Alumni Spotlight-Keith Mitchell
In this edition of The Communicator we're excited
to debut the first installment of a regular feature. Each
month we'll profile a GSD alum who has exemplified the
District's commitment to excellence. Grenada educators
equip men and women to be bellwethers in life, architects
in building a more just, thoughtful, and humane world.
We could easily fill each edition with examples of Charger
graduates who have achieved extraordinary success.
Students have carried the red and blue values into the
boardroom, the marketplace, and into virtually every corner
of public life, the defining moments in which men and
women prove themselves worthy of the investment made
in them by exceptionally qualified, personally committed
educators and by the community that supports them. We
trust you'll find the success journey of our first alum, Keith
Mitchell, as inspiring as we have.
Grenada native Keith Mitchell
has used sportsmanship as a
template for business success.
Grenada Financial Professional Keith Mitchell wears
it well. After serving 33 years in the financial business,
the Grenada High School graduate has moved into the
chair of North Mississippi Area President at Regions
Bank. Any whisper of pride Mitchell allows to creep
into his voice when speaking of his success he directs
solely at his colleagues and the company as a whole, but
the 54-year-old is one of the key executives overseeing
some $3 billion in total assets, the largest market share
in North Mississippi, along with 360 associates, working
in 50 branch locations.
Despite the immensity of his responsibilities, Mitchell
carries himself with sincere humility. His executive
demeanor is confident, yet not arrogant, gracious, yet
not chummy, poised and engaging. Upon meeting him,
you instantly realize that there's something else. He
has just the right amount of masculine confidence that
certain other men recognize. Its subtle, but it seems to
say, in man-speak, "This guy has felt the ear-ringing,
almost humiliating ferocity of a well-executed crackback
block," or, "He knows that tuning fork in the soul
feeling of catching a waist-high, inner-third-of-the plate
fastball right on the sweet spot of the bat, and the
pitch-perfect, impossible to reproduce sound of aluminum
– or, whatever moon rock bats are made of these
days - when the ball leaps off the barrel and you can tell
its headed for the left-center gap and won't stop until it
thumps up against that sign for the local insurance guy
you're always aiming for."
All that makes perfect sense because, as Mitchell will
tell you, many of the character traits that have served
him well in the financial industry he learned under the
Friday night lights of Charger football games and by
catching fly balls off a fungo bat until he knew how to
account for every whisper of wind, angle of the sun, and
air density that might help him turn a game-winning,
deep fly to center into just another long, breath-holding
"Welcome man! Good to see you," Mitchell said,
immediately walking around from behind the desk in
his spacious, reservedly appointed office. He took a
seat at a round table, a piece of furniture that removed
any position of authority. Mitchell's administrative assistant
materialized with cold bottles of water, ice and
cups, and, as she quietly withdrew, Mitchell whispered,
"Thank you," a small courtesy one guesses he never
fails to extend to employees.
To use a horse racing metaphor, Mitchell never really
pulled away from the field in high school academics, he
said. He wasn't a poor student, exactly, but there was
no reason to pick him out the chorus and say, "That's
"I had fine, dedicated teachers and for that I'll
always be grateful," Mitchell said. If he had to point to
one moment when he first realized that he wanted to
work in finance, Mitchell said, it was penning an essay
in Helen Lamar's ninth-grade English class about career
aspirations. Mitchell admits that, for him, the allure of
banking wasn't based solely on the prospect of handling
One clue is in Mitchell's comportment and
sense of style. He favors crisp, neatly appointed, tastefully
reserved business attire, modeled after watching
his uncle, a revered financial man, move though life
with a masculine grace as rare and charming today as a
Mitchell earned a scholarship to play football and
baseball at Delta State University after graduating from
Grenada High School in 1979. Life lessons and the ability
to throw a good two-seam fastball weren't the only
things he took away from GSD. It was there Mitchell
met the love of his life and soul mate, Beth Pinnix. They
have been married for 33 years. They have a son, Matt,
who is studying physical therapy at the University of
Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.
playing both baseball and football for the Fighting Okra,
but as even the parents of Pee-Wee football players
today know, there really is no off-season. As coaches
have done since the dawn of organized competition,
jealous for every second they can squeeze out of life to
prepare and condition their athletes, Mitchell's football
coach soon persuaded the two-sport athlete to hang up
his glove and spikes and devote himself completely to
It paid off, though, because Mitchell was
an important part of the Delta State team that won the
1983 Conference Championship.
Mitchell left DSU
clutching his bachelor's diploma in finance and, with
the confidence of a defensive back who's studied game
film, set out to make a career in the banking world.
Mitchell began his career on the production side,
filling various and sundry roles in places like Water
Valley and Calhoun City, before returning to Grenada
Three months ago, after having done bootson-
the-ground work in most every aspect of the business,
he was chosen to follow Jimmy Brown as North
Mississippi Area President.
"This is a relationship-based
business," said Mitchell. "The most gratifying part of
my work is being in a position to help people achieve
their financial goals and to have some part in improving
quality of life in this community that has given me so
much," said Mitchell.
Banking is certainly changing, like most every aspect
of life, Mitchell said, speaking with the credibility that
only a man whose first jobs in banking required him
to have Stone Age implements like a good ink pen and
plenty of paper forms. Part of the challenge he and
those like him, who have lived long enough and worked
hard enough to reach leadership positions, he said, is
to understand and adapt to a banking world in which
foot traffic in the building is dwindling to a trickle and
online finance is the norm.
He takes comfort in his
belief that personal service, and fundamental virtues
like honesty, integrity and fairness, that were drilled into
him while he sweated and bled alongside his teammates,
will never become irrelevant and always, no matter how
fancy the gadgetry, form the basis of good business.
The lessons that teammates learn together, Mitchell
said, like humility in victory and graciousness in defeat,
and the wisdom to use sport as a unique opportunity to
honor the community in which one was raised, along
with the virtues by which its people live, define not
only sportsmanship, but are the cornerstones of building
a reputation as hardworking, fair and good man in
business as well.
"I learned to be a good teammate,"
Mitchell said. "I've been blessed in so many ways, with
a fine upbringing and education, a wonderful wife and
son, and opportunities to express my gratitude through
using my gifts in service of the community, including
the school district, that has been so good to me."
let his eyes wander for a moment, breaking his usual
intent but not intensive gaze. Then, he smiled. "Being
in a position to help this community grow, to help good
people realize their dreams, is a tremendous responsibility,"
Mitchell said. "I take that very seriously."