By LISA BICKNELL
CV&T News Editor
Photo by Lisa Bicknell
Kathy Samples grew up in the Cobb Hill area. She attended a one room school for seven years and says she never dreamed she would become president of a bank one day.
Never in her wildest dreams did the girl raised on Cobb Hill ever imagine that one day she would be the Chief Executive Officer of a bank.
Kathy Samples began working for the Citizen Guaranty Bank in the bookkeeping department in December of 1977, nearly 41 years ago. After “two or three” years, she started on the teller line where, one day a week, she would pay the bank’s bills.
“That’s a huge job now,” Kathy said.
In those days, everything was done by hand. She still remembers the account number of one of her earliest frequent customers. She recalls the process of making a house payment in the early days of her career. The teller had to go to the vault, get the ledger, calculate the interest and take the payment.
“When we got our first computer, we were thrilled,” said Kathy.
In 1982, Kathy became branch manager of the West Irvine branch of the CGB.
In July of 1985, she was hired as a junior loan officer, and in September of that year, she completed consumer lending school in Ann Arbor, MI.
She experienced her first plane ride on the trip to Michigan for that training.
“I was scared to death,” said Samples. She kept thinking of a disastrous Delta plane crash that happened earlier in that year.
Kathy worked as a lender, or loan officer, for about 12 years. Six of those years she was doing double duty as the human resources director, responsible for maintaining benefits and salaries, the performance review program, screening applicants and assisting in the hiring process.
In 1995, she graduated from the Louisiana State University School of Banking, after three years of course work, completed while she worked as a loan officer and human resources director.
Kathy was promoted to Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President in 1998. She assisted with the re-organization of the bank in 2001.
In 2002, Kathy became President of the CGB, where she took on the even greater responsibility of overseeing bank operations.
After the death of CEO John M. St. Clair in 2008, Kathy was appointed Chief Executive Officer, where she is responsible for the administration of programs and services of the bank, and reports to the board of directors. The bank now has six locations.
Kathy continues in that position, and just this year was appointed the chairperson of the board of directors.
She also sits on the boards of several prominent organizations, including serving as chair of the Banker’s Bank of Kentucky. She has served as a board member of Hospice Care Plus, is past treasurer of Leadership Leap, and is a member of the Irvine-Ravenna Kiwanis Club.
So, how did a girl raised in a holler become so successful?
She attended a one room school through the seventh grade at Cobb Hill and graduated from Estill County High School in 1972.
Kathy considers her mother as her most important mentor. Ann Patrick Rogers was the postmaster at Cobb Hill, where she also ran a small general store.
She learned the value of looking out for the community by watching her mother deliver milk or baby aspirin to someone in need who might not have transportation.
She learned to do business fairly by watching her mom treat all her customers the same, whether they were family or not.
It was her mother who encouraged her to apply for a job at the bank in the first place. Kathy was working as an aide at the nursing home with plans for becoming a nurse, when her mom talked her into applying for a job at the bank so she wouldn’t have to be out at night.
She was hired by Curtis Davis, and a lifelong career blossomed.
Kathy has always been an eager learner. When she was growing up, her family didn’t have a TV, but they listened to a lot of programs on the radio, and Kathy learned to love to read.
“I love books,” she said. “I’ve got tons of books.”
Not only does she read novels, but she enjoys reading about history and the autobiographies of famous people. She’s a bit of a political junkie and loves watching presidential inaugurations.
She’s a big fan of leadership books, particularly those by Jim Collins.
Cowboy Ethics, by James Owens, is one of her favorite books, and the bank has used it in training sessions.
“I’ve even read it to my grandkids,” she said.
She also abides by the philosophy that employees should be considered assets and not a liability.
“Train them well, and appreciate them,” she said.
While her mother and previous co-workers and employers have all shaped her life, she also has a celebrity role model.
Kathy is a big fan of Dolly Parton and has seen her in concert several times. But it’s not just her music she admires. She considers Dolly “a genuine person-maybe not in her looks, but in her heart,” and she loves how Dolly is generous and eager to give back to her community.
In her spare time, Kathy enjoys cooking and traveling. She and her husband recently returned from “a trip of a lifetime” to Alaska. The experience was very humbling, she says, to see towns with only a few hundred residents thriving.
Kathy and her husband Charles were married when he was 19, and she was 17, and they have been married for 46 years. They have a son Jason. He and his wife Judy have four children, Chyna, Piper, Gryphon and Kanyon.