Meet an entrepreneur whose accomplishments extend beyond her work and her family to her impact on local communities.
Swann is president of TowneBank’s Peninsula and Williamsburg markets. She also serves on the Virginia Commonwealth University’s Board of Visitors, to which she was appointed in 2019 by Governor Ralph Northam. That, though, is just the beginning when it comes to Swann’s board service and community leadership.
Swann currently serves on the boards of six organizations, including United Way of Virginia Peninsula; Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, Inc.; Fear to Freedom; Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities; and Hampton Delta Foundation, Inc.
The child of academics, Swann gained an appreciation for knowledge earned through hard work at a young age. “I grew up in a family of scientists. My father was a dentist and my mother earned her Ph.D. in zoology and taught anatomy and physiology at Hampton University,” she says. Of the different path she chose for herself, Swann says, “I think some of it was just defiance. I didn’t want to be a scientist.”
While in high school, Swann worked in her father’s dental office, helping to run the business. Her grandfather was also an entrepreneur. “I think I got a little bit of the business bug from those experiences,” she recalls.
After high school, Swann earned her BBA degree in marketing at Howard University. At first, she thought her marketing degree would take her into advertising or purchasing. And she did work in advertising with the Virginia Lottery for a time after graduation.
How her banking career developed, she says, “I believe God directs your path. And He directed me that way.”
Swann is a fifth-generation college graduate. It didn’t take much convincing for Swann to follow family tradition and enter graduate school, where she earned her MBA degree in finance at the College of William & Mary. That began her career in banking.
Swann spent 27 years excelling through the banking ranks. In 2019, with a desire to try something new, she jumped at the opportunity to leverage her networking expertise and found a position that she felt was a great match: president at TowneBank. “I had always admired TowneBank with its major force throughout the last 20 years, caring about its customer and employees.”
Swann was attracted to TowneBank’s community outreach. “The community involvement we do is bar-none better than any other institution that I’ve worked for,” she says.
Swann’s impressive accomplishments are not limited to her success in academia or her career as a banker. She also has a passion for community leadership. Her experience with board service began with Kiwanis and Habitat for Humanity. “I love to serve and help people,” she says. Those first two board service postings opened a door into a world of community leadership to which she has been dedicated since. She explains this attraction in simple terms, saying, “I caught the service bug.”
Swann continues, “I believe that we’re blessed to be afforded whatever we have. We are given it so that we can give back in support to help people who may not have had some of the same opportunities and advantages.”
Swann’s desire to help others is not limited to business. She also dedicates much of her attention to family and friends, keeping her rooted in Hampton Roads. “I’m definitely a family girl. I had opportunities as an undergrad to work in other states, but I came back to be close to my parents,” she says. “You only get one family. When you’re young, it feels like they’re going to be around forever, but they are not. So, I cherish every moment I have. It’s not a job. It’s what I love.”
Saying that Swann has done a lot doesn’t begin to cover the impact she has made as a businesswoman, philanthropist and family caregiver. When asked which of her accomplishments gives her the most pride, she lists three aspects of her multi-faceted life. Perseverance in her marriage is number one, which she credits to great examples set by the lasting, committed relationships of parents and grandparents.
“I’m immensely proud of my children,” she says next. Swann and her husband have a daughter in medical school and a son who will soon be graduating high school. She is proud “not just of what they have accomplished, but also of who they are as loving, caring, serving individuals.”
Of her many accolades, Swann says she is proud to have been named a Humanitarian of the Year in 2019 by the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities. And of her own projects, she mentions Tree of Life, which she and a colleague organized to aid working women, and she says, “it helps me as much as it helps other people.”
When Alexis Swann isn’t giving her time to her career, her family or her community, she enjoys entertaining in her home for a group she calls her “crew friends.” These, she says, “are a close circle of friends who have loved and supported me throughout my career.”
Swann believes there’s a lot more to be accomplished and she will do her part to make things happen.