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ALEXANDRIA, Va. – At press time, Jan Roche was in her third week as president/CEO of the $697 million State Department FCU (SDFCU) here. Roche was previously president/CEO of U.S. Senate FCU where she had an eventful last couple of years. Not only was the credit union shut down because of an anthrax scare, but there was also a major battle at the board level over a board proposal to expand the number of board seats. Certain segments of U.S. Senate FCU’s membership were in an uproar over the board expanding the number of seats from seven to 13. To try and appease the members, the board dropped down to 11, but the membership went ahead with a special meeting to bring the board back down to seven seats. The meeting did just that. While Roche left around the time of the board issues, she said it had nothing to do with her departure contrary to what some may say. “It was just good timing for me to leave. I’d been there almost 14 years, three as CEO,” said Roche. Roche, a CPA, started out in public accounting with newspaper chain Gannett. She did that for several years before taking her first credit union job at U. S. Senate FCU as VP of Accounting. The CU was $70 million and had 35 employees when she arrived, and $300 million in assets and 90 employees when she departed last April. The two credit unions – U.S. Senate FCU and State Department FCU – have a lot in common said Roche, in terms of similar member demographics and branching issues, and they have teamed up on issues over the years. “The staff at State and staff at Senate had worked so closely together that I knew I would be working with a very well-run credit union,” said Roche, who joked that her commute hasn’t changed much. “It is geographically desirable. I take the same exit, but turn the opposite way.” She lives in Virginia. The two credit unions both went through the anthrax scare, which presented all sorts of problems. One less publicized one is when the mail was being x-rayed and irradiated, check cards and other items would melt, causing logistical nightmares. Part of SDFCU’s FOM is NCUA, whose headquarters Roche can see from the credit union. “It’s not even a half a mile away,” she said. Not one to visit many NCUA Board meetings, Roche said she is now hoping to pop in from time to time and learn how the CU can serve the agency better. One of the problems facing SDFCU is how to serve members throughout the world, as the State Department deploys its workers in embassies all over the globe. She said the Internet will continue to be an important channel to pull this off. Roche herself knows the problems State Department workers face first-hand. Her husband used to work for the State Department and about 15 years ago his assignment was in Lagos, Nigeria. She accompanied him in Nigeria. “I learned some of the challenges members face when they’re living that far away from home,” she said. Sometimes it’s just the basics that are missing. Bill Cook, VP of Operations and Development for SDFCU, said some of the countries don’t even have 24-hour phone service or electricity. He said the CU is looking at shared branching opportunities overseas, but many of those are on military bases and may not be accessible for SDFCU members. SDFCU does have five branches, but shared branching is very important for it as it is for U.S. Senate FCU, said Roche. Roche succeeded John Adkin who retired after 24 years with the credit union. Roche currently serves on the board of The District of Columbia CU League. -p[email protected]

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