Southern States Bancshares, the holding company for Southern States Bank, appointed Mark Chambers CEO, succeeding retiring CEO and founder Stephen Whatley.
Whatley also retired from his positions as chairman of the company’s board of directors and chairman of the bank’s board of directors. His successor on each board is J. Henry Smith, IV, who previously served as lead director. For more than 20 years, Smith has served as president of Interstate Sheet Metal, a metal components fabrication company specializing in parts fabrication for original equipment manufacturers around the United States.
“Founding and leading Southern States for nearly two decades has been the highlight of my career, but after careful consideration, I am ready to enjoy retirement,” Whatley said. “I have the utmost confidence that the bank will continue to thrive with Mark leading our strong management team along with the expertise we have on the board of directors.”
The leadership change is part of the company’s succession plan. In addition to serving as president of both the company and the bank since 2019, Chambers was appointed CEO of the bank in March 2022. From 2007 until 2019, he served as senior executive vice president and president of the bank’s Southeast region. Prior to joining Southern States, Chambers worked as a market president at Wachovia Bank from 2004 until 2007 and as a commercial lender at Aliant Bank from 1998 until 2004.
“Mark is a proven banker and veteran leader with a long history of delivering for customers, stockholders, employees and communities,” Smith said. “We are very confident that he will continue to drive strong results and position Southern States for ongoing success.”
“It’s an honor to succeed our founder and long-time CEO and I am excited to further build upon the strong foundation and standout team that Southern States established under Steve’s 16 years at the helm of our company,” Chambers said. “We have a deep bench of leadership talent across some of the most vibrant markets in the South, and together, we are committed to disciplined growth and further strengthening of our franchise value.”
Whatley served as Southern States CEO since 2007 and chairman of the board of directors since 2014 and worked in the banking industry since 1973.
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