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First Reliance Bank has hired Christina Johnson as vice president and branch manager for its Mount Pleasant branch. In this new role, Johnson will oversee the day-to-day client services and branch operations at 800 South Shelmore Boulevard.

“We are excited to welcome Christina and have her expertise leading our Mount Pleasant branch,” said Rick Saunders, CEO of First Reliance Bank. “She’s an experienced manager and will help continue delivering our exceptional customer experience to our clients in the Lowcountry.”

Johnson comes to First Reliance with six years of experience in commercial banking, most recently as a financial services representative at a community bank. She received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Francis Marion University.

First Reliance Bank announced today the appointment of Octavia Williams-Blake to its Board of Directors beginning June.

“Octavia’s experience and passion aligns with our number one focus – keeping the communities we serve at the forefront of everything we do,” said Rick Saunders, CEO of First Reliance Bank. “She has spent her career focused on improving the lives of our neighbors in Florence and we’re thrilled to have her expertise guide our work.”

Williams-Blake is a well-known community leader in Florence. She served three terms as an at-large City Council member in Florence from 2008-2020 and was the first African American elected at large and the first female elected since 1953. She also served as president of the Municipal Association of South Carolina from 2018-2019.

For nearly two decades she has worked at McLeod Health, the healthcare system that services more than one million people from the Midlands to ...

First Reliance Bank has hired Brian Rogers as senior vice president and market president, Greenville. Rogers will be responsible for overseeing all lines of business, including personal banking, business banking, investments, and business development.

“Brian is a veteran in the commercial banking industry, and we’re pleased to have his experience and expertise lead our Greenville market,” said Rick Saunders, CEO of First Reliance Bank. “He has built strong relationships in the Upstate over the course of his career and I look to him to drive our priorities and focus in the market.”

Rogers has spent nearly all of this three decades in commercial banking in Greenville, over half of which he was the market president for the largest bank in Upstate SC. Rogers earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Clemson University. He is actively involved in the community and currently serves on the boards of the Greenville Metro YMCA ...

First Reliance Bank has hired Suzanne Hill as senior vice president and market president, Winston-Salem. Hill will be responsible for overseeing all lines of business, including personal banking, business banking, investments, mortgage banking and business development.

“Suzanne’s experience aligns with our strategic priorities and our focus on positioning the bank for transformational growth across the Carolinas,” said Rick Saunders, CEO of First Reliance Bank, based in Florence, S.C.

Hill has nearly 15 years of commercial banking experience, most recently serving as market president for a commercial bank in North Carolina. She received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Appalachian State University and will graduate from Louisiana State University’s Graduate School of Banking in June 2021. Hill is a 2015 Leadership Winston-Salem graduate, she currently serves on the boards of Korner’s Folly Foundation and Kernersville YMCA and is the director of community service for the Kernersville Rotary Club.

“First ...

Rick Saunders, CEO of First Reliance Bank based in Florence, has joined the Advisory Board for the Florence County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) Foundation.

“This Foundation will help equip the Florence County Sheriff’s Office with additional resources to carry out their duty to protect and serve our community,” said Saunders. “I look forward to working with my fellow board members to support this important effort.”

The newly formed foundation’s funds will be used to provide life-saving equipment and to help deputies and their families in the case of an emergency. The foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit in partnership with the Eastern Carolina Community Foundation.

In 1999, with 19 years of banking experience, Saunders founded First Reliance Bank, which has since grown to nearly $775 million in assets. First Reliance employs 178 associates with branches in Florence, West Columbia, Lexington, Columbia, Mount Pleasant, Downtown Greenville, Taylors, Simpsonville, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. ...

First Reliance Bank, a community bank located in Florence, S.C., today announced the formation of a new board of trusted advisors in Charleston. The Charleston Local Advisory Board is comprised of members representative of the business community in Charleston whose focus will be to help drive the bank’s priorities in the Lowcountry. This formation is part of First Reliance Bank’s larger growth strategy across the state.

The board is chaired by Heather Aydlette, whose more than 20 years of experience in private and public accounting as a business advisor, accountant and auditor, well positions her to lead the board and guide the bank with strategic planning in a priority market.

“We are fortunate to have the expertise of the Charleston Local Advisory Board members advise our strategy as we seek to grow our presence in the market,” said Frank Bullard, Charleston market president for First Reliance Bank. “They will act ...

Veteran leader joins to manage bank’s employee relations and recruitment

Leslie Chaplin has joined First Reliance Bank as executive vice president, director of human resources. Based in Columbia, S.C., Chaplin will oversee the human resources department across the bank’s footprint in South and North Carolina, including managing recruitment, employee relations, benefits administration, training, payroll and compliance.

“Leslie’s extensive experience in human resources in the financial sector will be invaluable to our teams across the Carolinas,” said Rick Saunders, CEO of First Reliance Bank. “She will lead the effort to build on the bank’s plan for transformational growth and help us recruit and retain the best talent for our customers.”

Chaplin brings nearly 25 years of experience providing human resource management in the financial industry. She is well-versed in employee relations and training and will work to streamline benefit administration and negotiations. She received her bachelor’s degree and a Master of ...

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