Dawn Spahr, Assistant Vice President Community Relations Officer and CRA Officer, Mid Penn Bank
Beyond community banking, tell us what you are involved with in your community.
Dawn: The very fabric of who I am is centered around the idea of “support local.” I’ve always felt, at my core, that the importance of supporting local businesses, my neighbors, and the community at large is one of the ways I can ensure the world I’m leaving for the next generation is better than I found it.
As the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Officer for Mid Penn Bank, I get to be involved with many communities for a living. That means I work to identify causes and organizations that the bank can support either with a contribution, or with volunteer support (or both!); this directly and positively impacts the many communities in which the bank has a presence. Outside of that, I am passionate about patronizing local, independent businesses. You can always count on me to discover a new local business or restaurant and to become a champion of their products. I’ve participated in countless United Way Days of Caring, supported Domestic Violence Services of Cumberland and Perry Counties, Relay for Life, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region and taught financial education classes. As the proud mother of two teenage daughters, I’ve served as a Girl Scout leader and a cheerleading coach.
I’ve also taken a strong role in building community for our employees. In 2018, I founded the Mid Penn Bank Women’s Leadership Network (WLN). I saw an opportunity for the bank to provide a more formal outlet for supporting and encouraging both personal and professional growth for women at all levels in the bank. Focused on offering practical and meaningful partnerships and learning opportunities, we’ve offered leadership seminars, evening yoga and fitness classes, and networking events. Th e WLN has over 60 regular participants, and I continue to develop creative and engaging programming for the group.
Can you share with us the reason you are so passionate about the organization(s) with which you are involved?
Dawn: Merriam-Webster defines “community” as a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society. To me that means that we’re all responsible for a piece of the pie; ensuring that what we’re contributing to our larger society is positive, meaningful and forward-thinking. I see it as my responsibility to hold this definition in my heart in everything I do.
I’m passionate about the organizations with which I am involved, and the organizations with which the bank is involved, because in each of them I see that they share this perspective: they see that we are all working towards a common goal to help others for the betterment of our community. There’s nothing I enjoy more than learning about the people who are championing various causes and seeing the tangible progress they’re making in improving the lives of others.
What prompted you to be a #DifferenceMaker in your community?
Dawn: Taking on the role of CRA Officer made perfect sense to me because it means having an integral role in ensuring the bank stays true to its community roots and community banking values. Mid Penn Bank has given me the opportunity to intimately learn more about the communities all over Pennsylvania where we have a presence. I love that part of my job involves the opportunity to discover amazing people doing amazing things. The bank has always embraced my passion for this role with an equal amount of gusto.
Also, knowing that small businesses and small communities are the backbone of what makes our bank’s footprint so special, it excites me to think of the infinite possibilities we have as a business with a 151-year history to support the endeavors and the hard work of the communities we serve.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your involvement with your community?
Dawn: This is a dream job. Hands down, I have the best job in the bank. I get the opportunity to identify and form relationships with some of the most special people, doing the most special work in each of our unique communities.
One thing I try to focus on, professionally, is identifying talents and skills of Mid Penn Bank employees and connecting them to community involvement and volunteerism opportunities that allow them to exercise those skills. I’ve been able to help the bank support and offer financial literacy seminars for all ages and increase the offerings of community workdays available to our employees. Volunteerism is very important to us, as a community bank, and it’s been wonderful to develop relationships with organizations throughout the Bank’s footprint and then work with them to identify projects we can execute with the helping hands of our employees.
Some of the projects and partnerships I’m most proud of Mid Penn Bank executing are our annual Celebrity Golf Tournament for Charity, our annual No Shave November campaign, and working with so many educational organizations to provide contributions and funding to help invest in the young people in our communities.
Five years ago, when Mid Penn Bank began the Celebrity Golf Tournament for Charity, we chose to partner with PA Breast Cancer Coalition (PBCC), which provides support to breast cancer patients and their families and fund educational programming, legislative advocacy and breast cancer research grants. Since that time, we’ve not only consistently increased the amount we raise annually – in 2019, we raised $200,000, doubling our 2018 contribution of $100,000 – but we’ve expanded the partnerships to include PBCC and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF). BCRF’s mission is “to prevent and cure breast cancer by advancing the world’s most promising research.” The impact of the dollars we raise at this wonderful event each year has endless potential for good when aligned with organizations like PBCC and BCRF.
The Bank’s No Shave November campaign is one our employees look forward to each year, because it always incorporates an element of fun. Occurring each November, the campaign is a partnership between the bank and Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center’s Urology Department. In 2018, we raised $50,000 for prostate cancer research – an increase of more than 200 percent over 2017!
We encourage employees to form fundraising teams, hold contests for reaching certain thresholds and off er prizes to top fundraisers. The enthusiasm for No Shave November is contagious and has propelled us to be able to increase our contributions to this cause each year.
Regarding the educational support Mid Penn Bank provides, we have always been robust supporters of PA’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program (EITC) which enables the Bank to contribute to qualifying nonprofits, foundations and community groups that serve to support and engage with young people throughout their school-aged careers. Due to the bank’s structural growth in the last year and a half, we have been able to increase our total EITC contributions by more than 110 percent from 2017 to 2018. Not only have the total contributions increased, but so has the number of organizations we support, reaching 80 in 2018!
Millionaire for a Day is another program I have a particular affinity for. We off er this program in partnership with local schools throughout our entire footprint, inviting students in grades K-5 to write a short essay telling us what they would do if they were a millionaire for a day. Th e winning writers receive a limo ride to school for themselves and friends, 90 days’ worth of interest on a $1 million bank account, drawstring backpacks stuff ed with prizes for the whole classroom, and $500 for their teacher to spend on the classroom! It’s a really fun program that gets the conversation about money going at a young age but has a really rewarding aspect to it for all involved.
You obviously have a strong desire to give back to your community, does your volunteer work ever mix with your professional life?
Dawn: Again, my professional work is an extension of my personal belief that we all have a responsibility to contribute positively to our world. Th e overlap is vast and occurs on a day-to-day basis. I have been lucky enough to encounter many of the organizations I’ve supported personally while executing my work as a CRA Officer.
You are obviously very busy, what is your favorite way to unwind at the end of the day?
Dawn: My happy place is being surrounded by the flowers in my flower garden with my two daughters. Beyond that, you can find me at the Carlisle Farmer’s Market every Wednesday evening reveling in the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the local economy. Another one of my favorite things to do is enjoy a meal at a local Carlisle restaurant with my kids and husband.