Growing up, Tammy Gibbons experienced difficult times in childhood and early adulthood. Both of her parents spent some time in prison, and her grandparents moved in with Gibbons and her two siblings in Longview, Texas, to care for them and provide stability for the children.
Initially, she wasn’t looking for a long-term career when she found Spring Hill State Bank after her 1980 high school graduation. The superintendent and another school board member, both of whom sat on the bank’s board, approached her about a part-time teller position. Gibbons took it with the plan to work for two years while attending junior college before heading off to complete her degree elsewhere.
“Coming from my background and not knowing what I wanted to do, it seemed like it had a lot of stability to me,” she said. More than 40 years later, she’s still at the $229 million bank, although in a slightly different position. For her decades-long contributions to the bank and her community, Gibbons is being honored as one of BankNews magazine’s 2023 “Outstanding Women in Banking.”
Her first steps into greater responsibility came when she shifted into a supervisory role as the loan operations officer. The move from working with peers to managing them as the boss was tricky to navigate, but Gibbons handled it with grace.
When Spring Hill opened its first branch in 2004, the president of the bank asked Gibbons to take charge of the office and its six employees. Besides the increased managerial duties, the move stretched her in other ways as well. “I was nervous about going out and meeting new people, because I had to go out and do cold calls,” she said. “When you have loan customers, they come to you, but when you’re opening the new branch, you have to go out and introduce yourself.”
More followed as Gibbons became cashier and added information security to her growing list of responsibilities. She now oversees human resources, IT and security as senior vice president of operations in addition to her role as cashier.
“I cannot say enough to describe the quality of person that Tammy is,” said President and CEO Les Mendicello. “Her volunteerism has been incredible and her value to our bank as the senior operations officer has been a key reason for our success. All this, and [she is] also a wonderful wife and mother. I am so appreciative to have had Tammy to support my efforts for nearly 40 years.”
Over the years, she has become bedrock for her bank, the community around it, and the financial services industry in the state.
Gibbons is president of the Zonta Club of Longview, the local chapter of an international organization which works to empower women and make the world a better place for women and girls. The local group holds programming around pertinent issues and performs service projects for local organizations. Zonta offers scholarships to high school girls as well as women returning to continue their education. It also awards grants to local nonprofits. Gibbons’ group gives out around $15,000 in scholarships and grants each year; Gibbons and her team make sure that happens through their fundraising efforts.
A favorite initiative is the prom boutique, which collects hundreds of formal dresses for various events and offers them for free on the last Saturday in February each year. “There’s no cost and no criteria to be able to get a dress,” she said. “We just want to give back and bless the community and help make prom night very special for a young lady that might not really have the chance to attend.”
During the pandemic, Gibbons turned her attention to sewing cloth masks. At first, she paid out of pocket for the supplies and handed them out freely to anyone who needed them. As word spread, others donated fabric or money to help cover the cost of her efforts. Gibbons decided to donate the money to a local cause. She made more than 250 masks in the end and gave about $600 to Longview Community Ministries for a food drive.
“I never thought I’d make that many, but when word started spreading and people wanted to pay, I thought what better way to help out than with this small commitment of time and materials,” Gibbons said.
This past September, Gibbons co-chaired the annual conference of Financial Women in Texas for about 150 attendees. The organization, which grew out of the National Association of Bank Women, is dedicated to fostering women in their financial careers. When Gibbons joined the predecessor organization in the 1980s, members were required to be officers, but the mission has evolved to focus on professional development and networking for women at all stages of their careers. Gibbons is eager to see others benefit from the same opportunities she did.
“There are so many things in my career that I wouldn’t be able to do without [FWIT],” Gibbons said. “It takes time and effort, financial commitment, and active involvement, but the rewards, benefits and networking gained are priceless.”
Gibbons never did leave Spring Hill State Bank to pursue her college degree, but that hasn’t stopped her from building on a lifetime of learning to achieve success. She’s passionate about seeing those around succeed in similar ways while fostering a network of team players.
“No matter how independent you may be there are others watching,” she said. “Work to help train them to take your place someday. We will not be here forever, but banking will, and we should work diligently to help prepare the next generation in the banking industry.”