First Freedom staff from the Lebanon Office volunteered with Wilson County Christmas for All the past two weeks. Wilson County Christmas for All provides toys to approximately 2,000 underprivileged children between the ages of newborn to thirteen in the Lebanon and Watertown areas.
Pictured top, from left to right, is Mary Cate Holbrook, Lebanon Personal Banker, Tatum Ortlepp, Lebanon Assistant Office Manager, and Helen Green, Administrative Assistant.
Pictured bottom, from left to right, is Shelia Ferrell, Senior Vice President and Managerial Lender, Lola Mullican, Executive Administrative Assistant, Blake Smith, Lebanon FSR Manager, Kasey Johnston, Lebanon, FSR, Maliea Oakley, Senior Vice President and Director of Human Resources, and Holly Wolfe, Lebanon Personal Banker.
First Freedom Bank donated to the Jackson County Middle School (JCMS) Junior Beta Club to help fund their trip to the TN Beta Club Convention. This is the second year that we have contributed to their fundraising goal, which covers the cost of supplies and materials needed to attend and compete in the convention.
Pictured is Donna Elrod, Vice President and Gainesboro Office Manager, with the JCMS Junior Beta Club members.
First Freedom Bank sponsored a table at the annual Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) Banquet in October. The guest speaker was Candice Storey Lee, Vanderbilt Athletic Director, with Colton Dowell, Tennessee Titan, as a special guest.
First Freedom’s John Hawkins, Vice President – Specialized Lending, currently serves on the FCA Board of Directors.
In attendance at the banquet, from left to right, is Mary Cate Holbrook, Lebanon Personal Banker, John Bradshaw, President, COO & CLO, Tatum Ortlepp, Lebanon Assistant Office Manager, Kasey Johnston, Lebanon FSR, Megan Roberts, Providence Personal Banker, and John Hawkins.
First Freedom Bank is proud to announce two staff promotions. These promotions are well-deserved and a testimony to the bank’s strategy to educate and develop talent from within. We are honored to have such knowledgeable and industrious individuals on our team.
Sarah Poss has been promoted to Vice President and Assistant Director of Retail Banking. Sarah began her career with First Freedom as a Financial Services Representative in January of 2015. She advanced rapidly through the retail side of the bank serving as Financial Services Representative Manager, Training Coordinator, Personal Banker, and Providence Office Manager. In January of 2022, Sarah helped create the bank’s online account-opening capabilities and currently serves as the Virtual Office Manager and Marketing Officer. She also has a valuable background in bank operations, having created and implemented the branch audit program and having served as a Bank Secrecy Act analyst.
Sarah earned a B.S. in Anthropology from Middle Tennessee State University and has completed additional classes in Accounting and Economics through Vol State Community College. She has also completed the Branch Leadership Series through the Tennessee Bankers Association and is currently enrolled in The Southeastern School of Banking.
Heather Spurlock has been promoted to Assistant Vice President and Portfolio Manager. Heather joined First Freedom in March of 2012 as a Loan Operations Clerk. In her tenure with the bank, Heather has worked in a variety of roles with the commercial lending team. She was promoted to Bank Officer and Portfolio Manager in July of 2022. With this promotion to Assistant Vice President, Heather will be taking on additional responsibilities with the bank’s BSA program.
Heather earned a B.S. in Management and Leadership from Middle Tennessee State University.
First Freedom Bank hosted a hospitality tent and had a team participate in the annual Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce golf tournament, held at Pine Creek Golf Course. Proceeds from the tournament benefit the chamber.
Picture top and left to right are Kaitlin Wattenbarger, Providence Personal Banker, Miah Lamb, Providence FSR, Meagan Roberts, Providence Personal Banker, and Brooke Weldy, Mt. Juliet FSR Manager at the bank hospitality tent.
Pictured, top and left to right, are the First Freedom team participants Ryan Woodall, Assistant Vice President and Relationship Manager, John Bradshaw, President / COO & CLO, J.B. Owens, Executive Vice President and Director of Commercial Banking, and Phillip Vance, Vice President and Relationship Manager
First Freedom Bank was a sponsor of the Scarecrow 5k and 1m Fun Run/Walk benefiting the Granville Volunteer Fire Department. This is the first year for the fundraiser, but there are plans to continue it on an annual basis.
Pictured is Kyleigh Heady, Gainesboro FSR, presenting the sponsorship check to John Deane.
