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First Metro Bank is proud to announce the creation of a new position solely focused on the development, growth, and success of the community bank’s financial literacy program. Jerra Burden will serve as Financial Literacy Coordinator where she will focus on the Bank’s six student-operated branches inside of local high schools across North Alabama, their involvement in the American Bankers Association’s “Teach Children to Save” program, and other relative educational topics, such as elder financial abuse prevention, that will promote financial awareness in the surrounding communities.
“First Metro Bank’s culture is, and always has been, community-focused,” said Jerra Burden. “I look forward to being part of the Bank’s financial literacy initiatives and educating our communities on hot topics in the banking industry.”
Jerra Burden has nearly ten years of banking, marketing, and training experience at First Metro Bank. She was significantly involved in the development and implementation of the financial institution’s nationally recognized school banks inside of Muscle Shoals, Florence, Athens, Colbert Heights, Colbert County, and Cherokee High Schools. Additionally, she previously served as the Bank’s Education and Training Director where she coordinated the “Teach Children to Save” program with 43 elementary classrooms across Colbert, Lauderdale, Franklin, and Limestone counties.
“The promotion of financial literacy has always been an important initiative for First Metro Bank,” said Rodney Howard, President and Chief Executive Officer. “As we continue to grow as a financial institution, it is vital that our focus on this topic expands as well. Our financial literacy program has raised the bar and set a new standard in the communities we serve, but we refuse to stop there. I believe with Jerra focused on these initiatives, there is no limit to what we can accomplish or the individuals we can reach when it comes to sharing financial literacy throughout our state and across the nation.”
With new goals in mind, First Metro Bank is focused on sharing their passion for financial literacy with all generations of people seeking additional financial resources. Empowering the population with these tools is a major component to building a strong, successful community.
First Metro Bank is pleased to announce the recent addition of Mike Underwood to its board of directors. Following the appointment of Mr. Underwood, the board expands to twelve directors who are deeply invested in the communities served by First Metro Bank.
“We are excited to welcome Mike, and we look forward to working alongside him,” said Bobby Irons, Chairman of the First Metro Bank Board of Directors. “He offers meaningful insight making him a valuable board member, committed to serving the bank.”
Mr. Underwood is the Chief Executive Officer of TriGreen Equipment, headquartered in Athens, Alabama. He also serves as a foundation board member for Calhoun Community College and Alabama Future Farmers of America. While Mr. Underwood has been a dedicated community member of Limestone County for nearly 30 years, he shares a deep connection to the Shoals. He grew up in a farming community in Colbert County, and he is a graduate of Muscle Shoals High School. Mr. Underwood also earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Management and Marketing from the University of North Alabama.
“Mike is an excellent addition to the First Metro Bank Board of Directors,” said Rodney Howard, President and Chief Executive Officer of First Metro Bank. “His successful business ventures, in addition to his commitment to the many communities we serve, reinforce the strength of First Metro Bank and further establishes us as a leader in the banking industry throughout North Alabama.
First Metro Bank and its board of directors proudly welcome Jon Pannell. With nearly twenty years of experience in the banking industry, Jon is an outstanding addition to First Metro Bank and will certainly influence the future success and growth of the community bank.
Jon Pannell joins First Metro Bank as Vice President and Commercial Lending Officer. He received a Bachelor of Science in Business Management at Athens State University and is a 2013 graduate of Alabama Banking School. Jon’s vast knowledge of banking greatly contributes to First Metro Bank, especially in his role on the bank’s Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program team. This team has worked diligently to provide nearly 600 local small businesses with millions of dollars in financial relief during the pandemic. In a few short months, Jon has already helped First Metro Bank make a large impact in the communities they serve.
“We are honored to welcome Jon to First Metro Bank,” said Rodney Howard, First Metro Bank’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “We could not have asked for a more experienced business professional to fill this major role. The board of directors and I know he will do a phenomenal job serving our commercial customers while helping extend our footprint throughout the communities we serve.”
First Metro Bank values the dedication of their employees and strives to continue adding exceptional employees, such as Jon, to increase growth and opportunity while remaining true to the foundation upon which the bank was established 32 years ago.
The First Metro Bank Board of Directors is proud to announce the promotion of three bank officers. Karen Johnson, Alana Parker, and Chris Parrish received promotions as a result of the dedication and commitment they have continuously shown throughout the years.
Karen Johnson, one of First Metro Bank’s original nine employees, began her career at the Bank in November 1988, almost thirty-two years ago. In addition to her position as a Consumer Lending Officer at the Tuscumbia office, she is also the First Friends Coordinator. First Friends is a travel group for account holders 50 years of age or older. Karen works with the First Friends Committee to plan and organize local events, day trips, overnight trips, and extended trips. Karen is most deserving of the promotion to Branch Manager and Vice President of First Metro Bank.
