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story.lead_photo.caption Tammy Passafiume is the 2018 chairman of the Malvern/Hot Spring County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. She and other board members work with the chamber staff to promote local businesses and seek new businesses to locate in Hot Spring County. - Photo by William Harvey

Tammy Passafiume moved to the Malvern area just three years ago, but she has quickly become involved in the community.

She is the 2018 chairman of the Malvern/Hot Spring County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. She is also president and CEO of the Diamond Lakes Federal Credit Union, which is headquartered in Malvern

and serves members in Hot Spring, Garland, Clark, Grant, Montgomery and Pike counties, as well as Hot Springs Village.

Passafiume, 50, joined the local chamber right after she moved to the Malvern area but was already familiar with the work of chambers of commerce. She had served on the board of the Camden Area Chamber of Commerce when she lived in that town and served as president and CEO of the River Valley Credit Union, where she worked for 24 years.

“Tammy has already been a great contributor to the chamber, serving on our executive committee for the past few years,” said Lance Howell, executive director of the Malvern/Hot Spring County Chamber of Commerce. “We know she will be excellent in her role as chairman this year because she always seems to be looking forward and thinking about how things might be done better.

“Tammie is naturally inquisitive, and I think that drives her to try to see things from new perspectives. Recently, she has been working with us on issues ranging from regional promotion and our relationship with surrounding counties to tax-credit opportunities and event improvements. Her insight will be very helpful as we move ahead.”

Passafiume said plans for the chamber this year include “finding different ways to benefit our businesses.”

“There are a lot of people who have no idea what being a chamber member can mean,” she said. “One of the main things is networking … helping businesses connect with other businesses and educational opportunities. The chamber also helps bring business to Malvern. … We are looking for businesses to move into this area, and that will bring us new residents, too.”

Howell said the Malvern/Hot Spring County Chamber “has welcomed dozens of new members over the past year or so, mostly small businesses, which are the backbone of America and our economies.

“We’re glad to have the Picket Fence Vintage Market back on Main Street,” Howell said. “Their vendors generate a lot of traffic, and that will help downtown Malvern and other merchants on Main Street, too.

“Arkansas Stave and Lumber is a new mill on the eastern side of the county. They make the wood staves used in building wine and bourbon barrels. They have been running less than a year and are already preparing for their first expansion — adding another line to serve new customers. Of course, they are hiring. Others are, too — like DLM, who makes commercial dock equipment. They continue to grow and seem to be looking for all the good welders they can find.”

Passafiume said the chamber’s recent annual banquet is a good example of how the chamber brings businesses and the community together.

“We had over 300 in attendance,” she said. “Bingo is another event that we sponsor as a fundraiser and as a way to bring the community together. That will be held in April.”

She said the chamber supports various events in the community, such as the annual Brickfest in Malvern, as well as efforts to revitalize Main Street. She said the chamber also supports efforts of the Malvern/Hot Spring County Economic Development Corp. and its work to help businesses secure assistance from federal revolving loan funds.

“Small businesses that might need a little extra capital can reach out to the chamber for help or referral to other programs,” she said. “Rick McClure is the person to contact at the chamber.”

Passafiume said the chamber also supports College of the Ouachitas in Malvern.

“We work closely with Dr. Steve Rook, president of the college,” she said.

Passafiume works closely with others members of the chamber’s executive board, including Jimmy Bobo, First Assembly of God, first vice chairman; LaKeysha Fleming, Rineco, second vice chairman; David Sanders, Regency Funeral Home, secretary-treasurer; and Lynn Davis, Encore Health and Rehabilitation, immediate past chairman.

Passafiume said she has lived in various parts of the United States.

“I’m an Air Force brat,” she said, smiling. “I was born in Tucson, Arizona. Dad retired at the Little Rock Air Force Base.”

She is a daughter of Bill and Linda Stanley of Camden and has one older sister, Terrie Madding, 53, of Camden, and a twin sister, Tina Bradford, who lives in Memphis.

Passafiume graduated from Beebe High School in 1987 and attended Southern Arkansas University in Camden. She is a graduate of the Southwest CUNA (Credit Union National Association) Management School in Fort Worth, Texas.

Passafiume worked as an insurance agent for three years before her employment at River Valley Federal Credit Union in Camden.

She is married to Scott Passafiume.

“We’ve been married for eight years, and I’ve been spelling my last name ever since then,” she said, laughing, as a visitor asked her to spell her last name. “Together, we have six children and six grandbabies who call me Nana. One of those six children still lives at home, Lora, who is a senior at Lakeside High School.”

Tammy Passafiume is active in various credit-union organizations. She is a member of the Cornerstone Credit Union League, which serves Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma, and was recently elected to the board of that organization, serving as vice chairman of resources. She also is a member of the Credit Union National Association’s Community Credit Union Committee.

Locally, she is a member of the Malvern Kiwanis Club. She is also a member of the Greater Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce; Diamond Lakes Federal Credit Union has two branch offices in Hot Springs, as well as one near the west gate of Hot Springs Village.

She is also an active member of Crossgate Church in Hot Springs, where she volunteers in the coffee shop on Sunday mornings.

“I like serving coffee and visiting with everyone,” she said, smiling. “I guess that feeling goes back to my days of waiting tables in high school.”

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