GBA Member Profile

Jason Isbell
Head of State Government Affairs and Economic Development
Regions Bank, Montgomery, AL
At Large Member, GBA Public Affairs Committee

Q: What was your first job, and was there a lesson you learned there that you still use today?
A: My first “real” job was working as an analyst for the Alabama Legislative Fiscal Office, a job that is exactly as exciting as it sounds. As the name implies, the office provided budget-related research and analysis to members of the Alabama Legislature, and most of my focus was on funding for public education. Working here fresh out of college provided me with an outstanding foundation for a career in advocacy and allowed me to better understand the innerworkings of state government. If there was one lesson that I learned there that I still use today, it’s this: details matter. Answers we provided policymakers literally impacted how billions of dollars of public funds were allocated, so misunderstanding or miscommunicating important information, even if it was deep into the minutiae of government funding, had consequences. No matter where my career has taken me, details still matter.

Q: What was the most useful piece of advice you received from a mentor (or in the early/formative years of your career)?
A: When I worked for the Alabama Bankers Association, one of our member bank CEOs relayed to me a quote from Emerson that has always stuck with me: “What you do speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you are saying.” There’s no facet of life, I suppose, where this maxim isn’t true. But memories are especially long in the world of government affairs, so I’ve always found this quote very useful.

Q: What led you to a career in banking?
A: My path to a career in banking is certainly unconventional: I'm an attorney working for a bank, but I've never tried a case and I've never made a loan! After a decade working for the Alabama Legislature, I had the opportunity to join the Alabama Bankers Association as VP of Legal and Governmental Affairs; I was the "Elizabeth Chandler of Alabama." The eight years I spent representing ABA were wonderful and taught me so much about the industry. That job also exposed me to the many great community bankers and directors that populate my home state, not unlike Georgia. When Regions had an opening on its government affairs team, I was excited for the opportunity. I've enjoyed seeing the banking industry "from the inside" these last 18 months and appreciate helping our customers whenever and however I can.

Q: What is the hardest part about your job?
A: Regions Bank has a retail presence in sixteen states, so that means that I’m paying attention to what’s happening in thirty-two legislative chambers across the country. Prioritizing how and where to spend my resources and energy can be difficult, especially since many legislatures hold their sessions at the same time. That’s why I’m so grateful to the Georgia Bankers Association and the state bankers associations throughout our footprint for being such outstanding advocates for the banking community.

Q: First tap/click of the day?
A: If I’m being truthful, the first item on my daily to-do list is usually playing Wordle! Then it’s straight to Twitter to see what everyone will be talking about for the day.

Q: When you’re not on the job at the bank, what do you like to do?
A: My family and I enjoy spending long weekends in our camper at state parks, especially during the fall and winter. I enjoy playing golf every now and then, and love to travel with my wife, Kim. But my favorite extracurricular activity would be serving as the public address announcer for our hometown varsity high school football games.