About First Freedom Bank
Our People | Board of Directors
John Lancaster, Chairman, Chief Executive OfficerA banker who knows you is a banker who understands your needs, your dreams, your grand plans. That's what it means to be a community bank, a bank that's fully invested in the growth and prosperity of this community.
John R. Lancaster is a native of Lebanon, Tennessee, and the President and Chief Executive Officer of First Freedom Bank, a community bank headquartered in Wilson County.
Lancaster was instrumental in organizing a group of investors to form First Freedom and has served as President, CEO and Director of First Freedom since the bank's inception in 2006. Prior to the organization of First Freedom, he served as Wilson County Chairman with SunTrust Bank / National Bank of Commerce.
Lancaster graduated from Castle Heights Military Academy in Lebanon. He continued his education at The University of Tennessee - Knoxville where he received his B.S. in Business Administration, with honors. He obtained his MBA from Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, Tennessee. Additionally, Lancaster is an alumnus of The Graduate School of Banking of the South at Louisiana State University, the Tennessee Commercial Lending School and the Southeastern School of Advanced Commercial Lending, both at Vanderbilt University.
Active in community affairs, Lancaster has served as Board Chairman and Campaign Chairman for United Way of Wilson County and a board member of the United Ways of Middle Tennessee. He has served as chairman of the Lebanon Wilson County Chamber of Commerce, chairman of the Greater Lebanon Regional Planning Commission, president of Main Street Lebanon, Inc., president of the Wilson County Adult Reading Council, and as an instructor for Junior Achievement through Lebanon High School for a number of years.
A graduate of Leadership Wilson, Lancaster has also served on the board of the Wilson County Heart Association, the Joint Economic and Community Development Board of Wilson County and the Board of the Independent Bankers Division of the Tennessee Bankers Association. He currently serves on the Board of Financial Products & Services, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of the Tennessee Bankers Association.
Lancaster has been named a Power Leader in Banking by the Nashville Business Journal. He is also a recipient of the Wilson County Impact Award, which honors citizens who are leading the charge for improvements and economic development in Wilson County.
He and his wife, Penny, have been married for 25 years and have two adult sons. They are members of the First United Methodist Church in Lebanon.
John Bradshaw, President and Chief Operating OfficerLoan-to-value ratios. Annual percentage rates. FDIC regulations. It's a good thing John Bradshaw has a handle on all the technicalities of the banking business. But banking, in the end, isn't about numbers. It's about relationships-people helping people.
You look to your banker when you are taking some of the biggest steps of your life: when you're buying a house, starting a business, sending the kids to college, thinking about retirement. Aren't you glad there are bankers like John Bradshaw, who understand that banking is more about relationships, not just rates and ratios? John Bradshaw is helping make First Freedom a different kind of bank.
John H. Bradshaw has over twenty-five years of experience in all aspects of banking. He was previously employed as Senior Vice-President of First Tennessee Bank, N.A. in Lebanon, Tennessee and headed the commercial lending and business development in Wilson County. A lifelong resident of Lebanon, he graduated from Castle Heights Military Academy and received his Bachelor of Science degree in finance at the University of Tennessee. Additionally, he earned his Masters of Business Administration from Cumberland University. He is a graduate of the Louisiana State University School of Banking and the Tennessee Commercial School of Banking at Vanderbilt University. Mr. Bradshaw has worked with Middle Tennessee Junior Achievement as an adult leader/teacher with students at Lebanon High School. He graduated from the inaugural class of Leadership Wilson in 1994. He is currently the Chairman of the Board for the Lebanon/Wilson County Chamber of Commerce and serves on the Health and Education Board of Wilson County. Mr. Bradshaw served on the board of trust for Summit Hospital and is a member of the Lebanon Rotary Club. He is a past board member of the American Heart Association, the Empower Me Day Camp, and Leadership Wilson Alumni Board. He was also actively involved with the Boy Scouts of America and has coached baseball in Lebanon. Mr. Bradshaw and his wife Karen have been married for over twenty-five years and have three children. They are active members of the First United Methodist Church in Lebanon.
