BY JACLYN ROSE –
A native of Central Arkansas, Janee’ Sweeney lived in several different states before her family returned to Arkansas where she graduated from Cabot in 1987. Immediately following graduation Sweeney joined the United States Marine Corps and served her country for the following five years. “I joined the Marine Corps because I felt that if I could become a Marine, there wasn’t anything that was out of my reach. It was such a wonderful experience and I got so much out of it. I think I already had a work ethic but it definitely reaffirmed that. Most importantly I learned to appreciate what I had as an American, especially an American woman. I served in the Middle East and it is definitely a different world,” explained Sweeney.
While in the Marine Corps, Sweeney worked as an aviation hydraulic pneumatic mechanic and operated on airplane flight controls and landing gear. She did tours in Southeast Asia and served in the Middle East during Operation Desert Shield and stayed through to Operation Desert Storm. With less than 10% of the Marine Corps being female, Sweeney explained that while it was a wonderful experience for her, it is definitely not for everyone, male or female.
After leaving the military, Sweeney wasn’t exactly sure what career path she wanted to follow; however, while working for the City of Jacksonville, Arkansas, doing basic accounting, she became interested in the ‘why and how’ things worked. She found software that would streamline the way the city did their billing and was then sought after by another company that needed her to help implement new software and from there, fell into the field of information technology. “I began working for a consulting firm in Little Rock, helping banks with information security and technology and the Union Bank of Mena was one of my clients. We developed a great working relationship and in 2007, when there were some staff changes and they had a need, I came to work for them. It was a great fit and I helped the bank take technology to the next level,” explained Sweeney. As the chief information officer, Sweeney oversees the information security and technology, and manages the back office operations, from bank drafts to ATM withdrawals; all aspects of the bank require technology. “I absolutely love what I do. I never wake up in the morning and dread going to work and I love working for Union Bank. There is enough change and challenge at my job to always keep me motivated,” said Sweeney.
Sweeney has also used her leadership talents with the Mena Lioness organization, serving as current Past-President. The group is instrumental in raising funds to help support CASA, Clarice’s Room of Hope, the Single Parent Scholarship Fund, the Rice Depot Backpack Food Program, and more, all very vital programs in the local community.
Sweeney married her husband, Kevin in 2002. “Kevin is non-stop fun, he is crazy and smart and I believe we are the best balance for each other. I tend to be inside the box, while he tends to be outside the box. We love to travel and be outside,” Sweeney explained. Sweeney is also the mother of one son, Zac Clemens and she and Kevin have four much loved dogs. “Zac recently relocated to Mena and is the new manager at Stache’s. I am very proud that I’ve raised a nice young man who is comfortable in his own skin and not afraid to take some risks. I don’t think I could’ve asked for any better,” said Sweeney.
“Without a doubt, the best part of Polk County is the people. Kevin and I talk about it often, we have such a wonderful circle of friends here that we could have never of imagined as transplants. In many communities as isolated as Mena there is a tendency to be tight knit and not always open to newcomers, but we have never felt that, we were always accepted,” Sweeney said.