Pinnacle honors Memphis community banking giant Herman Strickland by expanding services

A new Pinnacle Financial Partners building is seen at 155 Rozelle along Union Avenue, July 10, 2019.
A new Pinnacle Financial Partners building is seen at 155 Rozelle along Union Avenue, July 10, 2019.

Pinnacle Financial Partners on Friday announced a $15,000 donation to the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute and the expansion of its services in Whitehaven with the creation of a Pinnacle Economic Empowerment Resource Center.

Pinnacle said it made the donation and expanded services were in honor of Herman Strickland, a veteran Memphis community banking and civic leader who died two years ago at age 60.

Strickland served as a senior vice president and senior credit officer for Pinnacle in Memphis. Before joining Nashville-based Pinnacle, Strickland spent 34 years at First Tennessee Bank (now First Horizon) in Memphis, where he led its diversity banking group.

During his time with Pinnacle, Strickland helped grow the bank's community-lending work and helped to establish community lending offices in Whitehaven.

"Because of his efforts, he has helped us establish a very good track record with helping those individuals," said Steve Swain, community lending manager for Pinnacle and a board member at the Hooks Institute.

Herman Strickland
Herman Strickland

In tribute to Strickland's legacy, Pinnacle will expand its services in Whitehaven and establish a Pinnacle Economic Empowerment Resource Center in the area, a resource Swain said will "be like no other" and will aim to improve on financial literacy, small business support and affordable housing in the area.

"It's just another hub, just another resource, some of the organization we're working with, they do some of those things as well, but I think when a bank steps in and says 'hey we're also going to provide our physical building because we want the learning center to be where they can come in to do training,' they can have events, they have staff meetings and things of that nature," Swain said. "So we're open to all of that. We believe this is the right thing to do."

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An official announcement regarding the resource center will come later this year.

Strickland was also a board member at the Hooks Institute. The Hooks Institute is an interdisciplinary center at the University of Memphis that works to teach, study and promote civil rights and social change. Strickland joined the board in 2010.

"And Herman assumed the role of fundraising chair, so if any of you know anything about non-profits, you know that nobody wants to be fundraising chair. But he did, and he did an excellent job with it," said Daphene McFerren, Hooks Institute executive director. "And because it was the beginning of my tenure, and the Hooks Institute had no programming when I started, Herman and that core board, were responsible for the creation of many of the Hook Institute programs that are signature programs that you hear about."

The programs Strickland helped create include the Hooks Foundations partnership with Splash Mid-South, a program aimed at providing swim lessons for undeserved at-risk youth in the Memphis Area.

"That money that Herman got from corporations, and from other entities, and that he donated from his own family's personal resources helped Hook's Institute to do the research for those programs," McFerren said.

As of 2021, McFerren said, 8,000 students have gone through the Splash Mid-South program.

Strickland also helped support the Hooks African American Male Initiative, a program that works to eliminate disparities among African American male students attending the University of Memphis.

"We started that program in 2015, we got our first grant from the Tennessee Board of Regents in 2016, but that money only lasted for one year, and I told Herman, 'we've got to raise money in the private sector, because it's privately funded, to keep HAAMI alive," McFerren said. "The first corporate donation that we received, Herman Strickland got. And the HAAMI program is now in its seventh year."

"The only way to uplift Memphis is through programs like these," McFerren said. "Because when we uplift people and make them realize their potential so they can access the opportunities institutions like Pinnacle offer."

Gina Butkovich covers DeSoto County, storytelling and general news. She can be reached at 901-232-6714 or on Twitter @gigibutko.

This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Pinnacle donating $15,000 to the Hooks Institute in honor of Strickland