NEW YORK -- Actors Federal Credit Union Board Secretary Gil Rogers has never backed down from a fight especially when it comes to helping actors and performing artists become financially secure.
For some 40 years Rogers has been doing his part to ensure actors have access to a financial institution that can work with their unique needs. It is ironically enough a lesson he learned from personal experience when the successful actor, who among his many acting credits plays the character Hawk Shayne on the long-running popular soap opera Guiding Light, tried to borrow money from the credit union following his separation from his first wife.
"I think Actors FCU was only about six years old at that time and when I applied for a loan to my surprise I was turned down," said Rogers. "Well not understanding, I decided I wanted to do something about it and volunteered to get on the credit committee to help other actors who might be in a similar situation and have been serving ever since."
In 1980 Rogers became president until he stepped down in 1983 and settled into his role as board secretary.
"One of the realities of being a working actor is getting called out of town a lot or leaving at the spur of the moment to head to an audition, so I stepped down as president when we found Jeff Rodman to take over," said Rogers.
During Gil's tenure as a credit union volunteer he has helped steer the credit union through many reincarnations especially in the early 80s when he helped Actors FCU avoid extinction. The credit union has grown from a stagnant $5 million to a healthy and growing $86 million in assets.
"It's rare to find a volunteer with such longevity, extraordinary contributions and dedication to helping his fellow actors," said Actors FCU President Jeff Rodman.
Some of the changes at Actors FCU, which Rogers has contributed to include expanding membership to include the Screen Actors Guild, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and local musician and performing artist unions; adding checking accounts and Visa check cards; opening a new branch location; investing in marketing and creating a Web presence; offering online bill pay services; and launching an ATM deployment strategy that has resulted in some 200 cash-dispensing ATMs throughout the city. Looking ahead there are plans to open a branch in Los Angeles later this year.
"It is all about giving back. I'm 73 years old and the entertainment business has been very good to me and my family so it feels wonderful to be a small part of this credit union and see how we're helping actors," said Rogers. "Think about it, here we are as performers really the backbone of the city's tourist economy and maybe 10% of actors can actually afford to live here, as a credit union it's our job to help change that. So if we have to argue with the NCUA to help our members then that's what we do."
Never shy about voicing his opinion, Rogers also challenges the credit union staff, along with other board members, to stay on track with the credit union's goal of serving members of the entertainment community.
"Currently we are working on updating our logo when we shared our progress thus far with Gil he quickly pointed out we had missed the mark and that we had better head back to the drawing board. The updated logo didn't have enough 'actor' in it. And you know, he was right on target. Sometimes you can get too close to a project," said Director of Marketing Steven Sobotta. "A downside of AFCU's growth is the disappearance of working actors on the staff and the value that that can bring in our understanding the nuances inherent and specific to an entertainer's life. In that respect Gil is priceless."
Rogers says he is okay with his reputation as long as it helps better serve working actors.
"For better or worse I'm well known for challenging others including the NCUA every few years but it is all for our members," said Rogers. "We don't meet the unique needs of our members by just reading a rulebook. Yes of course you have the follow the rules but there has to be a way to still meet the need." --email@example.com