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Photo: Len DormineyLen Dorminey, Darton alum of the class of 1973, was ranked third on Georgia’s CEOs of the Year list. Mr. Dorminey is the current CEO of Heritage Bank of the South, a community-based bank with offices throughout Georgia, Ocala and Lake City, Florida. He also serves as a Trustee of the Darton College Foundation.

Mr. Dorminey has stayed close to his roots. Growing up in southwest Georgia, he decided to attend Darton after graduating from Worth County High School. "Darton was the perfect fit for two reasons: great education and a short commute. Born and raised in Sylvester, I was searching for an opportunity that allowed me to stay close to home but at the same time offered a rewarding experience."

"I was like a lot of students and really did not know what I wanted to do. I planned on majoring in Business Administration but had always a passion for music. Darton was fortunate, at that time, to have F. "Dale" Grable as the head of the Music Department. He was a colorful character and a great leader. He encouraged me to join the "stage" and "concert" band even though I could not read music. It was my most memorable experience at Darton."

His love of music has had a major influence in his life. When he was younger, he played the drums in a rock band and much to his family’s dismay, he had long hair. "If you had seen a picture of me then, I am pretty sure you wouldn't have guessed I would become a banker where most days you will find me behind my desk in a suit."

He still finds time for the drums in his church band from time to time but says, "I don't miss the hair one bit."

His commitment to Darton College, its students, and its tradition of excellence has been steadfast throughout the years as well. During his time as a Trustee of the Darton Foundation, he has watched college enrollment grow from 2,500 to nearly 6,000 students. "With additional student housing and more four year degrees in selected areas of study, Darton is sure to see a steady enrollment increase. Darton already has an outstanding reputation in Allied Health, and there is absolutely no reason why we cannot translate this success into other degree programs. There is no reason why Darton cannot achieve registering 15,000 students within the next 10 years."

Mr. Dorminey is encouraged by the students he sees when visiting the campus for meetings and has some valuable advice for students as they pursue a degree. "Most college freshmen are experiencing a new freedom that they have not had in the past. I would recommend they enjoy this new freedom, the chance to meet new friends and the college experience in general. Be cautious to not lose sight of why you are attending college, and that is to get an education. A disastrous freshman year with low grades is very difficult to overcome and can sometimes keep a student from getting into the major they had hoped to study."

Mr. Dorminey’s enthusiasm for Darton is similar to his enthusiasm in so many areas of his life, including his work and staff at Heritage Bank. As a young man just getting started in the banking industry, he was given a chance to leave it behind and work for another company. He chose to stay where he was because he realized he was moving for all the wrong reasons. "As a loan officer, providing financing for many of these individuals, I saw salaries that were twice what I brought home. Ultimately, I decided to stay put despite the lower salary because I enjoyed what I was doing and I was determined I could work my way up. It took me a number of years to achieve this goal but the hard work paid off. Today, I am the CEO of a successful banking company with a billion dollars in assets but I'm not done. Goals at any age are important."

Questions & Answers With Len Dorminey:

Organizations:

Past President of the United Way, Easter Seals of South Georgia, Dougherty Rotary Club, and the Heart Association. Chaired the Finance Committee at Porterfield United Memorial Methodist Church. Chairman of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce.

What motivates you to be so involved in the community?

"Anytime you can be of service to the community and do your part to help move it forward, it benefits everyone. Those rewards pay out today and future dividends as well."

What organizations do you feel most motivated by?

"The Council on Aging and Ms. Kay Hind, and the Albany Advocacy Resource Center and Annette Bowling. Both of these organizations do tremendous work with limited resources and they both have great ladies at the helm."

What advice would you give to those interested in a career in the financial services industry?

"Join the Army instead."

What advice would you give someone just starting their first job? What are some of the characteristics you look for in an employee?

"It is very important to have a professional appearance, exhibit a good attitude and to learn to work well with others. Leave your problems at home - as hard as that may be at times. I also recommend that you come in early and stay late. You earn your salary from 8-5, but promotions happen before and after that."

What do you want your legacy to be? What do you want people to remember about you?

"I hope to be remembered as a good person who tried to help those we serve whenever possible. Unfortunately, in banking it is impossible to say yes to every request. I've tried to give back to the community. I hope I have made some small contribution that will help our community to move forward in the future."

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