After 30 years at SAFE Credit Union, and having served seven of those years as CEO, I’m finally retired. It’s been an incredible journey and I am proud to have been trusted by my peers and our members with the privilege of leading such a great financial institution.
Upon reflection, many aspects of this journey seemed improbable. As a young upstart with a college degree and passion for banking, I began my career by accepting an entry level, minimum wage position at SAFE working in the cash vault. It was far from what I imagined at the time, but I was fascinated with banking, and I caught wind of an incredibly special culture that isn’t everywhere. At SAFE, then CEO Henry Wirz set the company culture with his boundless energy, enthusiasm, insightfulness, and focus on innovation. Early on Henry mentored me through a multitude of career opportunities leading to management within just a few short years. Those formative years at SAFE set the tone for my motivation to make a difference in people’s lives and laid the foundation for my leadership philosophy.
Eventually, I left SAFE to further my education, gain and build the business skills to better understand business, and to learn what it meant to be an executive leader.
During my term as CEO, I’ve done my best to make the position about servant leadership and the continuance of the founding credit union principle of people helping people. We stand by our members through the good times -- and the rough patches. During the pandemic, we stepped up to directly assist our members with emergency services that helped them weather the crisis. We generously gave to nonprofits as they pivoted to cope with a new reality.
I’m exceptionally proud of where SAFE is today. We’ve grown to be one of the largest credit unions in California, with $4.5 billion in assets and growing. We serve nearly 250,000 members in the Greater Sacramento Region and have been on the forefront of workforce changes that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. We are part of lasting public-private partnerships, such as our naming rights sponsorship with the City of Sacramento for the SAFE Credit Union Convention & Performing Arts District, which helps create jobs and supports the region economically.
What makes SAFE the most special, however, is our extraordinary employees, who I cannot thank enough for their unending commitment to our members, the community, and each other. The passion they all bring to serving our members and one another is extraordinarily special, and one of the greatest joys I’ve experienced throughout my career. It’s all due to our employees that SAFE has been named a Best Place to Work for five years in a row in the Greater Sacramento area. It’s their commitment to community through volunteerism and giving that positioned SAFE to be recognized as leading corporate citizen.
Our employees are the reason a story like mine isn’t so improbable after all. I’ve been a tremendous benefactor of the altruism of dedicated people who went a little further to encourage the kid in the cash vault and throughout the difficult times.
SAFE is being left in great hands with incoming CEO Faye Nabhani, and with the support of a tremendous leadership team. I’ve always believed that we should leave things a little better than we found them, and I hope that you all feel I’ve done just that during my time as CEO.
I’m excited about retirement and all it has to offer. I got some new things on the horizon that I’ll announce in time, but until then I wish you all the best in your endeavors and am grateful to have been able to serve you.