Our Board Members


Click A Board Member’s Name to Read Bio

John Q Adams, II
He’s an owner and principal at Adams & Company, P.A. John’s true passion for working one on one with his clients drives him to constantly seek out innovative strategies that will help both business and individuals grow and prosper. His loyal client base comes from the fact that John truly loves what he does – providing accounting, tax planning, and business consulting services to clients in the real estate, construction, and health care industries as well as professional service companies and other local niche businesses. In addition to his work, John enjoys spending time with his wife, daughter, and friends – especially if it’s on a boat! If he’s not boating, John entertains himself with traveling, scuba diving, and hiking. John is a long time member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants. He received his Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the University of Southern Maine and his Masters of Science in Accounting from the University of Central Florida. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for The Arnette House and Shady Wood Property Owners Association.

Kenneth C. Ausley
He’s a native of Ocala and Co-Owner of Ausley Construction Company, Inc. Ausley Construction is a second generation commercial construction firm operating in Central Florida since 1958. Mr. Ausley is also Principal/Co-Owner of ACA Construction Group, LLC. ACA Construction Group specializes in large institutional and public sector projects with particular expertise in the K-12, College and University construction markets. Mr. Ausley graduated from Florida State University in 1990 with a B.A. in History. After graduation he worked for twelve years with a faith-based non- profit and served as a director in Tampa/St. Petersburg and the San Francisco Bay Area. Mr. Ausley remains active in the non-profit community through his service on various boards including the Children’s Advocacy Center/Kimberly’s Cottage and the Marion County Boys & Girls Club. As well he serves on the CF Institute Advisory Committee at the College of Central Florida, the City of Ocala’s 2035 Vision Leadership Group, the Marion County Value Adjustment Board and the board of Ambleside Schools International. He is also the Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board of Ambleside School of Ocala, Inc., a non-profit, private K-12 school.

Dennis K. Baxley
The Founding Chairman of First Avenue National Bank. He began his funeral
service career in 1970 and is the Vice-President and principal owner of Hiers-Baxley Funeral Services which employs 100 individuals and operates six business locations. He received his A.A. from Central Florida Community College in Ocala, his B.A. in  Sociology/Psychology from Florida State University in 1974, and his A.S. in Funeral Service from Miami-Dade College in 1975. Dennis served in the Florida House of Representatives 2000-2007 and was Speaker Pro Tem in 2007. He also served on the board of directors of Independent National Bank from 2000 to 2005. Since leaving the Florida House he served as Executive Director of Christian  Coalition of Florida and has since resigned to run again for the Florida House. His community service includes: Past President of Belleview Rotary Club, Children’s Advocacy Center Board, and Marion County Children’s Alliance Board. Legislative honors include an Honorary Doctor of Laws in 2005 from Flagler College in St. Augustine.

Ronald Bew
Ron Bew has a diverse domestic and international background in assisting small business. He has over twenty-five years of senior-level commercial lending experience with Bank of America. Before retiring from the U.S. Small Business Administration, he served as head of Capital Access where he was responsible for a $50 billion loan portfolio. He also served as a banking consultant in Moscow and Bosnia. Currently he is Vice Chairman of Global Alliance SME, a Chinese non-profit fostering small business development in the G-20 countries.

Katherine P. Glynn
She has been a practicing attorney in Ocala since 1995. After graduating from Forest High School, Katie got her undergraduate degree from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida and then her Juris Doctor degree from St. Thomas School of Law in Miami, Florida in 1995. As an avid horsewoman, Katie came back to Ocala and began her career as a prosecutor at the Marion County State Attorney’s Office. In 1999, she started practicing civil law with her father and long-time Ocala attorney, John H. Piccin. After seven and a half years of litigating insurance claims, she served as CEO and General Counsel to Sag Harbor Homes in Ocala in 2007. Since January of 2008, she has held the position of Staff Attorney for the Marion County Clerk of the Circuit Court, David R. Ellspermann. Katie enjoyed servingas Leadership Division Vice President of the Ocala/Marion Chamber of Commerce in 2007 as well as on the Board of Regents of Leadership Ocala from 2004 to 2007. She and her husband have one son.

Dr. R. Craig Kuykendall, M.D.
He’s been a practicing physician in Ocala, Florida since 1991. After receiving his BS and MD degrees from Vanderbilt University, he completed his cardiovascular surgical training at the Texas Heart Institute in Houston, Texas. Currently he is a practicing surgeon at the Ocala Heart Institute. This practice has grown during the past 20 years providing cardiac surgical services to patients to patients in the Florida communities of Ocala, Leesburg, Venice, Inverness, Winter Haven, and Stuart. He continues to actively participate in many hospital-based committees that oversee the development and management of hospital resources. He holds memberships in the Florida Society of Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery, Florida Vascular Society, Society of Thoracic Surgeons, American College of Surgeons, and Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Society. He is married with five children and attends First Baptist Church of Ocala.

Renee R. Pelzman
A graduate of the University of Florida and the University of Miami School
of Law. She is a practicing attorney with offices in Coral Gables and Ocala, Florida. She began her legal career in 1982 as an assistant state attorney under Janet Reno in Miami, Florida and went on to prosecute criminals at the appellate level with the Office of the Attorney General of Florida. She entered private practice in 1985 and has served on several Florida Bar committees. Renee volunteers with the Justice Teaching Program developed and promoted by Florida Supreme Court Justice Fred Lewis. She is also the managing partner of Holly Hill Farms, LLC and is involved in the breeding, training and showing of Arabian, part-Arabian, and Quarter Horses at the state and national levels. She is a member of the Marion County Chamber of Commerce and the Ocala/Silver Springs Rotary Club. Renee has one daughter, Morgan, who recently graduated from high school and wants to pursue a career as a forensic anthropologist.

