One of Us

Jenny McKeithen

Posted

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

I was born in raised in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, a small town in Southeast Arkansas. Graduated from Boyce College in Louisville, Kentucky, with a bachelor of science in missions, evangelism, and church growth. Once I graduated, I started my banking career in Louisville in 2007. I transferred with my career to Jacksonville in December of 2009, moved to Ponte Vedra Beach in 2011, where I am presently raising my two beautiful daughters (6 and 3).  I am still a banker by trade and work for First Citizens Bank in Ponte Vedra as a vice president, and a small business banker and branch manager. There are many things I have learned in my 14-year career as a banker; however, one of the most valuable lessons is that I have to get to know my community and its needs in order for me to know how to help the business owners I work with on a daily basis. I know that this is the community God has put me to serve, and I believe that if I continue to seek the best for my community, it will succeed. And it is amazing to live, work and play in a community that is succeeding. My community involvement includes the following roles:  chair for the Beaches Division of the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce where I also serve on the Community Involvement Committee and Membership Committee.; board member for the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce and on the Jacksonville Chamber Ribbon Cutting Committee; ambassador for the Ponte Vedra Division of the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce; and board member for the Jacksonville Beach Deck the Chairs. 

How did you get involved with The First Coast Dancing with the Stars & The Beaches Fine Arts Series organization and how long have you been a part of it?

This is my first year to be involved with this organization and event. I got involved in the First Coast Dancing with the Stars for the benefit of The Beaches Fine Arts Organization because a previous “Star” Susan Johnson (also in Ponte Vedra) asked me. Many years ago, Susan and I were in the same networking group, reconnected several months ago, and she said she had been waiting for the right person to ask. When we reconnected, she knew it was supposed to be me. When she asked me, I took a few days to pray about it and do my research on the Beaches Fine Arts organization because I did not know anything about them. I did my research on the organization, and I was really impressed with their mission and what they do for our Beaches community and didn’t even know about them. 

What do you enjoy most about it? Or what is the most fulfilling part of working with these organizations?

What I enjoy the most is this process has made me face my fear of failure. My best friend challenged me by asking why I wouldn’t do it. The only reason that I wouldn’t do this event for BFAS was my fear of failure. What if I didn’t raise enough money? What if I can’t learn to dance with a dancing partner? Once I realized that the only reason I was not going to agree to participate was because I was scared to fail, I said yes to the event, because I am so tired of fear ruling my life instead my faith in God and the purpose He gave me. And it has been amazing ever since I said yes. I have an amazing support system with family and friends and my community, that I didn’t even know I had. My dancing “pro,” Allan Alday with Dance Alday Studio, has been so patient with me, and we have laughed a lot…we say it is therapy for me too! And the most fulfilling part, because actually facing my fears and beating them is that I am still helping my local community organization serve my community!  It creates such a win, win, win!

What are the primary goals of the organization?

Beaches Fine Arts Series Mission Statement: To enrich our communities by sharing the transforming
power of music and art, free to all.

How has it been going since on the campaign to win the “Mirror Ball Trophy”?

Overall, it has been really fun! Fun to dance and fun to have my community and support system rally around me for a good cause! I forgot how much I missed dancing. I started when I was 5, and my year of college I was a dance major, and I haven’t danced since. So I love dancing again! As Alan continues to remind me, ballroom dancing is different than group tap, jazz and ballet, and he is so right. And for my community, it has been fun telling them what I am doing, and they are so proud of me, and so many of them had no idea about BFAS and now their eyes are open like mine. The biggest challenge is raising the money, I don’t like asking people for money, so I challenged myself it is not about asking for money, but about supporting a really great local organization! Which, anyone can still help BFAS by voting for me! 

Tell us a little more about your role as the VP of First Citizens Bank and what make you want to hold this position in the company.

My role as VP of First Citizens Bank is to help business owners navigate their business through the banking system and use it to their advantage. I like to say there is a huge difference between “banking sense” and “common sense.” I see myself as a liaison between those two concepts. I want to hold this position because I love seeing business owners come to me with a dilemma or goal and they can’t figure out how to make it work. We come up with a plan together, and watch it come to fruition. Usually, this plan involves growing their business, which means hiring more people, which puts more people to work in our community! Making our community grow and succeed is so rewarding! I never thought I would be in banking, I started in banking because I love working with people face to face, and I really wanted “regular” hours. Before I started a banking career, I called my “bonus” dad and asked him, “How do you work for a company you don’t believe in?” His answer was very simple, “You don’t.” So I had to figure out what I valued the most, which is serving people face to face daily, and make sure I have time with my family. Banking fit both of those, I valued working with people and helping them, and banking has regular hours, and paid time off for all the federal banking holidays. I was hooked on banking my first day when I started as a teller. I had no idea that you could make someone’s day or even week, by smiling at them, and being kind to them just in a two-minute interaction. My teller career grew very quickly into a branch manager role and business banker. In banking, every day is different, whether it is federal regulation changes, the clients we interact with daily, and the team members I have the privilege of coaching every day. Every Day is like opening a Christmas present, we never know what we are getting that day until we unwrap the presents/open the doors every day!

What do you enjoy most about living in the North Florida area?

The beach! Growing up in Arkansas, my dream was to live at a beach! I am living my dream by living at the beach in North Florida!

What do you like to do in your free time?

Beach time, stand up paddleboarding with my daughters and friends, riding my beach cruiser, and lifting weights and running!

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