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<p>PORTLAND, Ore. – For Patricia E. Smith, the new president and CEO of Oregon Telco Community Credit Union, the specially wrapped bouquet of flowers plopped on her desk while she was on the phone just made her day. “It was a lovely welcome from Ava and I thank her for it,” declared Pat who little more than a month ago joined an elite club – newly appointed female CEOs of large urban CUs. Oregon Telco with 150 employees and $530 in assets is the state’s third largest CU. Her flower-giving Oregon peer, Ava Milosevich, is president and CEO of the $406 million SELCO Credit Union of Eugene. She now becomes the second highest female CEO in the state-behind Smith. The 51-year-old Smith, former vice president of corporate planning and development at Boeing Employees’ Credit Union in Seattle, is not shy about admitting that she wanted the Oregon Telco job, and though the decision was not an easy one for her family, “I believe it was the right one and an opportunity that I could not pass up.” Smith began her Oregon Telco assignment March 11 succeeding the CU’s long-time CEO, Wayne Gaylin, who on March 19 wound up a 40-year career in the CU industry. Galin, 63, has served at the helm of Oregon Telco for 23 years and has watched assets grow from $73 million to its present $530 million level. “I know I am filling some big shoes, but for me it is something I have been working and training for during many years,” said Smith, who had been with Boeing since 1980. A former bank teller, Smith started in Boeing ECU’s student loan department in the processing area, and within months her managerial skills were recognized rather quickly. She was soon asked to start an IRA department and then was promoted to assistant director of administrative services. By 1985 she was named vice president of operations, which eventually included supervision of 450 employees while also serving as chief lending officer and managing the Member Services Departments of the 300,000-member CU. All told Smith served 17 years on Boeing’s executive team, and in July 1999 was promoted to the corporate planning/development post. “Pat is certainly an example of a woman who has achieved tremendous authority and responsibility in a shop the size of Boeing’s. It’s good to see her talents recognized,” said John Annoloro, president of the Washington Credit Union League. He added that the West Coast remains the most “progressive” in promoting women to high CU jobs, citing several examples of women CEOs at CUs in northern California and Washington State. Smith maintains she has been fortunate in her career at Boeing and is grateful to her former boss, Gary Oakland, the 49-year-old Boeing CEO, for his support as well as to the Boeing “board management and staff who had confidence in me and gave me opportunities to make a difference for the member.” She had been recruited for the Oregon Telco post last January by a search firm, R. D. Hilton & Assoc. of Woodland, Texas, but after visiting the CU “and watching the staff interact with members” it was clear, she said, that “this was an important cultural fit” for her. Smith said it is too early to forecast any operational changes that may be forthcoming at Oregon Telco except to make use of the CU’s new community charter approved a year ago and which allows the Portland CU to open its first branches to serve a five county metropolitan area of Portland. Its first branch will be opened in August in a southeast Portland shopping mall. A second one is slated at a site not yet announced in the first part of next year. “My job now is to meet with all the employees to look at what is working well for us in how we serve our members,” said Smith. “When we make a change, we want to sure we are adding value to the relationship with our members.” Smith said she is particularly gratified that she is coming into a CU that is well capitalized and has long been financially healthy. Oregon Telco’s capital asset ratio is at 11.03%, its loan/share ratio at 64%, and it has a “low operating expense ratio” of 1.66%. Its average share balance per member is $12,240. Smith acknowledged that it has long been harder for women to move up as quickly in the ranks as men, but that environment seems to be “getting better” not only in the far West but across the U.S. Nonetheless, she admits that women like her have to make great family sacrifices, and sometimes “you have to make that all important decision to relocate.” That is what she and her husband, Bill, who had been working for the Seattle/Tacoma Aviation Operations Department, decided to do. The Smiths have two grown children-a son and a daughter-who live in the Seattle area. Smith maintains she is a great believer in education on the job, which can mean enrolling in college courses. “I did have to work full time,” she admits while also raising a family. She is a graduate of the Executive Development program at Cornell University and also holds her MBA from the University of Washington in Seattle. She also supports the idea of “doing your part” to help out the industry, and that has translated into many career posts including being a member of the CUNA Lending Council, Credit Union Executives Society, and International Credit Association. In CUES, she has been a director of the Puget Council of CUES and was the first recipient of the 1992 CUES National Operations Professional of the Year. She has served as the Nominating Committee Chair at both the local and national level for CUES and for the Lending Council. Smith has also served on the International Development Committee of the Washington League. She is a certified Consumer Credit Executive and a Certified Senior Executive. Smith admits to being overwhelmed at the reception she has been receiving since taking over the Telco job – apart from Ava Milosevich’s flower delivery. “A good example of the `welcome’ I received are the numerous calls, flowers, office plants, notes and visits I got from credit union leaders as well as CEOS from businesses in Portland who extended not only a warm welcome but invited me to call on them should I need any assistance in my role or finding a new home.” Smith and her husband are looking, “though we just lost a bid on a lot we wanted,” she said. -</p> <p>[email protected]</p>

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