Author: Sarah Poss

Professional headshot of Shelia Ferrell

First Freedom Promotes Ferrell

Shelia Ferrell has been promoted to Senior Vice President announced John Lancaster, Chairman and CEO.  She will continue to serve as the Managerial Lender at the Lebanon Office.

Shelia is a career community banker.  Throughout her career, she has worked in virtually all areas of the bank including compliance, technology, internal audit, operations, lending, and management.  In 2012, Shelia joined First Freedom as a Vice President in commercial lending.  In 2017, she was promoted to First Vice President / Managerial Lender, which gave her elevated responsibilities in the department.

“We are pleased to recognize Shelia with this significant promotion,” said Lancaster.  “She is a natural leader within our company and is a recognized and respected member of our management team.” 

Ferrell has been recognized by senior management with the Community Champion Award and by her co-workers with the Red-Carpet Service Award.  She has been involved in many community leadership roles and currently serves on the board of Wilson County CASA and the Smith County Living Committee. She is a former President of the Smith County Chamber of Commerce.

Ferrell is an honor graduate of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration.  She also holds certificates of graduation from the Southeastern School of Sales Leadership, the Southeastern School of Banking, the Southeastern School of Commercial Lending and the Georgia Bankers Association Bank Audit and Operations School. Originally from Defeated, Ferrell now resides in the New Middleton community of Smith County with her husband, Chris.  They are members of Cornwell’s Chapel Missionary Baptist Church.  They are big UT fans and enjoy hiking and traveling.

Algood staff pose with Algood PD in front of city logo.

Algood Office Supports Law Enforcement

Staff from the Algood office provided lunch for the Algood Police Department in honor of Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.

Pictured from left to right is David Corley, Sgt. Allred, Rachel Honaker, Algood Office Assistant Manager, Teola Ragland, Algood FSR Manager, Tim Terry, and Matthew Tyree.

First Freedom Staff Volunteer with Prospect, Inc

Several First Freedom staff volunteered to assist Prospect, Inc with their annual holiday party. In addition to helping during the party, staff also helped with the set-up and the clean-up. 

Prospect, Inc is a local non-profit organization whose mission is to provide support services and employment to people with disabilities or other barriers to personal independence.

Pictured, top, from left to right, is Courtney Keller, Relationship Specialist, and Blake Smith, Lebanon FSR Manager.

Pictured bottom left, from left to right, is Sarah Poss, Assistant Vice President / Marketing and BSA Analyst, Natalie Stark, Assistant Vice President and Mt. Juliet Office Manager, Tatum Ortlepp, Lebanon Senior Personal Banker, and Kasey Johnston, Lebanon FSR.

Pictured bottom right, left to right, is Brooke Weldy, Lebanon FSR, Kaitlin Wattenbarger, Providence Personal Banker, and Holly Wolfe, Lebanon Personal Banker.

Bank staff pose with Rehab23 volunteers and keynote speaker in front of Rehab23 logo.

First Freedom Sponsors Rehab23 Breakfast

First Freedom Bank was a sponsor of Rehab23’s Christmas Breakfast. Each year Rehab23 hosts this breakfast for Wilson County First Responders. A raffle was included, and two baskets were given away.

This year’s keynote speaker was Jason Lawson, District Attorney General. 

Pictured from left to right is Bob Pergler, Rehab23 Vice President, Jason Lawson, Meagan Roberts, Providence Personal Banker, Ashley Montgomery, Providence Office Manager, Sarah Poss, AVP – Marketing and BSA Analyst, and Linn Yeager, Rehab23 President / Director.

First Freedom Announces 2022 Employee Awards

First Freedom Bank presented employee awards for excellent service at its annual Christmas party. These employees exemplify qualities of service to their customers, their co-workers, and their community.

Teola Ragland

Teola Ragland was presented with the Red Carpet Service Award. Teola joined First Freedom with the acquisition of the Upper Cumberland offices in 2016 and currently serves as the Financial Services Manager at the Algood Office. Teola provides excellent customer services and prioritizes building a relationship with her customers. She excels at going the extra mile and ensuring her customers are aware of any new product or service that can enhance their banking experience.

