Annette Hunt entered the banking world as a teller when she was 17 years old. Decades later, she was a senior vice president at the recently acquired Medford Cooperative Bank, wondering if it was time to leave the industry behind and try something different.
Then she was presented with an intriguing offer: Did she want to help start a bank? Hunt knew she had to sign on. That bank became Patriot Community Bank, where Hunt has served as vice president when it opened in 2006, was promoted in 2009 to senior vice president and promoted again in 2012 to executive vice president.
“It was a long process,” Hunt recalled. “You take for granted when you go work for a bank that all of your infrastructure is in place – your routing number, your BIN number for the ATM – everything is in place. But having to start from the bottom. … It was very, very exciting.”
Andrea McGrath, president of Bates Insurance, described Hunt as “the face of community banking the way it always was,” emphasizing Hunt’s passion for developing personal relationships with customers. McGrath also called Hunt one of her mentors.
“Working in a male-dominated industry … she gracefully broke down barriers and worked her way up the ladder, always being professional, kind [and] gracious,” McGrath said.
Hunt acknowledged that there were not many other women around when she was beginning her career, but she still found “a lot of awesome, awesome mentors,” including John O’Donnell, president and CEO of Patriot Community Bank and also the man who approached Hunt about starting the bank.
“I still have mentors in my life, and I’m very, very appreciative of them. I probably wouldn’t be where I am today without them,” she said. “So I like to pay it forward. I try to help my staff and train them so that they can grow in their positions and beyond, and do whatever they set out to do.”
Hunt takes time to pay it forward in her community, too. She was honored in 1999 as the Medford Citizen of the Year. Hunt has served as secretary of the Medford Chamber of Commerce for more than 20 years. She is also a longtime member of the Medford Kiwanis Club, where she became the first female member of what was an all-male organization and has also held the positions of president and treasurer of the club. (Three years later, McGrath become the organization’s second female member.)
“I enjoy going out and working with other people and working with other board members of the chamber,” Hunt said. “Most of the people I see when I’m doing these events are my customers, so it gives me a chance to form a separate bond with them outside of the bank.”
McGrath said it’s not any one commitment that makes Hunt a Community Bank Hero, but rather her entire life’s work. As she wrote in her nomination, “[Hunt] exemplifies the successful career women who worked her way up the ladder while raising a family and volunteering her time to help others.”