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Bank of Tennessee Promotes Next Generation Leadership to Continue Customer-First Strategy
Doubling Down On People, Tech Growth
Announcing the appointment of two rising stars within one of the most well-respected and profitable banks in Tennessee, William B. Greene Jr., Chairman of BancTenn Corp, and the Board of Directors of Bank of Tennessee, said, “It’s our strategy to recruit the best people and prepare them for success.” Will Barrett, President, has been named the new Chief Executive Officer of Bank of Tennessee and its divisions Carter County Bank and Mountain Community Bank. Detra Cleven will serve the financial organization as Chief Operating Officer.
Barrett will succeed Dale Fair, who retires after more than doubling the size of the bank during his tenure.
“Our philosophy is to recruit and groom future leaders for success instead of hiring people outside the market. In this way, we grow leaders who understand and know the people of the communities we serve to better meet the challenges that our customers face. This creates a culture at Bank of Tennessee that no other financial institution in Tennessee has,” said Greene.
A good example is the bank’s regional impact by providing PPP loans in 2020, which were vital to the local economy. “With the hard work by our experienced team, we were able to provide $100,000,000 in PPP loans to nearly 1,000 businesses. That helped sustain about 14,000 jobs here,” said Barrett.
Will Barrett, a native of Kingsport, graduated from Dobyns-Bennett High School and attended Wake Forest University earning a BA in Economics and Religion and then an MBA at the University. He is also a graduate of the Louisiana Graduate School of Banking. Barrett’s career with Bank of Tennessee spans 25 years, where he served in various roles, including retail banking, credit, lending, operations, Northeast Tennessee President, and most recently COO. His industry knowledge, strategic drive, and “people first” mentality made Barrett the natural choice to direct and oversee the bank’s overall strategic direction and goals, along with the entire management team. Barrett and his wife have one daughter and live in Johnson City, Tennessee.
“We are a true community bank; we live it every day,” said Barrett. He continued, “It may not be obvious why locally-owned, community banks are a crucial component to the success of this region. But here are a few examples. We keep loans and deposits here and put them back to work in the local economy instead of moving the money out of the area, as larger banks do. Decisions are made locally by people who live here, not in Charlotte or Memphis, by people you know and trust. We sit next to you at local football games, worship services, and community events. And we champion and support local non-profits and small businesses.”
“Decisions are made locally by people who live here, not in Charlotte or Memphis, by people you know and trust.”
The key to the success of the PPP loan program was the bank’s operations department, led by Barrett as COO, who created an efficient and streamlined loan process that enabled the bank’s loans to be approved quicker than other financial institutions in the area. With Barrett’s promotion to CEO and President, the bank selected Detra Cleven to succeed Barrett in the role of Chief Operating Officer.
Cleven has the experience and proven ability to develop financial products for consumers and businesses. She has specialized expertise in profitability management, combined with extensive knowledge of the challenges and opportunities businesses face. Cleven will continue the long-standing tradition of providing innovative financial services.
Cleven said, “Bank of Tennessee is a wonderful place to bank and to work. Ensuring that our employees have the resources they need, our processes are efficient and accurate, and our banking products are reliable and secure are my priorities.
I am excited to continue making a positive impact in the lives of our employees, our customers, and our communities.”
Detra Cleven began her tenure at Bank of Tennessee in 2011. She was born and raised in Minnesota, where she attended Saint Olaf College, where she was later inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame in 2014 as a competitive swimmer. Her banking career started in 1993, and in 2019, she graduated with the highest honors from LSU School of Banking. Her role as COO is to oversee all operational aspects of the company. Cleven and her husband live in Kingsport, Tennessee, and have twins in college.
Dale Fair will continue to serve as the bank’s Chairman of the Board for Bank of Tennessee. A native of Elizabethton, Tennessee, Fair was an outstanding All-State football player for Elizabethton High School. He then attended the University of Tennessee, where he also played football for the Volunteers. After completing college, Fair was a high school teacher and football coach in Middle Tennessee for several years until moving back to Elizabethton in 1981 to accept a position at Citizens Bank. In 2002, he left the banking industry to serve the community’s needs as County Mayor of Carter County. Fair held the elected position for a term of four years. In 2006, Fair accepted the role of Executive Director of First Tennessee Human Resource Agency, which provides assistance and social services for counties throughout Northeast Tennessee.
In July of 2012, Fair returned to the banking industry as President and CEO of Carter County Bank, a division of Bank of Tennessee. Fair was promoted to President and Chief Operating Officer of Bank of Tennessee in December 2013, and in October of 2019, he became the bank’s CEO. Mr. Fair has been married to his wife, Cindy, for 43 years and has three children and seven grandchildren.
“The entire management team is fantastic and will continue making the necessary changes to maintain the existing goals and objectives of Bank of Tennessee and its affiliates. It has been a true privilege to work for and with Mr. Bill Greene and the Board of Directors. I hope to continue assisting Mr. Greene and the Board in directing the future success of our great institution,” said Fair.
“Dale has been a tremendous CEO and coach taking Bank of Tennessee’s performance and customer-focused culture to new heights,” said Barrett.