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Author: Sarah Poss

First Freedom Sponsors Event Benefiting WEMA

First Freedom sponsored Leadership Wilson’s Cornhole Tournament. The tournament was a fundraising effort for the Wilson County Emergency Management Agency (WEMA). With the proceeds raised, the 11 WEMA stations throughout the county received a six-month supply of bottled water and a new set of cornhole boards each.

Pictured are the members of the First Freedom team, from left to right, Ryan Woodall, AVP and Relationship Manager, and Phillip Vance, VP and Relationship Manager.

First Freedom Donates to Share to Care Fundraiser

First Freedom donated to the Share to Care Foundation’s annual “Stuff the Bus” fundraiser. Proceeds raised through the fundraiser benefit Jackson County students and teachers. Held at the end of June in Gainesboro’s historic downtown, the event includes food, music, an art auction, and a firework show.

Pictured is Kyleigh Heady, Gainesboro Senior FSR, and Rebecca Birman, Gainesboro FSR Manager, presenting the donation to the Share to Care Foundation founder, Cassandra Kessler.

First Freedom a Sponsor for Student Athlete Award Event

First Freedom Bank sponsored lunch for the Lebanon Wilson County Chamber of Commerce’s Best All-Around Student Athlete of the Year Awards Luncheon. Eligible nominees were one male and one female from each high school in Wilson County that were selected by their Athletic Director, Coach, or Principal. These nominees were chosen for their excellence in both academics and athletics. If chosen as the final recipients, the students received a scholarship to the school of their choice.

This year’s scholarship award recipients were Sophia Beverly Allen of Green Hill High School and Jackson Thomas Allen of Wilson Central high School.

Pictured from left to right is Tatum Ortlepp, Retail Banking Sales Manager, Shelia Ferrell, Senior Vice President and Managerial Lender, Colton Dowell, keynote speaker and Tennessee Titans Wide Receiver, Phillip Vance, Vice President and Managerial Lender and Division Vice Chair of the Wilson County Sports Council, and J.B. Owens, Executive Vice President and Director of Commercial Banking.

First Freedom Donates to Algood Library Program

In support of the Algood Library’s summer reading program, First Freedom bank donated goody bags to be given to program participants. As it is Older American’s Month, the library is using this as their focus for May.

Pictured from left to right is Teola Ragland, Algood FSR Manager / Personal Banker and Rochelle Turner, Algood Branch Library Manager. 

First Freedom Sponsors Jackson County 4-H Contest

First Freedom Bank was again a sponsor for the Jackson County 4-H’s annual Piggy Bank contest. Students that participated in the contest created their own piggy bank and the winners received a cash prize.

Pictured, center, is Kyleigh Heady, Gainesboro Senior FSR, with the two contest winners, Trinity Buck, left, and Ava Stafford, right.

First Freedom Bank Supports Community Career Fairs

Being in the community is a top priority for First Freedom Bank and we’ve enjoyed doing so through our participation in local career fairs. Staff have attended several over the past month, attending fairs at Tennessee College of Applied Technology at Livingston, Wilson Central High School, and Watertown High School.

Pictured top, left to right, is Sarah Poss, Vice President and Director of Retail Banking, and Teola Ragland, Algood FSR Manager, at TCAT.

Pictured bottom, left to right, is Maliea Oakley, Senior Vice President and Director of Human Resources, and Sarah Poss at Watertown High School.

First Freedom Sponsor for Wilson Books from Birth Fundraiser

First Freedom Bank sponsored a table for Wilson Books from Birth’s annual fundraiser, the Imagination Dinner. Advertised as the  “wackiest night you will attend,” the event boasts themed tables and costumes, a live and silent auction, tongue-in-cheek challenges, and table awards. All proceeds go to Wilson Books from Birth.

First Freedom’s table theme was based on the book Luke Goes to Bat, and included a variety of baseball items and vintage game flair. The table won the “Best All Around” award.

