Former President Bill Clinton and leaders from of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation welcomed Darrin Williams, Speaker Pro-Tem of the Arkansas General Assembly, and Dr. Glendell Jones, Jr., President of Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, as the respective CEO and Governing Board Chair of the nation’s leading rural development financial institution, Southern Bancorp, Inc. The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation hosted the event.
President Clinton’s message, sent from New York, described how Southern is fulfilling the vision that he and then the First Lady of Arkansas Hillary Clinton, along with Rob Walton, Muhammad Yunus, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and others had when they founded Southern Bancorp in 1986 to help generate long-lasting and catalytic investments in rural communities. Attendees also viewed a short video about Southern Bancorp featuring some of its founders, customers and partners. (To view both videos, visit https://banksouthern.com/mission/history.)
Cory Anderson and Dr. Sherece West-Scantlebury of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and Mr. William Buster of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation also congratulated the two for continuing and strengthening Southern’s mission to invest in rural communities and empower the individuals and businesses there to transform those communities for the better. Both foundations are significant shareholders and supporters of Southern. (To view photos from the event, visithttps://banksouthern.com/mission/photos.)
“The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation has been part of Southern Bancorp’s journey since the beginning,” said Dr. West-Scantlebury. “And the addition of this new, vibrant leadership makes us greatly anticipate the road ahead. We look forward to continuing our strong partnership with Southern Bancorp well into the future.”
Williams, an attorney and three-term member of the Arkansas General Assembly where he currently serves as Speaker Pro-Tem, accepted the position of CEO earlier in the year after previously serving as a board member.
“My vision for Southern Bancorp is deeply rooted in the experiences I have had over the years as both a securities attorney and as an elected official representing working Arkansans,” said Williams. “I understand what low-income families need to achieve economic security because I have represented countless families in dire situations both as an attorney and as a lawmaker, yet I also understand, from my work in securities litigation, what it means for a financial institution to act responsibly. Those experiences drive me in my work at Southern, and I look forward to helping pave the way to extend our reach so that we can help even more communities.”
In addition to taking the role as Board Chair of Southern Bancorp, Inc., Dr. Glendell Jones, Jr. was also recently installed as the 17th president of Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Ark. A long-time member of Arkansas’s higher education administration, Dr. Jones previously served in administrative and professorial positions at Arkansas State University before returning to take the helm of his alma mater. Jones’ rich educational and leadership background are proving to be a winning combination for his role as board chair.
“I’m proud to have the opportunity to take this role with an organization that gives so much back to the communities we serve,” said Jones. “We’re investing in small businesses and individuals, both through financial products and community development efforts, to empower them so that they are able to transform both their communities and their lives for the better.”
Starting from an initial investment of approx. $10 million, today Southern Bancorp has grown into one of the largest community development institutions in the country with over $1 billion in assets, over $3 billion in loans over the past 25 years and $175 million in leveraged investments across rural markets that have mostly been abandoned by large banks.
Lending over $3 billion over the past 25 years to give consumers and businesses access to affordable credit and capital, Southern Bancorp, Inc. and its affiliates – Southern Bancorp Bank and Southern Bancorp Community Partners – comprise one of the most effective community development organizations in the United States.
“I think it’s safe to say that our founders’ vision is being realized,” said Williams. “However, we know that there is so much more to do and so many more communities that need help. That’s why Southern is launching a $100 million capital campaign to help expand our reach and the services we provide. We hope that foundations, corporations, individuals and others will join us in our continued effort to build communities and change lives.”