Joe H. Pickens, J.D.
He became the fourth President of St. Johns River Community College on November 1, 2008. SJRCC consists of three full-service campuses in Clay, Putnam and St. Johns counties. Joe earned his bachelor’s degree from Wofford College and his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Florida. Prior to his role as SJRCC President, he served eight years in the Florida House of Representatives. During his third term in the legislature, he served as the Chairman of the House Education Appropriations Committee. In his final term he served as the Chairman of the House Schools and Learning Council. In 2008, he was the fourth person recognized by the Florida School Boards Association with their Lifetime Achievement Award (joining two-time Senate President Toni Jennings, the late Governor Lawton Chiles and former Education Commissioner and Lt. Governor Frank Brogan). His previous banking experience includes serving as Chairman of the Board and Legal Counsel to Citizens First National Bank of Crescent City, Florida (now known as Mercantile Bank by merger with The South Financial Group). His career includes serving as the general counsel for the North East Florida Educational Consortium and serving 17 years as the attorney for the Putnam County School Board. Joe and his wife, Linda, have three children and live in Palatka.

Gary A. Simanson
Mr. Simanson serves as a Director, President and Chief Executive Officer of First Avenue National Bank.

He has been Managing Director of First Capital Group, L.L.C., an investment banking advisory firm specializing in bank mergers and acquisitions, strategic planning, capital raising and enterprise risk management from March 1997 to the present. In such capacity, Mr. Simanson has both initiated and advised on bank mergers and acquisitions, capital raising transactions, enterprise risks and strategic initiatives around the country and has spoken nationally on bank mergers and acquisitions. Mr Simanson previsously served as the financial expert for the Audit Committee and as a member of the Board of Directors of First Guaranty Bancshares, Inc., $1.4b in assets, and its wholly-owned subsidiary First Guaranty Bank; and as a Senior Advisor to the Chairman of Alpine Capital Bank and its related companies, operating in the commercial banking, investment advisory, merchant banking and portfolio investment areas.

He was Founder, Vice Chairman and Chief Strategic Officer of Community Bankers Trust Corporation, $1.2b in assets bank holding company for Essex Bank (NASDAQ NMS “ESXB”) and previously served as its President, Chief Executive and Chief Financial Officer, and as a Director since its inception in April 2005 to May 2011, overseeing its public offering in 2006, its acquisitions and shareholder reformulation in 2008, and its FDIC acquisitions in 2008 and 2009.

In addition to serving as managing director of First Capital Group, Mr. Simanson also served as Senior Vice President concentrating in bank mergers and acquisitions and capital markets with FTN Financial Capital Markets, a wholly owned investment banking and financial services subsidiary of First Horizon National Corporation (NYSE: FHS) from 1998 to 1999. From 1992 to 1995, Mr. Simanson was Associate General Counsel at Union Planters Corporation, then a NYSE-traded bank holding company (presently part of Regions Financial Corporation (NYSE: RF)), where his duties included the negotiation and preparation of all bank merger and acquisition transaction documents, transaction due diligence, member of integration committee, preparation of all regulatory filings, registration statements and other securities filings and other bank regulatory matters. From 1989 to 1992 he was a practicing attorney, beginning his career with Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, LLP, specializing in the securities, bank regulatory and bank merger and acquisition areas.

Mr. Simanson received a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in economics from George Washington University in 1981, writing his thesis on the Monetary Control Act of 1980; Masters of Business Administration majoring in finance from George Washington University in 1984; and a Juris Doctor from Vanderbilt University in 1989, writing his thesis on money laundering and the Bank Secrecy Act.
Mr. Simanson is licensed to practice law in the states of New York, Tennessee and Colorado.


Don H. Stauss, Jr.
He’s co-owned and operated Big D Roofing, Inc. since 1981. Big D Roofing is a major commercial and residential roofing contractor in Central Florida. The company has major clients including the University of Florida, Central Florida Community College, Pasco-Hernando Community College, Wal-Mart and numerous municipal school boards. The company has completed commercial projects as far north as New Hampshire and as far west as Illinois. Don Stauss and his company have assisted in completing numerous volunteer projects in Ocala/Marion County community, including the construction Rotary Park (athletic complex), Shocker Park (athletic fields), the Boy Scouts, the Human Society, and numerous Habitat for Humanity projects. Don is married to Paula, a schoolteacher, and they have two children. Don is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and has been a Sunday school teacher for many years. Don served in the United States Marine Corps, was recognized with honors at the top of his class, and received an honorable discharge.

Ralph N. Strayhorn, III.
Mr. Strayhorn, Managing Partner of Cape Point Advisory Partners, LLC, has spent the last 33 years in the banking and related financial businesses since receiving his JD degree in 1981 from UNC-Chapel Hill and his BA from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1977. During 12 of the last 20 years, he has served as an executive officer of four community banks in North Carolina, served on the board of directors of three of these banks and served as President & CEO of two of these banks.
Mr. Strayhorn has both lectured and spoken at various directors’ colleges and CEO forums in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia and has addressed the North Carolina Banking Commission on the “Anatomy of a Failure” and the present state of community banking in North Carolina. His comments, conclusions and recommendations stated in various public speaking engagements are based on his cumulative experiences in his various roles. Mr. Strayhorn has been married for 35 years to the former Keiran Margaret Maughan-Brown of Cape Town, South Africa. They have two children and one grandson.