Ken Howell, Chairman EmeritusAfter 40 years in banking and 10 years leading First Freedom Bank as Chairman, Ken Howell announced his retirement this year. Ken will continue to serve on the board of directors of First Freedom Bank as Chairman Emeritus. Ken has been a leader in business and a major contributor to the community. His vision and leadership has been instrumental in the bank and community growth. A community bank, after all, is vital to community growth. That's why vision is so important in the community banking business. Our vision makes First Freedom a different kind of bank.
Kenneth C. Howell graduated from Columbia Central High School in Columbia, Tennessee and earned the Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and Mathematics from Middle Tennessee State University in 1972. He attended Stonier Graduate School of Banking at Rutgers University, the National Commerce Lending School at the University of Oklahoma. He was employed by Commerce Union Bank from 1972-1984 in various lending and management positions in the bank's Nashville, Springfield and Lebanon locations, being promoted to vice-president. He worked the Humana Hospital Corporation in public relations and physician recruitment and later in private business as a series 7 licensed broker in the securities industry from 1984-1987. He joined Peoples Bank of Lebanon (later Third National Bank) in 1987 as executive vice president and as a member of the board of directors.
Mr. Howell was the Wilson County Regional President for First American National Bank from 1988-1992, a position that included being project manager for the new office in Lebanon. He joined First Tennessee National Bank in 1992 as executive vice president and commercial sales manager and later as regional president for Wilson County (1997-2002), a position that included the project management for the replacement of an old office in Lebanon with a new facility for the bank. He is the past president and member of the board of directors of Lebanon/ Wilson County Chamber of Commerce.
In 1995 he founded the Wilson County Business and Education Coalition, Inc., a non-profit teacher grant program of the Chamber of Commerce. He was elected a lifetime member #23 of the Lebanon/Wilson County Chamber of Commerce in 1998 and was one of the founding members of the Business Resource Center for the Chamber. Mr. Howell is a past charter member of the Rotary Club in Mt Juliet, Tennessee and a past member of the board of directors of the Middle Tennessee Heart Association. He is past president and member of the board of directors of the Wilson County United Way of Middle Tennessee. He is past president and member of the board of directors of Prospect, Inc., a member of the Wilson County Fair Board; and an honorary member of the Delta Mu Delta National Honor Society at Cumberland University. He is a member of the First United Methodist Church in Lebanon.
Mr. Howell and his wife, Mallory, have been married 47 years and have three sons and two grandchildren.
Veronica Bender, Principal, Friendship ChristianNobody has invested more in young people than Veronica Bender. In more than forty years as a beloved teacher and principal, she has touched thousands of lives and earned the respect and trust of everyone who knows her. So when it came time to form the board for First Freedom Bank, Mrs. Bender was an obvious fit. Like Veronica Bender, First Freedom Bank exists to touch lives, to earn your trust.
Veronica Rochell Bender earned a Bachelor's degree in Business Education with an emphasis in accounting from Tennessee State University in 1973. In 1985 she received a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction and a +45 in Administration and Supervision 1987, both degrees from Trevecca University in Nashville, Tennessee. During the past 43 years Mrs. Bender has been a teacher for grades 3 and 4 at West Elementary School; has been the assistant principal at Mt. Juliet Junior High; interim principal at Stoner Creek Elemntary; and opened W.A. Wright Elementary School in 1991. Upon completing her 30 years of service in the Wilso County School System, Mrs. Bender retired in July 2003 and became the Middle School Principal for Friendship Christian School. In 2008 Mrs. Bender became the principal of both the High School and the Middle School for Friendship Christian School. Mrs. Bender has served on numerous community boards and commitees, including the advisory boards for Wilson Bank & Trust and the University Medical Center. She was a member of the Chamber of Commerce, The Board of Directors for Summit Hospital, Wilson County Restoration. Buddies of Lebanon, the Economic Development Board, the Wilson County Sports Council, and is a graduate of Leadership Wilson. She is on the Summit High School Board and the 911 Board. She was honored by the Nashville Tennessean as Tennessee Principal of the Year in 1997. She served as one of the six textbook commissioners for the state of Tennessee until she retired. She was instrumental in piloting the Modified School Program for the Wilson County School System. Mrs. Bender and husband Larry have been married for fourty-two years and have one daughter, Joy, a son in law, Shawn, and one grandson, Elijah. They are members of Lake Providence Baptist Church.