Headshot of Rebecca Jennings
Rebecca Jennings, CPA

Rebecca Jennings, CPA, was presented with the Internal Service Award. Rebecca has been with First Freedom since 2017 and is currently Vice President and Controller. She has extensive experience in the bank, having spent time in both the retail and commercial divisions in her previous roles. Rebecca epitomizes the ideal teammate; she is patient, kind, and knowledgeable. She does not hesitate to answer questions or help puzzle out a solution to a problem.

Phillip Vance

Phillip Vance was presented with the Community Champion award. Phillip joined the bank in 2014 and is currently Vice President and Relationship Manager. Being a community banker means being a community participant and Phillip fulfills that role without reluctance. He is a Lebanon Wilson County Chamber Board Member and Sports Council Division Vice Chairperson and serves as Chair of the Lebanon Wilson County Chamber of Commerce Annual Golf Tournament. He is member of the Lebanon Breakfast Rotary and previously served as a board member. Phillip is also a 2022 graduate of Leadership Wilson.


First Freedom also recognized employees that have been with the bank for five years.

Rebecca Jennings (pictured above), Denise Bingham, and Tori Oakley (both pictured below) were presented with a First Freedom Jacket in appreciation of their service and commitment to their work.  

Denise Bingham
Tori Oakley
First Freedom Staff, Algood Mayor, and Algood Admin pose with a check in front of the City of Algood emblem.

First Freedom Donates to Algood Park

First Freedom Bank donated to the City of Algood for their new 21-acre community park. The second phase of the park is scheduled to begin in 2023.  

Pictured from left to right is Ladell Medley, Vice President and Cookeville-Algood Office Manager, Lisa Chapman-Fowler, Mayor of Algood, Rachel Honaker, Algood Assistant Manager, and Keith Morrison, Algood City Administrator.

Group shot of chairman's cup members, senior vice president, and CEO in front of a Christmas tree.

Special Recognition for Members of Chairman’s Cup

First Freedom Bank recognized several Financial Services Representatives (FSR) this past quarter for exceptional job performance: Blake Smith, Brooke Weldy, Jordan Kilgore, Devin Sabaski, Ally Miller, Meagan Roberts, Mary Cate Hedge, Abby McCann, Bryan Sweet, Kaitlyn Coe, and Sara Beth Kinnaird. These employees have exceeded their individual goals for enhancing and broadening customer relationships while maintaining accuracy and exceeding audit standards. Their outstanding performance earned them the prestigious honor of Chairman’s Cup Member.

Sara Beth Kinnaird was awarded the title of Top Producer for achieving the highest overall performance score among all eligible members.

Pictured from left to right is Kenny Beavers, Senior Vice President and Director of Retail Banking, Mary Cate Hedge, Meagan Roberts, Ally Miller, Devin Sabaski, and John Lancaster, Chairman and CEO.

A group photo of the representatives for the sixteen Sycamore Elementary School Adopters.

First Freedom Recognized as Adopter

First Freedom Bank was recognized as a returning adopter at Sycamore Elementary School’s Adoption Ceremony on November 11th. First Freedom has participated in the adopter program since the acquisition of the Upper Cumberland offices in 2016 and it has been a delight to serve and support the school over the last several years.

Ladell Medley, Vice President and Cookeville-Algood Office Manager, represented the bank at the ceremony. In addition to the thirteen returning adopters, three new adopters were inducted into the program.

Pictured are the representatives for the new and returning adopters.

Group photos of Donna Elrod with the Jackson County Junior Beta Club

First Freedom Donates to Junior Beta Club

First Freedom Bank donated funds to the Jackson County Middle School Junior Beta Club to complete their fundraising goal. The Junior BETA Club will be attending the Junior Beta Convention in Nashville this November and one of the competitions at the convention was to design a club pin. Proceeds from the fundraiser went toward materials for the design and production of these pins. 

Pictured is Donna Elrod, Vice President and Gainesboro Office Manager, with Beta club students and Jackson County Middle School Staff Members, Michelle Leonard, Amie Halfacre, and Glenda Mayberry.

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