the Best Custom Appraisal Management Solutions

GBA-endorsed Dart Appraisal is committed to blending state-of-the-art technology and first-class service to deliver honest valuations quickly. And, you retain the ability to use your bank’s preferred appraisal panel. The GBA wants to ensure you and your mortgage customers can easily get to closing, and the GBA believes Dart Appraisal can help you do that. They offer a complete selection of commercial and residential appraisal products and a variety of alternate valuation solutions, including Fannie Mae’s new Value Acceptance + Property Data product. With questions, please contact John LaBriola at jlabriola@dartappraisal.com. Dart Appraisal is a nationwide, independently owned and operated Appraisal Management Company with offices in Cobb County, GA.


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BSA Summit, Jan. 29 - Feb. 1, 2024, in Peachtree City

Registration is open for GBA’s BSA Summit in Peachtree City at the Hilton Conference Center, Jan. 29 - Feb. 1. Facilitated by Kristen Stogniew of Saltmarsh, Cleaveland & Gund, attendees can expect a deep dive into the world of BSA compliance through a variety of sessions. Register here and secure your spot! Contact Aimee Corcoran with questions, 404.420.2035.


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Registration Now Open for 2024 Ops/Tech Conference

It’s time to sign up to attend GBA’s Operations and Technology Conference, which will be Feb. 28 - March 1 at The DeSoto in Savannah. The agenda is almost finalized, but topics will include fraud, the next digital wave, phishing protection and securing azure, AI and machine learning, succession planning and more. Thanks to the GBA Operations and Technology Committee, led by its chair Shan Venable, Altamaha Bank and Trust Company, and Vice Chair Mindy Green, Citizens Community Bank, for their work on the agenda. For more information and to register, click here.


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Guide to Services Available from GBAIT Wellness Partner

What can the SentryHealth Care Team do for you? Check out this poster with all of the services available. SentryHealth advisors are ready to help you set personal goals and action steps for anything from healthy eating habits to stress management. All services are available at no charge to member bankers covered by the GBA Insurance Trust. Contact Lee Monroe and Jayn Lawson for information. If you are an employee of a participating member company and are ready to do something good for your health today, schedule an appointment at mysentryhealth.com or on the MySentryHealth app, available on the App Store or Google Play.


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Lights, Camera, Save! Now Accepting Entries

Banks nationwide are now accepting entries for the 13th annual Lights, Camera, Save! video contest, which invites teenagers to create 30-second videos creatively promoting sound money management. More than a dozen banks in Georgia are already participating, and interested banks can still sign up at aba.com/lightscamerasave. The ABA Foundation provides registered banks with contest materials and customer support at no cost. Winners will compete nationally for awards, including a $5,000 grand prize. Participating banks will accept entries until Dec. 1. Students interested in participating can find details at lightscamerasave.com.


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Strategic Planning, Revamping Your New Teller Training Program, ACH, and More

Here’s a sampling of upcoming webinars.

Want to see the full webinar schedule? Check out our webinar calendar for a full list of upcoming webinars.


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Save the Date!



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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.


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.


Save Big in Q4 with GBA Partner BankTalentHQ

Navigating the challenges of talent acquisition and retention is a daily task for banks. Beginning Oct. 1, bank employers can take advantage of 20% off a single 30-day job posting package with GBA partner BankTalentHQ. See the promo offer below for more information. Why post with BankTalentHQ?

  • Tailored Audience: The platform caters specifically to banking professionals, ensuring that your job post reaches the right people.

  • High Visibility: Partnering with 40 state banking associations across the country and the American Bankers Association, BankTalentHQ works collaboratively to promote your postings and attract talent to the industry.

  • Easy-to-use: With its user-friendly platform, posting a job and tracking applicants is easy.

To redeem your savings, visit www.banktalenthq.com, create an employer profile, and enter the code SAVE20BTHQ at checkout. Or, if you would like to set up a meeting with a member of the BankTalentHQ team to learn more, please email info@banktalenthq.com.




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GBA Community Connections

We want to share all the good work GBA member banks, bankers, Associate Members and Bank Counsel Section members do to support their communities. Read all about the Community Connections our banks and members have below. Share your Community Connections by sending a brief paragraph and any photos of activities you have to us and we'll publish them at our earliest opportunity. Send information to Katina Prokos, kprokos@gabankers.com, and David Oliver, doliver@gabankers.com, or if your company would like to sponsor this content, let us know. Here's our latest installment:


Albany - Flint Community Bank

For its 3rd-quarter service project, the bank partnered with Feed the Valley, a local food bank.


