20 honored as Rising Stars of Banking 2023

Group honored at luncheon in Birmingham

Business Alabama magazine today honored 20 men and women as Rising Stars of Banking 2023 at a luncheon in Birmingham at the Harbert Center. The 20 were chosen from nominations and received a plaque and recognition at the event.

Here are the 20 Rising Stars of Banking 2023:

Ryan Anthony is a vice president in PNC’s Corporate Bank, providing banking services to middle market companies and large corporations in Alabama and Mississippi. Anthony has 11-plus years of commercial banking and investment banking experience in various capacities and is focused on advisory solutions to support his clients. He is actively involved with various philanthropic organizations including Village of Promise and United Way. Anthony graduated from Auburn University with honors and lives in Birmingham with his wife, Jen, and two sons, Payson and Max. Outside of the office, Anthony enjoys spending time with his family, traveling and playing golf.

Joel Balentine, a Shoals native, serves as assistant vice president and commercial lending officer at First Metro Bank in Tuscumbia. He earned an associate degree at Northwest-Shoals Community College in 2015 and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of North Alabama in 2017. Balentine also serves as the bank’s special assets manager and sits on committees throughout areas of the bank. He is active in civic groups and community organizations, including the Kiwanis Club. He graduated from the Shoals Chamber of Commerce EMERGE Leadership Program. He is currently enrolled in the Alabama Banking School and is expected to graduate in October 2023.

Michael Cox began his career in banking at Southern States Bank after graduating from Auburn University with a degree in finance. The Nashville, Tennessee, native has worked in a variety of credit roles. He has also graduated from the Alabama Banking School and will attend the Graduate School of Banking at Louisiana State University beginning in 2024. Cox especially enjoys bridging the gap between credit and the commercial bankers to help facilitate growth and maintain excellent asset quality for the bank’s shareholders while serving the needs of the communities throughout its footprint. In his downtime, he enjoys live music, grilling and socializing with family and friends.

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Collins Davis joined State Bank & Trust in 2015 as a management trainee after graduating from Sewanee: The University of the South. He moved into the roles of CFO and chairman in 2019. In addition to his duties as CFO and chairman, Davis is a lender overseeing a significant loan portfolio. He is a third-generation community banker in his hometown of Winfield. He and his wife, Erin, have one child. He serves as Joseph F. Weldy Home treasurer, Northwest Regional Health advisory board member and Winfield City Schools Foundation treasurer.

Greta Fife is the branch manager at First State Bank of the South’s Northport branch. Born and raised in Sulligent, she graduated from Sulligent High School before moving to Northport. In October 2020, she graduated from the Alabama Banking School. She has 23 years of banking experience and uses that experience to help new and current customers have the smoothest time possible with their finances. When she’s not working, she enjoys spending time with family and pets, whether watching her daughter cheer or taking a vacation with the family.

Mark Fillers graduated from the University of Alabama and completed his MBA through Auburn University’s Executive MBA program. A Mobile native, Fillers began his banking career in 2001 in Mobile and is the South Alabama market president at Renasant Bank. Fillers worked in several leadership roles in banking prior to taking on his current role in 2017. Active with the Child Advocacy Center, Mitchell College of Business at the University of South Alabama and other organizations, he and his wife, Erin, have three children, David, William and James. The Fillers are active members of Springhill Baptist Church and Outback America. An Eagle Scout, Fillers remains involved in scouting with his sons.

Annie Furrer is Guntersville city president for the flagship corporate location of Citizens Bank & Trust. Her entire 17-year banking career has been with Citizens, starting as a part-time teller and progressing to sales assistant to the financial advisor, financial advisor and treasury management representative before taking the city reins for Guntersville. A Marshall County native, Furrer graduated from Auburn University with a BA in Business Administration – Finance. In her community, she serves on the boards of the Guntersville Chamber of Commerce, Marshall County Leadership, Albertville City Schools and AHFA. She is also coordinator for the Marshall County Youth Leadership Program. 

Sarah Garrett is a native of Clanton. She earned a degree in health care administration and business from Auburn University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Montevallo. She joined Oakworth Capital Bank in 2016 and was recently promoted to operations project manager. In 2022, she was sponsored by Oakworth Capital Bank to attend the Momentum Upward Early-Career Program created to develop the next generation of talented leadership within the business community. Garrett joined the Children’s Aid Society of Alabama’s Junior Board early in its inception and has played an active role there. She is a member of the Oakworth Capital Bank Community Service Committee.

Barry Harp is the retail manager/branch manager for CB&S Bank in Pike Road. He has an undergraduate degree from Auburn University at Montgomery and a master’s from Troy University-Montgomery and has more than 20 years of banking experience. He is currently attending the Alabama Banking School. Harp is an active member of Church of the Highlands, the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, Rotary International and United Way. Harp lives in Wetumpka with his wife, the former Celeste Talley, and their four children: Caitlin, Lauren Grace, Whitt and Tristin. He has volunteered as a coach in youth sports.

Cole Justice is vice president and bank manager at First Southern State Bank in Fort Payne. A graduate of Northeast Alabama Community College and Jacksonville State University, Justice is also a graduate of the Alabama Banking School and a student at the LSU Graduate School of Banking. Justice enjoys playing guitar and singing, working on classic cars, golfing, grilling and family time with his wife, Alli, and children Jasper, Jessi, Jayda and Linna Cate. He is active with First Baptist of Fort Payne and is on the Northeast Alabama Community College advisory board, City of Fort Payne board of zoning and adjustment and Fort Payne Chamber of Commerce board of directors.

