Board of Directors

Southern Bancorp Community Partners Leadership


Donna Gambrell

Appalachian Community Capital
President & CEO

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Donna Gambrell is President and CEO of Appalachian Community Capital, a CDFI that promotes small business development throughout the distressed Appalachia region. She serves on the boards of three national CDFIs and is a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, advising Federal Reserve leadership, economists, community stakeholders, and policy-makers on community development related initiatives. Ms. 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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

Tom Pittman

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

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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.

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.

Darrin L. Williams

Chief Executive Officer

Southern Bancorp, Inc.

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Darrin Williams’ career is a unique combination of law, business, and politics. Currently serving as the CEO of Southern Bancorp, Inc., Williams oversees the strategic direction and operations of each of Southern’s three Community Development Financial Institutions: Southern Bancorp, Inc., a bank holding company; Southern Bancorp Bank, one of America’s largest rural development banks; and Southern Bancorp Community Partners, a 501(c)(3) development finance and lending organization – collectively known as “Southern.”

Southern was founded nearly thirty years ago when some of the nation’s most notable political, business and philanthropic leaders, including Bill Clinton, Rob Walton, Muhammad Yunus and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation to name a few, came together around a central idea – that the economic challenges facing many underserved communities could in part be addressed through the creation of a values-based financial organization focused on providing these services to those who most need them. With an initial investment of approximately $10 million and a mission to create economic opportunity, Southern has grown to become one of the most effective and largest community development organizations in the United States, as well as a model for an entire industry of mission-focused financial institutions known as Community Development Financial Institutions. Southern Bancorp today is a $1.2 billion asset organization with over 80,000 customers and 43 branches located primarily in underserved markets in the Mid-South.

Prior to leading Southern, Williams served as managing partner at the law firm of Carney, Williams, Bates, Pulliam & Bowman, PLLC, where he focused on representing institutional investors and consumers in class action litigation against some of the nation’s largest publicly traded companies. Williams also served three terms of elected office in the Arkansas House of Representatives (2008-2013), serving as Speaker Pro Tempore of the 89th Arkansas General Assembly. As a lawmaker, he was recognized nationally for his legislative accomplishments, including being named a Champion of Small Business by the National Capital Coalition, an Aspen-Rodel Fellow in Public Leadership by the Aspen Institute, and listed as one of 12 state legislators from around the country to watch by Governing Magazine. Williams received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Hendrix College, his Juris Doctor from Vanderbilt University School of Law, and his Master of Laws degree in Securities and Financial Regulation from Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C.