Longtime local banker surprised by Columbia Bank award for Inland Northwest Region.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Tena Jackson, holding the award for "Most Valuable Banker," is surrounded by Chris Severin, at left, Sharon Calhoun and Mike Anderson at the award ceremony.
Earlier this month, Tena Jackson, the Madras branch manager for Columbia Bank, was selected as the Most Valuable Banker for the bank's Inland Northwest Region.

Jackson, who has been with Columbia Bank for the past five years, learned about the award when she was at the company's meeting in Spokane on Feb. 5.

"I was totally surprised," said Jackson, who described herself as "a little embarrassed" when she started to have an inkling that the presenter was talking about her.

One of those nominating Jackson had written, "I have been fortunate enough to go on business calls with Tena and observe her in the community and what I have found is that she has built strong relationships with her clients and the respect they have for her is obvious. I was with Tena in a restaurant when one of her clients stopped by our table to say hi to her; she surprised him by paying for his lunch. He was so grateful; just a great client experience."

Jackson was selected by a vote of her peers at the 16 branches of Columbia Bank in Central Oregon and the Gorge area, south central Washington and southwest Idaho. She has trained and served as a mentor for three new branch managers, from Bend, The Dalles and White Salmon, Washington.

"They spend a couple days with me, go over reports, tracking systems and the minutiae of Columbia Bank's way of doing things," said Jackson, who continues to mentor the managers after the initial training. "I really enjoy that."

The bank has seven retail staff members, including Jackson, along with Chris DuPont, the commercial relationship officer, and a credit analyst.

For the past 31 years, Jackson has been working in the banking industry, after starting at Juniper Banking Co., in 1988, in the same location as Columbia Bank. Juniper Bank later became Columbia River Bank.

In 2004, she left Columbia River Bank to work for Community First Bank in Prineville. Two years later, she became the branch manager at Community First Bank in Madras. That bank is now Home Federal.

In 2014, she took over as the manager at Columbia Bank.

Besides her work at the bank, Jackson is a volunteer for an organization called Financial Beginnings, and teaches financial literacy classes at Deer Ridge Correctional Institution, at the 509-J Family University, and for other groups. She has also long been involved with the local Family Relief Nursery, and serves as chairman of the advisory council for the Madras center.

She and her husband, Roy, have two adult daughters, Kelly and Haley, and five grandchildren.

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