First Freedom Bank sponsored a table for Wilson County CASA’s annual Red Shoe Event on September 14th. The Red Shoe Event is a fundraiser and fashion show held at Tuckers Gap with local boutiques providing the clothes. Attendees could shop from these boutiques during the event with part of the sales proceeds donated to CASA. First Freedom’s table theme was Dolly Parton.
Pictured, top, left to right is Kayla Ring, Assistant Vice President and Construction Manager, Christy Trammel, Administrative Assistant, Shelia Ferrell, Senior Vice President and Managerial Lender, Maliea Oakley, Senior Vice President and Director of Human Resources, Lola Mullican, Executive Administration Officer, Helen Green, Administrative Assistant, Sarah Poss, Assistant Vice President / Marketing and BSA Analyst, and Ashley Montgomery, Assistant Vice President and Providence Office Manager.
Pictured, bottom, are photos of the First Freedom table.
Bryan Sweet is a Personal Banker at our Cookeville Office. While Bryan joined the First Freedom team in 2016, he has been in the banking industry since 2005. His first role with First Freedom was as a Financial Services Representative Manager and he later acquired an additional role as a branch auditor for the Middle Tennessee locations. In his current position as a Personal Banker, Bryan’s role is to be an expert on all of First Freedom’s products and services and to assist customers in the selection and utilization of the services. Bryan currently lives in Cookeville with his wife, two children, and two dogs.
What do you enjoy most about working at First Freedom Bank?
I enjoy the feeling of family among coworkers. We spend most of our lives at work and it really makes it easier to be away from our families at home when you have great relationships with those you work closest with.
What is something invaluable you have learned from working at First Freedom Bank?
I’ve learned to not sell myself short when it relates to my abilities. I turned down opportunities in the past because I doubted that I could perform the required tasks to be successful in a new role. Once I moved past those concerns, I have been able to grow and acquire new skills that will continue to benefit me in my career.
Do you have any degrees, special certifications, or awards?
I have a Bachelor of Science degree from Tennessee Technological University.
Do you have any hobbies?
I enjoy bowling in a league with long-time friends and piddling around with computers and electronics in my spare time.
What is one fact about you that you think would surprise people?
Shortly after graduating college, I worked for several years at a local radio station both on-air and behind the scenes.
Why do you think First Freedom has experienced so much success since their founding in 2006?
First Freedom has a knack for finding the best people to fill any open positions. I feel like our attention to customer service makes our customers enjoy interactions with our frontline employees, and our staff behind the scenes do a great job of providing the customer-facing employees with the tools and skills that they need to continue to provide a level of customer service unsurpassed by most competing institutions.
What is one way in which you feel First Freedom is different from most of its competitors?
Having worked for some of the competition, for me it’s the accessibility of the people who are responsible for the formation and day-to-day operations of the bank. It’s refreshing to be able to pick up the phone and talk to anyone about anything without having to go through layers of red tape.
Are you involved in any organization, clubs, or community groups?
For the last 10+ years we have been involved with a local rescue organization called A.A.R.F (All About Rescuing and Fixing). It is an organization that fosters unwanted pets, gets them spayed or neutered, and finds them fur-ever homes. We have fostered well over 150 dogs since starting with the organization and the feeling of finding that perfect match between animal and animal lover is unparalleled.
Additionally, with two daughters who have found their love for theater, my wife and I have volunteered with our local Cookeville Children’s Theater for the past few years, primarily behind the scenes. I’ve helped build and tear down sets while my wife has helped with costumes and concessions. It’s refreshing to see weeks of hard work and preparation pay off on the stage and it’s a blessing to not only know we helped to create it but to see my children perform in front of a cheering audience is the biggest reward.
First Freedom Bank hosted a hospitality tent and had a team participate in the annual Dr. Carey Harbrecht Memorial Scramble on September 11th at the Five Oaks Country Club. Fundraiser proceeds go toward the Lebanon / Wilson County Chamber of Commerce.
Pictured, top and left to right, are the First Freedom team participants J.B. Owens, Executive Vice President and Director of Commercial Banking, John Bradshaw, President / COO & CLO, Ryan Woodall, Assistant Vice President and Relationship Manager, and Phillip Vance, Vice President and Relationship Manager.
Pictured, bottom and left to right, are Tatum Ortlepp, Lebanon Assistant Manager, and Blake Smith, Lebanon FSR Manager, at the bank hospitality tent.
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