Dear Members:

It’s hard to believe the holiday season is upon us, and 2024 is knocking at the door. I hope you have already enjoyed meaningful time with friends and family, making new memories, and sharing what you’re thankful for. Expressing our gratitude during the holiday season is a tradition for many of us. I am grateful to lead an organization partnered with so many people who help drive forward our cooperative mission.

And speaking of people I’m grateful for, it’s time once again to turn the spotlight on our Enterprise Leadership Team. We’re continuing the tradition of sharing our thoughts about the holiday season to help you get to know us a little better. Below are our answers to questions posed to us this year.   

How early do you start decorating for the holidays?

Denise Brown, EVP, Chief Financial Officer: We have so much stuff and my husband and I are empty nesters that we start slowly in early November and have everything up right before Thanksgiving.

Melissa Ashley, President/CEO: Usually the Sunday after Thanksgiving. I like to have the lights up during most of December to help with the dark nights.

Michael Gampp, EVP, Chief Risk Officer: We decorate our house the day after Thanksgiving and put it away on New Year’s Day.

Prashanta Pradhan, EVP, Chief Information Officer: I don't have a precise holiday decorating rulebook, but I can tell you that we usually kick off the festive transformation when my wife gives the signal, which coincidentally aligns with Thanksgiving. I've learned that it's best that she takes the reins when it comes to holiday decorations; after all, she has an uncanny knack for turning our home into a winter wonderland.

What is your favorite (or least favorite) winter activity?

Tammy Cantrell, EVP, Chief Product Strategist: I love to go sledding, and now that the grandkids are a little older, it’s fun to sled with them. My least favorite winter activity would be shoveling snow.

Christine Mayes, EVP, Chief Member Engagement Officer: Three favorites really: Snowmobiling and snow skiing, but my top favorite is just sitting in front of a wood-burning fire—like right in front of it—and being dangerously close because it’s warm like the sun and that reminds me of summer, which is my preference.

Prashanta Pradhan: I must admit, when it comes to winter activities, my favorite is actually a favorite "inactivity." Where I live, we don't get snow, but it does get cold enough to halt the grass growing. And you know what that means? Not having to mow the lawn! It's like a small winter gift from nature. The time saved from lawn care gives me the opportunity to do what I truly cherish during this season—spending more quality time with my wife and kids. So, while some might be hitting the slopes or building snowmen, I'm perfectly content with my wintertime break from yard work!

Denise Brown: I love walking the dog in winter, especially in the snow. He’s a big, furry dog, so he is often slow during the summer season. He’s like a puppy again when it cools down and the snow comes.

Melissa Ashley: I love to walk outside and with a few layers on, winter is a wonderful and peaceful time to be out in the cold, crisp evenings. My least favorite activity is shoveling snow, so that is my husband’s responsibility.

If you could have one famous person, dead or alive, sit at your holiday dinner table, who would you invite?

Christine Mayes: There are some influential historical figures that would certainly be fun, but the first answer that comes to mind is my mom.

Denise Brown: Robin Williams. There’s nothing better than sitting around a table of food with family and laughing, and I’m sure he would keep everyone smiling.

Michael Gampp: If it is a festive holiday gathering, my choice is David Lee Roth. He wouldn’t be there for a long time but would certainly be there for a good time.

Prashanta Pradhan: Growing up outside of the U.S., I didn't have the opportunity to learn American history in depth. However, a few years ago, I embarked on a journey to delve deeper into American history and discovered many fascinating and influential leaders. Among them, Alexander Hamilton stood out to me. His remarkable background and the pivotal role he played in establishing the National Bank of the United States, particularly how its establishment was crucial to the nation's success after the Revolutionary War, is nothing short of amazing. If he were to join me at my holiday dinner table, I would ask him about his thought process and the strategic considerations behind his relentless push to create the National Bank.

Melissa Ashley: I would pick two: Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. I love Fleetwood Mac and have seen them in concert many times. It would be fun to hear more about the meaning behind their music and their early experiences joining the band. However, I would have to sit them far apart because they don’t like each other much anymore.

Tammy Cantrell: There are a lot of great people I would love to meet, but with all the divisiveness in our country today, I would love to chat with George Washington, our Founding Father, to get his take on how our country has evolved and how we might get back to his vision for our nation. In his famous farewell address, he focused on “the importance of unity.” He warned us that “the worst enemy of government is the loyalty of party over the nation,” including the “danger of foreign entanglements.”

If you could be a character in a holiday movie, who would you be and why?

Michael Gampp: Schroeder from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” television special. He gets to play the piano, which is what he loves to do, and he also provides entertainment for everyone else.

Melissa Ashley: I would be Buddy in “Elf” because he is so happy and finds joy in common things that most of us overlook.

Christine Mayes: Sometimes my family makes me feel like I’m in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” Cousin Eddie, Lewis, and Aunt Bethany all exist in real life with my family!

Tammy Cantrell: Since “It’s a Wonderful Life” is my favorite movie, I would love to be George Bailey. He had challenges that seemed insurmountable, but he was able to triumph with his guardian angel by his side.

Prashanta Pradhan: When choosing a character in a holiday movie, it's important first to consider what movies qualify as holiday classics. Some debates include unconventional choices like "Die Hard,” but I'd like to make a case for expanding the list to include a true gem: "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." Assuming we can include it in the holiday movie category, I'd love to step into the shoes of Sir Bedivere. Aside from the hilariously absurd adventures with the Knights of the Round Table, I'd improve upon Sir Bedivere's Duck Test. I mean, who wouldn't want to be part of a quest to refine such a noble and essential test? Plus, the humor and wit of Monty Python's world would make for a unique and entertaining holiday experience.

What is your favorite way to serve others during the holidays (and beyond)?

Tammy Cantrell: During the holidays, I love to support Toys for Tots, as every child should have a present to open on Christmas. Beyond the holidays, I support the Children’s Miracle Network and the American Red Cross. This organization really helped my parents several years ago when they lost their home to a fire.

Christine Mayes: When we’re in town, we usually volunteer for Meals on Wheels during the holidays. We also have some elderly neighbors whose families aren’t close by, so we usually have them over later in the day or take them some homemade meals and desserts they can enjoy.

Melissa Ashley: I love participating in Corporate One’s annual Angel Tree program. My kids are grown now, so it is fun to pick out gifts to donate to younger children.

Prashanta Pradhan: One of my favorite ways to serve the community is by assisting in events that distribute goods and clothing to people experiencing homelessness. It's heartwarming to see the immediate impact these acts of kindness can have on the less fortunate, especially during the holiday season. Additionally, I'm associated with a non-profit school system in rural Nepal, where affordable yet quality education is provided to underprivileged children. I find great fulfillment in contributing to this cause by making donations. Education is a powerful tool that can transform lives, and supporting this endeavor allows me to play a small part in creating opportunities for those who need it most.

Denise Brown: Offering to run errands or drop off dinner/lunch for family members.

Michael Gampp: By being generous with my time, encouraging others, and hopefully making the path behind me a bit easier for those who follow.

May you all have a very happy and healthy holiday season.



Melissa Ashley