Alana Parker joined First Metro Bank in May 2008 as Education and Training Director responsible for training programs for new and existing employees and promoting financial literacy to area schools and the surrounding communities. While continuing in her role as Education and Training Director, Alana was promoted to Community Reinvestment Officer in February 2014. Alana has performed exceptionally well in all areas, particularly in her leadership and oversight of the Bank’s six student-operated branches. She has presented First Metro Bank’s student-operated branch model to bankers and regulators throughout the state and in Los Angeles, California and Washington D.C. at conferences sponsored by the FDIC and the United States Department of Education. Alana is promoted to Assistant Vice President in recognition of her dedicated service and the contributions she has made to First Metro Bank over the past twelve years.
Chris Parrish began his employment at First Metro Bank in April 2007 as Credit Analyst. He was promoted to Credit Administrator and Assistant Vice President in May 2012. Under his leadership as Credit Administrator, Chris has incorporated processes and procedures for increased accuracy and efficiencies, in addition to maintaining the Bank’s strong adherence to regulatory compliance. Chris is promoted to Vice President as a result of the significant difference he has made in continuing to strengthen First Metro Bank’s Credit Department.
“These are three exceptional employees that have remained dedicated to the betterment of First Metro Bank for years,” said Rodney Howard, First Metro Bank President and CEO. “The promotions they received are well-deserved and I know, without a doubt, that they will continue serving First Metro Bank and our customers in an outstanding manner.”
First Metro Bank, along with its Board of Directors, is proud to announce the promotion of two well-deserving employees, Scott Haataja and Tony Brewer.
Scott Haataja began his banking career in 1995 and spent ten years building an impressive resume before joining First Metro Bank in May 2005 as Vice President and Commercial Lending Officer. His portfolio grew significantly, and he was promoted to Senior Vice President in 2012. In 2015, Scott was named Branch Manager of the Pine Street office and Florence City President, which provided him with the additional responsibility of a supervisory role over all three of the Florence locations. In 2017, his role grew once more when he was named Lauderdale County President and became responsible for two additional First Metro Bank locations. Scott is a graduate of the University of North Alabama where he received a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Finance. Scott has also received many accolades throughout his banking career, including graduating from the Tennessee Bankers Association Southeastern School of Advanced Commercial Lending, the Alabama Bankers Association Alabama Banking School, and the Graduate School of Banking at Louisiana State University.
As a native of Lauderdale County, Scott serves the community in various ways through multiple non-profit organizations. He currently serves on the following boards and committees: Industrial Development Board of the City of Florence, Florence Lauderdale Industrial Expansion Committee, NACOLG Revolving Loan Fund Committee, Shoals Home Builders Association, and the Shoals Entrepreneurial Center Board of Directors.
Scott’s wife, Alisha, is an established interior designer and played an intricate part in the design, decoration, and furnishing of the First Metro Bank Athens location, Pine Street location in Florence, and East Avalon location in Muscle Shoals. Scott and Alisha have one son, Evan, who is an electrical engineer in Huntsville, Alabama.
“Upon the retirement of our previous Chief Lending Officer, Tommy Darby, we knew immediately who would best be able to fill the role that this extensive position requires,” said Rodney Howard, President and Chief Executive Officer. “Scott has shown immense dedication and service to First Metro Bank over the past fourteen years. Because of his commitment to the bank and the relationships he has with our customers, the Board of Directors and I have full confidence he is the right choice and we know he will continue to contribute to the success of First Metro Bank for years to come.”
Scott assumed his new role as Chief Lending Officer of First Metro Bank in March 2020.
In conjunction with Scott’s promotion, the Bank appointed a new Lauderdale County President and Branch Manager of the Pine Street office. Tony Brewer is assuming the responsibility of supervising the five branches that are located throughout Lauderdale County and will oversee the Pine Street office located in Downtown Florence.
Tony began his banking career in 1996 and was a well-known commercial lender when he joined First Metro Bank in March 2015 as Senior Vice President and Commercial Loan Officer. Tony is a graduate of Northwest-Shoals Community College and Sue Bennett College where he received a Bachelor of Science in Business Management. Additionally, he is a graduate of Mid-South School of Banking and the Stonier Graduate School of Banking.
Tony and his wife, Bridgett, have a special place in their hearts for the Shoals area and make every effort to give back to the community. Bridgett works as a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant for Kindred Healthcare, while Tony is very active in the community through his involvement as a board member of the Greater Shoals Sheffield Rotary Club, Shoals Scholar Dollars, and the Cramer Children’s Center.
