From Teller to CEO


Collierville Chamber’s Women’s Leadership Network Hears Dawn Graeter’s Moving Remarks and Personal Story

A sold-out crowd welcomed guest speaker Dawn Graeter, President and CEO of Southern Security Federal Credit Union, to the Collierville Chamber of Commerce’s monthly Women’s Leadership Network on October 15 at The Venue at TMS (Thomas Meat and Seafood).

Prior to Graeter’s remarks, Collierville Chamber President Mark Heuberger, introduced the Chamber’s new Marketing, Communications and Digital Media Coordinator. Holly Bonner, who comes from the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce, will be responsible for helping to grow and promote member businesses in the region.

Heuburger commented that the crowd’s participation was evidence of the community’s willingness and desire to move back into business and engage in networking opportunities following the summer lull due to COVID. Looking at the crowd he stated, “This is what it’s all about.”

Lauren Brown, Marketing Director of Southern Security Federal Credit Union, had the privilege of introducing her “friend, mentor and boss” Dawn Graeter to the crowd.

Graeter’s moving talk featured a story about how her career path led her to Southern Security. She recounted how an early and very traumatic experience of assault during her high school years had propelled her to a personal and professional philosophy of stepping past hardship and refusing to allow such a horrific event to define her. It would be a common thread throughout her talk.

Graeter took the crowd from her first job at age 14 at Rick’s Printing and Office Supplies in her hometown of Millington into her first banking job as a teller at Tennessee Bank and Trust, where she fell in love with banking (while she attended the University of Memphis as an accounting major) and onto her climb up the ladder of the banking industry. Speaking about each significant step along the way, Graeter gave credit to those who had mentored her and called attention to the need to learn continually from both the good and bad examples of management. Learning about the importance of trust and “wanting your boss to have your back” was a lesson that she has incorporated into her own leadership style.

She encouraged the audience to learn basic elements of what it means to be a good leader. “Lead with passion. Lead with integrity. Lead with grace. Finally, be a servant.” Throughout her comments, Graeter stressed the importance of service, through participation in community organizations and boards in which attendees have a particular passion.

In her concluding comments, Graeter suggested that the women in attendance must believe in themselves and not to allow others to define them. She encouraged attendees to develop a “vision of the world that does not exist and learn to communicate clearly that vision.”

Graeter has been the recipient of countless awards and was recognized as the 2018 Distinguished Aluma of the Fogelman College of Business at the University of Memphis.

Visit here to learn more about Southern Security Federal Credit Union.

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