Board of Directors

Southern Bancorp Community Partners Leadership


Herman Davenport

Davenport Group
President & CEO

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Herman Davenport is owner and principal consultant with The Davenport Group Inc., an independent consulting firm specializing in strategic planning, project management, and program planning and development targeting corporations, foundations, government and non-profit organizations.  He has more than 35 years of experience in strategy and policy development, non-profit management and philanthropy.

Earlier in his career, he was a regional manager with Levi Strauss & Co. responsible for overseeing the company’s philanthropy, impact investments, corporate giving and corporate engagement activities within the Mid-South Region.

He was a founding member of the Little Rock Public Education Foundation, the Little Rock LISC Local Advisory Committee and was a member of the inaugural admissions committee of the Clinton School of Public Service. He is a former board member of the Arkansas Community Foundation and the national Rural Community Assistance Program, a network of organizations dedicated to improving the quality of life in rural America.


Freddye Petett

Clinton School of Public Service, Assistant Professor (Retired)
W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Program Coordinator (Retired)

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Prior to her retirement, Freddye Webb-Petett served as both an assistant professor and founding Director of the Clinton School of Public Service’s Center on Community Philanthropy. Prior to her work at the Clinton School, she served in several capacities at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, including coordinator of the Mid-South Delta Initiative and director of the Kellogg International Leadership Program. Before joining the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in 1990 as an associate director for the Leadership program, Ms. Petett was administrator of Oregon’s Adult and Family Services Department and held other public service positions, such as assistant to the mayor of Portland, Oregon; executive director of the Urban League of Portland; director of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle, Washington; Board Chair of the Housing Authority of Portland; and management consultant to community-based organizations and state and local governments. She earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Portland State University, and has carried out doctoral studies in Sociology at the Union Institute, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Raymond Christman

RPRC Consulting
President & CEO

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Ray Christman is currently the President and CEO of RPRC Consulting, providing consulting and advisory services to community banks, non-profits, foundations, and state and local governments. He has over 40 years of experience leading and managing organizations in the non-profit, public and for-profit sectors addressing issues from economic/community development to financial services. Previously, Mr. Christman served as Senior Vice President and Division Director for The Trust for Public Land (TPL), the nation’s leader in creating urban parks and open space and in developing local public funding resources for conservation. Prior to serving at TPL, Christman spent 15 years working in the FHLBank system, serving first as Chairman of the Pittsburgh FHLBank and then as President and CEO of the Atlanta FHLBank. He has also led several organizations involved with Pittsburgh’s and the state of Pennsylvania’s redevelopment and economic rebuilding efforts, including service as head of Pittsburgh’s Urban Redevelopment Authority, Secretary of Commerce for Pennsylvania, and President of the Pittsburgh Technology Council. He has served as an advisor on Capital Policy to the Federal Co-Chairman of the Appalachian Regional Commission and led the effort to create Appalachia Community Capital. He currently serves as a director of Hamilton State Bank, a $2 billion asset bank with 35 branches in the metro Atlanta region.

John C. Edwards

Helena-West Helena/Philips County Port Authority
VP of Commercial Business Development

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ohn Edwards is principal in the Edwards Law Office and serves as General Counsel & Economic Development Director for Helena-West Helena/Philips County Port Authority in Helena, Arkansas. He has considerable experience in rural economic development. Mr. Edwards served in the Arkansas House of Representatives from 2008 – 2015, and previously served as an aide to former United States Senator David Pryor, where he was responsible for working with agricultural related issues. In 1996, he was appointed Arkansas State Director of USDA Rural Development, the lead federal agency providing funding for rural housing, businesses, and water systems. Edwards is a veteran of the Iraq War and was part of a National Guard unit that provided relief to New Orleans residents after Katrina. He left service in 2012 as a Colonel.

