J. French Hill

Delta Trust & Banking Corp.

City: Little Rock
Category: Business Executive of the Year
Year: 2008

J. French Hill manages a banking network with total assets of nearly $245 million at Little Rock's Delta Trust & Banking Corp. The fabric of his career features a strong blend of finance and politics intertwined with a love of history.

Since the holding company was formed in 1999, Delta Trust & Bank has expanded to nine locations in southeast Arkansas, Little Rock and Benton County.

"We continue to hold ourselves out as Arkansas' pre-eminent bank for trust and investments," Hill said. "We continue to stay focused on our core mission."

While growing up, he entertained thoughts of becoming an oceanographer. But as a grandson and a son of bankers, Hill gravitated toward the family profession. Before his Delta Trust move, he oversaw the trust company and broker-dealer operation at First Commercial Corp. of Little Rock.

His work history includes special assistant to the president and executive secretary of the Economic Policy Council, 1991-93; deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury, 1989-91; investment banker at Mason Best Co. of Dallas, 1984-89; banking and securities adviser for U.S. Sen. John Tower of Texas, 1982-84; and bond portfolio management and strategic planning at First International Bancshares/First National Bank of Dallas, 1979-82.

The Little Rock native graduated magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University at Nashville, Tenn., with a degree in economics and a minor in history.

His civic resume includes Arkansas Children's Hospital board of directors, trustee and past president of the George W. Donaghey Foundation and commissioner of the Historic Arkansas Museum, as well as work with the Boy Scouts of America, Arkansas Arts Center and University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Hill received the Edwin N. Hanlon Memorial Award for Outstanding Business Leader for his work to expand the Historic Arkansas Museum in downtown Little Rock.

"I am passionate about Arkansas history," the 53-year-old executive said.

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