Clay Lane is Lee County market president of MidSouth Bank. He graduated from Auburn University in 2003 with a marketing degree and is a 2009 graduate of Alabama Banking School. A Dothan native, Lane worked with MidSouth as a commercial lender in the early years of his career and returned to MidSouth in 2020 to lead the team in Lee County. Lane is chair-elect for the board of the Opelika Chamber of Commerce and is secretary for the Community Foundation of East Alabama and treasurer for Youth for Christ of East Alabama and Redeeming Grace Ministries. Lane and his wife, Lenzie, and children, Knox and Stella, are active members of Auburn Community Church.

DeMarco McClain is the Huntsville/Madison city president for Bank Independent. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Auburn University Montgomery in 2002 and an MBA from Troy University in 2014. He graduated from the University of South Alabama’s Banking School in 2018 and is active with the Alabama Bankers Association. McClain is a graduate of the LSU School of Banking and has more than 20 years’ experience in banking. He works with Christian Job Corp Madison County, the Village of Promise, Huntsville’s Committee of 100, Huntsville’s Public Building Authority, Von Braun Center and other organizations. McClain lives in Huntsville with his wife, Clarissa, and their son, Dylan.

Karen Morris is senior vice president and relationship manager of River Bank & Trust in Mobile. Since joining the bank in 2018, she has played a pivotal role in introducing the bank to the Gulf Coast. Morris earned a Bachelor of Science in finance from Auburn University, further honed her expertise at the Alabama Banking School and has been in banking for 28 years. Morris is an active community volunteer with organizations including Junior Achievement. She teaches personal finance in local high schools, is membership chair for the Home Builders Association of Metro Mobile and is a founding member of the MAAR Charity Golf Tournament.

Tramaine Perry is vice president/business banking for Hancock Whitney Corp. A star basketball player at the University of Mobile, Perry briefly played professionally before going into finance. Perry is part of 40 Under 40 for Mobile Bay Magazine and is vice president of the 100 Black Men of Greater Mobile, which provides mentorship and guidance to youth. He has been married to his wife, Kimyatta, for 15 years, and they have three sons – Jaden, Jacob and Justin. Perry coaches basketball at Daphne High School and a 12U Club Basketball team, the Alabama Kings.

Garrett Powe is vice president, commercial banking officer for ServisFirst Bank in Mobile.  He grew up in Selma and graduated with a finance degree from the University of Alabama. Powe is active at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and is on the board of the Rotary Club of Mobile, First Light Community, Friends of Magnolia Cemetery, The Cahaba Foundation and Literacy Coalition of South Alabama. Powe is a community impact volunteer for the United Way of Southwest Alabama and a 2022 Real Men Wear Pink Ambassador for the American Cancer Society. He lives in Mobile with his wife, Patricia Parnell Powe, and their two children, Hilton and Mary Stuart.

Brittney Shonk is the senior vice president over private banking for Merit Bank, the only bank headquartered in Huntsville. Shonk began her banking career in college, rising through the ranks to her present position. She is on the board of United Cerebral Palsy of Huntsville & the Tennessee Valley and is on the Huntsville Museum of Art Foundation board of directors. She is also on the Professional Advisory Council for HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology. Shonk’s interests include interior design, physical fitness, the arts and her family, which includes husband, Darrell, and children, Blaire and Dean.

Doug Sizemore is a senior vice president of commercial banking for Bryant Bank in Baldwin County. He began his banking career in 2001 after earning a finance degree from the University of Alabama. He is also a graduate of the Graduate School of Banking at Louisiana State University. He is currently participating in the Alabama Bankers Association Class of 2024’s Bank Executive Leadership certification program. Sizemore is very active in his community, previously serving as a board member of the Coastal Baldwin Education Enrichment Foundation, treasurer of the Coastal Alabama Chamber of Commerce and president and treasurer of the Kiwanis Club of Gulf Shores. He is currently treasurer of The Dolphin Foundation, which supports education and arts in Gulf Shores City Schools.

Rachel Tucker is a Certified Public Accountant and Certified Financial Services Auditor serving as senior audit project manager at Regions Bank. She has seven years’ experience challenging current processes within the company, primarily in credit risk, and making recommendations to mitigate risk and add value. Tucker has been involved with the Institute of Auditors Birmingham Chapter, where she currently serves as president. Tucker started her career in a small accounting firm in Hoover that specialized in Single Audits (A-133) of HUD funded organizations. She earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Birmingham-Southern College, where she graduated magna cum laude. Tucker has a passion for coaching and enjoys helping others achieve their goals.

Jared Waldrop is a senior vice president and operations officer for Troy Bank and Trust. Waldrop is a Troy native and graduated from Troy University with a business management degree in 2007. He began his career at Troy Bank and Trust in 2004, where he served in various roles within the operations department. Waldrop is currently responsible for management and oversight of information security, project management, vendor management, deposit operations, fraud operations, treasury management and customer care center, and he serves on the IT steering committee. He was recently named in ICBA’s 40 Under 40 Community Bank Leaders and is also a graduate from Alabama Banking School, Leadership Pike and Alabama Banker Association’s Executive Leadership Program.

Laura Watford is the regional credit officer for the South Alabama region at SmartBank, a Tennessee-based financial institution. She holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of West Florida and began her career in public accounting with Carr, Riggs, Ingram in Destin, Florida. After gaining valuable experience in public accounting for seven years, Watford transitioned to a credit analyst role in 2011. Watford is a graduate of the Alabama Banking School. She lives in Dothan with her husband, Kevin, and their three daughters, McKinley, Kennedy and Kamilla.

Sponsors of the Rising Stars of Banking 2023 luncheon included Bank Independent, Bryant Bank, CB&S Bank, MidSouth Bank, Whitney Hancock, Regions, SmartBank, Southern Development Council, Troy Bank & Trust, ServisFirst Bank and Southern States Bank.

This story originally appeared in the October 2023 issue of Business Alabama magazine.

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