Bob Fisher

Belmont University

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Dr. Bob Fisher serves as President of Belmont University, a position he has held since April 2000. During his tenure the University’s enrollment has more than doubled to 7,400+ students while the campus itself has expanded significantly with the addition of more than $500 million in renovations and campus construction. Active in his community, Dr. Fisher has served in numerous volunteer roles with such organizations as Alignment Nashville, the Nashville Public Education Foundation and the PENCIL Foundation. A past chair of the Greater Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, he is an active member of the Rotary Club of Nashville, participates in Nashville’s Agenda and is a 2001 graduate of Leadership Nashville. Dr. Fisher is co-author of Real Dream Teams, a book on team leadership, and Life Is a Gift, a collection of interviews and lessons learned from 104 terminally ill patients. He has also published numerous articles on management and leadership as well as consulted with a wide variety of organizations on human resource and strategic planning issues, including Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Alltel, Arkla Gas and the U.S. Department of Transportation, among others. Dr. Fisher has served in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as a Fulbright Scholar conducting research and consulting with the National Institute of Public Administration, and was a keynote speaker at the Arabian Society for Human Resource Management Conference in Bahrain.

Donna Gambrell

Appalachian Community Capital
President & CEO

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Donna Gambrell was not only the first African American woman to hold the position of director of the U.S. Treasury’s CDFI Fund, but she was also the longest serving director in the fund’s history. During her tenure, she oversaw significant growth in the CDFI Fund as well as the creation of a number of new initiatives targeting underserved communities. Prior to leading the CDFI Fund, Ms. Gambrell served in several leadership positions within the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), including Deputy Director for Compliance and Consumer Protection, where she oversaw the FDIC’s national compliance bank examinations, as well as the agency’s community affairs, consumer affairs, and deposit insurance programs. As a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Ms. Gambrell advises Federal Reserve leadership, economists, community stakeholders, and policy-makers on community development related initiatives.

Sarah Gentry

Hudson Cisne & Co. LLP
CPA, Principal

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Sarah Gentry is a Certified Public Accountant and Principal with the Little Rock accounting firm of Hudson, Cisne & Co. LLP where she focuses on audit and tax services. A 2002 Summa Cum Laude graduate of Henderson State University, Gentry also received her MBA from HSU. In addition to her service to Southern, she currently serves on the board of the Arkansas Nonprofit Alliance and is a member of both the Arkansas Society of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Amanda Johnson

Clarksdale Collegiate Public Charter School
Executive Director

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As Executive Director of the Clarksdale Collegiate Public Charter School, Amanda Johnson oversees instructional and operational aspects of a newly created, high quality charter school in Clarksdale, MS.   She previously served as a Fellow in the Building Excellent Schools program at Boston, Massachusetts, Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the KIPP Delta Public Schools in  Helena, Arkansas, and as the Fisher Fellow Program Manager for the KIPP Foundation, providing professional development and programing support for the leadership of new KIPP schools around the country. Johnson was also the founder and first school director of KIPP Delta’s first elementary school, which has grown from 100 students and six teachers in Kindergarten and First Grade to 400 students and over 50 teachers and staff serving students in Pre-K through 4th grade. Johnson received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Rhodes College and her Masters in Educational Leadership from the National-Louis University in Chicago. She serves as Chair of Spring Initiative’s Board of Directors and is an alumna of Teach for America.

Aurelia Jones-Taylor

Aaron E. Henry Community Health Services, Inc.

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Born and reared in Hollandale, MS, Mrs. Jones-Taylor has directed Aaron E. Henry for close to thirty years. During her tenure she has increased the number of service sites from 2 to 10 and developed, implemented and expanded on several community and state-wide economic and community development initiatives, including programs to address health disparities in chronic diseases, pharmaceutical access, local network development, workforce development, emergency room diversion initiatives, community health education initiatives, health and wellness programs and rural general public transportation. In addition, she has oversight over all aspects of the corporation including the Delta Area Rural Transit System, Ryan White Part C and the Mississippi Children’s Health Project. Mrs. Jones-Taylor has presented at various national and state conferences and her projects have been featured in Delta Business Journal, Mahogany Magazine, Centers for Disease Control, National Association of Community Health Centers, AARP and the Journal of the Community Transportation Association of America, to name a few. She earned a BS Degree from Tougaloo College and a MBA from Jackson State University.  Additionally, she was recipient of the coveted John Gilbert Award presented by the National Association of Community Health Centers in 2003, Executive Director of the Year for Mississippi Primary Health Care Association, The Aaron Shirley Disguised Indigent Care Award and many others. Ms. Jones Taylor served two terms as president of the Mississippi Primary Health Care Association, member of the National Rural Health Task Force, Geiger Gibson Leadership Advisory Group at George Washington University and on several local and state boards and committees.

