Debra Jackson


Arkansas National Bancshares


Debra Jackson

Even as a child, Debra Jackson was fascinated by banking. So, it seems appropriate that as an adult she had the opportunity to be part of a start-up bank.

"It's really been exciting," says the 38-year-old Jackson, who's been president and chief operating officer of Arkansas National Bancshares since October 1996.

A Benton County native, Jackson graduated from Bentonville High School. She attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and is a graduate of the Graduate School of Banking in Madison, Wis.

Jackson's first banking job was with what was then Citizens' Bank, where she worked in the bookkeeping department. Through the years, she worked in various capacities and departments within the bank, which, itself went through a series of changes in ownership and names. In 1993, the bank, then called First Bank, was purchased by Worthen Banking Corp. At that point, Jackson and two others, Dan Dykema and Harry Brown, left to form a new bank.

Arkansas National Bank opened in June 1994, and the holding company, of which Jackson is now president, was formed in 1996.

She attributes her success to hard work and tenacity.

"I never tell myself I can't do something," Jackson says. "I always try to do better ... Once a problem is given to me, I take ownership of that problem until it's taken care of."

Jackson also credits her co-workers. "You're only as good as your people," she says. "I've always worked with a great group of people."