Linnea Fayard Allen Shines
ATHENA recipient leads by example, humor and compassion
When Linnea Fayard Allen sees a fork in the road, she takes it.
“I’m keenly aware that opportunities can come along at inopportune times,” she said. “And just because the timing seems wrong doesn’t necessarily mean you should decline. took the opportunities as they came.”
That approach guides her in her work as vice president and cultural communications officer/social media director at Origin Bank. It serves her well in community theater. And it catapulted her into the limelight as the 2019 ATHENA Award recipient.
“My career has always taken me down two parallel paths,” Allen said. “One is the journey of my ‘day job,’ and the other is the adventure of utilizing the gifts God gave me to entertain and encourage others.”
In her role at Origin Bank, Allen oversees social media strategy and internal and external communications for the bank, which has offices in Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi. She is a member of the bank’s Brand Team, which created and launched the Origin Bank brand in 2015, when the bank transitioned from Community Trust Bank. Allen also coordinates Origin’s annual Culture Celebrations, a traveling tribute to the company’s culture, where the CEO visits each branch to share the vision for the organization.Allen is passionate about giving back to the community. In her role at Origin, she also coordinates the Project Enrich program, which she helped create. Project Enrich gives employees up to 20 hours of paid time off each year for volunteer community service.
“I believe this is one of the greatest benefits of working for Origin Bank — the ability to use work hours to volunteer in the community,” she said.
Allen is one of six regional representatives for the bank’s Dream Manager program, based on the book, “The Dream Manager” by Matthew Kelly. Through the program, Allen counsels participants to help them become better versions of themselves. “It’s a wonderful program that assists our employees in reaching their goals and dreams, both professional and personal, and it is an honor to be able to be their encourager,” she said.
The Dream Manager program allows Allen to tap into a longtime interest in counseling. She received her master’s degree in counseling and guidance from Louisiana Tech in 2009.
“I am the type of person who has to keep growing, keep learning as I move through life,” she said. “Stagnancy is never an option for me. So I made the commitment and, two years later, earned the degree. While I didn’t become a full-time counselor, I find that I use that education every single day.”
Life was not a straight line for the Shreveport- Bossier City native from Airline High School to Origin Bank. Allen was valedictorian, head cheerleader and homecoming queen at Airline. From there, she went to Baton Rouge, where she started her college career at LSU on an academic scholarship. But that’s when her path took a different turn.
Allen was crowned Miss Louisiana in 1990. She took some time away from school to travel and perform, including singing in Branson, Mo., and Honolulu. All that time, she knew her love for education would take her back to college. When the time was right, Allen returned to Shreveport and earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from LSU-Shreveport.
From 2002 to 2005, Allen was a sports news broadcaster at KSLA. That’s where she said she learned to work under tight deadlines and to do her best work under pressure. “I really enjoyed the work of TV news,” she said. “I enjoyed the storytelling aspect of it all. I also enjoyed interviewing people and getting to know what made them tick, rather than just reporting on their athletic accomplishments.”
Allen continues to entertain people as a spokesperson, singer and actor. Allen believes her talent is a gift she is called to use to benefit others.
“I am aware that one of my spiritual gifts is encouragement, and I use my abilities and skills as an entertainer to encourage those in the audiences who watch my performances,” she said. “I love being involved in comedic performances because I think being able to make someone laugh is one of God’s greatest blessings. If I can make someone laugh, then that means for that small moment in time, I have played a part in taking their minds off of anything in their lives that causes them sadness or worry or stress.”
Allen said she is honored to be chosen from among this year’s 16 ATHENA Award’nominees. She said that through the years, she has learned the value of mentoring and encouraging each other.
“I think it’s sad that our society is one that believes that differences make someone our enemy,” she wrote in a blog post after receiving the award. “Because of the times I’ve had to carry the weight on my own shoulders, I’ve since learned the value of being a part of a team. And the best teams are made up of people who have different ideas, different values, different viewpoints, different experiences, different knowledge. It’s in those differences, when we open our minds and our hearts, that we can have a better and more accurate view of the big picture.”