Carver Honors Consortium of Doctors and Citizens Savings President

Robert James and Dr. Deborah Cole
Robert James and Dr. Deborah Cole
The 27th Annual Conference of the Consortium of Doctors (COD) was held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Savannah, Georgia, Thursday, July 20 thru Sunday, July 23, 2017. This conference brought many accomplished women and their families from across the nation to Savannah such as COD Director, Dr. Sylvia Carey-Butler of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh; Co-Director, Dr. Phyllis Qualls of Antioch, TN; Dr. Carolyn Baldwin Tucker of Chicago, IL, legendary University of Texas track and field coach Beverly Kearney; as well as Dr. Deborah Cole, President of Citizens Savings Bank of Nashville, TN. Dr. Marguerite Tiggs Birt of Savannah served as Conference Chair.

At the request of Dr. Cole, the Directors of Carver State Bank entertained the attendees at a gala conference opening reception. The event was held at Carver’s Skidaway Road Branch on July 20. After an inspiring prayer of thanksgiving by Bishop Willie Ferrell of the Royal Church of Christ, Carver President Robert E. James welcomed the attendees and said it was a unique honor for the Carver State Bank family to participate in the conference and have such a distinguished group of scholars and community leaders at the bank.

President James introduced COD Director Dr. Sylvia Carey-Butler and presented her with a copy of the book From “N Word” to Mr. Mayor by former Savannah Mayor Otis Johnson, who attended the affair. Dr. Carey-Butler thanked President James and the Carver Directors for hosting this spectacular event. She said it was a pleasure for her, and her fellow Consortium of Doctors members, to meet so many of Savannah’s leaders at this event. The visitors were also greeted by Dr. Cheryl Davenport Dozier, President of Savannah State University. Dr. Dozier paid tribute to COD founder, Dr. Abigail Jordan, who tenaciously pursued her doctorate degree and later used that same determination to lead a movement to install the first African-American Family Monument in America that was unveiled on July 27, 2012 in Savannah’s Rousakis Plaza. Dr. Dozier also enlightened and inspired the group with a forward-thinking outlook for Savannah State University and higher education in coastal Georgia.

After Dr. Dozier’s remarks, James saluted his long-time friend, Dr. Deborah Cole, for her remarkable contributions to banking. She is America’s longest serving African-American female bank president. “Dr. Cole is a role model for all bankers, especially African American females who aspire to hold positions of leadership in the industry,” he said.

James told the crowd of Savannah community dignitaries and national leaders that they were witnessing “an interesting bit of African American history, since we have at this reception both the longest serving African American bank president in the nation as well as the longest serving African American female bank president.” James has been President of Carver State Bank since December 1, 1971, which makes him the longest serving African American bank president in America.

Dr. Cole is president of the nation’s oldest continuously operating African American-owned bank, Citizens Savings Bank and Trust Company, which was founded as The One Cent Savings Bank in January 1904. Richard Henry Boyd served as the bank’s first president, and his family remains the major stockholder of the bank, and his great-great-grandson, Dr. T. B. Boyd, III, is the current chairman of the board. In 1920, the bank was renamed Citizens Savings Bank and Trust Company.

Dr. Cole is a Past President of the National Bankers Association, a member of the Tennessee Bankers Association’s government relations committee, and Treasurer of the Consortium of Doctors. She was appointed by the Governor of Tennessee to the nine-member Board of Trustees that governs Tennessee State University.

A native of Nashville, Cole graduated from Hume-Fogg High School and attended Tennessee State University, where she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration with high distinction. A lifelong learner, she also earned a doctoral degree in Management, Leadership and Organizational Skills from the University of Phoenix in 2009. Cole joined Peat Marwick Mitchell & Co., the predecessor of KPMG, as a staff accountant in 1975. Four years later, she joined the staff of Citizens Bank. She was appointed to the board in 1985, and named president and CEO in 1995.

In addition to completing the Graduate School of Banking program at Louisiana State University, Cole has earned certification as a trust operations specialist from the Cannon Financial Institute at the University of Notre Dame and the designation of Certified Community Bank Compliance Officer from the Independent Community Bankers Association. She also completed numerous other technical, regulatory, lending and strategic planning courses and seminars.

Dr. Cole has received many awards and honors for her professional and civic service, including Tennessee State University’s “Women of Legend & Merit Award” in 2007.

Adams Limousine Service provided the distinguished guests with VIP transportation for the evening. Food for the reception was catered by Carolyn and Eddie Lance of Carolyn’s Creations Cakes and Catering. The guests were entertained by the captivating music of Ronesia Lafaye and Larry Brannen of Bluescreen.

Established in 1927, Carver State Bank is celebrating its 90th Anniversary throughout the year. Carver is the oldest bank headquartered in Savannah.

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