“Tony has created an extensive, loyal customer base due to the valuable service he provides,” stated Scott Haataja, Executive Vice President and Chief Lending Officer. “It has been such a pleasure working beside him for the past five years and I have no doubt that he will do an amazing job in his new role as Lauderdale County President and Branch Manager of our Pine Street office in Florence.”
First Metro Bank is thankful for outstanding employees, such as Scott and Tony, who embody the First Metro Bank brand and always put our customers first. Congratulations to these deserving men on their promotions and achievements.
The First Metro Bank Board of Directors is proud to announce the promotion of three bank employees. Cory King, Whitney Skipworth, and Jeanne Soni were all promoted to Assistant Vice President.
Cory King joined First Metro Bank in 2012 as an integral part of the Technology Operations Department. King’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, in addition to, a Juris Doctorate from the University of Alabama. His responsibilities include oversight of the Bank’s cybersecurity program, as well as, the maintenance and operation of the information technology infrastructure of First Metro Bank. As an officer, King will continue to work as technology operations manager while working to ensure First Metro Bank meets the growing demand for digital banking solutions.
Jeanne Soni began her banking career at First Metro Bank in December 2008 after receiving a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of North Alabama. Her work ethic proved her devotion to the Bank and its customers; therefore, Soni has received the following promotions during her tenor at First Metro Bank: customer service representative/lending assistant, assistant branch manager, and most recently she was promoted to branch manager of the Muscle Shoals office. As Assistant Vice President, she will continue to oversee the day-to-day operations of the Muscle Shoals office while serving customers’ banking needs.
Whitney Skipworth has served as a banker in the Athens area for over ten years, and joined First Metro Bank in December 2017. Skipworth received his Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance from the University of Alabama. He currently serves as a loan officer at the downtown Athens location where he is responsible for assisting customers with mortgage loans, construction loans, consumer loans, and commercial loans. Whitney is heavily involved in the Athens community evidenced by his participation on numerous committees and boards in the city. As an officer of the bank and the Athens Branch Manager, Whitney will continue to ensure the success of the Bank’s downtown Athens’ office.
“The First Metro Bank Board of Directors and I are grateful for the service and dedication Cory, Jeanne, and Whitney have provided. We are pleased to promote these three outstanding individuals and we look forward to celebrating their continued successes,” said Rodney Howard, President and CEO.
Growing their financial literacy footprint, First Metro Bank in partnership with the Colbert County Board of Education, announces the opening of student-operated branches at Cherokee, Colbert County, and Colbert Heights High Schools. With the addition of the three in-school branches, First Metro Bank’s nationally recognized program expands to six total schools including Florence High School, Muscle Shoals High School, and most recently, Athens High School. The new school branches, which are scheduled to open in August 2019, will offer traditional banking products and services that are available only to students, faculty, staff, and administration.
“Since 2013, First Metro Bank’s school branch model has created an innovative program providing students with real-world experiences including financial education, job skills, and mentoring opportunities,” said Alana Parker, First Metro Bank Community Reinvestment Officer. “Through the unrelenting support of local schools and the FDIC, this program is helping students understand personal financial literacy and offering them the tools needed to become financially-stable, knowledgeable adults.”
“I am honored to partner with First Metro Bank and have their presence in our schools,” said Dr. Gale Satchel, Superintendent of Colbert County Schools. “Our students will have first-class financial literacy at their fingertips. I want to give a special thanks to Mr. Howard and the First Metro Bank Board of Directors for believing in the students of the Colbert County School District.”
“The First Metro Bank student-operated locations are, and will continue to be, a momentous part of our financial literacy efforts as our desire to provide local students with financial education is a high priority,” said Rodney Howard, First Metro Bank President and CEO. “We look forward to expanding our relationship with Colbert County Schools while increasing students’ awareness of financial responsibility prior to graduation.”
First Metro Bank is dedicated to providing financial education, as empowering students with these critical life skills is a major component of maintaining a strong, successful community.
First Metro Bank announces the recent addition of Joseph Southers, Senior Vice President and Limestone County President. Joseph will oversee the bank’s expansion into Limestone County with the opening of a new location in downtown Athens.
“Joining First Metro Bank at this time of incredible growth is a profound honor. I admire the vision and integrity of First Metro Bank and its keen focus on meeting the needs of the communities it serves,” said Southers. “Providing this type of customer-driven service to consumers across Limestone County will contribute to the bank’s continued success while providing Limestone County with the opportunity to experience banking centered on the needs of the individual and the community.”
As a commercial banker who has served the Limestone County market and a graduate of Athens State University, Joseph is deeply invested in the community. He is an active member of the Huntsville-Madison County Home Builders Association and has served on the Limestone County Economic Development Board since 2011. Joseph is a graduate of Leadership Huntsville/Madison County Connect and served as a board member on the Athens-Limestone County Hospital Foundation.
