Assistant Vice President/Controller
Durden Banking Company, Inc.
Twin City, GA
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 very first job was with Durden Banking Company. I started working for the bank when I was 16, and I am still there today after nearly 14 years. I started as a part-time teller and worked throughout high school and college. After college, I was offered a full-time position with the bank. I had to learn quickly the importance of providing personalized customer service because that is how hometown community banking works and thrives in our state. Customers want to be greeted by name by people they know. It’s an added touch that does not cost a thing, and I think it’s important.
Q: What drew you to banking, and what has kept you there?
A: When I started working at the bank, it was only supposed to be part-time job until I started college. My original choice for a career path was to become a high school history teacher. As I continued to work at the bank, I grew to love it. I began to rethink my career choice and moved toward business and finance. Even though I changed my career path, I did not intend to stay at home in Twin City. Like many others from small towns in Georgia, I planned to move to Atlanta after college. In fact, I interviewed for and was offered a finance position in Atlanta. At the same time, Durden Banking Company made me an offer, too. At this point, I had to choose what sort of lifestyle I wanted for the long-term. I decided I wanted a small town life and have not looked back. I can live in my hometown, help my local community and live a Mayberry-like lifestyle. It was the best decision of my life.
Q: You’re the Mayor of Twin City. What fueled your passion for public service?
A: Twin City had decades of serious financial issues. The city was five years behind in annual audits, owed the IRS $65,000 in back taxes and $57,000 in penalties and interest, and did not have a budget. Because it was non-compliant with audits, the city was not eligible for grants or any state funding. It was quite a mess. When I ran for office as a City Commissioner in 2015, I felt I could leverage my financial knowledge and skills to help my hometown. It took three years and about $140,000, but the city is much better shape now. The city is audit compliant again, the IRS has been paid and we have an annual budget. Thankfully, we are eligible for grants again, and the city has received nearly $1 million dollars in grants over the past couple of years. I recently ran and was elected Mayor. I began my first term as Mayor this week. It is a blessing to be able to continue serving the people of Twin City.
Q: How has involvement with GBA influenced your career?
A: My first participation with GBA was attending the Georgia Banking School. It was a wonderful experience, and I learned a lot to advance my career. Outside of GBS, I have attended numerous GBA seminars, symposiums and conferences. They are always informative and well-worth the time, effort and money to attend. GBA truly wants to make Georgia bankers better at their jobs. I have recently become involved with the government relations efforts of the GBA. We must continue to remain vigilant against legislation that limits hometown, community bankers from being able to service our communities. All Georgia bankers need to stay informed of upcoming legislation and make sure our voices are heard in Atlanta and in Washington. We are a powerful group, if we band together as one team. This is what GBA does well.
Q: What would someone be surprised to know about you?
A: Overall, I’m a pretty boring person. If I’m not at work or at the city, I am most likely traveling. I enjoy seeing and experiencing new things, but I am always ready to get back home.