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Southern Bancorp president/CEO to retire

Source: press release

ARKADELPHIA, Ark. — The Board of Directors of Southern Bancorp Inc., (SBI) and Phil Baldwin, president and CEO, announced yesterday that Baldwin intends to retire from the organization after a transition to new management.

Southern Bancorp has more than 18 locations in Mississippi.

Walter Smiley, Chairman of the SBI Board of Directors, will serve as Chairman and Interim CEO of Southern Bancorp, Inc., the holding company for SBI’s community development bank and nonprofit affiliates. Scott Fife has been promoted to President and CEO of Southern Bancorp Bank, a wholly owned subsidiary of SBI. Tanya Wright will continue to serve as Group President of SBI heading up the SBI nonprofit affiliates.

Baldwin will remain at Southern for several months to ensure a seamless transition to new management. Baldwin, who joined Southern in April 2000, said he is retiring to slow down, spend more time with his family and pursue philanthropic interests.

“Southern will be in very good hands after my retirement based on the succession plan that we’ve been implementing over the past few months,” Baldwin said. “After retirement from Southern, I would hope to work much less, but intend to continue to work in furtherance of providing help to those in need.”

Walter Smiley helped establish Southern Bancorp and has served on the board since its founding in 1986. He was founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Systematics, Inc., a financial data processing software company that was ranked by Forbes magazine as one of the top 100 companies in America.

Fife, President of Southern Bancorp Bank’s El Dorado market, joined Southern in June 2009 with more than 20 years of banking experience. Fife will manage all banking operations for Southern Bancorp. Prior to joining Southern, Fife served as President of Simmons First National Bank in El Dorado.

Tanya Wright, Group President, will continue to oversee all mission activities and several key functions-human resources, audit, compliance, marketing and communications-for both the bank and nonprofits. Wright joined Southern in January 2010 from Heifer International, where she served as Global Executive Vice President.

Baldwin grew Southern from a $252 million bank earning $427,000 in net income in 2000 to a $1.1 billion bank with net income of more than $9 million in 2010. Baldwin also spearheaded an expansion into Mississippi aimed at better providing banking and community development services to disadvantaged people and thus establishing Southern as a regional development organization. Southern now has 16 branches in Mississippi and 24 branches in Arkansas. Southern grants several million dollars to enhance the communities it serves and provides more than $300 million in loans to individuals and businesses in high-poverty areas each year.

Highlights of Baldwin’s tenure include the initiation of comprehensive community development strategic planning efforts in Phillips County, Ark.; Clark County, Ark.; and Coahoma County, Miss. These strategic planning efforts, which involve members of the local communities from start to finish, have helped leverage more than $120 million to improve the lives of thousands of families in America’s largest and most persistently distressed region. For complete biographical information about Baldwin, visit https://banksouthern.com/mission/our-leadership/#a1

Under Baldwin’s leadership, Southern helped initiate two significant efforts to improve the educational attainment of the communities it serves-the Arkadelphia Promise Scholarship program in Clark County in partnership with the Ross Foundation and the Great River Promise scholarship program in Phillips County. More details on both programs are available at

“The recently announced Arkadelphia Promise and Great River Promise scholarship programs are the capstones of Phil’s legacy at Southern,” Smiley said. “Phil will leave Southern in impressive financial condition, but most importantly, his visionary leadership has established a strong foundation for Southern’s mission of building communities, changing lives to endure for many years to come.”

Southern Bancorp, based in Arkadelphia, Ark. is one of America’s largest development banks.


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