Those in attendance included Kayla Ring, Assistant Vice President and Construction Manager, Helen Green, Lebanon Administrative Assistant, Sarah Poss, Vice President and Director of Retail Banking, Denise Bingham, Assistant Vice President and Providence Office Manager, Shelia Ferrell, Senior Vice President and Managerial Lender, Tatum Ortlepp, Retail Banking Sales Manager, Maliea Oakley, Senior Vice President and Director of Human Resources, Mary Cate Holbrook, Lebanon Personal Banker, and Holly Wolfe, Lebanon Personal Banker.

First Freedom Announces Promotions

Sarah Poss has been promoted to Director of Retail Banking. Poss previously served as the Assistant Director of Retail Banking and assumes the role from her predecessor, Kenny Beavers, as he transitions into retirement.

“Sarah Poss is an excellent choice to lead our Retail Banking Division,” stated John Lancaster, Chairman and CEO of First Freedom, “She has held every position on the Retail side of the bank and has operational efficiencies, as well. She is immensely qualified and highly regarded among her peers.”

Poss began her career with First Freedom as a Financial Service Representative (FSR) in January of 2015 and advanced rapidly through the retail side of the bank.  She has served as FSR Manager, Training Coordinator, Personal Banker, Providence Office Manager, Virtual Office Manager, and Marketing Manager.  She has also gained a valuable background in bank operations where she is credited with establishing our branch audit program and online account-opening capabilities, in addition to serving as a BSA analyst. 

A graduate of Watertown High School, Poss earned a B.S. in Anthropology from Middle Tennessee State University and has completed additional coursework in Accounting and Economics through Vol State Community College.  She is currently pursuing her MBA through Tennessee Tech University. Professionally, Poss has completed the Tennessee Bankers Association’s Branch Leadership Series and is currently enrolled in their Southeastern School of Banking program.  

Tatum Ortlepp has been promoted to Retail Banking Sales Manager. Ortlepp previously served as the Assistant Office Manager at the bank’s main office. In her new role, she will oversee all things sales and service-related in our delivery system. 

“When it comes to the customer experience, Tatum Ortlepp is the Gold Standard,” stated Lancaster, “Her professionalism and her ability to educate and enhance every customer’s visit is unparalleled. I’m excited to see her in this role.”

Another great example of “Promotion from Within,” Ortlepp joined First Freedom in July of 2018 as a Financial Service Representative (FSR).  She was promoted to Personal Banker (PB) in 2019 and Senior PB in 2022. In January of 2023, she was promoted to Bank Officer and Assistant Office Manager of the Lebanon Office, where she has done an excellent job in continuously improving sales and product knowledge among the staff.  Consistently ranking as a top performer, Ortlepp was voted by her peers as the bank’s Red Carpet Service award winner in 2021. She also maintains additional responsibilities as our Shareholder Services representative.

Ortlepp is a graduate of Wilson Central High School and has completed numerous courses through the Tennessee Bankers Association.

First Freedom Raises Funds for United Way

First Freedom Bank has once again conducted an employee campaign to raise funds for United Way of Wilson County and the Upper Cumberland. The bank is a long-time supporter of this organization and joins their fundraising efforts each year. This year the bank raised $7,500, which was contributed to over 40 local non-profit programs.

United Way’s mission is to enhance the quality of life in Wilson County and the Upper Cumberland through the combined efforts of individuals and organizations working together. First Freedom’s Ryan Woodall, Assistant Vice President and Relationship Manager, serves on their board of directors.

Pictured are First Freedom staff with their campaign contribution check.

First Freedom Hosts Financial Literacy Program at Senior Center

First Freedom hosted a Financial Literacy Program at the Mt. Juliet Senior Activity Center on March 25th. The program focused on common scams targeting older adults and offered strategies to avoid fraudsters and financial exploitation.

Pictured from left to right are the program hosts, Ashley Montgomery, Assistant Vice President and Mt. Juliet Office Manager, and Sarah Poss, Vice President and Director of Retail Banking.