From his years of service in the military to his current work helping veterans build their own businesses through JPMorgan Chase’s Veterans Initiatives, Alex McKindra Jr. is a long-standing success story. Additionally, as we celebrate Veterans Day this year, Alex’s story is a uniquely American story that veterans and members of the military community across the country can relate to. But, as he is the first to admit, his track record, like many others, has a long history that can be traced back through generations of his family in the small town of Union Chapel, Arkansas.
Become a cornerstone of the community
In the late 1800s, Alex’s great-great-grandfather, Reuben Frank McKindra, moved his family to Union Chapel, a town originally settled by freed black slaves.
Working on their family farm, the McKindras made a name for themselves by demonstrating their resourcefulness and aptitude for hard work. The family used mentoring programs and public and private funding to not only get started, but grow their family business.
Despite the success of the family business, the McKindras never lost sight of support – and the importance of passing it on to others in their community and society. Generations of McKindras have dedicated their lives to the military, including his grandfather, father and brother (pictured right), and then to their community when they returned home.
“I wouldn’t be in the position I am in today without the opportunities that mentoring offered me,” says McKindra. “The farm that my family was able to build through the support and mentoring of others has helped educate and clothe every generation of my family since the 1880s.”
Honoring a legacy
McKindra decided to honor his roots by joining the ministry himself. He graduated from West Point in 1993 and then completed a tour of duty across the United States as a Captain in the United States Air Force. He worked as a procurement officer, including on the B-2 bomber program, which allowed him to travel around the country learning from and serving others. During this time, he also spent his nights and weeks earning an MBA from the University of Southern California.
Armed with the life experience and knowledge he’d gained from service – and a freshly minted MBA and banking internship under his belt – McKindra delved into the world of corporate finance. He quickly built a reputation for his intelligence, dependability, and kindness, and rose through the ranks. Today he is the Managing Director for JPMorgan Chase Commercial Banking in San Francisco
Alex didn’t want the chapter in his family history to end with commercial success. He wanted to help those who – like his great-great-grandfather Reuben – had risked their lives for the country and were now trying to gain a foothold as civilians. With this in mind, he decided to lead JPMorgan Chase Commercial Banking’s Veterans Initiatives alongside Army Veteran Terry Hill. Alex, Terry and their team across the company share a passion for mentoring and community building. Through various programs, they use their military background to connect with aspiring and current entrepreneurs with ties to the military to help them access the resources they need to be successful over the long term.
For example, McKindra worked with JPMorgan Chase and Bunker Labs, a national nonprofit that supports the ventures of military-affiliated business owners, to develop programs to help experienced small business owners. Together they created CEOcircle, a 12-month mentorship program tailored to help mid-market military-related companies grow. Through this program, experienced business owners and their families gain access to the guidance and resources they need to be successful, including education, networking, and personal financial mentoring. This year, CEOcircle added 71 new individuals to the program nationwide, including Boyd Bishop, who runs Hive Technologies in Hawthorne, and Neil Mahoney, who runs Shipping Butler here in Los Angeles.
The program funds companies that will support military families for generations to come – companies like McKindra Farm.
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my family history, it’s that hard work and preparation isn’t always enough. Sometimes we also have to create our own opportunities,” says Alex. “This is what we aim to achieve with CEOcircle, to create the opportunities and provide seasoned entrepreneurs with the support they need to help them overcome systemic barriers to their business and professional growth.”
Impact on generations
Less than an hour north of Little Rock, the McKindra family farm still stands at Union Chapel. Today, the manicured green fields and trees are a testament to the effort, determination and community it takes to build a successful business.
“If my great-great-grandfather were here today, I would want him to know that what he built not only supported our family, but also instilled in us the values that would inspire the acceleration and growth of hundreds of other veterans.” . own companies in the future,” says McKindra. “I know he would be proud of that.”
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