Ashley Cullum, the vice president of business development for Paragon National Bank, has added some new institutions to what’s become a long list of civic groups she works with outside the bank.
A Paragon employee since 2008, in addition to being a wife and mother of two children, Cullum has been appointed to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Mid-South associate board as vice chair and to the Baptist Memorial Health Care pediatrics advisory council board as a member.
It’s emblematic of what Paragon long has encouraged its employees to do in the community. Since its inception, Paragon has provided 40 hours of time each year for all employees to participate with a nonprofit during regular business hours.
During 2011, 68 percent of Paragon’s employees participated in 19 nonprofit organizations. Organizations the bank and its employees have been involved with include the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Shelby Farms Park Conservancy, the Germantown Kiwanis Club, the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Memphis, the Arthritis Foundation and many more.
Beyond Make-A-Wish and the Baptist pediatrics advisory council board, Cullum is an active participant with the Germantown Area Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Memphis Chamber, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the Mid-South Food Bank.
It’s the kind of deep community involvement, with his employees not only helping customers but improving the neighborhoods around where they work, that Paragon CEO Robert Shaw likes to see.
“We’re proud of the work Ashley is doing for both our customers and the community,” Shaw said. “Paragon dedicates a significant amount of time supporting and volunteering for many local organizations, and I’m pleased that our employees share the same passion for philanthropy.”
As an example of that work, earlier this year Paragon worked with Make-A-Wish to grant a 9-year-old child her wish – a complete room makeover. She arrived at Paragon to get a princess dress, accessories and was told she is playing a life-size version of the “Pretty Princess” game, during which she was able to go on a horse carriage ride through the parking lot and sing karaoke.
“It definitely means a lot to be a part of a life-changing experience for a child and their family (with Make-A-Wish Foundation).”
Vice president of business development, Paragon National Bank
Local ownership and focus is part of what Paragon points toward to make itself stand out from the pack. And its community involvement adds another layer to that identity.
When asked why she is involved with Make-A-Wish, Cullum said she’s been involved for as long as she can remember, either as a volunteer or through Paragon.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Mid-South associate board unites young professionals like Cullum to support the foundation via event-based fundraising through the creation of awareness and by helping to share the power of a wish.
“We grant one wish a year at Paragon,” she said. “It’s been awesome to be a part of that and the wish reveal, getting to see the child’s face when they hear that your wish has been granted. It’s just amazing. And now that I’m a mother and have two children, it hits even closer to home.
“It definitely means a lot to be a part of a life-changing experience for a child and their family.”
At Paragon, Cullum is responsible for cultivating and expanding new personal and business relationships on the bank’s behalf, as well as identifying and responding to the needs of customers.
Paragon provides individuals and small to mid-sized businesses and their owners with a package of business and personal banking solutions delivered online and in person.
Cullum said she enjoys being out of the office and out in the community, calling on customers and potential customers, talking to them and letting them know what Paragon can do for them.
“My role is as a business development officer, so what I do is I get to work with all areas of the bank,” Cullum said. “I will meet with whoever is in charge of the finances of a company and talk to them about their banking needs as far as deposits, lending needs, treasury management, payroll, things like that. And we really take a look at that whole portfolio to see what we can do for them and whether or not it’s a good fit for Paragon.
“I joined the bank because my background has always been in either outside sales or in the financial arena. And when I got the opportunity to join Paragon, it was a merging of both of those fields together.”