Bainbridge - First Port City Bank

The bank presented a Lunch & Learn with the Bainbridge Chamber covering cybersecurity trends.


Calhoun - Builtwell Bank

The bank’s Calhoun team recently participated in the Gordon County United Way Unity Run.


Greenville, SC - United Community Bank

For World Animal Day, throughout the first half of October the bank is encouraging its employees to orchestrate acts of service within their communities or actively engage in projects led by the Together for Good Council, a dedicated volunteer group comprised of bank employees committed to fostering community service initiatives. In addition to these acts of service, the United Community Bank Foundation has pledged a total of $25,000 in contributions to local organizations that champion animal welfare.


Lavonia - Pinnacle Bank

The bank participated in the Lavonia Fall Festival.


Tifton - South Georgia Banking Company

Bank team members have recently taught several financial literacy classes in local schools. Pictured is Brad Christian with a senior class at Turner County High, and the bank’s Tift Avenue and Omega team members combined efforts to educate six different classes at Northeast Campus.


Twin City - Durden Banking Company, Inc.

Bank President and CEO Wade Johnson recently volunteered for READ United, a new initiative in the Emanuel County School system to help children learn to read.


Watkinsville - BankSouth

The bank recently hosted a Spirit Friday event in Watkinsville raising money for its Relay For Life team to help fund cancer research and patient support.


Atlanta - Georgia Bankers Association

GBA President and CEO Joe Brannen, EVP/COO David Oliver, SVP, Member Services & Advocacy Bo Brannen and Professional Development Administrator Mary Frances Miller participated in the 40th Annual Kaiser Permanente Run, Walk & Roll 5k Oct. 26 at Piedmont Park. A portion of the proceeds benefit the Piedmont Park Conservancy, Atlanta Community Food Bank, Kyle Pease Foundation, Back on My Feet and the Elliott Galloway Scholarship Fund.



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GBA Newsmakers


Atlanta - Truist

Georgia Trend named Community Affairs Manager Sofia Marie Aun to its 2023 list of 40 Under 40. Read more here.


Augusta - Queensborough National Bank and Trust

Georgia Trend named VP, Commercial Loan Officer Stephen Bradshaw to its 2023 list of 40 Under 40. Read more here.


Macon - Planters First Bank

Bailey Eberhardt has joined the bank as a portfolio manager in its Macon banking center.


Macon - Renasant Bank

Amy Childers has been named branch manager and banking officer at the bank’s Forsyth Road location in Macon.


Milledgeville - Century Bank & Trust

Brian Robinson was promoted to senior vice president and senior lending officer, in charge of loan business development. Michelle Dixon was promoted to vice president, loan administration officer/lender. Tori Kala was promoted to vice president/lender. Vice President Cindy Hill was promoted to branch administration officer. Jay Cox was promoted to vice president and technology officer. Read more here. Holly Blenk also joined the bank team as mortgage loan officer/assistance vice president.


Rome - Greater Community Bank

David Lance announced he is stepping down from his role as president and CEO of the bank after serving for 12 years. Read more here. Chief Operating Officer, Calhoun City President and Corporate Secretary Donna McEntyre also announced her retirement after 24 years in banking. Read more here.


Rome - River City Bank

Rhonda Wallace has joined the bank as vice president, commercial relationship manager. Read more here.


Savannah - Great Oaks Bank

Jessica Murrell has been promoted to portfolio manager. Read more here.


Sylvester - Colony Bank

Zach Forshee has joined the bank as a commercial banker in its Sylvester market. Read more here.


Atlanta - Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE)

ACE recently hosted its annual awards reception to celebrate 23 years of service and support to Georgia small businesses. Read more here.


Savannah - Small Business Assistance Corporation

Georgia Trend named CEO Victoria Saxton to its 2023 list of 40 Under 40. Read more here.


Atlanta - FDIC

Tim Rich has been appointed regional director of the Atlanta region.



Sofia Marie Aun Stephen Bradshaw Bailey Eberhardt Amy Childers Brian Robinson



Michelle Dixon Tori Kala Cindy Hill Jay Cox Holly Blenk



Rhonda Wallace Jessica Murrell Zach Forshee ACE Victoria Saxton




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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