2022 Hall of Distinguished Alumni
When April (Russell) Perry ’86, ’96 was a youngster, she would accompany her grandfather, bank president Charles Russell, to an empty, quiet office on Sunday afternoons and pretend to wait on customers and practice speaking through the drive-through microphone.
At age 15, she accepted her grandfather’s offer to work at the Catlettsburg, Kentucky bank, at first to help answer calls. Soon, she was handed a stack of cards representing those who were late on their loan payments and asked to write friendly reminders. As the first collection officer for Kentucky Farmers Bank, she earned $2.77 an hour. But it stirred in the teenager a passion for banking, entrepreneurship, and helping people with their finances.
Today, Ms. Perry is chairman of the board and CEO of that same community bank headquartered in Boyd County, Kentucky, and is highly respected throughout northeastern Kentucky for her efforts to advance economic development and financial literacy. She serves on the Kentucky Bankers Association Board, representing Group 9; chairs the Appalachian Investors Alliance; is a member of the Tri-State Angel Investment Group; serves as lead judge for the Glockner Dare to Dream Pitch Competition for high-school students; and supports financial literacy and empowerment through her involvement locally and with the Kentucky Financial Empowerment Commission.
“I always strive to leave everything better than I found it,” Ms. Perry said. “Having grown up in northeast Kentucky, I have experienced the hospitality, family connections, and pride of Appalachia. I have also seen the loss of jobs, and people who love our area are forced to leave their homes to find work. Measuring success is tricky, but if I can help people achieve their dreams through financial empowerment and increased opportunities for economic prosperity, I will consider my life well lived.”
While she was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration, she met and fell in love with her future husband and fellow KFB executive, Don Perry, ’86’95, and their careers and volunteer activities are closely intertwined. Their two adult children also earned EKU degrees, so Eastern is never far from Ms. Perry’s mind. She is a former member of the EKU Foundation Board, and the Perrys have been strong supporters, with their time, talents, and treasure, of the University’s banking and financial services program. Ms. Perry, who later added an MBA degree from Eastern, was the 2018-19 Executive-in-Residence/Distinguished Speaker for the College of Business and Technology. Her grandfather would be proud.
Originally published in EKU Alumni Awards.
Ms. April Russell Perry
Board Chairman and CEO
Kentucky Farmers Bank
Eastern Kentucky University, ’86 BBA, ’96 MBA