Chafin Vance standing her ground in Russell County


Editor’s Note: This October, we will celebrate our 30th class of 40 Under Forty honorees. Each week in 2022, The Business Journal of Tri-Cities Tennessee/Virginia will highlight one of our 2021 40 Under Forty honorees leading up to the announcement of our milestone class this fall.

The folks who know Sophie Chafin Vance best will tell you she is a great wife and mother, a highly successful professional and a tireless advocate for Russell County.

Her parents raised her to be authentic, outspoken and highly motivated, and those traits have served her well in all aspects of her life.

“People are going to know me for what I have stood for,” said Chafin Vance, a senior vice president and chief branch operations officer at First Bank & Trust.

Standing your ground is a little easier to do when you’re deeply rooted in the ground you’re standing upon. Sophie and her husband P.J. are raising their two children on a large cattle farm in Russell County, where they have worked to restore the original homestead on the property.

Chafin Vance’s volunteer work in her community has been extensive. In addition to leading school supply drives, food drives and helping to rebuild playgrounds, she has also served on the Russell County Hospital Foundation Board since 2010 and chaired the board for the past seven years.

When her father died on Jan. 1, 2021, after contracting COVID-19, Chafin Vance volunteered as a spokesperson and started working to educate her community on the importance of getting vaccinated.

“I truly believe that Russell and Washington Counties have higher rates of vaccinated individuals due to her family’s experience and Sophie’s willingness to bring a face and voice to this pandemic,” wrote nominator Susan Hilton of Russell County Hospital.

Chafin Vance started her career at First Bank & Trust as a cashier and quickly rose through the ranks to become an executive. Christopher Henry, a senior vice president at First Trust & Wealth Management, says Sophie’s professional journey has given her a broad perspective of the banking industry.

“With direct experience across multiple lines of business, Sophie is able to bring a unique perspective to her team and our bank clients. She is able to strike a perfect balance between collaboration and direction. Ms. Chafin-Vance has served as the driving force on a number of critical projects as the Bank evolves to meet the changing needs of our clients,” Henry wrote in his recommendation letter.

What’s more, Chafin Vance also works to help others follow in her footsteps.

“Sophie is a humble advocate for women in banking. She has mentored and forged career paths for women at First Bank & Trust Company, many of whom began in entry-level positions with the bank and are now pursuing careers in officer and management roles, in large part due to her advocacy and mentorship,” wrote Kaitlyn Widner, vice president of marketing at First Bank & Trust.

With two children preparing to work their way through the Russell County School System, Chafin Vance admits she is thinking about running for a seat on the school board. If she is successful, it will be another sizable investment in the place she calls home.

Next week we will profile local entrepreneur Arnab Chakraborty. If you would like to nominate someone for inclusion in the 2022 class of 40 Under Forty, visit and follow the instructions.

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