Walt Patterson

Patco Services, Inc.

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Walt Patterson is currently the principal at Patco Services, Inc. Formerly, he served as Senior VP at ACS, Inc., (a Xerox Company) as well as Director of the Arkansas Department of Human Services. He is also past National Board Chairman of Volunteers of America and the Electronic Funds Transfer Association. His past affiliations include The National Council of Human Services Administrators, the Arkansas State Job Coordinating Council and the Robert Wood Johnson Healthy Futures Advisory Council.

Tom Pittman

Community Foundation of NW Mississippi
Co-Incorporator, President & CEO

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Tom Pittman was co-incorporator of the Community Foundation in 2002 and served as its first volunteer chairman before becoming its first full-time president and CEO in 2004. He oversees the growth and operations of the foundation under the direction of the Board of Directors. Previously, he was publisher and editor of the DeSoto Times after serving as general manager and editor of the Daily Journal in Tupelo. During that time, he served as president of the Mississippi Press Association and on the National Newspaper Leadership Council.

Tom serves on the boards of several prominent statewide efforts such as chairing the Mississippi Association of Grantmakers, Entergy Mississippi’s advisory board and a director of Mississippi Today, the state’s non-profit digital news source. He was a charter board member for the DeSoto Arts Council, DeSoto Health and Wellness Center, and the North Mississippi Health Foundation. He previously served on the board of Directors for the CREATE, the community foundation for northeast Mississippi. A native Mississippian, he earned degrees from the University of Mississippi in sociology and Emory University in theology. He is married to Cyndi and has four children.

Mary Gay Shipley

That Bookstore in Blytheville
Founder (Retired)

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Mary Gay Shipley is a nationally renowned small business owner with over 35 years of business and community planning in the Arkansas Delta region. Respected nationally for her successful bookstore, Mary Gay also has extensive experience in state-level and national board service, including appointments by the White House. Leadership positions include Chair of the Arkansas Community Foundation, Secretary and Chair of American Booksellers Association, Chair Advisory Committee of Rural Heritage Initiative and others. Deeply involved in her community, Mary Gay’s interests lie in the promotion and preservation of Arkansas and Mississippi County’s local art and history.

Clark Tennyson

Executive Vice President
Clark Timberlands LLLP

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Clark Tennyson manages and oversees the harvesting and reforestation of his family’s timber and real estate holdings located in eight counties in southern Arkansas. Born and raised in El Dorado Arkansas, Clark was active in various community organizations and achieved the rank of Eagle Scout in 1999. He graduated from Ouachita Baptist University in 2005 where he earned a degree in Business Administration and Marketing. After graduation Clark was employed by Summit Bank where he held several positions including branch manager. In 2010 he left Summit Bank to take a position in his family’s business.

Clark has served since 2012 as a trustee for The Ross Foundation, a private foundation headquartered in Arkadelphia, Arkansas which manages more than 64,000 acres of timberland for philanthropic purposes.Clark is a graduate of the Hull Fellowship program of the Southeastern Council of Foundations. He also serves as a board member for the Arkansas Forestry Association and the Arkadelphia Chamber of Commerce. Clark has served on the Central Arkansas Advisory Council for The Arkansas Nature

Clark has been married to his wife, Katie, for 10 years and they have a four-year old son Thomas. They reside in Arkadelphia and are members of First Presbyterian Church, where Clark serves as a church elder.