Helena Duncan, a member of the Board of Directors at Dixie Electric Cooperative, assumed the leadership role at the state’s most influential business advocacy organization, the Business Council of Alabama, in December 2022. As its new president and CEO, she brings to the position 35 years of experience in the world of finance. She had previously been BCA’s senior vice president of operations and investor relations, and had served as regional president of Liberty Bank and Trust for five years prior. A finance graduate of Auburn University Montgomery, she built her career in the banking and mortgage world with positions at First Tuskegee Bank, American Legacy Mortgage and Colonial Bancgroup. She is active in Montgomery area community affairs, including the Committee of 100, the Board of Directors for the YMCA, Advisory Board for Synovus Bank and was former chairman of the board at Saint James School. She is passionate about advocating for Alabama business, as she related in a recent Q&A with Alabama Living. – Lenore Vickrey
Tell us a little about your growing-up years and where you went to high school and college.
I am the youngest of 5 kids. It was tough growing up behind such dynamic siblings. Our parents put a lot of importance on education. Their expectations were high but they were right there with us every step of the way. I graduated from Opelika High School. I attended both Auburn University and Auburn-Montgomery where I obtained my degree in Finance.
How did you decide to go into the financial sector for your career?
The financial sector chose me, I like to say. I started working as a teller while I was in college. That allowed me to have my nights and weekends free. I realized then that I liked banking and that I was actually good at it. It was early enough in my education that I was able to declare finance as my major and continued on that path.
How has your experience in banking and the financial world helped you in your new role at BCA?
For one, serving others and trying to do the best thing possible to help advance others. Also, in banking, I often got to hear and witness the challenges businesses faced doing business in Alabama. Then I couldn’t do much about it outside of being a listening ear. Now, I’m in position to help facilitate change to make Alabama a great place to do business. Working in finance allows me to understand both sides of the issues.
How does your role as a trustee of Dixie Electric Cooperative help you in making decisions for the larger business community? Conversely, how does your business background help you in your role as a Dixie EC trustee?
Dixie is so fortunate the have the leadership team that we have. Being involved with this board really allows me an up close and personal view of the impact that legislation has on business decisions within an organization. It allows me to see what’s working well and what’s not. My background in business and finance helps me to be more of a part of the solution. We have a very smart and engaged board, all with their own set of talents to offer. Together, we make quite the team.
I hear you love to brag on your family, so tell us about them!
Well, Clarence and I are extremely proud of our sons, CJ and Collin. CJ graduated at Vanderbilt University and is now in government affairs in Nashville, Tennessee. Collin just recently graduated from Mississippi State with a degree in kinesiology.
How do you like to relax after work?
I haven’t figured that out yet! Most days close with dinner with my husband, recapping the day. After 32 years of marriage, I really can’t think of a better way to do it.ν