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Little Rock, Ark. – Southern Bancorp Inc., the holding company for Southern Bancorp Bank, one of the nation’s largest rural development banks, today announced that Christopher M. Wewers has joined its executive leadership team as chief financial officer. Wewers succeeds former CFO Robert Cern, who retired in 2014, and former board member and interim CFO Daniel Koehler who served in the position during an extensive national search. Wewers recently served as Executive Vice President and COO of Bear State Bank, and prior to that served as President and CEO of First Federal Bank, located in Harrison, Ark. Wewers also previously served as CFO of Summit Bank in Arkadelphia, Ark.

“I’m excited to welcome Chris to the Southern Bancorp family,” said Darrin Williams, CEO of Southern Bancorp, Inc. “He brings to the position an impressive record of strong financial leadership, a history of serving small communities in our markets and an energetic attitude that will serve Southern well as we continue to grow our mission-focused brand of financial services.”

Wewers began his banking career at Merchants & Planters Bank in Arkadelphia in 1992. In 1998, he left to join Community Bank of North Arkansas before returning to Arkadelphia to join Summit Bank in 2001, where he served as executive vice president and chief financial officer. In 2011, Wewers joined First Federal Bancshares of Arkansas Inc., the holding company of First Federal Bank in Harrison, as executive vice president and chief operating officer before being named president and CEO in 2013. After First Federal Bank was merged by Bear State Financial, Wewers was named executive vice president of Bear State Bank.

“I’m excited about joining the great team at Southern Bancorp,” said Wewers. “I look forward to working with the executive leadership team, the board of directors and the rest of the Southern organization as we build communities and change lives.”

A Hope, Ark. native, Wewers is a 1992 summa cum laude graduate of Henderson State University in Arkadelphia. He earned his MBA from the University of Arkansas in 1995 and was named an Outstanding Graduate. In 2006, he was named to Arkansas Business’ 40 Under 40 Class, in 2010, he was named Arkansas Business’ CFO of the Year, and in 2014, was named to Henderson State University’s Business Hall of Fame. Chris and his wife Debra have two children, Ashley, 20 and Stephen, 17.

“With his extensive experience working with strong community banks, many of which were located in Southern’s home community of Arkadelphia, I’m confident that Chris will feel right at home and do an excellent job in this new role,” said Glen Jones, Southern Bancorp, Inc.’s Board Chairman. “I look forward to him helping grow Southern’s mission to increase economic opportunity in communities across the mid-South.”

Southern Bancorp, Inc., a bank holding company; Southern Bancorp Community Partners, a development finance and lending organization; and Southern Bancorp Bank, one of America’s largest rural development banks were founded in 1986 by then Governor Bill Clinton, Walmart Chair Rob Walton, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and others who were concerned about the economic decline of rural Arkansas. All three entities are U.S. Treasury certified Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) collectively known as “Southern.” With $1.1 billion in assets, 80,000 customers at its 39 branches in Arkansas and Mississippi, Southern invests in people and businesses in rural communities; empowers them to improve their lives; and helps them transform their communities.
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