Jackie Gaither, Cumberland Real Estate
As past president of both the Mt. Juliet/West Wilson County Chamber of Commerce and the Lebanon/Wilson County Chamber of Commerce, Jackie Gaither has his finger on the pulse of the business community. He understands that small business is a big deal in vibrant communities like ours. Small business, after all, creates eighty percent of all new jobs in America.
First Freedom Bank is committed to the growth of small business. With leaders like Jackie Gaither, how could it not be? That makes First Freedom a different kind of bank.
Jackie Gaither is the co-owner and affiliate broker of Cumberland Real Estate and co-owner of G Team Property Management. Born in Muncie, Indiana, he is a 1973 graduate of Dekalb County High School in Smithville, Tennessee and moved to Lebanon Tennessee in 1976. Mr. Gaither has been an active leader in Wilson County, presiding in 1992 as the president of the Mt. Juliet/ West Wilson County Chamber of Commerce. He was also the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce Chairman in 1998. He has a deep understanding of the pulse of the business community in Wilson County. Mr. Gaither was awarded the Decade Lifetime award in sales in Real Estate, the highest award given. He is an alumnus of the second Leadership Wilson class and is active in the Adam's Avenue Church of Christ. He and his wife Malinda (Beal), have been married for 41 years and have one son, Travis.
Ricky Haskins, Owner, Lebanon Chemical
A newborn calf doesn't look like it's going to amount to much. But with care and nurture and some time, that shaky-legged calf becomes a strong, productive cow. Ricky Haskins knows all about starting with something small and growing it into something big. It takes patience, hard work, and commitment if you're going to succeed in cattle farming. Or business. Or banking.
To see the potential in a calf or a seed, to know how much it contains, if only someone is there to nurture it. That's the farmer's view of the world. It's what Ricky Haskins sees when he looks at First Freedom Bank. More than that, it's what he sees when he looks at the people First Freedom serves. That kind of vision sets this bank apart. Come Experience the difference.
Randy Laine, Engineer, TTL
A builder always has an eye to the future. No short-term thinking will do. No quick fixes. No half measures. If you want to build a structure that will stand the test of time, you'd better learn to see the big picture and pay attention to the little details too. In a career as a builder and engineer, Randy Laine has learned to think for the long haul.
Randy Laine has worked in the field of Civil Engineering and Development for over 37 years. He is currently the Regional Leader for the Civil Engineering Division at TTL, Inc. Mr. Laine is a licensed Civil Engineer in the State of Tennessee. He is a graduate of Lebanon High School in 1977 and a 1982 graduate of Tennessee Technological University, Cookeville, Tennessee, from which he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering with a minor in mathematics. Mr. Laine served as Secretary/ Treasurer of the Wilson County Homebuilders Association for several years. He is a member of Westland United Methodist Church. Mr. Laine has also performed in several plays with Stagestruck Productions, a local theatre group. Mr. Laine and his wife, Luanne (Crook) have been married 37 years and have two sons. They are lifelong residents of Wilson County.
Judd Sellars, Owner, Sellars Funeral Home
Judd Sellars has been taking care of families for a long time. In the funeral home business, you learn how to listen to people's needs. And when you're dealing with people in their hour of greatest need, you can hardly help but focus on what matters most- not possessions, but people.
Hardie V. Sorrels III, M.D.
Dr. Hardie V. Sorrels could have gone anywhere after he finished medical school. But he chose to come back to his hometown. This is where his roots are. Physician, husband, father to four boys, Scoutmaster, baseball coach- Dr. Sorrels knows what it means to be a part of a community.
That kind of community focus makes Dr. Sorrels a perfect fit for First Freedom Bank. That kind of community focus makes First Freedom a different kind of bank.
Robert C. Woods, M.D., Cardiologist, St. Thomas Heart
The heart sits right in the middle of a person, pumping the lifeblood that keeps the body functioning- fresh, life-giving oxygen to fuel everything else the body does. When Dr. Rob Woods looks at a human heart, he sees more than a muscle; he sees vitality, strength, human potential.
A local bank is a little like a heart. It keeps fresh capital flowing to fuel the other things a community does- business loans to fuel new business enterprises, home loans to help families put down roots, savings accounts to give people long-term stability. Maybe that's why there's a cardiologist among the organizers of First Freedom Bank.