Board of Directors
Southern Bancorp Community Partners Leadership
President & CEO
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.
Clinton School of Public Service, Retired Assistant Professor,
W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Program Coordinator
Prior to her retirement, Freddye Webb-Pettet 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. Pettet 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.
Trust for Public Lands
Senior Vice President & Gulf Coast Program Director (Retired)
Prior to his retirement, Ray 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
Edwards Law Office
John Edwards is principal at Edwards Law Office and serves as General Counsel & Economic Development Director for Helena Harbor in Helena, Arkansas. He has 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.
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.
Appalachian Community Capital
President & CEO
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.
Hudson Cisne & Co. LLP
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.
Building Excellent Schools
As Director of Curriculum and Instruction for KIPP Delta Public Schools, Amanda Johnson oversees the implementation of common curriculum across each of the six KIPP Delta schools, monitoring progress toward the schools’ academic goals and supporting leaders and teachers in successfully meeting rigorous college ready standards through academic planning, professional development and ongoing coaching. Prior to this role, Johnson served 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.
Aaron E. Henry Community Health Services, Inc.
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.
Jacquelyn W. McCray
University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
Jacquelyn W. McCray retired as dean of the School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. Having served most of her professional career at UAPB, McCray came to administration from a faculty position in the Department of Human Sciences. For more than 20 years she conducted housing and community development research in Arkansas.
During this time she served as Chair of two Southern Region Housing Research Projects, conducted contract research for the Lower Mississippi Delta Commission, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and the Arkansas Development Finance Authority.Professionally, McCray is a long-time member of the American Association of Housing Educators having served on its board of directors (1982-85), chair of the research section (1989-90), and national president (1991-92). She has been a member of the Research Advisory Committee for the Housing Assistance Council in Washington, DC and is widely published in major Housing, Family and Community Development Journals and has more than 50 referred publications to her honor. Though no longer engaged in housing research, McCray has given professional expertise in support of housing and community development initiatives through the Jefferson County Affiliate of Habitat for Humanity and the Pine Bluff Community Housing Resources Board.McCray has served as chair of the Association of 1890 Extension Administrators and as a member of the National Extension Committee on Organization and Policy. She is a member of Gamma Sigma Delta Honor Society of Agriculture, Alpha Kappa Mu National Honor Society, and Kappa Omicron Nu Honor Society for Family and Consumer Sciences. She is listed in Outstanding Young Women of America and International Who’s Who and is a recipient of the Arkansas Women of Achievement Award in Energy.
Hope Enterprise Corporation
Vice President of Commercial Business Development
George Miles is responsible for the development of commercial lending and investment for at Hope Enterprise Corporation. In this role, George manages business development throughout Hope’s service area in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and western Tennessee. Prior to starting with HOPE in 2017, he worked as a regional director for LISC in the Mid South, managed an affordable housing CDFI in New Orleans, developed mortgage products for Fannie Mae in Washington, DC, and began his career in banking in rural Arkansas. Miles earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Arkansas at Monticello and his Masters of Business Administration from Tulane University.
Patco Services, Inc.
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.
Mary Gay Shipley
That Bookstore in Blytheville
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.