“The First Metro Bank Board of Directors and I are pleased to welcome Joseph. He will bring invaluable skills and experience to our team as both a banker and a leader,” said Rodney Howard, First Metro Bank President and Chief Executive Officer. “Joseph’s market expertise, industry connections, and ability to build and retain customer relationships confirm his ability to oversee the bank’s strategic direction and operations in Limestone County. Additionally, he shares our values and places the same emphasis on customer service.”
First Metro Bank in Athens is located at 309 West Washington Street and opened on December 11, 2017.
First Metro Bank congratulates Marie Waldrop, Assistant Vice President, on her recent promotion to Branch Manager of the Lexington office. Marie joined First Metro Bank almost fifteen years ago as Assistant Branch Manager and Loan Officer at First Metro Bank, Lexington.
“Marie is a pivotal part of First Metro Bank. Her banking knowledge, lending expertise, and deep commitment to her customers are well-known throughout the community,” said Rodney Howard, First Metro Bank President and Chief Executive Officer. “The First Metro Bank Board of Directors and I are grateful to Marie for her many years of steadfast service and we are eager to watch her excel in her new role as Branch Manager.”
Marie’s distinguished career in banking spans an impressive forty-one years. As an experienced lender, graduate of Lexington High School and Calhoun Community College, and active community member, Marie considers it a privilege to serve her friends and neighbors throughout the Lexington community.
“I am grateful to First Metro Bank for the opportunity to serve as Branch Manager of the Lexington location. Being a part of this community is special to me and I’m profoundly honored to be employed by a company that places an emphasis on customer service and values,” said Waldrop. “I look forward to continuing the tradition of integrity created by the First Metro Bank Board of Directors and my predecessor, the late Steve Littrell.”
First Metro Bank marked the fifth anniversary of the innovative student-operated locations within Florence and Muscle Shoals High Schools on August 19, 2017. First Metro Bank partnered with these schools in 2012 to create and implement in-school banks which serve students, faculty, staff, and administrators each school day. Since that time, the First Metro Bank financial literacy outreach program, which includes the Falcon and Trojan Branches, has become a nationally-recognized model.
“Our program was created to keep financial literacy at the forefront of the student learning experience,” said Rodney Howard, First Metro Bank President and CEO. “Helping students understand the principles of personal financial literacy prior to graduation is our main objective. By helping schools provide this information, we hope to ensure local students become financially-stable, knowledgeable adults.”
First Metro Bank’s groundbreaking program was highlighted recently by the FDIC in their publication, Linking Youth Savings with Financial Education: Lessons from the FDIC Pilot. Through their partnership with the FDIC, First Metro Bank has worked with banks across the nation to implement similar student-operated branches and financial literacy programs. The FDIC invited First Metro Bank Education and Training Director, Alana Parker, to Los Angeles, California and Washington, D.C. to present the Bank’s financial literacy outreach program, processes, and success stories. Alana shared the Bank’s outreach program with regulatory agencies, other financial institutions, and community outreach groups. First Metro Bank continues to collaborate with the FDIC through the Youth Banking Network which provides the opportunity for banks to learn from one another and from FDIC staff.
The First Metro Bank in-school branches offer traditional banking services performed by trained student tellers who earn grades for their participation. Accounts are opened, deposits and withdrawals are processed, checks are cashed, and, most importantly, students are educated on the importance of personal financial literacy. Student tellers must meet certain criteria and are selected through an application and interview process. Designated teachers from each school supervise the students and provide instruction on topics ranging from customer service skills to transactional procedures.
“Over the last five years, the presence of the Trojan Branch has dramatically changed the conversation students are having about money and finances. Students are now asking questions about interest rates and college expenses while striving to find new ways to cut expenses and save for their future,” said Kimberly Vaughn, Muscle Shoals High School Teacher. “The opportunity to learn real-world, applicable banking lessons while still in school is impacting students’ lives in positive, lasting ways.”
“By providing students with the opportunity to develop skills required for student-teller positions, they are joining the workforce with real-world experience, making them more attractive to potential employers,” said Christy Lynn-Armstrong, Florence High School Teacher. “Having the Falcon Branch on campus allows us to meet the goal of ensuring students are college or career ready upon graduation in exciting and revolutionary ways.”
Since 2012, over forty students have served as Falcon and Trojan Tellers. Upon graduation from high school, many former student tellers choose to work toward the completion of undergraduate degrees: several of them selecting degree fields with a concentration on banking or financial services.
“We remain thankful to Florence High School, the FHS Career and Technical Education Department, Muscle Shoals High School, and the MSHS Career Academy for their continued partnership and commitment to financial literacy education,” said Rodney Howard. “We are eager to continue working with these schools for many years as we continue our mission of providing financial literacy to young people in our area,” he continued.