Denison has been home to Kris McKinney's family for four generations. Her great-grandfather on her mother's side, an immigrant from Germany, settled in Denison, started a real estate firm and raised a family. Kris's father moved to Denison from St. Louis and, after serving in the armed forces during World War II, became a banker, like his father had been before him. For that reason, Kris says, "I was used to the small-town banking feel that I love from Landmark."
Born and raised in Denison, Kris has always loved her hometown. The people of Denison make it special to her, as does the lake. When she grew up, Kris took over the real estate business started by her great-grandfather, now the Kohfeldt Family Limited Partnership, a real estate management company that supervises properties across South Texas. "It was never what I dreamed of doing," she said, "but it worked out well, and I'm still here."
As a small-business owner, Kris kept track of local politics, followed city council and worked with government agencies when business called for it. Her experience with government did not extend further until U.S. Congressman John Ratcliffe assumed office in the 4th District of Texas and began his search for three regional representatives to serve his constituency, which is spread across more than 10,000 square miles. Kris said Ratcliffe's office was "looking for someone to be in the Sherman office that had some deep roots in the area." As a well-respected business owner and active member of the community, Kris was an obvious choice.
The year and a half Kris spent as Congressman Ratcliffe's regional representative was rewarding and educational. "If the congressman was in town, we would have several events scheduled and would go from one to the next," she says of a typical day in office. "And my job was to set those up."
She arranged press meetings and worked with on-site organizers to set up events for the congressman to spend time in the communities he served. "When he was not available," Kris explained, "we would go out in the community and represent him. … And through the government agencies, if we had to call a meeting, we would be there as his eyes and ears. It was a great opportunity for me."
The transition from being a business owner to working with businesses in the community was gratifying for Kris. "It was very different," she said. "But when you're dealing with people, that part's the same." She served as a liaison between businesses and individuals and different government agencies they had issues with.
"To be able to be of service where we could facilitate an answer for them" was the best part of her job, she said. "It wasn't always the answer that they wanted, but at least they were being heard."
Kris also traveled with Congressman Ratcliffe to Washington, D.C. and sat in on congressional hearings. She experienced government on a level she hadn't encountered before, and it led to a deeper appreciation for her nation and for the work Congressman Ratcliffe was doing.
Kris retired as regional representative in June of 2016, but she remains busy. She is still general partner in her family's real estate management company, though she has scaled back to part time. And she continues to serve her community. Kris has spent years volunteering with the Texoma Health Foundation, where she sits on the board of directors. THF provides grants to various nonprofit organizations across four counties in Texas and Oklahoma.
"That's my big love," Kris said, "and since I've retired, I've done a lot of volunteer work up here. Between that and my grandkids, that's kept me busy."
THF's latest project is a partnership with the City of Denison to build a big park.
"It's going to be an amazing park for people from all around," with sports fields; multiuse areas; and walking, hiking and bicycle trails," she said. "It's really going to change the face of this area."
For Kris, it's all about family and community, which is why she loves doing business with Landmark Bank.
"When you walk in the door, they know who you are, and you develop a relationship with the people who work there," she said. "And they're not just in the bank. They are also out in the community, making this a better place to live, and I love that about them."
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